The Master Tarot

Designed by Mario Montano, artwork by A. Folchi
Published by AGM AG Muller
ISBN 3-905219-02-06
Size: 2 3/4″ x 4 3/4″

I have found this deck based on the life and teachings of Jesus to be a delight. I very much liked the artwork, enjoyed the different structure and found a comfortable familiarity with the theme because of my own traditional Christian background. The creators of this deck state that this is a celebration of the "Master" Jesus not from a "Christian" or religious position, but from a position of love for many "Masters" including Gotam Buddha and Lord Krishna. I found this to be true and I can only hope they create other decks.

Artwork – I very much like the artwork in the deck, especially the portrayals of Jesus, Magdalen and Barabbas. There is a white border on the cards, which is larger at the top and bottom than on the sides which I do not care much for. However, I do like how the artist has incorporated another internal border which is part of the artwork itself on each card. This might have been a good deck to have no outside borders but to have the artwork extend to all edges of the cards like the Morgan Greer does. The art is well varied depicting both traditional renderings of moments in Jesus’ life and some of his teachings as well as more abstracted ones. One ingenious use of a more abstracted rendering is the artist’s interpretation of major arcana’s card XVI – The Scream. This card is the artists reworking of “The Scream” by —– and is representative of the moment when Jesus dying on the cross cries out “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” This was a very poignant and psychologically personalization of the moment for me. I will never look at any Tower card quite the same again because I have always felt a deep emotional response to the painting “The Scream” so reworking this image to represent that moment in Jesus life was very powerful for me. There are many other wonderful delights in the artistic rendering of this deck. Some of the more interesting ones for me were the

Two Horses (a Picasso reworking), All Drunk, Absent Promise (filled with images of Comic Super Heroes, Babe, Mickey Mouse a remote control and other western culture icons), Father and Mother ( reworking of American Gothic), The Dead, and The Lion. The backs of the cards have a star field design continued from the Comet card, there is no discernible up or down, so the cards are suitable for laying out face down with the use of reversals.

The Text – The text is contained in a small 104 page booklet accompanying the deck. Unlike the booklet included with so many other Tarot decks, this one seems to me, to be all the text that is needed for this unique deck. The whole concept of the deck is well explained as is each card and the related scripture. There is much to ponder spiritually in this writing and the authors description of spiritually itself struck a deep cord in me. I liked the fact that not all scripture was taken from the Bible. There are a few entries from Arab sayings of Jesus, the Gospel of Mary, and many from the book of Thomas. It peeked my interest in reading these texts for myself. There is also a nice treatment of the reading process at the end of the text. I felt the only thing missing from the text were a few paragraphs about the creator and the artist. My other complaint is the text is so tiny, I photocopied the booklet so that two pages are 8″ by 11″ for easier reading.

Structure – the deck has 78 cards but the structure is non traditional. There are 22 major arcana, numbered with roman numerals, but the titles in both English and German are non traditional. A case may be made for them following general themes of traditional major arcana. They can certainly add a new perspective to the majors. The major cards are as follows:

0 – The Comet (The Fool)
I – The Son of Man (The Magician)
II – The Angel (The High Priestess)
III – Mother (The Empress)
IV – Father (The Emperor)
V – Temple (The Heirophant)
VI – Prophet (The Lovers)
VII – Magdalen (The Chariot)
VIII – Temptation (Strength)
IX – Disciples (The Hermit)
X – Miracle (The Wheel)
XI – Forgiving (Justice)
XII – Whip ( The Hanged One)
XIII – Supper (Death)
XIV- Love One Another (Temperance)
XV – The Kiss (The Devil)
XVI – The Scream (The Tower)
XVII – Here and Now (The Star)
XVIII – Celebration (The Moon)
XIX – The Spirit (The Sun)
XX – The Apocalypse (Judgement)
XXI – The Galaxy ( The World)

The deck has no suits in the minor arcana. The aces and pips or 1 – 10’s are simply numbered 1 – 40 and are designed to go with a piece of scripture from the teachings of Jesus. Many of the parables are represented in these 40 cards.
There are 16 people cards representing people Jesus is said to have met, people from parables he told or general archetypes of people he taught about. These cards are called:
High Priest
Seer, Man of Power
Wife, Moralist, Housekeeper
Chief Disciple
Lady of Alms
Beloved, Devotee
Twice Born
Lady of Ointment
Lady of Sin
Lady of the Well

I have not yet found any direct correlation of these 16 cards to traditional court cards, but entertain the idea of trying to see if I can match them up in a general way.

Readability – It certainly reads differently than a more traditional deck. I have not yet used it to read for someone else, only myself. I found it gave me a very fresh and quite spiritual reading. You cannot lay out traditional cards to match your spread and judge the reading in a comparative manner (my favourite method for new decks) because of the lack of suits. So you are left to judge the deck completely on its own merits, which is probably as it should be. This is a wonderful deck for spiritual contemplation (even for non Christians) and yields some very interesting insights for well-thought out questions. I am curious to try it to read for more mundane and everyday questions such as relationship and money concerns. It is sure to give a different spin to a reading of this type.

All images are © copyrighted by Us Games Systems Inc. and AGM AG Muller

© copy right 2011 by Bella Lori Gagnon
all rights reserved

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