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Review: The Sherlock Holmes Tarot Book and Cards

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I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. I’ve loved the stories by Conan Doyle since I first read them, I avidly watched the Jeremy Brett TV seriesin the 1980s and I can’t miss an episode of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock.

However, when I saw there was now a tarot deck based on the the consulting detective, I was a little unsure about how well the theme would translate into a divination tool. Conan Doyle might have been into things mystical, but his fictional sleuth was very much a man of science and rational deduction.

Nevertheless I was eager to try out the new boxed set Sherlock Holmes Tarot Book and Cards.Its creators, John Matthews and Wil Kinghan are renowned tarot set designers. Their previous decks include The Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine.

The new Sherlock Holmes deck is unlike any I have used before. As the book that comes with the set says: “…the imagery, while echoing that of a standard tarot deck, to a degree, also offers different images and interpretations.”

Very different, I would say. The suits, for example, are observation, evidence, analysis and deduction rather than swords, wands, cups and coins. You only have to look at the photos of cards on this post to see that they offer some very non-standard depictions and names and there is even a new wild card – the Giant Rat of Sumatra. Even if you are an experienced tarot reader, you will have to read the book before using the set, and then familiarise yourself quite well with the individual cards before doing a reading.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past week or so doing just that, and I’ve come to like this deck a lot. It seems particularly good when you have a specific question you want an answer about, such as what to do about a work situation or a relationship. Mind you, don’t go taking all the murder scenes too literally – a card showing a detective leaning over a dead body probably just means make sure you have all the evidence from the clues before jumping to a conclusion. Bumping off an annoying colleague or spouse is not the solution Holmes would suggest, after all :)

Even if you don’t want to use this set for the purposes of divination, Holmes’ fans will love the artwork showing Holmes, Watson and other characters, scenes and locations from the stories, as well as commentary on them that is offered alongside suggested interpretations of the cards.

As publisher Connections says on its website: “Original characters make up the Major Arcana, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are featured throughout. Victorian London, with its shadowy buildings and fog-bound streets, forms the perfect setting for the card imagery.”

The boxed set can be bought at Atlantis Books in London, which held the launch party for the deck, or ordered via Amazon.

Links and previous related posts
Sherlock Holmes Tarot Book and Cards


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