Tarot and Oracle Decks have exploded into the common experience since the 1990s. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks and published ones. Reviewing a deck is a subjective judgment based on various critical criteria.
The critical review of a deck involves looking at the quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion text of the deck, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review The Rohrig Tarot by Carl W Rohrig and Francesca Marzano-Fritz.
The Rohrig Tarot Cards
The English version of the Rohrig Tarot deck was published in March 1995 by Bluestar Communications and is currently out-of-print. Used copies can be purchased on Amazon, eBay, and used book sites. Do not be surprised by prices well over $100.
From the back of the book:
Carl W Rohrig’s Tarot is a living work of art, a synthesis of past, present, and future. Rohrig’s transcendent vision enhances the power of this centuries-old divination tool and brings it to the modern age. Francesca Marzano-Fritz developed a unique interpretation of the individual cards in the Rohrig deck, based on her 30 years of experience with Tarot.
The stories and explanations for each card open the door to the world revealed through meditative experience with Tarot. They provide a thorough understanding of the Rohrig deck, as well as unique insights into the work with other decks. This book presents a detailed analysis of each card in the Major Arcana and a summarized explanation for the cards of the Minor Arcana.
In addition, the authors offer a brief introduction to the meaning and history of the Tarot and outline some simple card spreads. Each of the 78 cards is depicted in full color.
The card stock for the publication of the deck is very high quality and will hold up well with repeated use over time. The cards are much, much larger than standard playing cards (easily double the size), so they are hard to shuffle unless you have very large hands. If you can find an unopened copy, the cards will stick together until used repeatedly to break them in.
Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The deck artwork is quite beautiful and very visually accessible. The Minor Arcana number cards have keywords, but the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana court cards do not. Below are samples from the Major and Minor Arcana.
From the booklet:
This card, like all the others in the Major Arcana of the Rohrig Tarot, is associated with a number and a letter: it bears a Hebrew letter on the left side and a rune on its right side. Both of these symbols emphasize the meaning of the card.
BETH is the second letter of the alphabet and the one we find on the left side of the Magus’s card. BETH is our house, this manifest world as opposed to the unmanifest world beyond – which nevertheless reminds us: as above, so below.
On the right side of the card we find the rune FEHU, which means “livestock,” and thus, by implication, stands for wealth, or for the mystery of gold. FEHU also signifies fire and energy. The power of FEHU belongs in the hands of truly noble people.
The Minor Arcana cards do not receive detailed descriptions, only key words. The key words for the 3 of Cups are: abundance, joy, fulfillment, and gratitude.
The visual art of the cards is “mature”, making this a rather serious deck. Some of the cards can really shake a querent’s to their core.
Explanation of the Cards
The book is rather comprehensive for the Major Arcana cards, but minimalist for the Minor Arcana. In the first section of the book, there is an answer to the question: What Help Can Tarot Bring?
The tarot can help you find the key to the images stirring within you. The twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana of the tarot represent a mosaic of the different aspects of the ego. When a particular card profoundly touches a corresponding aspect within you, you will recognize your dormant potential. You will become the creator and master of your own imagination and learn to consciously shape your life from your inner depths. The cosmic and divine laws are then fulfilled according to the maxim “as inside, so outside.” You will reflect these laws and be an integral part of them. (7)
As a professional reader who started reading cards for pay in 1992, I can say that this deck does work well in public because the images are mostly familiar and arresting, and the keywords are helpful for the explanation of the cards, making it easy for the reader and querent to know the meaning of the card. However, shuffling is not easy, and I would not recommend the deck for a “playful” public gathering, but rather one that is a spiritual show or event.
It is one of my top 25 “go-to” decks for public readings because it is so artistically beautiful and impactful. Now that I am working with clients at a distance, almost exclusively, I offer 3 decks for clients to choose from for their reading when we work on the phone or via Zoom. This deck would be among those three in the rotation of my top 25 decks.
I do see this deck as a general/specific use deck (fine for spiritual events, but a little too strong for “just for fun” events). Still, I will give this deck a very high rating. I consider it a beautifully rendered deck that has an excellent explanation for each Major Arcana card, but limited content for the Minor Arcana. I keep the cards in a beautiful hand-crafted wooden box.
As a professional, I do enjoy reading with the deck and can recommend it as a deck worth owning and using. If you are a tarot and oracle card collector, then this is certainly a deck you need to have in your collection.