On the side of a barn with hex signs, you can see the classic RWS Three of Pentacles. This scene is from Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The friendly neighbor offered to help and the three of them worked together well. It is nice to see the three hens mirroring the three of them. Look at Hunt’s intricate art. From the barn roof shingles to the meticulous research on the symbolism of the hex designs, you can see the details.
The cards depict a 21st-century world that is accelerating through the Digital Age. With art and media being controlled by AI and our physical reality being affected, these scenes are reminiscent of idyllic times in recent American history, which the collective often refers to as bucolic and innocent. I feel like I can breathe here. I want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life and enjoy the cool water and fresh air of a brook or the meadow grass.
You can visit apple orchards and lavender farms, pumpkin fields, golden cornfields as well as woodlands, meadows and lush vineyards. Enjoy the beauty of full-florescence gardens and warm seaside views from lighthouses.
The cast includes cowboys, milkmaids and farmers as well as multi-generational families with deer, wolves and birds.
Araujo and Hunt are very involved in the scenes of Pastoral Tarot. The Connecticut River will be featured in The Magician card. There will also be homages to The High Priestess and Apache and The Hermit’s Iroquois (Haudenosaunee).
The deck’s aesthetic has a John Steinbeck’s America vibe. The deck’s Seven of Wands captures a moment in our history where farmers protested for fair prices and better treatment of workers. I love the deck’s realism.
To that end, I appreciate the fact that the guidebook clarifies Pastoral Tarot isn’t about looking at the Silent Generation’s or Boomer’s America through rose colored glasses. That’d be my only criticism of the deck.
The art depicts the Great Depression of the 1930s and 1940s. It shows resilience and hope despite hardships, struggle and financial loss. The deck does not tell the whole story of American culture and history. It only shows a small portion of what was going on in America at the time. This includes the racial hatreds that were a major imprint of the 30s, 40s. Yes, perhaps.
I believe there were some missed opportunities. Why not bring to light important moments of US History during the 30s and 40s? For example, the California agricultural strikes of 33, which were led Mexican and Filipino farmers. If we affirm that the Great Depression Era is not being viewed through rose-tinted lenses, then there are certain monumental moments that have been overlooked in the American South. This would be my only criticism of the American history timeline presented here. It is a limited view.
However, the majesty and beauty of this deck outweighs any criticism. Pastoral Tarot’s artwork took five years to complete. The pure-form genius and passion for human creativity are on full display. Hunt observed that each landscape painting started as a sketch. The sketch was then transferred to watercolor paper. Next, details were refined using a mechanical pencil and finally the watercolor paints were applied.
Pastoral Tarot is a perfect representation of the sense of place that Hunt and Araujo have captured. Hunt’s meticulous attention to detail gives complexity and multidimensional characterization of space and people. The thought and craftsmanship of the creators of the tarot deck can bring a sense of joy to the final product. You will feel like a genius loci from a bygone Americana.
US Games is a top-notch company in terms of production quality. The bonus drawstring tarot bags and slide-out drawer boxes are both great features. Pastoral Tarot is an amazing treasure. It’s deeply immersive, historical, and a beautiful homage to RWS tarot.
FTC Disclosure: I was given the deck by the publisher in accordance with Title 16 of U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements & Testimonials In Advertising.” All that I have said is honest and accurately reflects how I feel about the book and deck.