Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Anna K Tarot; a Review

Anna K Tarot, Llewellyn versionAnna K Tarot, self published version
Cards on left are from the Anna K Tarot, Llewellyn's version;
right, from the self published version. Cards on left were trimmed.

The Anna K Tarot in Review

By Viv Dulac

Austrian artist Anna Klaffinger started designing a Tarot deck at the early age of fourteen. In her own words, “I was unsatisfied with the decks available then –they were either pretty but… meaningless, or so overloaded with symbols that I got dizzy looking at them.” Done with colored pencils on sketch paper, those illustrations became the Anna K Tarot, which was self-published for the first time in December 2009. A second, limited edition followed in 2010, and Llewellyn published a mass-market edition in the U.S. in 2013.

The Anna K is one of my personal favorites, but it was not always so. I tend to favor decks with rich, elaborate, “overloaded with symbols” art. Klaffinger’s no-frills, somewhat crude style and the earthy everyday scenes depicted did not strike a chord. But about a year ago a friend of mine did a reading for me with an oracle deck, and drew a card from the Anna K for clarification. I still did not like it at first sight. “Give it a chance,” said my friend; and so I did. And something happened. The more I looked at it, the more it drew me in.

It was the Ace of Pentacles: a barefoot, shaggy-haired young woman sitting on the soil. Her small spade has struck gold, and she smiles contentedly at us. The sky, the tree leaves and the grass surrounding her are also yellow-gold, as in a peaceful autumn afternoon. The girl’s face is somewhat roughly rendered and not intended to be pretty, yet there is something very open and likable about her. Thus I fell in love with the Anna K Tarot, and it has never disappointed me since.

Anna K Tarot, Llewellyn versionAnna K Tarot, self published version
Six of Rods, Queen of Swords.

Both editions come in a nice-looking box, accompanied by a short but substantial book with black and white pictures of the deck. Both book and box are bigger and prettier in Llewellyn’s version, but the smaller and sturdier box of the self-published is more practical. The self-published cards are almost borderless, except for a thin fringe –black for the Wands, teal for the Cups, dark blue for the Swords, and espresso for the Pentacles. The borders on the majors are all different colors. Llewellyn’s deck has larger borders, all black.

At 3 ¼ x 4 ½ inches, Llewellyn’s cards are conspicuously bigger than the 2 ¾ x 4 inches of the self-published edition (even after trimming the borders) although the latter’s beefier cardstock makes it almost half an inch thicker. Llewellyn’s coloring is brighter, which coupled with the size makes details easier to spot, but the darker, muddier colors of the self-published are also richer.

Anna K Tarot

So, if you feel attracted to this modest marvel of a Tarot deck, should you buy the limited edition or Llewellyn’s mass market one? The latter is of course cheaper, although Klaffinger sells the limited 2010 one on her website for only €31 (€25 plus €6 shipping), or around U.S. $36, a price that is likely to go up once it sells out. While I have both, I must confess that the one I use all the time is the larger, brighter (and thinner) Llewellyn deck. So take your pick. Either way, I doubt that you will be disappointed.

Anna Klaffinger’s website

Copyrights to deck images belong to the holder, more often than not that's the publisher. Images may not be reproduced without permission.


  1. vorrei mi scriveste in vorrei ordinare anna k tarot 1 edizione

    1. Hi Simone Fiori, I am not sure how to help you. Anna K. Tarot used to be available online through the author's website, and I am not sure if it still is, so feel free to Google it. From time to time it has been available on eBay as well.


  2. I was a little sketchy about Tarot cards, but I feel they have a bit of truth to them. I had a rather enjoyable experience with my first Tarot reading. reading tarot cards


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