© Kahurangi Press 2010-2020


The Xultun Tarot

Xultun Tarot first edition 1976The Xultun Tarot, created in 1976, was the first of the non-Western or indigenous tarot decks.  It is based on images from Maya history and culture and is also known as the Maya Tarot or the Maya Book of Life. The cards were printed from a single painting by New Zealand artist, Peter Balin. For the full story see Origins.

Only 500 decks were originally printed. They were in large format and in vivid colours true to the painting. Xultun Tarot Classic Edition 2011A poster produced at the time was printed directly from the painting. Now collector’s items, most of the decks had brown boxes with a horizontal feathered winged serpent design by Peter Balin. Others (less common) had a green, applied paper cover with a vertical feathered winged serpent image. Since the late 1970s the cards have only been available in a smaller, playing-card size format with muted colours. In 2010 Kahurangi Press, in cooperation with Peter Balin, undertook to re-print the deck true to its original size and colours with a re-designed box.

It is the only tarot deck in which the major arcana form a complete picture. This picture tells two stories: the marriage of spirit and matter, and what C G Jung called the individuation process. The horizontal rows of cards are the Shields of Humans, the Moods of Stalking, the Elements, and the Psychological Types. The vertical rows are the Movements of the Book of Life. Each card holds a different direction for each of those five aspects.

The Maya Book of Life: Understanding the Xultun Tarot by Michael Owen is the companion book to this new edition of the cards. It explores the archetypes and alchemy of the major arcana of the Xultun Tarot through indigenous teachings and the analytical psychology of C G Jung and casts new light on the meaning of 2012.