“Imagine a new kind of Tarot Deck that actually links and influences the cards in existing Tarot Decks.”
The Ambigram Tarot is an interesting tarot deck that’s available from Nightwhine.
“The Ambigram Tarot is a deck that I began several years ago (2008) and after much work has finally reached its first printing! Each card features an Ambigram on the back that reads ‘Eternity’ and ‘Infinity’ depending on how you turn it. It is a full tarot deck that includes both major and minor arcana. Also included are ‘spread’ cards that are useful as a learning tool. The face of each card has both an ambigram picture and descriptive word(s) as well as each cards respective number. :-)
This is your chance to purchase, at wholesale price, a pre-release of my deck. Only a limited amount will be sold, and the first 25 decks will include an additional signed card by yours truly! This will arrive to you as a cellophane sealed deck. No book or pamphlet is included at this time.” [via]
“This game looks like great fun. Tarot cards and pyramids; what’s not to like?” [via]
I’m going to try really hard to keep this relatively brief, and avoid going down the rabbit hole of talking about everything there is to say about this game and the topic of Looney games. But, I’ve got to say something!
“Gnostica is an abstract territory based war game. Tarot cards make up the often-changing board, and players use Icehouse pieces to represent minions that control those territories. Every tarot card has a power, and when a player has one of his pieces on a territory, he or she may use the power of that territory through that piece. Players also have a hand of tarot cards which allow them to use those powers through any of their pieces. Territories are worth points when occupied, and the game ends when one player challenges the other players and has 9 points on his or her following turn.” [via]
While you do need a deck of some kind, you don’t really need to use a tarot deck. I made my personal deck out of blank note cards. Actually, I made both a Gnostica and Zarcana deck, because I wanted to play the two similar games and compare. However, there is no denying that a real tarot deck would look awesome during play, and have to bonus of freakin’ our both the squares and the uptight. It has always been my plan to dedicate a Thoth tarot deck toward this purpose, but I’ve not yet done that.
Other than a deck of cards for territory, you’ll need a number of Looney Pyramids. Think of the pyramids kind of how you do a deck of cards, something that is used to play a large number of games. There’s a whole lot of history to these pyramids, which you can find and read; but, you should take a gander at IcehouseGames.org Wiki, the fan-built wiki of games that people have designed for play using the pyramids to get an idea of how these are used.
There are actually a large number of pyramid colours that have been available over the years, though currently there are two sets of colours that come boxed together. In order to play a game of gnostica, you really should have five boxes of Looney Pyramids so that you have a stash of 15 of each colour, since 3 of each colour come in each box. The pyramids themselves come in three sizes, each having 1 to 3 pips on them, so a complete stash of 15 pyramids of the same colour will have 5 of each size.
And, I can personally vouch for the way that one can become a little bit obsessed with all the various accessories and tchotchkes.
If you’re interested in the Looney Pyramids, and games you play with them like Gnostica, you may also want to look at some other nifty games from Looney Labs, like Fluxx (including a planned Cthulhu Fluxx at some point!) and Chrononauts.
The Looney Pyramids and Fluxx games are part of a set of games that have flexible or self-amending rules, and I personally find the way I think about playing these games to be similar to the way I think magically. I keep meaning to write my thoughts about that down, and had the notion of a class on “Games Magicians Play” where I would share my thoughts with others. To just put this out there then, I find the need to be flexible and adaptable, while still maintaining a focus on intention, to be an excellent way to play with magical thinking outside of ritual.
Of course, for me, this all started with Peter Suber’s Nomic, which is one of the first games of self-amendment I ever explored. Problem was, it just wasn’t fun. And, if the single necessary and sufficient Nomic rule is “all players must agree on the rules of the game” then it seems to naturally follow as a corollary that “all games should be fun” … you know, unless you’re into the kink of playing games that aren’t fun, I suppose. But, these games from Looney Labs have always seemed to fit that necessary and sufficient core rule and its corollary; they have always maintained a consistent level of fun and interest for me that no other games have sustained.
Check out Gnostica, or the other Looney Labs games, and let me know what you think about my hypothesis about them being a game that mirrors magical thinking, or if you have games you think other magicians should know about consider letting me know or sending me a review of them.
“The Phantomwise Tarot is a 78-card tarot deck, painted entirely in black and white acrylic. While drawing inspiration from the Rider Waite style, it has a variety of influences ranging from Egyptian mythology and Victoriana to carnival/circus chic and of course, the works of Lewis Carroll.”
The site for this says that the deck will be completed in 2009, but is it? Also, the limited edition cards that were available through Adam McLean’s Alchemy Website are sold out. Also, the etsy shop is on hiatus. Good news or bad news?
Update 2011dec6 @ 8:19pm
So, there’s a post by Erin Morgenstern back in May on her site about the status of the deck.
“I do not have a publisher for the complete deck yet.
It is on my ever-growing to-do list and I promise I do intend to get the deck published because I want it to be available for the tarot-loving masses, but I also wrote a book and it sort of ate my life. (If you happen to be a tarot publisher and are interested in publishing the deck, please feel free to contact me.)
The tarot aficionados will likely appreciate this aspect of my current life balance issues: in the summer of 2009, just before I started querying literary agents, I had a wonderful professional tarot reading and the only negative element was in art/writing balance, where The Tower showed up to remind me that I cannot give all of my energy to different things without falling down. Something had to take priority, and the universe clearly and loudly decided it would be writing.
My apologies for the continued wait, but I want to give the deck the time and energy it deserves, including possibly touching up some of the paintings, so it’s going to take a while. Thank you for your patience.” [via]
Update 2011dec12 @ 3:33pm
There was a specific question about this tarot deck in a recent interview with Erin Morgenstern over at GoodReads:
“GR: Goodreads member Brandi asks, ‘Does she plan to reprint her Phantomwise black-and-white tarot card deck?’
EM: It is on the to-do list. Fortunately there are a lot of things on the to-do list. There was a limited edition, but there’s never been a 72-card deck. I do have the art for it; I just haven’t made the time to pursue proper publication of it. But there will be in the foreseeable future a published deck that people can get.” [via]
Via Mary K Greer’s Tarot Blog, a rediscovered Waite tarot deck:
“Tali Goodwin of Tarot Professionals and the blog Tarot Speakeasy, through extensive research, has discovered the ORIGINAL Waite-Trinick images that comprised a tarot deck conceptualized by A.E. Waite for the private use of members of his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross.”
“Tali and Marcus were able to view and photograph the beautiful and enigmatic original paintings and have agreed with the owners to bring out a book (in color and b&w) of the major twenty-two images with full commentary prior to Christmas 2011.”
“Tarot Professionals will be hosting a funding drive—live on Indigogo to ask for assistance towards publication. As they want to make these remarkable images—and the biggest discovery in Tarot this century—available to everyone.”