Usually, I do a group post for my deck modifications, since I’ve been doing quite a few of them over the past little bit. But this particular modification was so surprising and so transformative, that I felt that it needed its own post.
First, a little backstory.
My very first deck was given to me, and so was my third.. fourth… possibly also my fifth. I was raised by Pagan and Buddhist parents, and my mother gifted me the Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling cards when I was about ten years old.
It isn’t really a deck that I use anymore, although I still own both the deck I was originally given as well as a version of the deck that is over 100 years old.
Soon after, I was given my first Lenormand deck (which is the system that I first learned with), and then a handful more of them over the years that followed.
When I discovered the Ryder-Waite-Smith system, I was curious and eager to learn, and I requested a recommendation from the shop owner for a learning deck. Now, I’m not sure why they recommended the Sacred Circle Tarot for this. And, at around fourteen years old or so? I wasn’t “centered” enough in myself or the RWS system to realize this deck was not going to be a good match for me, or to speak up and tell him “Um, no. How about a different one.”
So, I bought the deck and I struggled with it. I slogged through the reading, and fought with the deck at every turn. For a while, I even thought that the RWS system was just not for me, and I retreated back to my roots in the Lenormand.
I’ve moved on since then, and back to the RWS. I’ve discovered a multitude of decks that speak to me and that I enjoy (as you can clearly see by my list of decks that I now own). But, I never got rid of the Sacred Circle Tarot I’d struggled with so horribly in the beginning.
Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of deck modifications, and I have been eying the Sacred Circle deck with serious consideration since the first time I modified a deck.
Finally, I decided to take the plunge. This is, hands down, my most aggressive deck modification to date, but I have to say, I’m really pleased with the results.
The first thing I did was trim the cards, of course. You can see in the above image the difference that this made in the size of the cards. A deck that was once oversized and on the edge of awkward has been cut down to the size of a mini deck.
It was the first card I cut that made me realize what my issue was with this deck all along, actually. I trimmed the Tower first (because, well yeah, it was just fitting in this case), and as soon as it was trimmed, I was amazed at how much more I connected with the card. What I realized is that those great big, highly intricate borders were what had turned me off to the deck to the point that it was nearly impossible for me to read with them or use them in any capacity. Although there are a few borders in the Major Arcana that are beautiful, as a whole they’re impression on me is startling, garish, and in some cases an almost violent assault on the senses.
So, I cut them off. All of them off. The borders, the titles, the key words. All of it but the main center picture on each card.
Suddenly, this deck felt much better. The images spoke to me (although… not all of them), it felt good in my hands, it shuffles well and is screaming “use me, use me, USE ME!”. The only issue I still struggle with is the “photo-shopped” imagery, which is a far and above improvement over it’s original incarnation.
I did have a small problem, though. The Queen of Swords and the Warrior card (the Strength card) were a little too similar in my opinion, and a few of the other Major Arcana cards were easy to mix up. The ones with people, I mean. So, I decided to go ahead and use a fine point Sharpie and number the Major Arcana cards.
I didn’t really need to do all the cards in the Major Arcana, but I liked the consistency of having them all done, so I numbered each of them with their roman numeral correspondence.
What is not consistent is the placement of the numbers. This is because the cards (and images) are now so tiny that there isn’t a lot of room to select any one place to put the numbers in the same spot on each card. So instead, I tried to find wherever there was a good space that the numbers would both fit, and be visible.
Finally, I then edged the deck in black. I did this in a less precise way than I usually do my decks. Normally, I take each card individually and edge the card, wipe the excess with a microfiber cloth, then repeat a second time if needed.
In this case, I took sections of the deck and did the edges of these sections all at once. This causes the ink to bleed a bit in between the cards, adding a touch of a messy border to the fronts and the backs, which was the idea. I think that bit of “messy’ in the border goes really well with the artwork on the cards and I’m really happy with the results.
Now? After one night’s worth of work on altering this deck, it has been (nearly) completely transformed. It no longer feels uncomfortable or awkward, and I no longer feel any inclination to avoid it or set it aside in the bottom of my tarot chest. Instead, I love the way the cards feel in my hands, and aside from the photo-shopped look of some of the cards, I’m very happy with the aesthetic.