My friend reached out to me a few years ago. She wanted a Tarot deck for her precocious daughter’s eleventh birthday. She was having a difficult time finding a deck that didn’t feature, in her words, skinny European looking fairy people. “That’s easy”, I told her immediately, “she’ll love the Wild Unknown deck. I’ve been looking at it for ages. There are no people, its hand drawn, the color is sparse and painted with water colors. There are animals, and the impact is visceral.” On my birthday which followed a couple of weeks after her daughter’s, my friend surprised me with my own Wild Unknown deck. I was beyond thrilled to receive the deck that I had been coveting and touched to be a part of the long-standing tradition of being gifted with a deck.

Tarot cards are personal, they must speak to your spirit, your soul. Whether you love European fairy people, cats, mermaids, celebrities or trees, there is a deck for you out there. I once met the author of a recent book on Tarot during her book tour. When I told her that I used the Wild Unknown, she expressed a kind of skepticism for the deck. “There’s nothing there! I saw a card with a fox on it. A single fox! What can that tell you?” She herself is a classic Rider-Waite enthusiast, the deck a majority of tarot books are based on. The Rider-Waite cards are full of symbols, while the Wild Unknown cards often depict a single image or two. For me, this is the appeal of the deck. I love the black and white lines of the cards and I’m a huge fan of people-less decks and watercolors. Most importantly, I am able to access my intuition easier with the beautiful, stark images of Wild Unknown.

There are different ways to do a tarot reading. I once had a three-card short reading with a tarot reader who strictly interpreted the meaning of the cards, breaking down the symbology of key images. I was disappointed because I wanted the reader to dip into their intuition. If I wanted to figure out the symbols for myself I could pick up any tarot book. But for someone else, someone less versed in tarot perhaps, this would be a perfect type of reading. This particular reader, like the tarot book author, relies on the myriad symbols to help her get to the meaning for the querent. In my readings, I access my psychic sense to access the energy of the querent and what Spirit is telling me through the cards. That’s what works for me. The Wild Unknown deck is less cluttered with symbols and that helps me open up to my intuition and the archetypes, the dimension of universal patterns of energy. In fact, I was so moved by my experiences with this deck, I felt called to become a tarot reader for the public. I had been reading for myself and friends for 23 years but had no designs to read for a living. The Wild Unknown inspired me to share my gift, and I have been happily reading at East West for the past 15 months.

Shaun Rose, author of this article, is a tarot reader at East West Bookshop. She is available for tarot readings at the store on Fridays from 3:30-8:30 pm.