The Alchemical Tarot by Robert M. Place is an absolutely stunning deck, and older editions of this deck have sold on sites like ebay for thousands of dollars. With beautiful clean and simple lines, there’s a feeling of precision with what Robert is portraying in this deck. Many of the images are drawn from those classical images from alchemical texts and placed into the context of the tarot. The deck is not only full of alchemical symbolism, but also contains alchemical and astrological glyphs on the cards to help bring more understanding to what the cards are signifying. The side of the box reads, “Born from a mystical vision and achieved after years of research, The Alchemical Tarot uses the symbolic language of alchemy as a tool for unlocking our inner wisdom. Each beautifully drawn card captures real alchemical symbols. The deck can be used by readers at any level.”
The deck itself doesn’t stray too far from the more common Rider-Waite-Smith decks, so even if you have no understanding of alchemy, one could work with this deck. However, if you do know alchemy, you will find yourself constantly marveling at how genius this deck is. The alchemical layer gives all the cards much richer meaning and is also perfect for anyone who knows tarot but is learning alchemy or vice versa. The cards showcase parts of the alchemical process and different aspects of alchemy. In his own words Robert writes that, “This edition of The Alchemical Tarot, has been designed with transparent colors over an antique paper. Alchemical symbols have been added, such as the symbols for the operations illustrating that the trumps can describe the Magnum Opus.”
The suits are staffs (wand), vessels (cups), swords, coins and the court cards are all the same except for the Pages which are instead called Ladies. The Major Arcana is traditional to the Rider-Waite-Smith and two versions of the Lovers card is given, one where they are having sexual intercourse and one where they’re embracing as the man kisses the woman’s cheek. The card stock is sturdy and has a nice gloss to them. Unfortunately the deck doesn’t come with any sort of guidebook except for the book he wrote Alchemy and the Tarot: An Examination of the Historical Connection with a guide to The Alchemical Tarot, if you can manage to get your hands on it. The Alchemical Tarot can also be purchased directly from Robert’s store.