REVIEW: A Gorgeous Take on Fairytales: Trungles’ Star Spinner Tarot

A scattering of various cards from Trungles' Star Spinner Tarot

It’s always exciting for the tarot community when a new indie deck by a popular artist comes out, and particularly so when it’s a project I’ve been excited about for so long! I’ve been following the progress of Trungles’ Star Spinner Tarot since about 2015, when I first saw the gorgeous four Lovers cards. (Yes, there are four distinct designs to represent the Lovers! I’ll talk about that more later.) I already own another deck designed by Trungles, the also-very-popular Very Little Tarot, which is extremely cute but only has minimal symbolism. The Star Spinner Tarot, on the other hand, is considered his “flagship” deck, with larger cards and more detailed art, and it was sure worth the wait.

The first thing that anyone will notice about the Star Spinner Tarot is the gorgeous art, apparent before you even open the box. From the very first card, the artistry is impeccable: clean detailed lines, bright vibrant colors, expressive faces and beautiful settings. Flipping through the cards for the first time was an absolute joy; they stand on their own as pieces of art, but also tie together to make the deck feel unified, almost like a story.

I always appreciate decks where the artist gives the suit cards as much attention as the major arcana, which isn’t always the case! The minor arcana is an extremely important part of the tarot deck, as it represents the struggles and joys of our day-to-day lives, but is often overlooked in favor of the flashier-named major arcana cards. For the most part, Trungles has given the minor arcana this level of care, and all four suits have absolutely gorgeous cards among them. Some are more detailed than others—more overall attention is noticeably given to the suit of Chalices than Wands, for instance—but this is pretty common in artist decks; the undertaking of 82 works of art is understandably enormous. The only reason it’s noticeable in this deck is because the best cards are so beautiful, and I can’t fault it for that.

Four cards from Trungles' Star Spinner Tarot: the Queen of Swords, the 9 of Coins, the Page of Chalices, the Queen of Wands

The theme of the Star Spinner Tarot is myths and fairytales, and creatures like fairies, mermaids and angels are present throughout the deck. In the accompanying guidebook, Trungles wrote about his intent to make a set of tarot cards without the colonialism present in other decks, including the popular Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck. This intent manifests in a couple different ways, from the inspiration to the imagery.

First, the diversity of the people depicted on the cards is wonderful. This is a big issue in the tarot world—naturally, everyone wants to see themselves reflected in their cards and traditional decks tend to be terrible about it. There are people of various ethnicities, genders, sexualities and body types represented here in a way that feels completely natural, unlike the tokenism of some decks. I particularly love the way people of different cultures are depicted using style and clothing; it really works in a stylized deck that often uses bright colors instead of realistic skin tones.

Four cards from Trungles' Star Spinner Tarot: the Empress, Fortitude, the Emperor, the Hermit

The Lovers cards are my absolute favorite part—there are four different Lovers cards included that portray different configurations of relationships, including both mlm and wlw couples, with the instructions to pick your favorite and take the other three out of the deck. I love this. Everyone deserves to have their own relationship reflected in the Lovers, and while I’ve seen a couple other decks with LGBTQ representation on this card, this is a really thoughtful way of making sure everyone can feel seen by a single deck. (That said, I actually left all 4 Lovers cards in; they’re all so beautiful and in these trying times, I find it comforting to know I have a better-than-normal chance of pulling a comforting card!)

Four different Lovers cards from Trungles' Star Spinner Tarot, depicting 4 different relationship configurations

Secondly, the fairytales referenced on the cards pay homage to a variety of different cultures, and again, in a way that always feels respectful and never like tokenism. For instance, Death depicts Nyx, the Greek goddess of the night, holding her child, the God of death Thanatos. (I love the decision to depict Death as a baby, by the way. Death represents natural change, the cycle of birth and death, and this card really speaks to that.) The description of the Moon card references a wife who swallowed a seed of immortality to protect it from being stolen, and then escaped to the moon. This is the myth of Chang’e, the Chinese goddess of the moon. Traditionally, she’s often depicted with a white rabbit, which is also reflected on the card.

My only complaint is that I wish more of the myths and legends were explicitly named in the accompanying book! It doesn’t, for instance, refer to Chang’e by name—but it does tell the story of the wife and the seed of immortality, which was enough for me to find more information about the myth. Many of the other cards also seem to be based on specific myths, but without any guidance, I can’t figure out which ones. Being able to read up on the legends that inspired the cards would let readers achieve a much deeper understanding of what the card represents and what it might mean in the context of a reading.

Four cards from Trungles' Star Spinner Tarot: the Moon, Death, the 4 of Coins, the 10 of Chalices

The symbolism of the deck is whimsical, with each of the suits having a theme: wands are fairies, chalices are mermaids, swords depict various kinds of winged creatures and coins pay homage to classic fairytale imagery. While it distances itself from the colonialism present in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, it often uses symbolism that references the symbolic imagery of RWS. This a good thing; taking out what doesn’t work while preserving the aspects that do work creates a deck that’s familiar enough for readers who have experience with RWS, while still feeling unique. Some of the cards also put an interesting twist on the classic interpretations. The nine of chalices, for instance, is a card traditionally about wish fulfillment. Here, that is depicted as a ballet dancer, which still represents wishes and dreams realized, but focuses more on personal achievement than materialism, which I appreciate. The nine of swords is more similar to its RWS analog, but instead of a woman jolting awake in bed, it shows a woman plagued by an imp while she still sleeps, which I see as a more nuanced take on anxiety. It’s nice to be able to view these traditional cards through a fresh lens.

Two cards from Trungles' Star Spinner Tarot: the 9 of Chalices, the 9 of Swords

That said, I would have appreciated a little more consistency in the deck overall. Each suit has a color theme, but also always has a couple of cards which don’t match. Three of the aces mirror each other’s designs, but the ace of chalices is different. The guidebook is really clear and helpful when it comes to the meanings behind the cards, but I wish it also touched on how the meanings are conveyed in the imagery. These complaints aren’t because I don’t like the deck; in fact, I like the deck so much that it has me yearning for more in this way. I want to know everything Trungles was thinking when he conceived the designs for these cards.

Four cards from Trungles' Star Spinner Tarot; the Ace of Wands, the Ace of Swords, the Ace of Chalices, the Ace of Coins

In short, this deck is a marvel. It’s beautiful to look at, nice to hold and shuffle, and honest to read from, like a friend who tells it like it is but helps you to feel positive about it. The symbolism is thoughtful, the representation makes me feel included, and readings with it convey a clear message. I feel like this deck has an ability to honestly acknowledge when things are tough while still ultimately delivering a feeling of positivity, which makes it a very pleasant tool to use. I think the Star Spinner Tarot’s meaningful artistry will make it a favorite for many readers for a long time to come.

Jameson Hampton

Jameson Hampton

Jamey is a non-binary adventurer from Buffalo, NY who wishes they were immortal so they’d have time to visit every coffee shop in the world. They write code, like plants, record podcasts, categorize zines and read tarot cards. Ask them about Star Wars or Vampire: the Masquerade if you dare.