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The Minchiate Tarot by Brian Williams

It breaks my heart that this deck did not get the love and attention it deserved when it was published by Destiny Books/Inner Traditions International in 1999. Minchiate decks are quite rare and the historical work that Williams did in the accompanying book to this deck was extraordinary. Some faulted the deck for being too bland, while others voiced disappointment over the scant divinatory meanings in the deck's accompanying book. For my own part, I found that the deck was physically unwieldy; 97 slickly laminated cards are a lot to shuffle when you have small hands. The deck incorporates most of what we would recognize as a standard Tarot deck, plus cards representing each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, a card for each of the four classical elements, and cards representing the virtues of faith, hope, charity, and prudence.

I did a simple 5 card Past/Present/Future spread, asking the cards how I should use them. (Yes, you can ask a deck how it should be used.) The first two cards represent the past. The middle one represents the present, and the last two represent the future. From left to right the cards are Five of Cups, The Fool, Eight of Coins, Nine of Staves, Leo.



The Past
Five of Cups. The card of mourning aptly describes the past situation. Williams died in 2002 and three of his decks were not well received commercially by the Tarot community: The Po-Mo, this Minchiate deck, and the Ship of Fools. That said his traditional-looking Renaissance Tarot was quite popular, as was some of his non-Tarot works.
The Fool. Williams' last published deck, Ship of Fools was a particularly challenging deck for the Tarot community. Every card had a Fool on it and the artwork was done as simple line drawings to evoke woodcuts. I know only two other people who own that deck. (And one of them confessed that she bought it on sale.)

The Present
Eight of Coins. Skill and mastery of material. I've already mentioned that the companion book to the deck is amazing. I believe this card is saying that now is the time to reintroduce this deck to the world. The current Tarot market is much more accepting of unique and non-traditional artwork.

The Future
Nine of Staves. Culmination of ambition. The Minchiate Tarot is, I believe, Williams' most important Tarot work. He was at the height of his skills as both a historian and an artist for this project.
Leo. This card indicates to me that the deck should be brought before the public again and that this time it will find an appreciative audience.

So what do you think? Do any of you own this deck (or other decks by Brian Williams)? Is it time to start a petition to get the Minchiate Tarot back in print?