In the guidebook, artist Valenza talks about some of the methods he used to design the cards. He says that the clothing worn by the characters on the cards are actually photos of tombstones bent and twisted through the use of computer technology. The buildings seen in the background of many of the cards were created from photos of an abandoned mental hospital using the same techniques. All I can say is wow!
For me, the most striking motif is that the faces of the characters on the cards are distinctly dualistic. This is not discussed in the guidebook, but on most cards, one half of a face is bright and the other side is dark. These two sides represent our actual moon, a celestial body where one side always faces the earth and appears bright when illuminated by the sun, and the other “dark” side always faces away from the earth. My interpretation is that the bright side of the face represents conscious thought and the darker side represents unconscious thought. In addition, as you look at the images, the eye on the bright side of the face is usually wide open and the dark side is closed or half closed as if it is asleep or not fully conscious or aware.
Some cards, however, are exceptions to this rule. One of my favorites is the Seven of Cups, which can be interpreted to represent being overwhelmed by emotion or having a heightened imagination. On this card, the dark side seem so be in full control while the conscious side seems to be dormant.
With that being said, the basic interpretations of the cards line up with the traditional meaning of the Rider-Wait deck, but even in the best of circumstances the images lean more heavily to the shadow side of human experience. One need only to look at the Two of Cups for a perfect example. According the guidebook, the interpretation of the card is love, partnership, and a harmonious union, similar to the traditional Rider-Waite interpretation. However, Valenza names the feminine character Midnight and the masculine figure Death
I do have a couple of criticisms about the deck. One is that the card stock is a little thin for my tastes. I tend to have a heavy hand, but when I shuffle these cards, I’m gentler because I get the impression that they will damage easily. [UPDATE October 4, 2021: I have to take this statement back. Over time, these cards have held up beautifully despite heavy use—better than many of my other decks!]
Also, for such an iconic artistic style as far as the images go, the guidebook seems to be lacking. It’s not perfectly bound but more like a pamphlet, and not in color. The descriptions are the bare minimum—but maybe that’s a good thing. I certainly am able to get a lot out of the images just by looking at them. But if you need a little more direction, you won’t find it here. [UPDATE October 4, 2021: A stand-alone, perfect-bound, hardcover guidebook is available for this deck. Considering the thought that went into creating these images and Valenza’s unique worldview that informs the interpretations, it makes sense that the book would be sold separately. It would be well worth investing in the book for anyone interested in knowing the process of creating this deck.]
Despite these minor complaints, this deck really speaks to me. It helps stretch my consciousness and adds to the depth of my readings. However, I have heard some people raise concerns that this deck is somehow evil or demonic. To that I say, to each his or her own and I can see how this the Deviant Moon Tarot may be too intense for some. But if you are like me and consider working with different Tarot decks as opportunities to learn more about Source and collective consciousness, then I heartily recommend you give this deck a try.