The Wild Unknown Tarot is an incredibly popular deck by Kim Karns that has been around since 2016. I think its calm, grounded approach to Tarot is the reason for its popularity. It’s a 78-card deck in the tradition of the Rider-Waite-Smith. However, the images follow the theme of nature, mostly with animals, flowers, trees, and such.
The color palette is fairly muted, with splashes of color scattered here and there. The card stock is sturdy and the packaging is elegant. The guidebook is comprehensive—over 200 pages—with pictures of each card alongside Karns’ interpretations in addition to spreads and an explanation of how the Tarot deck is structured in general. The cards are meant to be read upright only, but Karns does not discourage using reversals if the reader prefers to do so.
Karns makes it clear that this deck is meant to be for beginners. As such, the author’s interpretations of the cards are simplified versions of the traditional Tarot meanings. Because the images on these card don’t necessarily mirror the Rider-Waite-Smith, there’s a looseness and freedom of thought.
From a personal standpoint, I think it is invaluable to have a good understanding of the traditional Tarot. If you know the RWS, you can use that knowledge to read any alternative deck. But I absolutely respect if others would prefer to start somewhere else or even never learn the Rider-Waite-Smith system. People change over time and as they change, the world changes. New ways of expressing the changing times is important.
I compare it to the English language. I remember taking a class about the 14th century poet Geoffrey Chaucer in college and marveling at how the Old English spoken at that time sounds like a completely different language from what we speak now. Perhaps Tarot interpretation will be completely different centuries from now, if it still exists.
Part of the appeal of the Wild Unknown Tarot for me is the use of the natural world for the imagery. It’s nice to detach from the workings of human thought and belief systems and tap into the essence of our physical and instinctual being. I think that this deck offers that opportunity.