Chris Knowles and I have been having some sustained discussions regarding the aforementioned UFO Tarot.
It has probably the worst case of LWB ('little white book') disease of any Los Scarabeo product. And that is really, really saying something.
Honestly, fortune cookies are less obscure. Here are a few gems: "To change our future, we must have the courage to look inwards." Or "First impressions can be misleading, but listening to your heart can correct errors."
If I wanted to read crap like that I'd just pay more attention to prominent pagans on Twitter.
Nevertheless, there is just something about it that keeps us both coming back to the deck... like picking a scab. It really does feel like there's a lot of utility in it that fails to get through the mangled variant of the Rider Waite system that has been overlaid on it.
And yes, whilst this is probably a year late for most of you, I found, bought and started using The Deck of 1000 Spreads. The core principle is so remarkably simple that it was hiding in plain sight for centuries. It is a deck of card topic areas rather than meanings... cards like 'Outcome', 'Advice', 'Friends and Family'. This allows you to lay out a grid of topics or themes you wish to cover and then perform the actual cartomancy.
Behold a UFO Tarot example:
Reading through the actually-worthwhile book that comes with the product, I experienced that alteration of consciousness that accompanies what Prior Walter, in Angels in America, called the threshold of revelation. It is the same feeling I experienced when iterating toward shoaling and the robofish: this is something my consciousness is going to take and run with. It is an heuristic that is hugely beneficial to the way I experience magic and the world.
Similarly, it reminded me of going through the old Stargate Project files and encountering Ingo Swann's concept of the 'analytical overlay'. Acts of divination typically begin with a complete 'meaning dump' that he called the gestalt... inaccuracy comes from either attempting to interpret it too early or in the deceptively simple act of putting your divinatory experience into human words.
Over the two decades of that the project was funded (assuming it isn't still ongoing), multiple techniques were developed to reduce the impact of the analytical overlay. (Sidebar: RV best practice makes you better at sigil activation in my experience.)
The Deck of 1000 Spreads feels to me to be a similar technique... or rather that it solves the same challenge in a different way. In the case of something like the UFO Tarot, whose -for want of a better word- archetypes deal with phenomena that highly deceptive, ephemeral and frankly dangerous... 'gridding out' your outcome beforehand feels like removing an additional analytical layer... freeing you up to concentrate on the tuning in and the shuffling. Once gridded out, the deck felt like it was impotently squirming to get away from me... like a beastie in the Triangle of Art... or a toddler at bath time.
If you have decks that you want to use more but just don't behave -and I know you do- then this is a good solution.
Having already used the word 'grid', I will refer to the above spread as the 'spreadsheet'. (Geddit?) For your more 'fortune telly' oracles that deal exclusively with the machinations of the real world, you have the option of cleanly looking across by subject and down by time or influence.
This is particularly useful for me as I have a number of non-English deck like this handmade Sibilla 1890 I picked up in Florence. By the end of a holiday, I tend to hugely overestimate my language skills, only to return to London where it seems even basic English escapes me most of the time. So I often get lost in -to modify the term- a linguistic overlay.
Anyway, if you're after ways to iterate your cartomancy, you can certainly do worse than picking up a copy of the Deck of 1000 Spreads. In theory, you could fashion your own out of scraps of paper, but you really do get a sense of Tierney Sadler's 25 years of experience in the whole package.
(Note: and if you're after a novelty deck to play with it, the image at the top is from the tarot deck in Penny Dreadful... which has been gothicamp fun so far. Eva Green -who I would definitely, definitely go opposite gay for- uses them. You can buy it from Showtime and there is a discount code here.)