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The Surrealist Tarot

Updated on November 16, 2012

A Strange Discovery

Late one night I was browsing the internet for art. I came to an interesting link and clicked it, but it redirected to something I was not looking for at all, a tarot deck. As I checked out this tarot deck on, I was amazed at how well it resonated with me. The black and white artwork, while dark, is anything but gloomy. The creepy personality of the deck is balanced with the lovable charm of the work's sense of humor. In short, the Surrealist Tarot is like a cult classic horror movie that struck the perfect balance between gruesomeness and comedy relief.

Unique Visions - Justice and Judgement

As I browsed through the cards, I came across many that I found brilliant. The Balance card, shown above, would seem to be the model card that represents the theme of the whole deck in one card. There is a famous story in the Bible where King Solomon settled a child custody dispute with an order to divide the child in half. Artist Ari Bach interprets the traditional Justice card by showing Justice at its finest. The image, as humorous as it is on the surface, tells us that Justice itself can be a crime. Judgement, a related card about the burdens that people carry on their consciences, was also rechristened "The Beast." Apart from the obvious pun, this switch has a deeper meaning. The animal brain is the hardware that runs our software, the mind or spirit. The limited judgements of the animal brain, limited by the facts of personal perspective prevent the spiritual being from experiencing its full potential. But that is just the reality of our existence.

The Surrealist Tarot by Ari Bach, photo by Daniel Byrd

The LaVey Personality Synthesizer

Browsing through all the cards of the deck, I came to an explanation of an unique system of 12 core trumps based on the LaVey Personality Synthesizer clock. This factor alone sets the deck apart from the pack. Unlike most tarot decks being limited at best when it comes to occult symbology, Surrealist is chock full of esoteric symbolism. Being only the second tarot deck to make use of the LPS, Surrealist is not your common gimmick tarot deck. The LPS is a practical system used to quickly assess individuals based on their most apparent traits. It is a system similar to astrology, but more down to earth in its practical usage. The LPS divides 12 clock positions into 4 core types, corresponding to the 4 elements used in astrology and occult studies. The artist customized the Surrealist Tarot's Major Arcana by adding a distinction between regular and core trumps. Rather than your ordinary majors-only reading, Surrealist's 12-card version spotlights only the critical bare bones.


The coolest thing about the deck to me is the surrealist humor. To me surrealist art is probably the most thoughtful and inspiring style of art work. Surrealism's dream like imagery vibrates on a deeper level of consciousness than most other art styles. This is why this particular tarot deck resonates so much with me in readings. The outlandish imagery on some of the cards may make for blunt readings, but the cheeky spirit of the artwork lightens the impact.


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