Tarot D: The Didactic Tarot, by Jeffrey M. Donato (Schiffer Books 2015), is a feast for the eyes. Rendered in a very colorful comic-book style, every card bursts with color and vivid imagery. A great deal of action occurs on every card and I recommend that during a reading you examine the action carefully as that will add depth to your readings. Every card contains so many symbols that you will see something new for every reading. As you examine each card within a reading your eye will naturally rest on various symbols depicted on the card more so than on others. I find myself doing this often when I use The Voyager Tarot by James Wanless; and, I do the same when using The Tarot D.
The “D” in The Tarot D stands for didactic, as in something that instructs or teaches. Coincidentally or not, the creator’s last name is Donato, so you could say The Tarot D may also stand for The Tarot Donato. The overall style of the imagery reminds me of comic books that are rendered with a more artistic flair. Some comic books are very simplistic while others can be quite intricate. The Tarot D fits the latter classification. Colors are bold and bright with images outlined in a very fine black line. Borders are color coded for each suit and also contain symbols for the ruling planet, zodiac sign, suit with the numeric designation of the card appearing at the base of the image. All cards are only numbered. There are no titles printed on the cards so the reader is required to memorize the color corresponding to each suit and the major arcana.
Adding to all the good Tarot goodness that The Tarot D has to offer, every suit has two extra cards. The major arcana has four extra cards, and if that wasn’t enough for you, there is a fifth suit consisting of twelve cards. The Tarot D has a total of 24 extra cards making this a 102-card deck.
I recommend that you carefully examine the imagery of each suit. I quickly realized without first reading the book that the images of The Tarot D have a very strong narrative behind them. For example, the suit of Fire tells the story of cosmic creation. The imagery reminds me of shamanic visionary art. The two main characters that appear in the minor arcana in all suits (with the exception of the fifth suit of 12 cards) are the male and female creators of the universe. The deck is populated by numerous fantastical creatures with a few of them being recurring characters.
The Tarot D comes housed in the high quality sturdy 6 x ( x 1 ¼” hinge-lidded box for which Schiffer Books is known. The finish on the box, book cover and cards is matte so there isn’t much glare when looking at the cards under a bright light, which is nice since the cards are so highly detailed. I recommend the use of a magnifying glass to see the finer details of the imagery. At 5 ½ x 3 ¾” this is a good sized tarot deck, but it has a colored border and a thin black border that contributes ½” to each side of the card. The size of the actual image on the card measures 4 ½ x 2 7/8”.
The intricate imagery of The Tarot D is fascinating. Pay attention to the detail as this will add depth to your readings. The guidebook is written in narrative style with the card descriptions conveying the story of cosmic creation. The book on its own is a very interesting read and I think many deck collectors will find it interesting. I sure did. The Tarot D is not a deck for beginners only because it is so different from more traditional RWS-style tarot decks, but it would make a fine addition to any collector’s tarot library.