Rider-Waite tarot deck

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The Rider-Waite tarot deck is the most popular Tarot deck in use today in the English-speaking world (the Tarot de Marseille being the most popular deck in the Latin countries).[citation needed] Over the years it has also been known as the Rider-Waite-Smith, Waite-Smith, Waite-Colman Smith or simply the Rider deck.

The images were drawn by artist Pamela Colman Smith, to the instructions of academic and mystic A. E. Waite, and published by the Rider Company. While the images are deceptively simple, almost child-like, the details and backgrounds hold a wealth of symbolism. The subjects remain close to the earliest decks, but usually have added details. Significantly, Waite had the Christian imagery of older tarot decks' cards toned down—the "Pope" card became the "Hierophant", the "Popess" became the "High Priestess". The minor arcana are also, like the earlier Sola Busca Tarot, fully illustrated with designs created by Pamela Colman Smith. The chief aesthetic objection to this deck is the crude printing of colours in the original: several decks, such as the Universal Waite deck, simply copy the Smith line drawings, but with more sophisticated coloring.

Pamela Colman Smith
Arthur Edward Waite

The cards were originally published in December 1909, and the symbols used were influenced by the 19th century magician and occultist Eliphas Levi. In 1910, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite was published, providing an overview of the traditions and history behind the cards, criticism of various interpretations, and extensive descriptions of their symbols, along with 78 black and white plates of each card in the deck.

U.S. Games currently claims copyright on the cards, although the actual copyright may only be valid on certain colorized versions of the card. While others argue that it is in the public domain in the US because they were created prior to 1923, the US Games claim may be valid because the derived version of the cards was not in the public domain when US Games created their copyright. [1]

The Rider-Waite tarot deck has been extremely influential in the development of later divinatory tarot decks to the extent that many are called 'Rider-Waite clones' to indicate that they are easily read by those familiar with Rider-Waite.[citation needed] Examples of Rider-Waite clones include, to varying degrees, the popular decks: Universal Waite tarot deck, Golden Tarot, Aquarian tarot deck, Nigel Jackson Tarot, Gilded Tarot, Golden Rider, and many more. This deck has also influenced the terminology used by English speaking tarot users such that English translations of traditional French or Italian decks often use the nomenclature of the Rider Waite deck although the traditional decks often pre-date the Rider Waite by great number of years.


[edit] The Major Arcana of the Rider deck

[edit] The Minor Arcana of the Rider deck

[edit] Wands

[edit] Pentacles

[edit] Cups

[edit] Swords

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