View Full Version : Review: Gendron Tarot by Melanie Gendron

March 13th, 2007, 10:19 PM
The Gendron Tarot is a fascinating, but uneven deck by Melanie Gendron. This was the first deck I bought for myself; I saw some sample cards on www.aeclectic.net (http://www.aeclectic.net), and fell in love with some of the Major Arcana in particular. Some of the cards (mostly Majors) possess an almost unearthly, transcendent beauty. Others, though (often Minors), look pasted-together, discolored, and somewhat weird. The art is a combination of painted or drawn art, photography, and computer collage work. It's a unique and eclectic style, but on the whole, I think it works.

The author dedicated this deck to the Divine Feminine, and this consciousness can be felt throughout the deck. Men are depicted throughout the deck, though, so it isn't an exclusively woman-oriented deck. I've had successful readings with this deck for both men and women.

One of the great strengths of this deck is the sheer depth of symbolism, particularly in the Major Arcana. Each of the 22 Majors has animal associations and Hebrew letters (presumably for Kabbalistic tarot readers) all on the card itself, and the LWB adds symbology, Goddess associations, directions, planetary and astrological associations. The symbolism on each card is dense. Some are very easy to read... the Princess of Swords jumps off the card, the angel of Judgment radiates power, and the Hermit is very evocative. Many Minor Arcana cards are influenced by the RWS symbolism without copying it directly, enhancing ease of interpretation while maintaining originality.

Others don't make much sense to me. For some reason, the Pentacles seem to have the most obscure imagery, although that could be a personal opinion. The Five of Pentacles, for example, has a naked woman and her reflection reaching towards a waterfall. The Two of Pentacles has a woman dressed in a weird kaftan and gag sunglasses juggling pentacles with comedy and tragedy masks hanging off them.

In general, though, it seems like the artist put far more effort into the Major Arcana than she did into the Minors. If the whole deck were designed with the same care and depth as the Major Arcana, it would have been absolutely amazing. As it is, though, it's just.. uneven.

Even considering the artistic variability, though, I would recommend this deck for anyone who is interested in feminine spirituality, animal, or Kabbalistic symbolism; anyone who likes this style of artwork, and anyone who is looking for a deck with many layers of interpretive possibilities. Given the dense symbolism, I would imagine that the deck-and-book set would be a better choice than the deck alone; although the deck comes with a LWB, I would guess that a more detailed guide to the author's symbolism would certainly come in handy.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this deck for absolute beginners, due to the complex and occasionally confusing symbology. It became far easier for me to read, personally, after going to another deck for a couple of years and coming back to this one. Given the dense symbolism, I would imagine that the deck-and-book set would be a better choice than the deck alone; although the deck comes with a LWB, I would guess that a more detailed guide to the author's symbolism would certainly come in handy.

See pictures at

Note - there is a bit of very vague and non-explicit nudity in this deck.

Basic information:

1. Are the minors illustrated or not?
Yes, the minors are fully illustrated.

2. Do the suits have the traditional names (Swords, Wands, Pentacles, Cups) including the names of the Court Cards (page vs. princess, etc.)?
The suits have traditional names, and the Court Cards, in order, are Prince, Princess, King, Queen.

Renamed Major Arcana:
The Magician - The Magus
The Hanged Man - The Hanged One
Death - Transition
The Devil - The Deceiver

3. What are the order of Justice & Strength?
Strength is #8, Justice is #11.

4. What are the Swords & Wands associations (air or fire)?
Swords = Air, Wands = Fire

5. Does the deck have an accompanying book or just the LWB?
The deck is available just with a LWB (the version I have) or as a set.

6. What are the size of the cards?
Reasonably sized; if anything, a bit long and skinny.

7. Who is the publisher?
US Games

8. Who is the artist?
Melanie Gendron

9. Who wrote the accompanying book (if any)?
Melanie Gendron

10. Would you recommend this deck to a beginner? Why or why not?
This was my first deck, and honestly it was a bit too dense for me to read right off the bat. I wouldn't say that you need to be a Tarot expert to get a lot out of this deck, but I would say some familiarity with the cards would definitely help.

Anyone else who has experience with this deck, feel free to add your own opinions!! :)

September 23rd, 2007, 02:26 PM
Nice review of the Gendron. It has "visual appeal", but I don't like the Chariot card from what I see online (where's the chariot?), nor the Devil retitling, so I don't know if I'll ever get this one.

Shawn Blackwolf
September 23rd, 2007, 05:36 PM
Melanie studied with Amber Jayanti for a few years...

Of the Santa Cruz Kabbalah School ;

I personally saw many of her originals , which are quite
powerful , in person...I got her the commission , with
Stewart Kaplan , of US Games...

I myself , love her originals , and a number of her cards ;

It was their best selling deck , for a number of years ;

However , I agree , regarding the uneveness of the deck ;

I do know , she was going through major transitions at
the time of the deck's construction , and the writing of
the book ; Actually , creating a Tarot deck , will put anyone
through that process , yet it was a major time for her ;

I know she worked very hard on the major arcana ;

I believe , to the detriment of the minor , when her deadline
was approaching ;

Her symbolism , I am sure , was influenced by Amber Jayanti ;

Melanie , and I , worked on a number of Goddess projects as
a team...I wish her well , in her crone years...

September 23rd, 2007, 08:58 PM
Wow, Shawn - thanks for posting that. That's a really fascinating insight, and it's interesting to hear how the deck developed. I really do like the deck and find that the more I work with it, the more I see. :)

September 24th, 2007, 12:35 AM
This deck just doesn't work for me, I bought it because it looked pretty, but once I looked at the cards, some of them were just freaky, and I could never get past that to actually work with it... Eventually I'll pass it along to someone who might be able to use it, once I go through my stuff and get rid of things I don't need...