"The spirit of an age may be best expressed in the abstract ideal arts, for the spirit itself is abstract and ideal."-Oscar Wilde
The first thing that you notice with the Linestrider Tarot is that it is a Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) derivative. While the RWS derivations have tended to dominate the market, Linestrider gives us a very beautiful, more abstract take on the Fool's Journey throughout the deck.
I'm actually a huge fan of RWS and often go back to the original deck for readings. That being said, this is one that I love having in my rotation as the cards are great for predictive reading and mediumship work as we, the more minimalist work letting the mind wander a bit and getting lost in the splashes of color and line work rather than presented a whole image.
Upon opening the deck, I like the fact that the deck sits comfortably in the hand, being around the standard size for most of the decks I have. The card stock took time to grow on me. It's a little more flexible than I would like as it gives it a flimsy feel but after setting it down for some time I have less complaints about it than I did in the beginning.
Let's dive right in and explore the cards.
Animals figure heavily into the entire deck but I noticed that each suit had a particular feeling to them and their animal denizens. In the Wands, the animals feel at once more energetic, more on the go, the fire energy propelling them into action. Dragons, fowl, goats, hares, all cavort over the Wands suit. The Five and Seven of Wands features a snarling predator, keeping in line with the more aggressive energy in these two cards. The Kings of each suit are an animal by itself while the three remaining court cards are people (though the Knight in the Wands is more abstract and more the suggestion of a person). The King in this suit is the Lion and encapsulates the suit of fire, passion, drive, and will.
The feel of this suit is very magical, the animals more serene but they all feel as if they are watching and noticing more than they let on. The individual way that these creatures feel is beautiful and I love how each suit really stood out on its own. Could make for some very unique spread use in the future. The King in this suit is a crumbling statue head and a fish, some kind of goldfish, I think. From the fire to the water, I really enjoy the balance in this deck and the juxtaposition of these first two suits.
More sedate, though none of the suits are any less colorful than the other, the Pentacles provides a more balanced feel between the humans in the card and the animals. Because the Pentacles are associated with money, there is a sense of opulence around them that I really like as it sets this suit apart based on it's own meaning but doesn't break from the cohesive feel of the deck. The King in this one is an owl, which surprised me, as I thought it would be something more tied to the earth and not one that balances the earth and sky-such as the owl.
A lot of people struggle with the Swords, as they deal with more visibly traumatic moments than the other suits, though each as their own hurdles. Rather than being flashy or relying on the powerful imagery of a bright, sharp sword, there was a sense of stillness about this suit. They felt a bit like they were waiting and watching something, looking for it to act before they took the next step. It was both anticipatory and vaguely creepy. The King in this one was a raven, perched very inconspicuously at the top of a tree that resembles a man, lost in contemplation.
There are so many juicy details in all of the cards but the Major Arcana are so much fun. For example, the Hermit is a bear with a lantern around his neck on a collar but hidden in the image is the traditional one of the cloaked figure clutching the lamp. Judgment wears a mask on her head, wooden and unreadable. It presents a side of Judgment that communicates the idea there are times when we have to be unyielding. Not having to defend our reasons, but to be able to state them, is refreshing.
The Magician is a monkey, tying in the trickster energy and the inherent idea that magic is about embracing balance. Trickster energy isn't bad or good. It exists to be used by those in the know, like the Magician.
All in all, this deck is a superb treat for the eye, all soft watercolor and lots of negative space that is different than others that I have used before. It makes this Rider-Waite-Smith variation fresh, and tantalizing for any reader. A true must have in any collection. I found this deck most useful for mediumship though it has proven adept at romance readings, giving insight into the dynamics that drive people as individuals and how they both clash and come together.
If anyone is to pick up this deck, they would find an excellent adventure awaiting them in smoke and scenes like a fever dream. The Linestrider Tarot does what it set out to do, straddle both worlds and transport us between them.