“There’s always another story. There’s more than meets the eye.”
- W H Auden
In a nutshell – the Many Queens Tarot is a super-charged, energetic deck. From the first moment I laid my hands – and eyes (more on the eyes later) – on it, the cards exuded joy.
Firstly, the size of the cards are unusual; I’m personally drawn to things (and people) that are slightly odd, asymmetrical and off-kilter. There promises to be more to unravel, so much more than meets the eye! Measuring 3.5” by 5”, the cards are larger than the typical 2.75” x 4.75” Tarot deck. There must be something special in the engineering and weighted proportion of the cards because despite the bigger size, I found them surprisingly easy to shuffle.
Black and white Tarot decks are uncommon. The Tarot, laden with symbols, is most often depicted in full colour, as the colours themselves provide an added dimension to its meanings. So when a Tarot deck is pared down to black and white, I’m doubly intrigued as to how the cards will reveal themselves. And here’s where the beauty of the Many Queens deck unfolds.
Without using colour, the black and white art, paradoxically, becomes even more evocative. The artist has paid very close attention to details. No line, dot, brushstroke, twirl or shade is wasted. Painstaking details are etched in the characters’ clothes, hair (and individual strands), manicured nails, accessories, plants’ petals, leaves and roots, fingertips and right down to the animals hooves.
The only two cards in the deck that have a landscape orientation. For those who read card reversals, how will you interpret these?
With one eye opened and one eye closed, what does The Moon want to see? What’s The Moon avoiding to look at? Or is it a knowing wink?
As the name suggests, Many Queens is filled with mainly female characters and oh, what wonderful diversity is represented. All body types and shapes, different ethnicities, young and old show up, and there are a few male characters that show up too. The artist cheekily subverts traditional stereotypes of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. Male figures wear lipstick and high heels. Female figures can be bald and bearded. Many characters are androgynous. This is the artist’s vision – in her own words – “the characters are here to blend the boundaries between gender, love, identity, family, friendship, shape and size.”
Now to the eyes! The back of the cards are a black landscape dotted with many eyes in reverse white. Some eyeballs are looking straight ahead, others askance, some downcast and yet others wild-eyed. The overall effect is an exhilarating mixture of humour, quirkiness and stillness.
What are the eyes watching? Are they watching you, using the Tarot? If the eyes can speak, what are they trying to say? Is the message friendly, wise or cautionary? Which direction do the eyes want you look? Outside, inside, sideways, all the above?
Making a fashion statement even as he tries not to draw attention to himself.
The Hermit card is particularly striking. The androgynous figure is wrapped in a printed cloak full of eyes. When the Hermit appears in a Tarot reading, the message is often to look inwards, to trust your own instinct. Yet the eyes on the Hermit’s cloak are looking at the external environment. Is it fear? What are they watching out for? Is it a form of self-protection?
A witty take of the peacock’s eye-spots, replaced by human eyes. Are the eyes sizing up the woman? Or is her vanity telling her that all eyes are on her?
The Nine of Pentacles is a witty take on the peacock’s famed eye-spots on its elaborate plumage. The peacock’s eye-spots, also known as ocelli, is replaced by the signature eye patterns of the Many Queens Tarot deck. If you look closely, each eye is looking at a different direction (some feathers have a human face with two eyes). The female is admiring a diamond while the peacock preens and its eye-spots look like it’s mirroring the female. Does she see herself in the multiple eye-spots in the refraction of the diamond? Is she happy with the view?
The Judgement card features a man whose body is entirely tattooed with eyes, while his own eye is closed. There’s a single eye peeking out on his left arm. Is Judgement meted out by the multitude? Or is the only Judgement that counts your own conscience, as you close your eyes and ears (obscured by the loud trumpet) to the rest of the world?
“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust
“Remembrance of Things Past”
The Many Queen Tarot deck is a witty, clever and thoughtful interpretation of the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) tradition. The hyper modern art may not look anything close to the RWS deck at first glance, but it doesn’t take long to realise that this deck is a wonderful take on the RWS and it surely has a place in all beginner and advanced Tarot lovers’ space.
Girl playing with sharp objects. Look closely at how expressive the eyes of all the characters are, including the moon!
The fabulous loud and confident Queen who lets it all hang out. Who’s got time to shave?
REVIEW by Eve @eventuallytarot
Complete 78-card black & white deck.
Major and minor arcana included.
Size 3.5” x 5” (larger than typical Tarot deck)
330 gsm Black Core premium card stock in matt varnish (to prevent scratches).
Packaged in a hard cover box and enclosed with guided instructions.
About the creator
Lettie Jane Rennekamp is an artist who lives in Portland, Oregon. She works with pens, colour pencils and watercolours. She said that her art “centers on the body and what it means to inhabit a body in this world. I use illustrations depicting people, plants and pattern to try to capture more abstract ideas like moving through grief or self-acceptance.”
How Lettie describes the deck
The Queens represent intuition and receptive energy, and the strength we all have coming from those places. Remember to breathe, trust your feelings and keep going!
About Eve @eventuallytarot
Eve uses the Tarot with you to light the path ahead, to clarify cause and effect, and to inspire you with courage to follow your dreams. Simply put - to help you make better decisions and find happiness.