I first saw this deck in 2007 at my favorite metaphysical store. I knew right away it was special when the owners told me the deck was so popular she couldn’t keep it in stock for long. I haven’t heard that about any Tarot deck before, so of course I had to buy it and see for myself.
The deck is a standard 78-card deck with Rider-Waite-based images. But the first thing I noticed was the colors; they are incredibly powerful and bright, much more so than many decks I have seen. They seem to radiate optimism and hope. The artwork is excellent, and the more “disturbing” Rider-Waite images (Death, for example) have been softened somewhat by the artist. A number of the major arcana cards also feature astrological symbols.
One feature that I really like is the color-coded orbs in the top middle of each minor arcana card so you can tell a particular suit at a glance. The orbs on the major arcana have Roman numerals.
My favorite card in this deck is The Lovers. It is an excellent interpretation of the standard Rider-Waite imagery but with some new twists. One of the main differences from the Rider-Waite Lovers image that spoke to me is the absence of an archangel over the man and woman. The spiritual “blessing” in the card is represented by a golden light coming down from above. Also, the Lovers are embracing each other in waist-deep water, which represents their strong emotions. In the original Rider-Waite deck, no water can be seen on the card. Finally, while the Rider-Waite Lovers card clearly refers to the biblical story of Adam and Eve—with both figures unclad and a snake in the fruit tree behind the female figure—the Gilded Tarot represents a Greco-Roman style set of lovers; the male figure of the Gilded Tarot’s Lovers card is dressed in Greco-Roman battlefield garb, while the woman wears a bikini-style outfit with a gold circlet in her hair adorned with flowers.
I found very little not to like about this deck. If I had to cite one negative thing, it is this deck’s incredible power to get people to pay attention to it to the exclusion of all other decks. When I offer a choice of decks to querents, if the Gilded is among the choices it is inevitably picked. I have never had a querent say to me “No, I don’t want the Gilded Tarot,” which does happen with some of my other decks. I actually stopped bringing the Gilded with me for a while because I wanted to read with other decks!
I’d recommend this deck for anyone familiar with the Rider-Waite style imagery and looking for a bright, optimistic Tarot deck. Fire signs in particular will gravitate to it because of its bold color scheme. Leos especially may like this deck so much they may never use another one; their propensity for lavishing attention on things will not be wasted here.
NOTE: Since this review was written, I’ve become a lot more familiar with Ciro Marchetti’s work, and if you like this deck, you’ll like his others: The Tarot of Dreams and the Legacy of the Divine Tarot.