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All About the Aquarian Tarot Card Deck

By May 17, 2018

aquarian tarot deckAll About the Aquarian Tarot Deck

In recent years, there have been hundreds of new Tarot decks coming onto the market and reshaping the way we see Tarot. We may think we're all on the leading edge now, but did you know that nearly half a century ago, there was one deck that really turned the tables on how Tarot cards were seen? 

That deck is the Aquarian Tarot deck – one of the most popular decks from the 1970s. This beautiful deck combines Art Deco and Art Nouveau imagery with medieval depictions to create a unique aesthetic. The Aquarian Tarot was seen as cutting edge during its release in 1970 and it has become a classic and trusted Tarot deck many decades later, especially as we enter the Aquarian Age.   

In this post, I take a deeper look into the Aquarian Tarot deck – who created it, what makes it special, and how to interpret it in your Tarot readings.  

Who Designed the Aquarian Tarot Deck? 

Italian-born American-raised artist David Palladini released the Aquarian Tarot deck in 1970, when he was just 24-years-old.  Palladini received a degree in art and design from the Pratt Institute in New York City.  Beyond this iconic deck, his work spans posters, magazine covers, and children’s books.  After the Aquarian Tarot deck, perhaps his most notable work is an illustrated version of Steven King’s “The Eyes of the Dragon” 

Symbolism in the Aquarian Tarot Deck 

You’ll notice that the images on the Aquarian Tarot cards seem to be zoomed in, when compared to traditional decks like the Rider Waite.  Fittingly, the symbolism demands a closer look as it isn’t always apparent.  For example, the The Star card appears to be a huge departure from what you’d see in the Rider-Waite.  However, notice the bird and the eight pointed star. 

 Because of this, the Aquarian Tarot provides a more intimate feeling than what you find in other decks.  In many cases, the characters in the Major Arcana are so close that they seem to mirror the reader’s intent gaze. 

When you look at the characters’ expressions, they seem stone faced and introspective…which can be pretty frustrating during a Tarot reading!  But consider what they reflect.  They are lost in thought, when the solution or answer lies in their surroundings.   

Palladini said that the cards “explore man’s collective unconscious and its bearing on one’s personal life and growth.“  Indeed, some of the people in the cards to appear to be oblivious to what’s going on around them.    

Learn more about Symbolism in the Tarot Cards here. 

 Is the Aquarian Tarot a Good Deck for Beginners? 

I believe that the Aquarian Tarot Deck is best suited to intermediate Tarot card readers.  The imagery of the Aquarian Tarot deck has many traditional elements seen in beginner decks, but lacks many of the symbols found in decks like the Rider-Waite or Robert Henson.  It’s perfect for readers who have a basic understanding of the card meanings already, but might need a couple of reminders. 

However, the Aquarian Tarot Deck can also be good for beginners, particularly those who have an urge to dig deeper into each card.  While it doesn’t have all of the iconic imagery found in more traditional decks, it does present fantastic imagery that visual people may feel a strong connection to.   

The artist, David Palladini, believed that the deck can help anyone who wants to know themselves better.  He said that the Aquarian Tarot deck can point a person in a new direction and add a new dimension to one’s life experience. 

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Understanding The Star in the Aquarian Tarot Deck 

When you look at The Star card in the Aquarian Tarot Deck, you’ll notice that the traditional nude woman with her two jugs is missing.  Instead, you’ll find a majestic colorful bird facing away from us.  It rests on a bed of leaves and points towards a dominant star in the distance.   

For those who are very familiar with the imagery in the Rider-Waite version of the Star, the presence of a bird and greenery won’t be so surprising.  In the background of a traditional card, you’ll find an ibis representing thought, sitting in a tree of the mind. In the case of the very introspective Aquarian deck, Palladini chose to focus on the potential of the mind. 

The bird seems to be poised to take flight and speed head-first towards her goal. The bright and powerful star in the distance reminds you that all of your desires are possible and within reach.  The celestial light also serves as a reminder and that the universe has your back. 

While you won’t find the typical single star surrounded by seven smaller stars, look closer.  The single star has eight points, which is the number commonly associated with the card. 

When you lean in to each of these beautiful cards, you’ll find that each of them makes sense. Essentially, that’s what the Aquarian Tarot is all about: looking closer.  Not just at the card, but at your own life. 

Who Will Love the Aquarian Tarot Deck?  

If you have any Art Deco or Art Nouveau lovers in your life, then this is the deck for them.  We can all agree that imagery plays not only an important role in how we understand a Tarot deck, but also how we connect to it.  

While many see the Aquarian Tarot deck and immediately point to the Art Deco and Art Nouveau influence, few acknowledge that many of the colours are distinctly from the 1970s, when the deck was released.  The Aquarian Tarot will also resonate with people who vividly experienced in the late 60s and early 70s or anyone who feels connected to that era.  

The accompanying book to the Aquarian Tarot deck says that, “A proper reading of the cards can help one gain perspective on personal questions and reorder the priorities in his life.”  This is definitely a deck that is perfect for doing a Tarot reading for yourself. 


Where Can I Buy the Aquarian Tarot Deck? 

The Aquarian Tarot deck is available for purchase on Amazon here in two sizes.  One deck is playing card sized, while the second is in the traditional Tarot card size. 


Images from Aquarian Tarot used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT USA. c. 1993 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. 



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