Monday, 18 July 2016

The Cosmic Tarot Deck Review (Norbert Losche)

And since we're on a roll now...! Please note, this is the original, unadulterated review, which appeared in the 2001 Winter edition of the TABI ezine - complete with links from back then, tarot impressions from yester year and probably a different writing style. If anything doesn't work, please feel free to let us know.

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche
(English Edition FX Schmid 1988. Art Nr. 15530 – 1)
Reviewed by Diana McMahon

This is the main deck that attracted my attention when, perhaps for want of a better term, “psychic responses” to my Rider Waite cards suddenly began to dwindle. In terms of early reading development the Rider Waite deck had been a fantastic learning tool, taking my understanding of tarot from confused to much clearer. Thanks to the proliferation of imagery my ability to quickly put a meaning to a card and provide insightful readings had developed in leaps in bounds, so I shall always be grateful for the introduction to that deck. But when things went quiet in my psyche I realised I needed some sort of new stimulus and this is exactly what the Cosmic Tarot deck provided.

The deck is not to be confused with the Cosmic Tribe by American creator Stevee Postman which, whilst also very strong in imagery, is a very different deck. Ditto the Cosmic Egg tarot, by Guido Gillabel and Carol Herzer, which features more abstract, brightly coloured images on square shaped cards. The Cosmic Tarot with its mix of intense and pastel shades of predominantly blue, green, yellow, pink, purple and brown was created by Norbert Lösche and originally published by the German company Schmid though it is also available via US Games. I bought my copy in one of the book shops in Glastonbury.

The cards are beautifully designed and the artist, who has a natural interest in the esoteric, has drawn on a combination of symbolism from various cultures and perspectives. Some cards feature symbolism related to Arabic, North African and Asian influences, for instance the Four of Wands, featuring Egyptian pyramids and the Four of Swords set in the desert with a camel in the background. Others, such as the Ten of Pentacles, with its robed and stockinged suitor have a more European, historic feel. And then there are cards that seem either timeless, e.g. the evocative Ten of Cups featuring a semi-naked woman sitting among an array of overflowing cups. Finally there are the more modern and contemporary images found in cards such as the Four and Nine of Pentacles, featuring Twentieth Century houses and clothing.

Many of the Major Arcana cards in this deck also have a timeless quality. In many cases the imagery is excellent at conveying facets such as movement and fluidity (in Judgement and The World for example), opulence (The Empress) and stasis and spiritual reflection (The Hermit).

With the Court cards, even though these often feature characters in historic clothing, it soon becomes evident that the artist’s consciousness also encapsulates film history and images. Some of the faces on the minor cards look distinctly familiar and you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at an image of, for example, Elizabeth Taylor in the Queen of Wands or Sean Connery in the King of Cups. However this is not, in my opinion, the most predominant feature of the deck. What is more important is that the images are so varied and dense whilst maintaining an integrity of their own.

For those with an astrological awareness I would say that this deck would appeal especially to the sensitivity and romance of Water types. Although it also has a wide ranging appeal that will reach many kinds of tarot card readers, if you respond to soft, dreamy imagery, this could be the perfect deck for you. I use the Cosmic Tarot frequently for my own readings and find that clients often choose it, too. A further feature that appeals to me as a reader is the clear labelling of the title of each card. It doesn’t interfere with my reaction to the card because there is no extraneous information but what is there is clear and easy to recognise. This is a deck where, when the cards are turned face up, you know without hesitation whether you are looking at an upright or reversed card. When the cards are face down you only have that information through noticing the colour of the Sun images on the backs of the cards. Unless you are focussing on that you may well miss it, which can be ideal for readers who still want to maintain a practice of selecting upright and reversed cards “blind”.

Is this a useful tarot deck for the absolute beginner? Certainly the images are very striking but in all honesty I think it is better suited to someone who has a basic grasp of tarot and is looking to work with a new and interesting deck. The imagery will, in some instances, take you quite a way from what you may have learnt from tarot books and the Rider Waite styles of decks. That is not necessarily a bad thing if you wish to expand your tarot imagination and psychic “vocabulary” but it could be a bit confusing to switch mid stream to a deck such as this if you are still learning your basic language of the cards.

A final note is that whilst a lot of the images are gentle and peaceful, those that are “darker” are often quite intense. That is often no bad thing because powerful and distinctive imagery can be a great help for clear and effective reading responses. But if you are going to use these cards for face to face readings you may want to work up quite a relationship with and understanding of the more powerful cards. These include the Nine of Swords, featuring a man under attack from flying swords and the Ten of Wands, showing an individual burning up amidst a stack of flaming wands. All in all I am glad I found this deck and very much enjoy reading with it.

Publishers & Images:
F X Schmid GmbH & Co. KG Bachstr. 17, PO Box 1465, D-83209 Prien (English edition)
Also available from US Games Systems: http://usgamessystems.com
For images online, one source is: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cosmic/index.html
For comparison with images from other decks with Cosmic in the title, visit
For the Cosmic Tribe deck specifically, visit author Stevee Postmans’s site at: http://www.stevee.com

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