Full disclosure: this is my current favorite tarot deck and the one I personally use most often, especially for tarot journaling. It’s hard to give an impartial review of something when I’m obviously so biased, but I’ll do my best. 🙂
Let me begin by saying that the Linestrider tarot is not for everyone. First, it’s got naked people on some of the cards. (The shock! The horror! But seriously, it’s pretty tasteful but NSFW.)
Second, you might just hate the illustration style or find it too subtle.
And finally, it’s a pretty tough deck to read if you’re an absolute tarot beginner. You’ll definitely need a confident understanding of the traditional RW-based meanings to read this deck easily and well.
But, with that said – this is one of my favorite tarot decks for a reason. It’s smart. I don’t know how else to describe it, but this deck reads in a way that is deep, clever, witty, funny, and extremely thoughtful. If you connect with this deck, you’ll always get interesting and provoking ideas from using it.
THE LINESTRIDER TAROT DECK REVIEW
This deck is whimsical, clever, subtle, challenging, and beautiful.
This is not a great deck for learning tarot, but it’s wonderful for reading tarot. I don’t recommend it to absolute beginners, but it’s one of the decks I personally use the most often.
HISTORY OF THE LINESTRIDER TAROT DECK
The Linestrider Tarot was created by Siolo Thompson, an artist, illustrator, and designer based out of Seattle (after a life-time of adventures elsewhere). The deck was first published in mid-2016, so it’s still relatively new and unknown.
From her website, “Siolo is a weirdo with a background in comparative literature, a six year stint as an x-ray and angiography tech, experience in commercial kitchens, years as a bartender, hostess, waitress, deck hand, stripper, model, feminist publisher, martial arts teacher, bit part film actor, and medical translator…her art is as diverse as her life experience.” Gah! I love her already.
Her style is minimal, clever, soft, and realistic. For this deck, the artist used a lightweight watercolor and pencil illustration style that leaves the majority of the card white, with just hints of the image. The images are clear – but suggestive and open to many interpretations.
She’s also created a Lenormand deck in the same illustration style. It’s the Scrying Ink Lenormand, which is available on Amazon Handmade or directly from the artist. You can find out more about Siolo and her work at www.SioloThompsonart.com.
THE PACKAGE & CONTENTS
The Linestrider Tarot is published by Llewellyn Worldwide and is very similar in packaging and quality to other contemporary Llewellyn decks. The outer box opens from the side with a magnetic flap to reveal the companion book. The cards are nestled below the book.
The cards are fairly lightweight and slippery. They are coated and will take a bit of abuse, but probably won’t last forever if you are using them often. I’ve been using them almost daily for a year and only have a bit of light wear on a few of the edges.
I have a hard time shuffling cards, so I prefer them to be lightweight and slippery, but I know some people don’t.
The back of the card shows an abstract, symmetrical illustration in blue watercolor. It matches the “feel” of the cards, but not the style.
The companion book is your standard companion book, with about 275 pages of instruction and description for these cards.
The cards are illustrated using a mixture of people and animals. They are realistically drawn, using unusual colors and situations. Many of the animals feel anthropomorphic, with human qualities and costumes.
READING TAROT WITH THE LINESTRIDER DECK
The Linestrider Tarot follows the RW-based traditional meanings, but only in an abstract way. Most of the cards show animals instead of people and they “suggest” the meanings instead of telling the full story.
For example, the Five of Cups shows an owl guarding her nest of eggs. Three of the eggs are broken, but two are whole. It’s heartbreaking, sad, and hopeful – just like the traditional meaning for the card.
One of my favorite cards in this deck is the Nine of Cups. It shows a cat sitting outside an open birdcage, with a yellow feather in its mouth and a smug expression on its face. The traditional RW-card (with a fat man in front of a banquet of cups) has the same “cat that ate the canary” feeling, but the energy of the Linestrider card just feels right.
To read these cards, you absolutely need to have a solid understanding of the traditional RW-based meanings. The Linestrider Tarot hints and suggests the meaning, but it doesn’t outright say it.
USING THE LINESTRIDER COMPANION BOOK
The companion book includes a detailed description of each card with keywords and correspondences.
The descriptions include thoughts from the artist on the symbols used and how she developed the card. She also covers how to read the card with reversed meanings and interpretations. It’s fairly complete.
There are a few sample tarot spreads and a couple pages on the basics of tarot. It is not designed to be a comprehensive “how to read tarot” guidebook. But this is a comprehensive guide to understanding this particular deck.
IS THE LINESTRIDER DECK GOOD FOR BEGINNERS?
I want to say yes so badly! I want to share this deck with everyone!
But, no, this deck is not a good choice for your first tarot deck, and I wouldn’t ever recommend this deck for tarot beginners.
PROS OF THE LINESTRIDER DECK
- So, so, so gorgeous. Unbelievably gorgeous.
- The cards are thoughtful, smart, and deep. If you connect with them, you’ll connect hard. This is my favorite deck for tarot journaling.
- The artist’s thoughts in the companion guide really add depth to the story & symbols of each card.
CONS OF THE LINESTRIDER DECK
- Extremely difficult to read unless you are knowledgeable about the traditional RW-based meanings.
- The cards “hint” at the stories, symbols, and meanings, so it’s not an easy read. You’ll have to use your brain.
- It’s a very personal deck. I don’t know that it would work well when reading for others.
If you are looking for a tarot deck that is easy to read and understand, this is not the deck you want.
But if you want a tool for personal self-discovery that will help you dive deep into your own thoughts, consider this one. The Linestrider Tarot is a deck that will challenge you, guide you, and push you to grow.