While reading Rachel Pollack’s Tarot Wisdom, I’m revisiting the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck this week. Not the Universal version, not the Radiant publication, but the good old plain version as created by Pamela Coleman (Pixie) Smith. There’s something beautiful about the simple colours and the elegant stage set-like drawings that’s captivating and comforting. Smith seems to allow inner and outer human experience come through without her own hang-ups getting in the way. So many people just starting with tarot refer to the Rider-Waite-Smith pack as the “original” tarot. It certainly is NOT the original, as it came out in 1910 and tarot has been around since the 15th century. But Pixie Smith’s artwork and Arthur Edward Waite’s concepts seem to carry an eternal quality that makes them feel as though this deck should be the original. What a lot of nonsense that some tarot teachers and practitioners consider the RWS cards to be a “beginner’s” deck, I don’t feel that way. For me, there’s no such thing as a beginner’s or master’s deck. One begins with a set of cards that rings with one’s philosophy, appeals to one’s taste, and fits into one’s hands, regardless of what an expert tells us to work with or not. And one continues with it, or not, according to how one changes or not. Also, the RWS pack has roots in the Western Hermetic tradition — qabalah, astrology, elements, alchemy, ceremony, etc. — hardly beginners’ stuff. Here’s to Art and Pixie!