Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tarot Review: Tarot of the Boroughs

Deck: Tarot of the Boroughs
Created by: Courtney Weber and George Courtney
Date of Publication: August 2010
Published by: Self-Published

I count myself fortunate that I know the creators of this deck, Courtney and George. This is a marvelous tarot deck set in New York City and cast with the most eclectic personalities to represent all the variety of inhabitants in the five boroughs.

I have noticed a minority of photographic decks in the tarot world. Maybe it is because people think photographs detract from the mystery of the cards. In this deck, the photography is its strength, as is the models that were used. And "models" is the wrong word in this case . . . the people in this deck are the most accurate depiction of that rare race of people known as "New Yorkers," and were carefully selected as representative of the card they are featured in.

This deck I feel would be an excellent starter deck for even the most inexperienced reader. The photography makes tarot feel very accessible. It is not an ethereal thing. It is real and grounded. Because of this grounded perception, I feel more people would be willing to read the cards for themselves and not feel strange about it.

What makes this deck so strong is the Minor Arcana. Even a person that has read tarot for years can still struggle over the Minor Arcana cards. In this deck, each Suit carries a storyline running through it, and keeps the cast of models of each Suit the same throughout it. The two couples that may have been fighting in the beginning of the Cups suit are at peace by the time the Ten of Cups arrives. The inkling of a creative idea that is present in the Ace of Wands, represented as a paintbrush here, has blossomed to fruition by the Nine of Wands.

The little book that comes with the deck is not something to lean on, nor is it the intention of the creators of this deck for anyone to do so. In fact, it is encouraged for the reader to come up with their own interpretations for these cards, as only a basic meaning of each card is given.

However, the rich imagery of the cards invites any reader to dive right in. The strength of these images is summed up in one word: familiarity. We know these stories, because these stories are our own. Struggling with the photocopier, a symbol of the minor annoyances of office life, is on display in the Three of Coins card. The meaning here is obvious, but straight from the little book that comes with the deck . . ."Shit fucks up." Brilliant. Going to yoga class to regain balance (Temperance) . . . a dancer exhausted after a rehearsal, but happily wiping the sweat from her brow (6 of Wands) . . . the ex that you know is bad for you (The Devil) . . . the tentative first breakfast with a new love (3 of Cups) . . .

Tarot of the Boroughs is available in select stores and online at www.tarotoftheboroughs.com. Autographed decks are available at Whimsies Incognito.


  1. Thank you for reviewing this deck!! I've been slowly working on a photographic deck for myself, but alas, it hasn't gotten very far yet. So imagine my astonishment when I stumbled upon the web page for this deck. I started ooohing and ahhing right away as I flipped through the few images provided. My boyfriend, bless his tarot-virgin soul, was actually enamored with this deck, almost moreso than me! So I'm REALLY glad to hear that you would recommend this to a beginner. I LOVE the fresh and realistic feeling these images have. I'm definitely treating myself to this deck in the near future.

  2. Thank you for commenting! My boyfriend is also a "tarot virgin", and Tarot of the Boroughs is his first deck. I had him practicing a bit with reading for me using the Llewellyn Tarot (my main deck), and the Minor Arcana usually left him a bit stumped. The images in that deck are beautiful and they work for me, but they seemed more ethereal and "out of reach" for him to properly interpret them.
    Another wonderful thing about this deck that I didn't mention is that in the little book it mentions what each of the suits means overall: Cups, Coins, Wands, and Swords. Which was another stumbling block for the boyfriend ("What do the Swords mean again?").

  3. Thanks for the review. This deck is really stunning and my number one "must have" deck. I love that Moby is in it!