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On Tarot Decks

Over the years that I have been reading Tarot, I have used many decks, from the Smith-Waite (“Rider-Waite”) to David Palladini’s “Aquarian Tarot”, and numerous others.

Zolar's Astrological Tarot Fortune-Telling Cards

My very first deck was The Zolar Astrological Tarot, which is a strange Chimera indeed. It is a double-sided deck of 56 cards that touts itself as ‘four decks in one’.

The images shown here are of the 1983 reissue by US Games Systems, mine was the earlier 1968 edition. The deck consists of 56 cards. Printed on the cards are the Minor Arcana, (complete with playing card designations and interpretations of them as tarot cards (both upright and reversed. On the back of these cards are the 22 cards of the Major Arcana and several “astrological cards” with planetary and astrological signs and information. 

As a result of this printing style, , you don’t have a complete deck of 78 tarot cards on one side, some of the cards are on the back of other cards.

As a result of this printing style, , you don’t have a complete deck of 78 tarot cards on one side, some of the cards are on the back of other cards.


a selection of cards from the Zolar's Astrological Tarot Fortune-Telling CArds

As a new reader at the time, I hated that you couldn’t actually do a full reading with them and replaced Zolar in the early 1970s with something more conventional, which was a version of the Smith-Waite (Rider) tarot, printed like medieval woodcuts and in very earthy tones, called the Hoi Polloi Tarot. I lost this deck several decades ago and have never found another one identical to it. Should you ever hear of a copy of this deck for sale, please let me know, as I may be interested in replacing it in my collection.

Around that same time, I acquired the Swiss 1JJ Müller Tarot, which I use to this day.

The Swiss 1JJ Müller Tarot deck is derived from the Tarot de Besançon which itself related to the Tarot of Marseilles. It is an Italian suited pack which substitutes the figures of Juno and Jupiter in place of the Popess (The High Priestess in many modern decks) and Pope (Hierophant) of the Tarot of Marseilles. The first version was produced between 1831 and 1838 in the card factory of Johann Georg Rauch. In 1965 the Swiss card game firm, AGMüller, issued a reprint which is distinguished by its cleaner lines. The deck owes its name to this edition, the “1” simply being a number within the product line and “JJ” the replacement of 2 trumps by Juno and Jupiter. My copy of this edition dates from about 1969, and was acquired either while I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, at Bell, Book & Candle, a metaphysical shop co-owned by Sybil Leek at the time (which I did not know back then, otherwise I would have spent much more time there than I did as a 9th Grader! (The other likely source would be “The Magic Shop” in Lancaster, California, which I frequented often anytime I was in that town from 1969 through 1972.)

Swiss 1JJ Müller Tarot

Selection of cards from the Swiss 1JJ Müller Tarot
A selection of cards from the Swiss 1JJ Müller Tarot
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