I discovered the fountain tarot by chance a few years ago. I was searching for something else online and came across the deck images and felt instantly drawn to them. I first wrote a review back in 2018 in my old blog, but as I have had more experience of using the cards since then I have decided to update and re-publish this Fountain Tarot deck review.
Not everyone cares about packaging, but I do quite like it when the creator takes the time to make something beautiful. I tend to keep my cards in their original packaging, so I appreciate having an aesthetically pleasing container on my shelf.
The outer box for this deck is small and compact, and elegantly designed. I felt like I was getting something special with it’s holographic sheen and silver accents over a slick, grey toned, simple design. My photos don’t do justice to the lovely effect. The box artwork has a minimalist design which may not suit everyone, but I think it’s beautifully done and has a modern yet elegant feel.
There are some really lovely touches to the packaging – box has a flip top opening with a satin ribbon, and inside the lid is a beautiful message:
You are the voice and the breath of universes
This to me echoes the essence of tarot readings: that of tapping into the universal and giving voice to what was, what is, or what can be.
The guidebook is small, fitting neatly into the box, but contains the essential card meanings and some sample spreads. I would have liked to know more about how the designers’ imagery connects to their intended meanings, but this isn’t wholly necessary. The cover design is in keeping with the overall style of the deck and outer box, giving a pleasing consistency. Little white books, even though they serve their purpose, can look boring and I quite liked the extra bit of style.
The cards are just slightly bigger than a standard size Waite deck, and are beautifully edged in silver. The cardstock has a nice sturdy feel without being too thick, and a matt finish which is really nice to the touch. They don’t shuffle too badly, but I have other decks that I feel shuffle more easily. It’s not too much of a problem though.
The cards follow the traditional format of 22 Major and 56 Minor Arcana cards with suits of Cups, Wands, Swords and Discs, and court cards of Pages, Knights, Kings and Queens. The deck also includes an extra major arcana card, the Fountain card which I find stunning. It conveys the idea of a connection to a universal spirit or force, or the divine.
The card titles and numbers are placed at the top of the card for the major arcana and at the bottom for the minor arcana (the numbering for the minor arcana is also in text rather than numbers). The difference in positioning confused me a couple of times into thinking I had reversals in the deck when I was flicking through them (I generally don’t use reversals). I would have preferred the titles to be in the same position for all the cards, but I can see how some readers might like this as it distinguishes the major and minor cards at a glance.
The deck creators have assigned additional descriptive names to the cards to capture the essence of the card meaning (e.g. ‘Structured Control’ for The Emperor), but have chosen to include these only in the guidebook, and not on the cards themselves. I like this, having sometimes found this distracting in other decks. As I read intuitively I prefer to determine the meanings as I feel them at that moment, so sometimes it will reflect the guidebook interpretation, sometimes not.
The cards have a very painterly, yet modern feel. In some of them you can see what looks like the brush strokes. The colours are very subtle with soft tones rather than being bold and very saturated, almost like watercolours. This together with the way light and movement is conveyed, and the impression of brush strokes, gives a wonderful ethereal feel to them.
The imagery of the deck feels very clean, simple and uncluttered. I’m not suggesting they don’t contain a depth of meaning, rather that the images omit the symbols of astrology or Qabbalah which can be overlaid in decks like the Crowley Thoth or Rider Waite decks.
I personally like having extra symbology in card images, but I also do love this clean feel of the Fountain cards. And the artwork is so beautiful! I’d be happy just to look at these as little artworks in their own right.
The deck has much of the traditional Rider Waite influence, and in some of the cards you can see the echoes of that well known imagery, for example in the Ace of Cups, or 3 of Swords.
In others however we see a refreshing take in the artwork in ways that still allow you to glean the traditional meanings whilst leaving space for the mind to layer other or new meanings.
The backs of the cards are nicely decorated with a geometric design, reminiscent to me of crystalline structures, with tones reflective of those used in the main card artwork.
Using the Cards
Even though earlier I describe the decks as having a very simple imagery, you can still discover layers of meaning (especially if reading intuitively).
Whilst I think most of the imagery conveys the traditional Rider Waite meanings, there are some which I find a bit of a disconnect with. This has also been the case with some of the guide book meanings. As I read intuitively and have learned the general meanings over the years it’s not a problem, but it could throw a beginner off.
I love the extra Fountain card and think it’s a lovely addition to the deck. It came up in a reading I did for someone recently and conveyed beautifully a message relating to inner spirit.
As touched on earlier, the only point I would have liked to see different in the design is the position of the card names and numbering. Apart from that I’m not disappointed that I bought the deck. It’s not just a reproduction of the Rider Waite deck but offers a contemporary rendering of it with beautiful artwork which gives room for freedom of nuances and layers of meaning.
I’m not sure I would recommend this one for beginners, simply because the imagery doesn’t reflect some of the traditional meanings in an obvious way. But, if you are drawn to the deck it probably won’t be an issue. If you like decks with scope for your own intuitive interpretation this may be one for you.
You can find out more about how this wonderful deck was created at the Fountain Tarot website.
All photos ©hellenastrologytarot, Fountain Tarot deck design ©Jonathan Saiz, fountaintarot.com