Universal Waite Tarot Deck

This is a revized version of the original Rider Waite deck, using Pamela Colman Smith's drawings with the lines fined down and recoloured by Mary Hanson-Roberts. The rather soppy drawing of a child with a bird, which features on the cover of the pack, does not appear anywhere in the cards: the line-art of the deck is pure original Colman Smith, with only minute variations (such as a slightly different arrangement of one wisp of hair in the mane of the horse on the Sun card).

Like the Rider Waite, this is an excellent set to learn with, as the pictures very clearly illustrate the meanings of the cards. The colours and images are full of complex occult symbolism.

Aesthetically, the colours are much cleaner and purer than in the original Rider Waite deck, if sometimes a little airy-fairy, and it is far easier to make out the background detail. Like the Rider Waite deck, however, it suffers from a lack of aerial perspective - in this case from the opposite direction. Instead of a confused, heavily-lined background which detracts/distracts from the foreground, as in the Rider Waite, this one has a thinly-lined, vague foreground which tends to fade into the background. The effect is much clearer than the original Rider Waite, but a little weak.

Someone should take the Mary Hanson-Roberts colouring and background, and replace the lines in the foreground with those from the original Rider Waite deck. Then we'd have an ideal version, attractive, strong and clear.

See also the Tiny Universal Waite deck.