Tag Archives: U.S. Games Systems Inc.

Review: The Deviant Moon Tarot Companion Book

Deviant Moon Tarot
(Companion Book)

Author: Patrick Valenza
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN #978-1572816879

Deviant Moon Tarot book

The Deviant Moon Tarot companion book is hard cover (yes!), full color (yes!), solid, quality paper stock (yes!), with an absolutely amazing cover! Amazing art – that is a given with Valenza, combined with an equally amazing presentation of the art. I do not know that much about art presentation, so I queried Lynn Sparrow from U.S. Games Systems, Inc. about the process. She gave me the following description, one that was given to her by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Creative Director Paula Palmer (who designed the book!): “The cover has a matte finish with a crackle spot varnish for texture. The title and some of the art elements have foil stamping and the main image is debossed into the cover.” You have to see and feel this cover to truly appreciate it. Kudos to Mr. Valenza and Ms. Palmer!

The front and back inside pages are made to look like advertisements from the 1920’s – with a twist! The reader is invited to attend “The Social Event of the Year” (which is advertised as a night of debauchery!), to purchase scalp fertilizer for balding hair, to purchase “Elegant Urns for After the Burn” (this under funeral supplies!), to “Say Goodbye to a Healthy Body” (Madam Morte’s Mercury Cream), and more! It is fascinating to read each one of these ads! The flip side of life, as it were.

A lovely extra is card 49 (The Beast), which is included with the book. There is a separate card that includes a short paragraph about the Beast, along with upright and reversed meanings. Please note: The extra card is included only if the book is ordered directly from the author. It is not included if purchased anywhere else.

In the Deviant Tarot Valenza is well known for presenting wonderfully unique interpretations of the Tarot, using symbolism inspired by childhood dreams and visions. In his companion book, Valenza takes us behind the scenes of the Deviant Moon (which I have to admit took some getting used to for me when it first came out), to share where his creative inspiration came from, and to explain the artistic techniques that went into creating this deck.

In his preface, Valenza talks about the challenge of writing a companion book. He knew that he was up to the challenge, but did not realize how long it was going to take to finish the project. I love that he chose to work in the middle of the night, because that was when it was quiet. I am definitely a late night person myself. For Valenza, this book chronicles a personal journey with the Tarot that was at least thirty years in the making (beginning in his childhood), and was a true growth experience.

Valenza talks about his journey with the Tarot, which began in the mid-1970’s, when he was nine years old. He picked up his first deck at a local mall with his parents (not on their first trip, however – he had to be persistent!). This deck, however, had to be exchanged, as it was in French! The deck that he exchanged it for was a less ornate Tarot Classic deck. What a great gift for an actively intuitive child with imagination! Love the pics that Valenza shared of himself as a child. When an artist/author shares the background of their work, for me the work takes on a deep, “otherworldly” quality.

The original 13 cards for the Deviant Moon Tarot were created when Valenza was between the ages of 15 and 18. The card dimensions were based on the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, with a light coat of metallic gold paint being applied to the background of each image to create an ethereal glow. The cards had arched, Gothic borders, with the border color chosen to intuitively to compliment the color scheme of the painting. The character stylization was influenced by ancient Greek art.

When Valenza restarted the creation of the Deviant Moon in 2004 he switched from painting to digital photos. The rest is history!  I absolutely love that amongst his photographic sources were cemeteries, where he took a tiny sample of dirt from the gateways each time he visited them (leaving a generous gift for the gatekeeper in return), asylums, parks, and historic sites. A bit scary? Valenza does talk about confronting his nightmares – and never having them return again!

Many of the images in this deck came to Valenza fully in a flash of insight, or in a lucid dream. Two write about the images in the cards, he had to go back and examine them again in order to discern their meanings.

Each card of the Major Arcana is presented with a full page, color photo, a short discussion of the energy of the card, upright and reversed meanings, and a bit about his journey in creating the card. Also included are more full page, full color photos, as well as smaller photos.

The section on the Minor Arcana begins with an explanation of the border colors (Swords – Red, Cups – Blue, Wands – Green, and Pentacles – Black), and the fact that the Minor Arcana were not conceived in Valenza’s youth, but in his adult  years. Each card is presented with a full page, full color photo, a short discussion of the energy of the card, upright and reversed meanings, and a bit about the process of how the card was created. Full page, full color photos and sketches are included, as well as smaller photos.

I cannot say enough about what a joy this book is! Incredible quality, along with incredible depth. It will remain within reach at all times, as a resource, and not shelved! Filled with full color art on each page, U.S. Games Systems, Inc. has outdone itself in creating a quality product to showcase a quality product. If you don’t have the deck yet – go buy it! Then, of course, you need this incredible companion book to go with it! You could spend hours on the images alone, and even more hours on the how and why of this deck. Well worth your effort!

© 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without writen permission of hte author.







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Posted by on March 3, 2016 in Tarot


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Review – Dreaming Way Tarot

Dreaming Way Tarot

Author: Rome Choi
Artist: Kwon Shina
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN #978-1-57281-712-8

I love working with dreams and dreamtime, so “Dreaming Way Tarot” brought a smile to my face when it landed on my doorstep! The characters and imagery have been revamped, but the format is that of a traditional 78 card deck. Traditional titles were kept for the 22 cards of the Major Arcana. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, with the Court Cards entitled King, Queen, Knight, and Page.

The box that the cards come is notes that this deck offers a fresh interpretation of the Tarot, with emphasis on numerological and elemental influences.  The front of the box shows the image of the High Priestess, while the back of the box shows the image of the Fool.

Rome Choi has been professionally involved with the Tarot since 1997. He studied Transpersonal Psychology at the Seoul University of Buddhism, and allows his Zen practice to inform his Tarot lectures. As with another highly regarded Tarot artist, Robert M. Place, Choi’s characters came to him in a dream. Hence the name of the deck – “Dreaming Way Tarot”.

There is a 39 page LWB (Little White Book) that accompanies the deck. In his introduction, Choi notes that while he was studying at Seoul University he heard a moving lecture by a famous monk, and came to the realization that he already had all he wanted, and there was nothing more he needed to pursue. This knowledge allowed him to understand people better, and deepened his wisdom concerning the Tarot.

The presentation of the cards begins with the Major arcana (text only, no images). The text covers the energy of each card, along with upright and reversed meanings. Note: Choi views reversed energy as either stronger or weaker than the upright energy, but not the opposite of it.

The section on the Minor Arcana begins with a discussion of the characteristics of the suits as seen through the body/mind/soul paradigm. The characteristics of the numbers are addressed next, along with basic meanings for the four Court Cards (King, Queen, Knight, and Page). The cards are then presented in text only, with upright and reversed meanings.

At the end of the book is a spread entitled “The Dreaming Way Five Card Spread”, which defines the following positions: (1) Present Gifts. (2) The Past, (3) Change, (4) Delusion, and (5) Dreams.

The cards themselves are 2 ¾” by 4 ¾”. If you use a riff type shuffle, you may find it a bit difficult, as the cards bend forward easily, but are still when bending backwards. I had no problem with a side to side shuffle (which is easier for me, because I have smaller hands).

The card backs have a wavy green background, with vertical lines of oval forms going through it. It is well done, but it did not appeal to me. The card faces have a ¼” white border, followed by a thin black border. Titles run  across the bottom of the card in  black type: number and title for the Major Arcana, number and suit in text for the Minor Arcana, and title and suit for the Court Cards.

The imagery is reality leaning towards fantasy. Some of the cards follow traditional imagery (The Fool, The Sun, the Four and Five of Wands, the Aces, the Two of Pentacles, Temperance, Justice, the Ten of Swords, the Four of Swords, and the Hermit). Other cards present updated imagery (Death, the High Priestess, The Fool, the Queen of Pentacles, the Three of Swords,  the Ten of Wands, The World, Judgment, the Moon, The Devil, the Wheel of Fortune, The Lovers, and The Magician).

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Some of the most interesting cards to me were the Ace of Cups, which shows water flowing from a white up with black dots, Death, which shows a profile view of a dark haired woman in a black dress holding a scythe, and the High Priestess, which shows a brunette with white stockings, green shoes, a black dress with white collar and ciffs, and a black top hat, seated on a green crescent moon, holding the Torah in her lap.

Other interesting cards were the Queen of Pentacles, which shows a Queen, seated on her throne, wearing a red dress, holding a baby, the Fool, who is shown standing on the edge of a cliff with his white dog. The Fool is wearing black shoes, green pantaloons, an orange cowl, a knapsack on his back, and a bright orange figure to his right. The Three of Swords is also an interesting card, showing a female figure in profile, wearing a striped dress, with a white hood and collar. The look on her face is one of resignation, rather than fear, as the three swords pierce her.

In the Five of Wands and the Emperor the use of black and white squares was a bit distracting (for me, anyway), as was the use of big polka dots in the suit of Cups (white dots on black cups, black dots on white cups). The Magician with his/her hands in  their pockets also left a bit to be desired.

This is a traditional enough deck to be read with ease, and is different enough to be a good deck to use when wishing to break through a malaise in a reading.

 © October 2012 Bonnie Cehovet


Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Tarot


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