A few months back I have noticed this deck on Facebook. It was still in the making and it looked really interesting, so I was following its page. Some weeks later, here we are: the Orange Luna Tarot (below OLT for short) is ready, and is about to start its Indiegogo campaign – the creators are now doing the last touches. So let’s see what this deck offers us!
The artwork and the soon to be completed book is done by Nil Orange. He and Alejandro C. Luna have worked together before on the Visual Zodiac. The deck has 78 Cards following the traditional Marseille order: Justice is VII, Strength is XI.
The cardstock is a little on the thin side, but has the feel of paper, which I am really grateful for (too many plastic decks nowadays). The cards are the standard tarot size, and they are easy to shuffle, although I was a little afraid that I will bend them while at it. Maybe because I have big hands and I like my cards sturdy, so it might not mean a problem for someone whose hands aren’t like shovels.
The deck is available in multiple languages: for now in English, Spanish, German, Thai will come soon and Hungarian (the latter translated by yours truly). Customised decks can be ordered from the creator’s website – you can search the deck’s name in Google or Facebook.
Nil Orange’s unique and unmistakable style makes this deck so special. The images look like a mixture of manual and digital techniques, and have soft colours that are very pleasant to look at. Is it possible to be soft and bright at the same time? I think Nil has nailed it.
The Major Arcana illustrations mostly follow the Marseille tarot traditions. Amongst the few exceptions is Strength which was based on the Papus Tarot and the Juggler (Magician) based on the Xul Solar Tarot. On their Facebook page Nil and Alejandro explain how the images have been influenced by various decks. It is nice to see how the OLT has evolved and gives homage to its muses!
The look of the cards is obviously based on the Grand Eteilla Tarot. They have huge borders, and on the Minors there is the division seen in Eteilla’s deck. The Majors have their names and numbers, the Hebrew letters and zodiac signs associated with them printed on their borders. The Minors have their names, numbers and a keyword printed on them – a feature not everyone likes but which makes a beginner’s life so much easier. Sometimes these differ from the traditional meanings – I will come back to this later.
The Minors are a mixture of Rider-Waite-Smith style decks and the Grand Eteilla: there are illustrations for the cards’ meanings and in a separate field the tokens of their suits. It is a curious thing that the tokens are not built into the illustrations, e.g. there are absolutely no cups present on the picture of the Four of Cups; only in the aforementioned separate field do we have them. At first I was surprised but now I find it rather refreshing and it must be liberating for the artist, not having to incorporate them in the story he paints. It might make it a bit difficult to read them at first though. Just as an example the 7 of Wands has two men with sword in their hand, making one assume it is the 2 of Swords. It might take a second or two to figure out what exactly is going on in the card, but the novelty makes up for it.
Ease of use
Earlier I have mentioned that the meanings don’t always follow the usual ones. A quick example is the 2 of Swords which is subtitled as ‘Equilibrium, and has a ropedancer walking on her rope. Equilibrium, or balance in the Minor Arcana is most commonly paired with the 2 of Pentacles, but I am sure the coming companion book will explain why the creators chose this keyword. In case you wondered, the 2 of Pentacles became ‘Exchange’.
Again, because of the tokens are not present on the illustrations, at first it can be a little confusing to read with this deck. But, once you have gone through the cards and understood how the pictures work you are good to go. The artwork is quite easy to understand and familiarize with.
On the matter of symbolism: the Majors are untouched and traditional, and the Minors are a great source of new ways of looking at the particular cards.
Oh the feel of freshly cut cards *shuddering with delight*! Khmmm… As I mentioned before I love Nil Orange’s art, and in this deck I particularly love the eyes of the figures. They have empty white eyes that could be looking anywhere: they could even be looking at you! The other thing that I have noticed only at second glance was the backgrounds. Nil has used photos of places and photoshopped (is this a word?) them into his drawings to give them dimension. I think it works well with his style, and leaves one wonder where all those photos were taken.
All in all I am happy I have found this deck. It is lovely to read with and I think we will be good friends!