- Author: Jason Gruhl
- Publisher: Shambhala
- Format: Cards
Anyone who considers tarot card reading to be too complex might wish to take a look at The Fountain Tarot. This is a deck that has been created as a tool for self-discovery and is different from other decks by virtue of not having been specifically designed as a tool of divination.
The deck’s design has been formulated around two primary concepts – those of clarity and simplicity. In a sense it operates a little like a a mirror – one that reflects back personal potentialities with a hint of influence from the Universal Collective.
Despite this user-centric bias the deck directly references the more mystical and nebulous aspects of personal experience with the addition of a twenty-second card which its developers, Jonathan Saiz, Jason Gruhl, and Andi Torado have titled THE FOUNTAIN. This card, which has not be given a specific numerical value and which is identified simply by the symbol for infinity, is described by them as “the unnameable force of which everything and nothing are a part”.
Let’s dive in and take a closer look The Fountain Tarot.
1 – The Deck
Apart from the inclusion of the additional major arcana card this deck follows traditional tarot structuring. The titles of all of the major arcana cards will be familiar and instantly recognisable to current tarot users; as will be court cards which use the somewhat older titling convention of Page rather than Princess favoured by other decks.
The minor arcana cards also remain unchanged and references the traditional elemental associations of wands, cups and swords. For the earth aspect the authors have employed the term Coins rather than Pentacles or Disks.
The cards of this deck are of good quality, printed on high quality card stock, and marked with silver-gilt edges. They are a matt finish so the light does not reflect off them at any angle with the result that their imagery remains clear at all times.
They are also a good size for any above average hands; measuring slightly under 5 inches by 3 inches, or exactly 7cm by 12cm.
2 – The Book
Accompanying the deck is a 112-page guide. This opens with a brief history of the tarot followed by a list of primary keywords that define the core-concepts of each card.
Following the inclusion of a few basic tarot spreads the booklet then breaks down the meaning and associations of each card starting with THE FOOL. This is comprised of three parts – a description of the meaning behind the card’s imagery, its upright meaning, and its reversed interpretation. The guide closes with a list of acknowledgements and bibliography.
Our Review of The Fountain Tarot by Jonathan Saiz and Jason Gruhl
My initial impressions of this deck were favourable – mainly because of its high quality of production. As I mentioned above the cards are sturdy – an important element if they are going to be used on a regular basis, and the box that they are contained in has been beautifully produced and is equally well-constructed and designed.
My second impressions of the deck were slightly less favourable as, whilst the images are admittedly impressive, I felt somewhat unconnected to them at first. Each card does feature the use of very light, pastel colours which means their immediate visual impact is perhaps not as great as it might be with others decks. In addition I found some the card’s pictorial content to be indistinct given that their main symbolic content is placed in the background rather than in the foreground. This I found off-putting.
However, I have to say that after a little use this deck grew on me considerably. Once I studied the juxtaposition of established tarot philosophy with modern symbolic imagery I began to understand the perspective of its creators. In addition I also thought that the card’s booklet added considerably to this appreciation and found the interpretational meanings of the cards to be insightful and powerfully positive.
So, who might this deck be best suited for?
This is a deck that would be appreciated by those who resonate to the Rider-Waite but who want a more contemporary approach to their tarot work. It has a strong Aquarian (the sun sign and not the deck) feel to it formed from its strong angular imagery and sense of self-journeying – aspects that the lone spiritual initiate will greatly appreciate. It references no particular esoteric theme and so will be enjoyed by those who are perhaps put off by the ‘spiritual’ context of other decks.
Would I recommend this deck?
Selecting the right tarot deck for yourself is such a personal challenge. What works for one will be difficult to use by others. In the context of other similar decks on the market this one is not cheap so you would need to be sure that it is the correct one for you before making that financial plunge. If you find its subtle imagery resonates with you then it is a purchase that you will not be disappointed with. It has so many fine qualities which set it above your average deck and make it worth spending that little extra on it.
If you are a complete newcomer to the tarot then this is a deck that is definitely worth looking at – primarily because it cuts out so much of unnecessary waffle that so many other decks seem to like to carry about with them. However, this simplicity does not take away the powerful essence of the tarot machinery so it will be equally appreciated by tarot old-timers such as myself.
The Fountain Tarot is a deck with a very contemporary feel for it carries the dynamic of the lone spiritual traveller rather than one tied or bound to some spiritual philosophy. It is clearly meant to be a tool to interface between the internal world of the user and the field of cosmic intelligence as exemplified by the additional ‘Fountain’ arcana; which was a nice touch for it anchors the deck within a broader cosmic context.
If this perspective feels right for you then this will be a deck, I am quite sure, that you will derive great pleasure from using for many years to come.
Credit: Review copy kindly supplied by PGUK, London.