The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot – A Deck Review

June 22nd, 2024 Comments Off on The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot – A Deck Review

The next deck pulled out of Georgie’s Magic Card Collection is the Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot, created by Graham Cameron and published by US Games. The deck I have is from 1999.

The storyline with these cards is that you’re an actor in a performance at the Phantasmagoric Theatre. When you pull your first card, the curtains are drawn, and the magical circus of your dreams begins …

5 Points about this Deck

Artwork: The artwork is what grabbed me in the first place. It’s bright, circusy, evocative, and clear in its messaging. The images are unique, stepping far outside the Rider-Waite-Smith mold (especially in the Minor Arcana), while continuing to follow a traditional Tarot structure. And I love the colours.
Readability: As mentioned above … though the Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot is not an RWS clone, it does follow the basic structure of the RWS and other Golden Dawn systems. That gives those familiar with the ideas in those cards a head start on the concepts in this deck. Having said that though, you don’t need to know any Tarot system to read these cards. The images tell a great story on their own. And of course, if you need help, the deck comes with a decent Little White Book that defines each card per the creators’ concept.
Deck Size: This deck has big cards – 5.5X3.5”. If you have smaller hands, it might be a little harder to shuffle than an average sized deck would be. And the larger size can crowd a small reading area. But for this deck especially, the size seems exactly right. There’s space enough to showcase all the charming details, and to let the colours really shine.
Suits: The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot has the traditional four suits of Swords, Wands, Cups, and Coins (aka Pentacles/Disks). One thing that’s a little different in this deck is that the Wands are drawn as sticks with a star on top, much a like a magic wand would be, while the Coins are drawn as simple plain-faced disks. There’s no problem with that. In fact, I like it. I only bring it up because if you’re accustomed to Pentacles having stars on them (like in the RWS), at first glance, you might mistake the Wands for Coins, or at least I did a couple times. But each suit is clearly listed at the top of each of the Minor Arcana cards, so if in doubt, just look there.
Deck Goal: The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot “invites us on a journey of spiritual fulfillment”… quite a lofty goal that I’m not sure any Tarot deck can achieve. The journey maybe, but fulfillment? In any case though, The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot is fun, and bright (with some dark corners to be sure), and smart, and at least in my opinion, a delight to read with. I definitely recommend it.

And as a complete aside, I was happy to see that Graham Cameron and I were similarly inspired in our teens. He mentions in his booklet’s introduction that the first deck he ever owned was Fergus Hall’s Tarot of the Witches. I didn’t have that deck myself, but the accompanying book for it by Stuart Kaplan was my very first Tarot book. I still have it now. And I eventually got a beat up copy of the 1973 version of Tarot of the Witches which was published as the James Bond 007 Tarot Deck… but we’ll look at that on another day.

Tagged ,

Comments are closed.

What's this?

You are currently reading The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot – A Deck Review at The Tarot Room – Georgianna.