Apr 11, 2011

Deck Review- The Haindl Tarot

First printed in Germany in 1988 and later by US Games Systems in 1990, the Haindl Tarot is truly a unique deck where ancient wisdom and modern thought meet. The Haindl tarot has been a popular deck for many years and is even printed in several languages throughout the world. I had been very curious about this deck and after seeing scans of it, I knew right away I wanted to review it. 

The deck itself is comprised of 78 cards measuring 2.75" x 5", a standard LWB (little white book) and the cards have a  light lamination, just right that they shuffle like a dream. This deck's imagery is strikingly beautiful and so richly done it's almost as if Haindl painted the images from the very earth herself. 

There are companion books written for this deck, an original two volume set by Rachel Pollack, one for the Major Arcana  and one for the Minor Arcana including the Court cards, which was later revised in 2002 and another book written for this deck, also by Rachel Pollack, called "Haindl Tarot: A Readers Handbook." I highly recommend obtaining the set or the readers handbook as it explains in great detail the rich symbolism found in this deck.

The 22 breathtakingly beautiful Major Arcana cards each have a Hebrew letter, planetary or zodiac sign as well as a rune incorporated into the artwork that gives each card layers upon layers of meaning that seamlessly blend together to form a magnificent tapestry. It is very easy to look at a card once and go back later to find something new that you hadn't noticed before. Around the border is a colored line representing the element to which the card is associated.

The Minor Arcana, Ace through Ten are a unique blend of beautiful artwork and traditional suit meanings. Included is an I Ching hexagram on each card and the cards are also bordered with a corresponding colored line representing the element. The I Ching hexagram serves to set a wider view of each card including social conditions, nature and what might be called "the mood of the cosmos." These hexagrams extend what the card has to say, sometimes balancing ideas that can become too extreme.

The four suits are organized with Wands (Fire) representing East, Cups (Water) representing the North, Swords (Air) representing the South and Stones (Earth) representing the West. Haindl's vision for this order was taken from the Native American concepts that saw the four directions as carrying special qualities, such as the dawn for the East, sunset for the West, cold for the North and warmth for the South, associating them with the seasons, particular colors and healing properties. 

Haindl took a different approach with the Court Cards, assigning each suit not from the royal court, often seen in most traditional tarot decks,  but from different spiritual qualities of the Gods and Goddesses from cultures of the four directions as stated in the Aces. This gives us a much broader understanding of the Court figures down to the very essence of personality and it's components and how they interact and not just the concept of the characters or their general appearance as defined with other decks.  

For the Wands Court and the direction of East we find the Mother, Father, Son and Daughter representing India with Kali, Brahma, Radha and Krishna. Haindl found the culture of India to be deeply inspirational and a place where religion and myth still play an important role in daily life.

The Court Card suit of Cups comes from Europe and the grail stories from the European culture. Here we find Mother of Cups the Venus of Willendorf statue, Father of Cups Odin, The Daughter of Cups Brigid and the Son of Cups, Parsifal. 

Swords Courts are inspired by Egyptian culture and it's mythology. These paintings were done in Egypt as he took in the temples, the land and the very people themselves. Here we find the Mother of Swords represented by Nut, the Father of Swords, Ra, the Daughter of Swords, Isis and the Son of Swords, Osiris. 

The Courts of Stones are the most beautiful in my opinion drawing from Native American traditions with the Mother of Stones, Spider Woman, the Father of Stones, Old Man, the Daughter of Stones, White Buffalo Woman and the Son of Stones, Chief Seattle.

By drawing upon all of these cultures and traditions in creating this fantastic deck, Haindl opens up a deeper understanding of the tarot and it's meanings. His artwork is simply beautiful and I found myself being drawn into the images and actually experiencing the cards themselves. This is a powerful, deeply spiritual deck in which Haindl took influences from many different areas to give the message of reconciliation between Earth, our first mother and of nature and man himself. 

Although I would not recommend this as a deck for a beginner it is certainly a deck for someone with a little more experience in working with the tarot or those who prefer to read intuitively. There is a shamanic quality to this deck and can be used for personal readings and meditation as well. I absolutely adore Haindl's vision of the cards and their symbolism. Not too long ago I did an article of "What makes a good tarot deck" and in my opinion, the Haindl Tarot far surpasses just a good tarot deck, this is truly a perfect tarot deck.

Publisher: US Games Systems
Artist: Hermann Haindl
Author: Rachel Pollack


Tarot By Arwen said...

Love this review. I have the Haindl but don't read with it. I may have to pull it out again.

Tarot By Arwen said...

Great review. I have the Haindl but don't read with it. I may have to pull it back out.

Tegan said...

I've been using this deck exclusively ever since I spilt coffee all over my Llewellyn deck (oops :) I love the imagery and the symbolism, and I am getting very accurate readings!

Anonymous said...

this is my deck too! it took me a long time to get to know it, but i love it. it's an amazing deck and so rarely used it surprises me!

lostjohnny said...

Just popped in to read this review as you said you were doi g one on this deck.

It looks like you enjoyed :)

Suzan Zibar said...

Beautiful review for a beautiful deck. Use it exclusively...