Interim Tarot Beyond Borders – Full Review
Creator: Linda Benjamin
Year published: 2021
Where to buy: interimtarot.com
When I first saw the images of Interim Tarot’s first edition, I thought it looked interesting. Upon receiving the deck and less than halfway through my initial flip through, I knew this was one of those decks that I would visit again and again throughout the years. While it is a RWS based deck, which makes it familiar and easy to read from the get-go, the artwork is rich and original. This isn’t merely another replica that simply replaces the settings and costumes to suit its theme. Rather, there is a depth to it that’s not found in many RWS decks.
All truth be told, I actually can’t tell which version I like more. When borderless decks first became a thing, I was obsessed with it. I invested in a paper cutter, a corner rounder and went on a rampage to trim out the thin edges of many mass market decks.
Having that said, I really like the thick borders of the original Interim Tarot. To me, the grey to white gradient really gives this deck a distinct feel. It is a significant part of its visual appeal.
At the same time, however, I really appreciate how we get to see even more of the gorgeous and intricate details with the Beyond edition. Cards like The Tower and The Moon really benefit from a full bleed print. We can now see the full lungs that feed and support the Tower as well as the depths of the sea from which creatures emerge to worship and howl at the Moon.
With this new edition, we get a much better look at the busy artwork, seeing all the lines, dots and tiny circles. And these details are what make these alien-like characters and the world in which they live so intriguing.
But what I love most about the art is how its strangeness gives it both a modern and timeless feel. I feel like its imageries are pulled from every corner of my consciousness as well as my sub-conscious. It sources from all the knowledge and stories I’ve accumulated over the years as well as truths I’ve known before my soul entered this earthly body. There are cards that are taken from modern culture like Alice in the 4 of Cups and modern Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in the 5 of Wands. At the same time, cards like the 2 of Cups and the 8 of Discs feature things and creatures that have been symbolically important to humanity since the earliest days of our evolution.
The way these cards weave back and forth between familiarity and a dreamlike otherness creates a feast for the eyes in a way that is more captivating than most ‘pretty’ or ‘weird’ decks.
Working with this deck makes me wish that every deck I own was made with this cardstock.
Since I take a lot of pictures of my decks, I prefer matte cardstock as they are much easier for an untrained professional like me to photograph. Unfortunately, I find that matte cardstocks are harder to shuffle and fan out.
The Interim Tarot Beyond Borders has all the upside and none of the downside. It’s thin, which makes it easy to shuffle – I don’t mean to brag but I can shuffle these cards like a street magician! At the same time, it feels incredibly sturdy. And while it’s matted, it still fans like a dream! These cards don’t clump together in bunches like all my other decks with a matte finish.
How it reads
I would say that approximately 90% of all my RWS based decks read the same way for me. I generally take the RWS meanings that I learnt from my very first tarot deck and apply them to the cards that show up, regardless of the deck. To me, the 3 of Pentacles represents the concept of working together for the greater good regardless of whether the three people portrayed are the architect, priest and layman or the three stooges.
I only interpret the cards differently if they vary significantly from Pixie’s artwork or have added symbolisms that change/enhance the underlying meanings. Occasionally, something about the characters’ body language or facial expressions would also alter the meanings of the cards. I really enjoy these cards as they expand my understanding and versatility as a reader.
The Interim Tarot possesses a good selection of cards that enrich my relationship with tarot. Take the 3 of Discs for instance. Instead of three people working together, we see three worker ants all doing the same thing – carrying food back to their colony. While it still carries the meaning of working together for the greater good, the popular image’s emphasis is the unique contribution we each bring to the table. With these ants, they are all performing the exact same duty. The focus switches to the benefit of the community and less on the individual’s contribution.
There are also cards that utilize the RWS imageries but are given new twists to enhance their meanings. My favourite is the 9 of Wands. At first glance, we immediately see that it is a variation of the RWS deck. There is a wounded man standing in front of eight torches while leaning on a ninth torch for support. However, there’s more. In addition to the sticks being lit at the top, there is also water rising from the bottom.
This creates an added sense of tension and urgency that doesn’t exist in the 1909 deck. The man isn’t just standing in vigilance against some future and unknown danger. Rather, he is literally neck high in danger, at risk that the yin will soon extinguish the yang.
The overall result is a deck that reads like Phoebe from Friends. While she speaks with the familiarity of an old and dear friend, there are still many moments of pleasant surprises. No matter how well you know her, she regularly introduces you to new opinions and perspectives.