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Secret Tarot

Designer: Marco Nizzoli
Publishers: Lo Scarabeo 2001
Size: 600mmx 1200mm (2.50" x 4.75")
Shipping included in price
Price: £21.95
Points Price: 220
Reward Points: 22

Shipping included in price. This is one of those decks that releases its inner secrets over a period of time I think, and responds well to careful study and interpretation of the images.  Although on the face of things, the deck appears to stick relatively closely to the RW format for images, in fact there are some interesting twists and turns in some of the cards.  Practically every image depicts a figure – and these are generally very carefully drawn, with mannerisms and stances which convey a great deal to the watchful observer.

There are intriguing elements to many of the cards that would lead me to puzzle long and hard were this a deck of choice for me.  For example, just how cross is the Fool at that blessed little terrier nipping at his heels?  And just who of the two women pictured on the Lovers card will the young man opt for?  The demure and virginal woman on the right, or the outrageously expressive woman in the middle of the card?  And what is Nessie doing in the background of the Temperance card?  And why did the archer on the Moon card not take the somewhat safer, if circuitous route across that water?

The Suits are illustrated with the same care and attention to detail as the Majors.  I love the Ace of Wands, and the warrior on the 6 really gives a fullness of interpretation to returning home from battle, victorious, but weary and careworn.  The 3 of Chalices makes me chuckle – no dancing maidens here – three chaps in the local tavern expresses the shared contentment of this card.  And the androgynous Knave of Chalices views you quizzically, as though wondering what you make of him…or her.  The 3 of Swords really veers sharply away from familiar imagery.  Here we see a lone mounted traveller, who bears a banner depicting the swords.  He gives the impression of surveying a valley from the ridge that borders it, and I felt instinctively he was returning home from a long and dangerous journey, but was now was within sight of respite and peace.  The queen of this Suit looks like a woman in mourning.  The 5 of Pentacles also raised a chuckle for me – a fat-bottomed gentleman bends to  frame the elegant woman standing before him in order to take a photograph of her.  And the 9 of this Suit reminded me of another tarot card which is very similar – but I cannot remember what.

The LWB (Little White Book) carries an interesting tale of a young man – a waster perhaps – who wanders away from his village one day and stumbles into the Land of Secrets.  Here he meets a Magician who begins the process of educating him in the ways of this magickal land.  First the Fool is introduced to the Rulers – Emperor and Empress, who have two beautiful young daughters – very alike in looks, but very different in character.   Then he meets the Spiritual leaders of this land, The Hierophant and the High Priestess…and he embarks upon a series of adventures which gradually both tempt and teach him, so that he begins to mature.  The story continues to weave each of the Major Arcana in turn into this story.

Each of the Suits has another, shorter tale attached to it, assigning each to a specific area of life, and attempting to give broader views of the cards within.  Cups rule the Kingdom of Pleasure; Pentacles the Kingdom of Richness; Swords the Kingdom of Sorrow; and Wands (oddly) the Kingdom of the Work of Man.

I should note that the LWB is more of an extensive leaflet, than a book proper, and suffers all of the usual problems in terms of definitions.  These are little more than a list of keywords, however those incorporated are pretty helpful in their own way.

Courts follow the traditional Knave/Knight/Queen/King format.  The card stock is of the customary standard we have come to expect from Lo Scarabeo. I’d not class this as an advanced deck – though a working understanding of the Rider Waite might act as a useful launching point to get the best out of this subtle and interesting deck.

The Fool
The Lovers
The Moon
Ace Wands
6 Wands
3 Cups
Knave Cups
3 Swords
Qu. Swords
5 Disks
9 Disks

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