Card-a-Month August: Wonderland


Since this is the last month entirely in the summer, I wanted to pick a deck that has the same kind of redolent, lavish energy as August. Something that seems like an illusion brought on by excessive heat, a midday nap to collapse of the border of dreams. The Wonderland Tarot from U.S. Games Systems felt right.

This deck is a Rider-Waite-Colman homage by the team of Christopher and Morgana Abbey. Morgana Abbey's artwork is a perfect rendition of the original Sir John Tenniel illustrations of the original Alice books, imagery that fits the Major Arcana surprising well. Less so for the Minor Arcana.

Full disclosure: I've never liked this deck. And it's mostly because of the way the suits have been handled. I think it's confusing that there are both the traditional playing card suits on the card borders but also Alice-themed suits that make up the main imagery in the deck to replace the traditional Tarot suits of Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. It seems strange to do that since playing cards were such a large part of Alice in Wonderland, to introduce four new suits to the deck that's standing in for four other decks that also correspond directly with playing cards suits seems convoluted. And it reads that way.

If you don't know the Alice books, she's transported to two different dreamscapes: one that is ruled over by a deck of cards come to life, and another that's in the midst of a game of chess. In many of the Minor Arcana, the card and chessboard characters take the place of the Rider-Waite figures. But this is confusing.

The Three of Hats and the Seven of Oysters in the Wonderland Deck.

You can see here how the card-based characters are drawn with the card suits from the Wonderland deck instead of the traditional suits. But they're drawn as traditional pips, not Rider-Waite based versions you have in front of you.

To make matters worse, the Queen of Hearts, the main boss villain of Alice's first adventure, is here the Death card. The corresponding Queen of Hearts/Queen of Cups/Queen of Hats...is the chessboard's White Queen. Note also the slayed card character on the floor is a traditional Five of Spades!

But enough nitpicking. What card can guide us through August?

The Knight of Oysters.

In the Rider-Waite system, the Knight of Pentacles is a dour but business-meaning action agent. In the book Through the Looking-Glass, the Red Knight could fit this description. He tries to capture Alice, as he should, and winds up tangling with the White Knight instead. When he loses he admits it, and walks away. Not exactly the summer fun card I would have hoped for, but we're all adults here. The Knight of Oysters feels a bit like my view of the Wonderland deck. Determined to get this reading/review done, kind of uninterested in the whimsy. It reminds me of Wayne's interpretation of being an adult in Wayne's World 2: "Its like coming home on Friday night and doing your homework right away so that your Saturday night is free to just party."

Side note: Check out the C on the card border to avoid confusion with the King's K. For Cavalier?

Side side note: Look, there has been a lot of Coins/Pentacles energy this entire year: see the posts in March, April, and also a little in June. At this point, I'm not ready to say that this series has been overly financially concerned, or tied up with necessities or materialism. But I'm starting to feel like there may be something about my energy that's dealing so much specie. But maybe that energy is the best way to describe this year of 2019. Maybe we are dealing with our most basic needs. The zeitgeist may be a little bourgeoisie.

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