Created & Illustrated by Patrick Valenza
Published by US Games, 2008
Chinese printing edition published by US Games, 2010
78 Cards: 22 Major Arcana, 56 Minor Arcana
Card Size: 130 x 70mm
Suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles
Court Cards: Page, Knight, Queen, King
Justice 8, Strength 11
At Aeclectic Tarot the Deviant Moon Tarot was voted the number one Tarot deck of 2008, and in 2009 was voted the number one deck of all time. These are mighty accolades indeed, but are they deserved? I think they are. I remember when this deck was first published in 2008, I just had to have it, not ‘some day’, but right away. It went straight into my Amazon shopping cart and was on my doorstep a few days later. I was not disappointed, and, so it seems, many others all over the world have felt the same way.
This is a truly sensational deck, unbelievably so. From the very moment I took the deck out of its package I became drawn into its deviantly moonlit, magical world. And as I worked my way through the 78 cards I became in awe of the talent of its creator Patrick Valenza. From the first card right through to the last the artwork is exceptionally strong and the high quality is consistent throughout. I would say, flawless. As a fellow artist and storybook illustrator I am highly respectful of this exceptionally accomplished artist.
Patrick’s work is imaginative and visionary, and his illustrative style is striking. His surreal artwork is created with digital drawings in combination with photographic manipulations of images of cemeteries, tombstones, insane asylums and abandoned buildings. The various elements and textures can be seen throughout the deck in both details on the figures and in the backgrounds, making this a visually rich deck.
Valenza became interested in the Tarot in his childhood and has been a student of the Tarot ever since. In 2004 Valenza commenced work on Deviant Moon, however elements of the deck actually originated in 13 hand-painted Major Arcana illustrations he had created in acrylic washes many years prior, when he was only 15 years old. His distinctive style was evident even back then in 1982 and other than his more recent shift to digital rendering, the appearance of those 13 cards is practically identical to the finished deck published by US Games in 2008.
One noticeable difference is that Patrick has since removed the title banner originally included on his 1982 Death card. This, along with Justice numbered as 8 and Strength as 11 shows some commonalities with the structure of traditional European decks. Generally though this deck is reminiscent of the RWS system.
Patrick’s symbolism however, is his own, ‘derived from childhood visions seen through his imagination and carried into adulthood’. Although in many instances he deviates from more traditional symbols the archetypes still remain and the meanings are very clear. In the 4 of Pentacles, the card of the miser is enhanced; as he faces his death he desperately tries to take his possessions with him. In the Death card we see two corpses, a pregnant mother and her child; the child desperately tries to re-enter the mother’s womb but is held back; another child will be born soon, with death comes rebirth. And in what is traditionally known as the wish card, the Nine of Cups, we see a genie being released from a bottle.
The card stock is sturdy. In the original edition it is gloss laminated and in the recent Chinese printing edition the finish is lighter and silky, the colours are also deeper. The cards, at 130mm high, are a little longer than standard. The card backs are a masterpiece themselves and are reversible. The LWB includes commentary on the imagery and keywords for both upright and reversed meanings. The deck and LWB are housed in their own box, which sits inside an outer slip case. Also included is a fold-out sheet with Patrick’s 10-card Lunatic Spread.
This is a deck that digs deep into the subconscious and demands the truth. Even traditionally positive cards have a rather disquieting edge. I personally do not find it overly dark, but for those who prefer ‘happily ever after’ this deck may be a little too much to handle, a little macabre. Though this would be a minority as the deck’s popularity is enormous. To me this is a ‘must have’ deck. It is stunning!
There is a great deal of imagery and information about the creation of the deck on Patrick’s website. There are also signed decks and limited edition prints available for purchase. If you haven’t visited his site, I urge you to do so.
I eagerly await the companion book!
Stella Luna © 2010 The Tarot Reader. All rights reserved.