First released in a limited edition of 111 decks in 1991 as the Bohemian Tarot, this 2004 edition has seen a number of revisions. Many of the major arcana were redrawn, and the deck received a new title: The Book of Kaos. The deck consists of 80 cards; the usual 78, with two versions of The Lover/s (VI) and two versions of Pan/Baphomet (XV, traditionally, The Devil).
The images in The Book of Kaos are gorgeous, drawn in pen and ink, but are not consistent in size; boarders differ, and some cards are lacking boarders entirely. Strength (XI) is printed in landscape, while the remaining cards are presented in traditional portrait format.
The major arcana uses Roman numerals, except for cards 8 and 0 which use Arabic numerals depicting a snake eating its own tail. The suit symbols for the minor arcana are Staves, Cups, Swords and Pentacles, and each depicts a line drawing of the symbol at the bottom of the card, with the card number in Roman numerals in the centre.
The rear image depicts the fiddle-playing Fool (0), dancing on the wheel of chaos portrayed in the Wheel of Fortune (X). Shuffling the deck the Fool rides the wheel – a lovely touch, though the cards are large for my hands, making shuffling awkward.
This tarot is well named; the illustrations are raw, primal, and occasionally violent. Some are disturbing, others delightful, but all are powerfully evocative. Many images are clearly inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, but modernized with figures depicting punks, drugs and fringe culture. While some are stark, many of the cards are quite dense, rich in symbolism with allusions to Egyptian, Norse, tribal and sabbatic traditions.
The 38 page booklet that accompanies the deck is packed with information and keywords, and while I don’t always agree with the interpretations given, this peek into the mind of the deck’s creator is interesting.
Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule has created a wonderful and evocative tarot, and I highly recommended it as both a divinatory and magical tool.