The Illuminated Tarot is Carol Herzer’s labor of love. She made this deck during a turning point in her life, and channeled it through psychic energy. She feels it is a deck meant to be used for healing. She has an extensive body of work, and the most impressive part of the story to me is that she has hand painted custom decks by the 100s. She has been doing it for over 30 years. WOW! That is a LOT of work.

The cards themselves bring life into your readings. I have found them most enjoyable to work with, and I also find that the people I use them to read for really like them too. They have received compliments on social media, but what matters to me is that they are cards I can connect with and work with. They sing!

The deck we are reviewing today is the large Illuminated Tarot original with double iridescent and double glitter paint on it. It was made for Photokat originally, and then I inherited it from her. I’m still recovering from the gash this purchase left in my wallet. Ouch, that hurt! But now I’ve got it, and it’s so beautiful that I don’t care!

This deck is unlike any other deck I’ve seen before. Not only is it much larger than a standard deck, but it has multiple layers of iridescent paint and glitter applied over a copy of the original paintings. That’s a cool concept! I wish I had the patience to do that to my go-to reading decks. It would certainly make them come alive for me.

It’s hard to photograph these cards because the iridescent paint and the glitter doesn’t sparkle. This is the kind of deck that you have to see in the right light, in the moment. What gives it its magic is the light, it really makes this deck spring to life. I do, however, have one without any custom paint on it and I like it just as well. It allows me to use the deck without worry about ruin, shuffling as I like.

When I first held this deck in it, it felt like a whole new Rider-Waite Smith. It’s so big that you can see details. The skies come alive with all of the suggested fractals that Carol painted on them.

At night, I take this deck out and it comes alive under the lights. It brings out details from the Rider-Waite Smith that I didn’t focus on before. The color combinations are very thoughtfully added, and while I can’t read all of the expressions on the characters, I know them well enough to know what they represent already. The glitter work is really stunning, she used ultra fine glitters in the appropriate colors depending on the color she was applying.

These cards are delicate; the lamination is thin and this deck in particular has a slight bend to it. It is due to spend a couple of weeks resting under some heavy books to flatten it out. When I asked Carol about the best way to shuffle it, she recommended just fanning them out. It’s a new process for me because I am a ruthless riffle shuffler, but I want to preserve this work of art, so fan them out I will. I found that I can deal the cards into three piles, then re-stack the piles and do this over about three times to get a thorough mix before fanning them out. I can also deal them off the top.

The backs are peach colored, and the pouch has The World card on it. It is in a gold fabric, with magenta lining on the inside. Carol makes custom pouches for her creations! Can you believe how personalized and custom each deck is?

I am truly very happy this deck came into my collection. It’s a jewel, and a deck that every serious collector should have.

What is your most important characteristic?
The Chariot. I bring together the depth in light and shadow for a straightforward and detailed answer. There is no time for rodeos or runarounds. Just get to the point, and get on with it! Brief, terse and to the point.

What are your strengths as a tarot deck?
Seven of Swords. I’m delicate; I won’t hold up to the same use as your others decks. My lamination could wear off or curl, and you won’t want to do that. Proceed with caution, but admire as you like.

What are your limits?
Temperance. As an advocate of alchemical moderation, I’ll give you just enough for you to work with what you have to. The rest will be up to you, in manifesting and in actions.

What are you here to teach me?
Four of Coins. You can do enough with less, but it will take time for you to get used to working with a tool so expensive. If you are too careful, you won’t get enough out of it. If you use it without care, you might wear it out into ruin. Take your chances.

How can I best learn to collaborate with you?
King of Swords. Just pick one and use it as a mental exercise. You will learn to read just the same with less. You will learn to express these concepts more clearly, and with briefer words.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
Queen of Swords. Sharpen your intellect and learn to express yourself clearly. Some things are precious, and meant to be kept for personal use. This deck may be one such tool to keep to yourself.

Which card do you want to show off?
The World. I am a perfection of what has been, flushed out and breathed life into. A sight of behold, and proud to be. When you flush a creation out to its maximum exponent, it’s a sight to behold.

How do you see me?
The Lovers. As one connected to all the worlds contained on the outside and within; the world as we know it, spirit, emotions and compassion, intellect, creativity, and the body.

How do you see yourself?
Queen of Wands. I neither say nor demand, I act. I am a flashy tool that will call attention for my looks, but you will come to find there is more to this deck than looks. With me, you’re in for a great adventure.

I own a few of Carol’s decks now, so stay tuned for reviews on Dark Crystal Rose, Mystic Shadows, Original, and likely a Spirit Speaks deck in the future.

WHY did it take me this long to get a deck I already knew I would resonate so much with?

Please visit Carol Herzer to find out about available decks. She is no longer doing custom painted decks, but she does have a section in her site for special glittered decks still available.


  1. Glad you found a copy for yourself. :)

    1. Hi Bridgett,

      Where there is a will, there is a way! lol It was a question of luck, really.
      Thank you so much for having aided me in my search!


  2. Does anyone have any tips on finding a deck? I would really LOVE to find one! I so appreciate any leads. xo, Kathleen


  3. Hello there! Wondering if by any chance you would be willing to name a price you would sell this deck for? The only reason I ask is because these are each hand made, and THIS specific copy, I am obsessed with. I enjoy the colors in this copy more than the current ones Carol has in stock (very kind woman!) :)
    Just wondering!