Deck Review: Shake Your Groove Thing with Morgan Greer and the Aquarian Tarot
Years ago, when MTV still played music videos, VH1 had a series called It's a testament to my age that I still remember the opening song of that show and hear it ever time I pull out the Morgan Greer Tarot and the Aquarian Tarot. Both these deck reek of the 70s and as a child of the 70s myself, I thought that it was important for me to get these two mass market RWS-based staples.
I first heard about the Morgan Greer Tarot through Ethony's YouTube channel. When I first discovered the fab world of tarot deck collecting, I learned that people put an extreme premium on borderless decks, mainly because there really weren't a lot of them. I think it's interesting that it's been difficult to get over this printing issue, but the Morgan Greer has been out since the 70s and I don't think they had too much of an issue with the full bleed.
The Morgan Greer Tarot takes the RWS depictions of the cards, zooms in on them, and puts a 70s filter on top of everything so that the women have Charlie's Angels hair, the men have distinct pornstaches (spot a pornstache on a tarot card? you can bet you're looking at the Morgan Greer), and everything is a little gritty and color blocked, much like the 70s. The zooming in quality of this deck makes it great for beginners because you get a close up shot of the scenes that populate the tarot—you're not wondering if that's a baptismal font on the 3 of Pentacles (the way I did with the RWS), you know for sure that you're looking at a mason at work.
My deck is printed in Italy and has standard card stock that has pretty good slip. I know a lot of people prefer thick and hardy paper (think The Wild Unknown or the Starchild Tarot), but I like this mass market type of card stock because it's so much easier to riffle shuffle.
The Aquarian Tarot, on the other hand, I bought because I saw it for sale on some random local website. This, to me, presents a different shade of the 70s aesthetic—it is infused some late 60s visual influence. More Yellow Submarine than Village People, its art (by the talented David Palladini) takes inspiration from the sinewy lines of art nouveau and weaves them into a very elegant web.
The Aquarian tarot, I consider a tarot crush—there's something about it that I find so visually appealing. Something about its use of typography, geometry and color is very vinyl record album cover looking. It probably looked dated and uncool for a time, but with the resurgence of this aesthetic these days, its vintage look has become quite trendy.
I can't decide whether I'm happy or not with my Aquarian card stock. It takes on the very plasticky quality that the yellow box RWS US Games cards have. On one hand, I know that this makes the cards pretty heavyweight and sturdy, on the other hand, it feels weird to not feel "paper" while holding the deck in your hands. It's a very strange sensation.
Like the Morgan Greer, the Aquarian goes up close into the RWS scenes, but unlike the aforementioned deck, it frames them in tableaus that I feel are a lot artful and themed. This deck reminds me of the Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave Camelot musical. Unlike the Morgan Greer, which I usually reserve for my daily draws, I use this card with clients a lot. It's light enough to deliver even the more challenging messages with heart—it's not heavy handed at all (which may be the case with the very strong lines and vivid colors of the Morgan Greer).
One fun thing to note about these decks is how their backs go so well together. The Aquarian Tarot takes a very Japanese woodblock theme with its waves and swirls and sinews, while the Morgan Greer is a lot less intricate and more in your face. I feel like the Aquarian's card backs encourage you to do a reading for someone over green tea (possibly wearing a kimono), while the Morgan Greer screams "fortune teller" complete with crystal ball, turban (check out its 9 of Pentacles lady and you will know what I'm talking about), and flashy neon sign.
If you want to understand the RWS through a 70s colored kaleidoscope, then these two decks will be great additions to your collection. They're great examples of how we can spin the tarot in so many varied, colorful ways.