The Wild Unknown Tarot Review
Deck: The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck and Guidebook (Official Keepsake Box Set)
By: Kim Krans
Price: $39.99 $36.79
Where to buy: The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck & Guidebook (Official Box Set) at Bookshop.org
My Rating: 10 out of 10
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The Art of The Wild Unknown Tarot
There’s something hugely comforting about this deck.
It’s almost as though it takes you down to square one, to the root of your thinking and mental activity, with its basic, minimalistic approach and artistic simplicity. From this quiet space following primal, irregular lines and coherent imagery the art then encourages the imagination to burst into creative new thought from the unexpected color and briskness of the uniquely formed images as a whole. You find yourself in a place of both calm simplicity of thought and creative exploration of the heart, of feeling and emotion and natural culmination that strikes deep concentration and contemplation.
The art of The Wild Unknown Tarot is meditative and wholly unique with recognizable originality. Kim Krans is the artist and creator behind this deck that took the Tarot world by storm when it first came out, quickly becoming a must-have deck in nearly everyone’s collection.
There are 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana comprised of the suits Wands, Swords, Pentacles, and Cups. As an RWS (Rider-Waite-Smith) Tarot deck it does lay consistent with the style but with some new and novel alterations:
- The court cards are organized by Daughter, Son, Mother, and Father (instead of Page, Knight, Queen, and King) which is really sweet and organic feeling.
- The deck is comprised wholly of animals – not a single human is present. Which actually makes it much more personable and less distracting, and helps to connect deeper with the meaning of the cards rather than get distracted by human figures and faces.
The cards are the traditional Tarot card size of 5” x 3” and thus fit comfortably in hand. The cardstock is thinner than some other decks but this makes for nice sliding while shuffling. 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.
Note: This review is for the third edition. Scroll down toward the end of this post for a thorough explanation of the differences between the three different editions of the deck.
- unique, original minimalistic art style
- all-animal deck (no people)
- comes in a beautiful, sturdy black box that fits everything inside
Drawbacks or cons
At first I was actually very repelled by this deck. I didn’t get it until a few years into my Tarot path.
My main reason, initially, was that it was too popular (I have a tendency to dislike and be skeptical of things that everybody else is going for) – I thought it must be overrated. Another thing was that I didn’t like all the lines – there are a lot of lines going on in the card art and, at first, I thought it made this deck too oversimplified and busy; I thought it was a cheap cop-out for better art.
But then I saw the High Priestess.
I connected with her instantly – I already loved the High Priestess from the Witch Bone Tarot, one of my all-time favorite decks, who is portrayed as a Snow Leopard. That she is portrayed in the Wild Unknown as a White Tiger holding swirly, mystical worlds in her great paws speaks so much to me and is viscerally powerful in my mind. It reminds me of one of my favorite pieces of art, a piece done by Lassen many years ago, that I connected to as a child and still revere as an adult:
Overall, I have nothing ill to say of this deck anymore, not since I realized that I can appreciate the unique art of Kim Krans for my own sake and that I can personally connect to the deck regardless of what the masses believe (I’m not just going with the crowd – I genuinely love this deck). I might say that sometimes, still, the repetition of lines does not provide enough detail for me, or that, at times, there is not enough color for what I am desiring in the moment, but they are unique and beautiful artistic choices in and of themselves and this is just a day-by-day mood thing rather than an actual drawback of the deck.
I’m also not the biggest fan of the guidebook’s explanations for each card. I often find myself not resonating with them at all, and they’re often short, taking up very little of the length of the page they have available to them, which seems a bit wasteful.
I would have to say it’s a tie between the High Priestess, who I love for being a White Tiger with her moon, her swirly, murky world, and her overall composition (especially that she doesn’t look right at us, that she looks away, powerful and self-reliant) and the Six of Wands which might just be the most beautiful frame-worthy card within the whole deck.
Five of Pentacles, a card I usually love anyway but its depiction of a droopy red rose with petals falling off like tears is particularly, wonderfully sad, and has luscious Beauty and the Beast vibes.
Mother of Swords just because she looks so badass and beautiful as a Snowy Owl sitting atop a sword with eyes narrowed – her keen and incisive insight is penetratingly self-evident.
The World is just so beautiful and super frame-worthy.
Father of Wands as a gorgeous King Cobra wrapped around a wand is an image I just love
Three of Wands is so cool – a portal from the dreary, colorless linear world of monotonous, 2D lines into a world of vibrancy and unfathomable color and brightness. I love the opportunity in it, how there is such beauty and hope not even conceivable to you right now, just beyond that threshold of decision and adventure.
Least favorite cards
Some of my least favorites are the ones that have no color and are just a bunch of lines, like Seven of Pentacles and Five of Wands. But my overall least favorite has to be Five of Swords – I don’t like the imagery of the worm getting cut in half. It feels disrespectful and inconsiderate of the magic that earthworms provide for this planet. I also don’t like how Nine of Swords has eyeballs in it. It’s just gross to me.
Official Keepsake Box Set & Previous Versions
The Wild Unknown was originally self-published by Kim Krans in 2015 in a sturdy two-part box with black lifting ribbon. It came with a fold-out booklet containing brief summaries of the suits’ meanings and the Major Arcana as a whole instead of a detailed guidebook.
After the first edition, the deck was later released (self-published again) in another sturdy, two-part box with black lifting ribbon in 2016, but with some visible changes.
There is a lot more color on the box- a rainbow of color on the cover which was previously nearly black and white. Inside the box is black, and the bottom (which you see only when you take all the cards out) reveals the symbols of the four suits lined up in white on the black background which, to me, is absolutely gorgeous! I much prefer it to the first edition which was an image of the black and white card backs at the bottom of the box.
This edition also has the fold-out booklet but it has changed a bit, with a bit more space for more text. It also folds out into a poster of one of the cards. The full guidebook for the second edition could be purchased separately.
The card backs also changed slightly from a diamond shape of concentric lines to an interwoven web of lines that more resemble scaling (personally I prefer this change). Also the cardstock became slightly thinner.
Some of the card art changes drastically here, some with entirely different designs but mostly with more color, detail, and continuity.
Six cards feature revised card art:
- Temperance – changed from white to rainbow background (which I like)
- The Lovers – changed from blue to rainbow in background (I actually prefer the original blue, but the rainbow is nice too!)
- The Hierophant – background design change, different shading lines (I like the change)
- Four of Swords – same concept but with sleeker design with some more color and better form/composition (I approve)
- Seven of Cups – entirely different card art– much more detail, more color, much better design (I HIGHLY approve!)
- Nine of Wands – not hugely different, mostly a better background with color in it
The official keepsake box edition is the third total edition of the deck and the first mass-produced version. It comes in a large, magnetic-closure keepsake box that fits the big, 200 page guidebook as well as the 78 cards which are also housed in a two-part box inside. Both the keepsake box and the deck box have lifting ribbons, which is super cute and snazzy looking.
This is the first time the deck and guidebook have been bundled together in a boxed set, which is super convenient.
I would say that the addition of a large guidebook and a box to hold it all is the most compelling selling point for the most contemporary version versus the first edition. I think only collectors will benefit from the first edition as opposed to the keepsake box set.
The first boxed set
The box set comes in a paper sleeve that looks like the second edition’s cover. The box itself is sleek – all black, with the original artwork in the center. The back of the box is simple – the same sleek, all black continuity with the four symbols of the suits in white in the center.
The guidebook is very similar to the second edition’s separately available guidebook but appears to be bigger and higher quality. There are some minor font changes and the court cards are now included with their suits instead of in their own separate category; there are also some additional spreads.
The internal deck box inside the box set is nearly identical to the second edition’s except for some minor details on the front and the back which has been simplified into the four suit symbols instead of words and card examples. Also there is no bar code on the bottom (since the bar code is on the removable paper sleeve) which makes it so much more beautiful!
At the back of the deck box that holds the cards is a simple infinity sign.
The internal deck box seems to be more loose-fitting than the previous two versions, which makes it easier to get the cards out.
In terms of the cards:
The cardstock of the third edition seems to be slightly thinner and more flexible yet again.
The first and the second editions both have copyright information on the sides of the card art which has been removed in the third edition for a much cleaner look.
It seems like the colors may be more vibrant and bolder (and thus higher quality) in the second and third editions, but it seems to be a minor, less-noticeable change, more so that the blacks are blacker, the blues are bluer, and the whites are whiter the higher up in edition we go. (It seems to go from an almost creamy white background in the first edition to a bright white in the third edition that makes the colors pop even better)
Why I give The Wild Unknown Tarot 10 out of 10
The Wild Unknown Tarot continues to excite and appeal to those interested in just getting started with divination, as well as those seasoned practitioners. With its organic overtones and natural-feeling art, it is a fascinating deck to add to one’s repertoire – and it will keep you interested and coming back for more revelations!
Have you tried The Wild Unknown Tarot? Let me know your thoughts below!
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