Deck: Ethereal Visions Illuminated Tarot
By: Matt Hughes
Publishers: Ethereal Visions Publishing (Indie), US Games Inc (mass)
Where to buy: Ethereal Visions Tarot Deck at Bookshop.org
My Rating: 10 out of 10
The Ethereal Visions Tarot is, quite simply put, unquestionably beautiful.
Highly inspired by the Art Nouveau as well as Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist movements, the work of the deck’s self-taught artist Matt Hughes, is gossamer, soft, and quiet. Muted colors meld with golds and blues to create a wispy, vaporous feeling of a cloudy, airy celestiality that touches the gracefully sublime and yet, we find, is made of the contents of our own world. It portrays humans as beautiful creatures, revealing the flowy, beautiful regality of such angelic, seraphic beings in a life that is as glorious as it is, at times, ghostly. The dreamy, elegant artwork of Ethereal Visions reminds us of our own divine nature in mortal strands.
Every single card exhibits exquisite gold foil stamping unique to each card’s art.
I cannot convey to you how ravishingly exquisite that is.
More than anything it is the gold leaf foil paired with the luscious Art Nouveau style that really, truly makes this deck breathtakingly alluring to behold.
Done in the traditional RWS (Rider-Waite-Smith) style but with two extra cards, there are 24 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana comprised of the suits Wands, Swords, Pentacles, and Cups. The court cards are organized by Page, Knight, Queen, and King. As an RWS Tarot deck, the images are instantly recognizable and easily interpretable to those familiar with the system, but they are exhilaratingly fresh and beautifully unique while still consistent.
There are two extra cards, as I mentioned, The Well and The Artist. I always love it when Tarot creators add their own cards because it imbues the time-worn Tarot with their own unique views and nuanced perspectives and wisdoms of life and reality.
The cards are the traditional Tarot card size of 5” x 3” and thus fit comfortably in hand. The cardstock is nicely sturdy and shuffles really well, not flimsy at all. The art on the backs of the cards is basically reversible (not completely, but you wouldn’t notice the close differences during shuffling unless you looked really hard), which is really nice if you want to read with reversals.
The deck comes in a well-made, sturdy two-part box, which I so much prefer to flimsy tuck boxes.
The LWB (little white booklet) that fits in the two-part box is comprised of 48 small pages. It’s what you would expect of an LWB, with a few keywords for upright and reversed meanings and a quick, succinct description of each Major Arcana card’s meaning. It’s kind of nice that the guidebook elucidates each Major Arcana card’s astrological correspondence, each suit’s direction (east, west, etc.), and has a couple blank pages for the user’s own “notes.”
As far as a LWB or guidebook is concerned, I would, personally, liked to know more about why the artist chose the exact images he did, his artistic decisions and his own interpretations of the cards, but this little booklet is helpful and nice. But I, personally, rarely use the LWB (or any LWB, as far as that goes).
Indie vs. Mass Market versions
The first edition of this deck was originally funded through Kickstarter in 2016. Copies of this printing are limited edition (only 1,100 in existence), signed, and rare. The mass market version came out in 2018 published by U. S. Games Systems Inc and, to be honest, with no compromise in quality – it stays blessedly true to its original printing and is well worth every bit of its affordable price.
The main difference that I can discern through my research (since I have never actually seen one of the Indie decks myself) is that the Indie version came in a fine, albeit plain, blue box while the mass market comes in a hard, sturdy white box with the image of The High Priestess emblazoned on the front with the same gorgeous gold foil that each card in the deck beautifully flaunts. In short, it is absolutely gorgeous, stunning. Seeing this image of such a noble figure right at the start of your meeting with the deck sets an elegant, majestic tone for the grandeur you will find in the rest of the deck.
If you find yourself still pining over one of the original LE decks, or if you are a collector of rare Tarot, you can do your best hounding on ebay, etsy, and other marketplaces where you occasionally might find one go up for sale, but – I’m warning you – it will be pricey due to its rarity.
Overall, I think the Mass Market version to be an excellent accompmlishment and feel no loss in quality or appreciation of the cards and their art.
For me, it’s a tough choice between The Moon and The Queen of Cups. I love the soft, dreamy, beautifully feminine and womanly white figure against the dark yet bright blue background in the Moon, but I also love the layout, brightness, green hair, and unique, frilly dress in the Queen of Cups.
Least favorite card
It’s hard to pick any least favorite in this deck, but it might be the King of Wands, just because I don’t like his hair or the way he’s looking at me. His overall demeanor seems very unoriginal and non-characteristic for the fiery, passionate, inspirational, lively, and spirited King of Wands.
- unique, original art style
- soft, beautiful Art Nouveau imagery with gorgeous gold foil stamping
- great, sturdy cardstock and two-part box
Drawbacks or cons
There is literally nothing bad to say about this deck, other than that I would have loved a more detailed guidebook with descriptions of the artistic choices made. The only thing I can think of in terms of the cards themselves would be that sometimes, to me, the art feels too big? Like the people take up too much space and not enough is happening, like I would like to see more of what’s going on in the scene. Maybe sometimes I don’t reach for it because I want a deck with more color because that feels more accessible. But both of these are just mood things – there is really no real drawback to this deck that I can find.
Why I give Ethereal Visions a 10 out of 10
Everything about this deck is superb. The cardstock and box are durable. The design is on point with two awesome unique cards to add dimension and originality to the traditional system.
And then there’s the art of the cards. The art of Ethereal Visions is sumptuous, romantic, mystical, and . . . ethereal. It’s just simply beautiful, and heavenly refreshing. It reminds me of how truly beautiful living and being human can be.