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General Thoughts About The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck


TheLoracular
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I'm excited that I finished up a different project this morning and I can start working on this study group.  I really hope others will join and explore this deck with me.

The Wild Unknown was hyper-popular for a while shortly after its publication in 2011.   That was around the same time that I finished up my third and final bout of working for a tarot reading service, providing readings via phone and went on a long sabbatical from both Internet life and reading/collecting tarot decks.  So for me, the Wild Unknown Tarot is brand new and I'm just starting to read the guide books (official and unofficial) and really taking a good look at the cards.  

What I really like about TWU tarot

 

1) The subtle use of color :  I am fascinated with the way that Kim Krans uses color to accent her drawings in a very "elemental" way.  It makes the cards "subtle" which is a word that the occultists of the 19th century often used to talk about the spirits and spiritual energy; something present but ephemeral and easily missed if you were not sensitive.  I feel like every color was carefully chosen and rich in symbolism when it appears, but in a way that encourages the reader to apply their own imagination and experiences to what it means.

2)  The choice of animals:  owls, foxes, snake, stags....  all of them come with a lot of symbolism attached and they are drawn in (usually) very compelling ways that again, let's the reader rely heavily on their imagination to decide what it all means.   The lack of humans of any kind was still pretty novel at the time (except for Cat decks) as I remember?  It was definitely novel for a deck this stark and serious.

3) The over-all mood:  I just called TWU a stark and serious deck.  It is not a deck I'd suggest to a novice reader for a bunch of reasons.  It is also not a deck that I would personally carry in my bag and use for casual reading for anyone/everyone.  I think of this as better suited as an "introspection" deck, something to do personal self-development with or incorporate into a practice that was centered in neo-pagan readings for neo-pagan querents.  If I had to cut my collection down to 12 tarot decks?  It would probably be on the list.  If I had to cut my collection down to 6?  It  wouldn't be.  

What I'm critical about

 

1) Some of the animal drawings: There are a few, like the fox on the 5 of cups, that are mediocre compared to the rest imo.


2) Choice of font:  Even if it fits the feel of the deck, I'm not a fan of that specific font and find it a little hard to read, especially on some of the Roman numerals.  

 

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What a great thread to have for the study group, @TheLoracular. I am a big fan of TWU, and it is a typical choice for my grand, once-a-season forecast readings.

 

I got the deck from…wait for it… an Urban Outfitters(!) right before its popularity really hit the fan. I remember opening it up outside and not really knowing what to expect, diving into the cards with sheer wonder and awe! Nowadays some of the images are a little corny to me (the lion holding the rose in their mouth for Strength), but I still can’t deny their beauty.

 

Kim Krans’s linework is just gorgeous. Some people say that they could have drawn it, due to its sketchy quality. To that I say, why didn’t you? The deck has a cohesion in its presentation of animals and pip arrangements.  Also, her draftsmanship is really quite great. I always feel as though I am looking at a “real” animal when I look at a Wild Unknown card, not a cartoon. Generally, her art is skilled and respectful. The black and white is still unusual to find on the market,  and she really took the bits of color added to the next level with all of the bright hues across the rainbow’s spectrum.

 

In short, the deck is iconic.

 

Even though it has been a trendy deck, I feel as though it deserves its popularity and that it is not diminished by its broad use.

 

It is a fantastic reader. Many layers, and yes, great for introspection. I would actually say I could see it working for a dedicated beginner!

 

Never got the guidebook; saw some of the text online and didn’t find it to be any more insightful than the images themselves.

 

Overall my impressions of the deck are as positive as they were at the start. It is a favorite and will stand the test of time, while being right on time as well.

Edited by vulprix
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9 hours ago, TheLoracular said:

1) Some of the animal drawings: There are a few, like the fox on the 5 of cups, that are mediocre compared to the rest imo.

Isn't the 5 of Cups a Horse?

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11 hours ago, stephanelli said:

Isn't the 5 of Cups a Horse?


Yes!  According to guide books it is a horse, which I will take as confirmation to myself and for myself about this particular drawing isn't as great as most of the others.  Because i definitely didn't see a horse head when I glanced at it, I saw a fox with its muzzle tilted down, a black ear and black feet.  Even knowing its a horse, my brain is going "that's kinda more.. cow/calf.."   😛

 

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1 hour ago, TheLoracular said:


Yes!  According to guide books it is a horse, which I will take as confirmation to myself and for myself about this particular drawing isn't as great as most of the others.  Because i definitely didn't see a horse head when I glanced at it, I saw a fox with its muzzle tilted down, a black ear and black feet.  Even knowing its a horse, my brain is going "that's kinda more.. cow/calf.."   😛

 

See, I never saw it as anything else. It looks exactly like one of the horses I rode at the riding school I went to add a child.

To me it's just as good as all the others.

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This? I'm seeing a horse, too, kind of a shaggy, gentle one.

Capture.JPG.91c7cc46be3a0ec78e8aed610202875f.JPG

 

But I'm trying to understand where you're seeing feet, @TheLoracular. Is there some kind of optical trick I'm missing, like that old rabbit-duck illusion?

rabbduck.jpg.c694fa13bc1c642ccc663c9e25c54882.jpg

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I totally see the horse in that picture and now that it is there, I can look at my own card (the black isn't as deep, the contrast isn't as good) and its a horse and remains a horse.  Thank you.

 

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I really love the imagery in this deck, however I can't really get "connected" to it. I've done a couple of personal readings with it and it always felt "off" if that makes sense.

 

Some of the cards are absolutely beautiful though. One of my personal favorites it the 2 of Pentacles. The 6 of Cups is also a personal favorite in this deck.

 

I really wish I could get into this deck, but I can't.

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On 9/21/2021 at 9:16 PM, katrinka said:

Is there some kind of optical trick I'm missing, like that old rabbit-duck illusion?

Yes!!! I think that is what is going on! When I first looked, I couldn't see any animal clearly - other than a calf head with skeleton teeth. Yuck!

When folks mentioned a horse head, it took a bit of staring, but finally it appeared, clear as day - with neck and mane.

 

So I think if you look for the horse, starting from the upper left, you will see it.

In order to see the other image (whatever it may be) try covering up the neck and mane and just look at the face, and imagine the eye is on the opposite side of the head. What do you see now?

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