Llewellyn's Classic Tarot (Llewellyn Books)

Llewellyn's Classic Tarot. Llewellyn Books, USA. Full divinatory tarot deck, Mediterranean suited, 78 single-headed cards. Size: 71mm x 118mm.

Deck make-up:
Trumps: 0-21.
Pentacles (i.e. coins), wands (i.e. clubs), cups, swords: A, 2-10, foot jack ("page"), mounted jack ("knight"), queen, king.

Llewellyn's Classic Tarot is basically a redrawing of the classic Rider-Waite-Smith tarot of 1909, taking full advantage of the extra detail afforded by the finer lines and less-coarse halftoning allowed by modern technology. It was released in 2014. American tarot author, Barbara Moore, is given overall credit for this deck, but the art itself is by Eugene Smith. Moore's role is thus presumably as the overseer of the contents of the artwork. She also wrote the accompanying book, Your Tarot, Your Way.

The extra clarity afforded by this redesign (which is aided by it also being larger in size than its forerunner) really does bring out extra detail in the RWS design not really apparent before. I've given a few examples in the notes below of the way this deck unmuddles Pamela Colman Smith's original artwork. After looking through the cards, I really did end up noticing things I had missed for years. You can compare with the original RWS cards on my page here. There are also, of course, "halfway house" decks available. These don't go as far as actually redrawing the artwork per se but seem to be retraced versions of the original PCS outlines (chiefly to make them finer and less clumsy) with new colour fills – for example, U.S. Games' Universal Waite Tarot Deck (by Mary Hanson-Roberts) or their Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot (by Virginijus Poshkus).

The deck is available in two formats: full size and a mini/compact version. It is also available bundled with the book mentioned above as part of the Tarot Made Easy box set.

I should point out that my copy of the deck featured quite a few tiny white blemishes (a technical printing problem where a wet, just-printed card is stacked and adheres to the card in front, then pulls off specks of the design when the two are separated later). I've noticed this issue before in other decks and it seems to be indicative of the cheaper end of Chinese printing. I've cleaned a lot of this up in the scans below when it becomes distracting.

Click on any card to explore the design.

(Comments, corrections or can-I-use requests, please e-mail: Click to see e-mail address.)

Card image size, below:     


The Death card deviates from the Waite recipe a little: the figure of Death isn't on a horse and there isn't a pair of towers in the background. This is strange as mostly this deck is about bringing extra detail into play/view, rather than less. The stork on The Star card is an example of the former – I never noticed it on the Pamela Colman Smith version of the design. Unlike the PCS version, the sun doesn't have a face here, but the moon seems to feature Captain Jean-Luc Picard looking down!
My favourite card in the pack is The Tower.

Pentacles (i.e. coins)

The bull motifs on the king is another example where this design brings out more detail missed on the PCS deck. And isn't the 10 here far better than the hopelessly muddled original version?

Wands (i.e. clubs)

Another detail I had previously missed were the boats on the 3. They are little more than a couple of distant squiggles on the original.


At least two more cards here are considerably less muddled than the PCS drawings: the 6 and the queen.
Note the added bird (in the cup) on the 4.


The 3 has added barbed wire and a scorched landscape – reminiscent, perhaps, of WWI?
Elsewhere, we can actually see the two passengers on the 6; I preferred the hidden figures on the original. Meanwhile, on the 9, the individual seems to just have a slight headache compared to the feel of "utter desolation" on the original.
The 7 is the card which is the most different between this redrawing and the original PCS deck: here the man with the swords is climbing a mountain rather than just slinking along.



Rider-Waite-Smith divinatory meanings.

The deck on this page is one masterminded by a Golden Dawn (or its offshoots) member, or designed to adhere to their concepts of tarot. A list of other major such decks is given below (scroll/swipe to the right if needed):

Deck Author/s Artist/s (if diff.) Release year "Official" guide book Notes
Marseilles tarot / Tarot de Marseille unknown various 15th century The Tarot: Its Occult Signification, Use In Fortune-Telling, And Method Of Play, Etc. The booklet cited (written in 1888 by Samuel L MacGregor Mathers of the Golden Dawn) gives "official" Golden Dawn divinatory meanings when using the Marseilles tarot (referred to at that time as the Italian tarot).
In 1889, Swiss occultist and artist, Oswald Wirth, designed a well-known tarot specifically for esoteric use with his own versions of the trumps in the Marseilles pattern.
The Rider-Waite[-Smith] Tarot Arthur Edward Waite Pamela Colman Smith 1909 The [Pictorial] Key To The Tarot
Builders Of The Adytum (BOTA) Tarot Paul Foster Case Jessie Burns Parke 1931 The Tarot: A Key To The Wisdom Of The Ages or Highlights Of Tarot [NB doesn't cover pip cards] Revised version of Rider-Waite with some "corrected" trumps and courts, and simple pip cards. Trumps also issued in colour form; full deck is b&w.
Thoth Tarot Deck Aleister Crowley Lady Frieda Harris 1972 (painted 1938-43) The Book Of Thoth (Egyptian Tarot): A Short Essay On The Tarot Of The Egyptians
The Golden Dawn Tarot (aka The Whare Ra deck) Israel Regardie Robert Wang 1978 An Introduction To The Golden Dawn Tarot
The Hermetic Tarot Godfrey Dowson 1979 Only the Little White Booklet that comes with the deck. Black & white.
Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (aka The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot) Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero (with Israel Regardie) 1991 Golden Dawn Magical Tarot / The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot "Ritual" was the earlier name. Do not confuse this deck with the one below – they are different!
The Magical Tarot Of The Golden Dawn Pat Zalewski & Chris Zalewski Skip Dudchous & David Sledzinski 2022 The Magical Tarot Of The Golden Dawn: Revised Ed. Earlier editions had art by Jonathon A Pierce instead. This deck is not to be confused with the similarly named deck above!

Links to other Rider-Waite-Smith tarot pages

Computer Tarot Reading A smartphone-friendly (I hope) animated Tarot-reading program. With Waite and Mathers divinatory meanings.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Divinatory Meanings (desktop version) App which gives meanings of RWS cards – saves messing with booklets! Also in mobile version or hardcopy/pdf version. See which you like.

Links to other full tarot and divinatory decks

Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck (AGM-Urania)

Ancient Italian Tarot / Tarocchino Milanese (Lo Scarabeo)

Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (Llewellyn Books)

The Golden Dawn Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

Grand Etteilla (Tarots Egyptiens / Egyptian gypsies tarot) (Grimaud)

Grand Jeu De Mlle Lenormand (Grimaud)

(Petit) Lenormand / "Blue Owl" Lenormand (AGM-Urania)

The Hermetic Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

Tarot Hiéroglyphique Egyptien (unknown, France)

Learning Tarot Cards (Witchy Cauldron)

Llewellyn's Classic Tarot (Llewellyn Books)

Minchiate Fiorentine (Baragioli)

Nouveau Jeu De La Main (Grimaud)

Tarots Parisiens / Oracles Planetaires / Sorcier du XIXe Siècle (Viuda de Bouchard-Huzard)

Tarot Of The Renaissance (Lo Scarabeo)

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (Rider)

RWS Panorama (Deckstiny)

Sola-Busca Tarot (privately commissioned deck)

Le Tarot Astrologique / The Astrological Tarot (Grimaud)

Tarot De Marseilles (Conver-Camoin)

Tarot: Spécial Cercle / Tarot Nouveau / Tarot A Jouer / Jeu De Tarot / Bourgeois Tarot (Grimaud)

blown-up cardclosemagnifyunmagnifyinvertnextpreloading...