This was my first "primary" reading deck. When I first thought I might like to get a tarot deck, I looked over scores of images on the internet, to see which deck I was drawn to. (This is the usual advice for selecting one's first deck.) I decided I liked the Cosmic Tarot. It reminded me of science fiction and fantasy art, which I am fond of, but also seemed to have a lot of psychological "punch". Since my intention was to use the tarot cards for introspection, that was what I wanted. I ordered the deck from a small online pagan supply store, but it took awhile before it came. In the meantime, I got impatient and bought a Waite-Smith deck to start working with.
The Cosmic Tarot exceeded my expectations. Not only was it a good "starter deck" with its intense imagery and court cards with strong personalities (many are modeled on movie stars), but it turned out to be very thoughtfully designed, so that even as I learned much more about the tarot, it remains a deep and effective deck.
In most cases, Loesche's cards reflect Aleister Crowley's interpretations, rather than A. E. Waite's. I'm glad for this, as I think Crowley's are more direct and systematic, and more stongly connected with the qabalistic Tree of Life, which is the metaphysical system I most often use when thinking about the tarot and its meaning. The minor arcana, in particular, are excellent artistic renderings of concepts that Crowley handled much more abstractly in his own deck. This is the best deck I've found for making direct psychological contact with the essences of the ten sephiroth on the Tree of Life.
In keeping with the name of the deck, the major arcana reach beyond aspects of one's individual life and have a definite metaphysical and cosmological ambience. There are stars, planets, eerie landscapes, divine light, and a general feel of stepping outside time and space. The feeling of deep night captured on cards like The Hermit, The Star, Death, and The World is breathtaking. All the cards in this deck are powerful to meditate on. The deck admirably keeps alive that feeling of mystery one has when first becoming interested in tarot.
There are two books in print for use with this deck. Laura Clarsen's Cosmic Tarot: Signposts Along the Path is a fair general introduction to the tarot, and includes some helpful ideas not easily found elsewhere, such as card combinations and their meanings. However, it recycles interpretations that are more appropriate to the Waite-Smith deck. These often completely miss the mark with the Cosmic Tarot, which is (as mentioned) much more Crowleyesque. The better book is Jean Huets's Cosmic Tarot, which is the one you'll get if you purchase this as a deck/book set. This is a briefer book, with only an outline of general information about how to read, but it gives excellent interpretations of each card. For the major arcana, Huets discusses not only the psychological meanings, but also considers the cosmos and society--a nice addition I haven't seen elswhere.
I've gotten many other decks since this one, and many could easily claim "favorite" status, depending on my mood. But the Cosmic Tarot is still my mainstay when I want a clear perspective on the psychological and metaphysical aspects of an issue or idea. It is a very inward-looking deck, excellent for illuminating the subconscious basis of one's moods and impulses. I don't think it's received the attention it deserves among tarot readers.
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