This sprawling RWS-based deck is one that I like to use for mundane (that is, non-psychological) questions. It has a rustic, earthy richness that makes it a good autumn and winter deck. I put my “Tell Me No Lies” Deck Personality Profile spread to it, hoping to learn something new about its inner nature.
All images © 2015 Lauren Onca O’Leary
The left-hand column is concerned with “first impressions” – the face the deck presents to the viewer on first encounter. The series of cards from top to bottom shows the sense of vitality and spirit the deck imparts (Wands); the fluidity and sensitivity it expresses (Cups); the clarity of its “voice” (Swords); and the trustworthiness of its message (Pentacles). The same sequence applies to the other columns as well.
The 2 of Swords in the Wands position comes across as austere – all that black! – and withdrawn, offering a rather cool reception on first meeting.
With the Sage (King) of Pentacles, the Cups position tinges its wisdom with mercy, bringing a gruff kindliness to its image. I can certainly see the “gruffness” in this deck; the “kindness” is going to take a little more time.
Temperance in the Swords position implies both “walking a knife’s edge” and “wielding a two-edged” sword.” I suppose it could also mean “speaking with forked tongue,” but I think Temperance is too high-minded for that. I would expect its communication to be precisely phrased and a bit abstract.
I call the 10 of Cups the “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” card, for obvious reasons. In the Pentacles position, the deck does have a kind of “homey” honesty to it, and wears its heart on its sleeve. It might seem somewhat sloppily sentimental.
The center column shows the figurative “mode of speech and conversational tone” of the deck. The seminal Ace of Wands in the Wands position lets a ray of light (and perhaps a little bluster) into the picture; a great deal of self-assurance is implied. Think of a radio announcer or salesman with a “golden voice.”
After the Ace of Wands, the 4 of Cups in the Cups position seems to be speaking in a whisper. Despite the impression of “bigness” this deck’s imagery conveys, it will be necessary to observe carefully to pick up on all the subtleties in its delivery.
The 4 of Swords in the Swords position is similarly indisposed to jabber. Its verbal style is more the rapier than the broadsword. It will strike a blow and then disappear into the mist. More mysteries to unravel.
The 7 of Pentacles in the Pentacles position is thankfully no such puzzle. It knows what it needs to do, it just takes its sweet ol’ time doing it. The word that comes to mind is “laconic.” (No, I didn’t say “lazy.”)
The cards in the right-hand column, when read in combination with those in the middle column, suggest something of the overall nature of the deck. The Ace of Wands and the Hierophant together in the Wands row make me think of the kind of righteous testifyin’ that used to happen at religious camp-revival meetings. Taurus isn’t very demonstrative, but maybe the Ace of Wands running up its tailpipe will goose it into eloquence.
The 4 of Cups and the Seer (Page) of Swords don’t make for an emotionally effusive pair. It may be wiser to stick with the “nuts-and-bolts” testimony of this deck and forget the flowery stuff. Most likely that Page has yet to figure out what flowers are for.
The 4 of Swords and the 5 of Swords in the Swords row have a rather brusque (OK, harsh) edge to them. This deck is not likely to mince any words, and will probably come down on the hypercritical side of any verdict. This isn’t one of my “Bobby McFerrin” decks.
The 7 of Pentacles and Justice in the Pentacles row reminds me of the biblical phrase “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s . . . ” The bemused sharecropper will still have to deliver the landlord’s portion or face the full penalty of the law. This deck will weigh each pronouncement meticulously and deliver not an ounce more nor less of its wisdom.
All-in-all, though, it’s a hard-hitting deck to read with if you aren’t after “sweetness-and-light.” I can hear it saying in its best Dragnet deadpan: “Just the facts, ma’am.”