The Celtic Tarot (Lo Scarabeo Version)

Majors created by Giacinto Gaudenzi, and Minors by Saverio Tenuta


This is a release from the Lo Scarabeo publishing house. The card stock is their regular high quality and the reproduction on the images is high standard.

The Majors were originally released as an art deck under the name of Tarochi Celtici, and the Minors were added some years later and the deck re-released. Significantly the Major Arcana were designed by a different artist than the Minors, and I have to say – it shows. The Majors were created by Giacinto Gaudenzi (Tarot of Durer, Decameron Tarot), and the Minors by Saverio Tenuta. On a personal level I prefer the artwork of the latter, though I have to say that there is more innovation and imagination in the work of the former.

The deck largely follows traditional Rider Waite symbolism with the additional introduction of Celtic myth into the Majors, and with the suits being attributed to Irish tribes. Wands represent the Fomori, Pentacles are the Tuatha De Danaan, Swords are the Ulaid, and Chalices are the Fianna. I’m not certain whether the deviation from the traditional compass point attributions for the four elements is deliberate, in the leaflet accompanying the cards – but just for reference it is usually said that Fire is South, Air is East, Water is West and Earth is North.

Another deviation which might cause some confusion is that in this deck the double blind introduced by the Golden Dawn of attributing Wands to Fire and Swords to Air is undone.

Though the deck is based on Celtic legend, it would be possible for a person with no particular knowledge of that panoply to read from these cards, for the largest part. However I do think the deck is likely to stimulate an exploration of the myths upon which it is based, and this would probably bring a greater depth of understanding when reading.

For example, The Tower is given to Aillen Mac Midhna, a fairy musician who, for 23 years came to the Hall of Tara on Samhain to play such sweet music that everybody present was lulled into sleep. As soon as they were all slumbering he blew three mighty blasts of fire out of his nostrils and destroyed the Hall. Every single Samhain he did this until Finn of the Fianna took a quick snort of his own poisonous spearhead, which kept him awake long enough to kill Aillen, and save the Hall. The card shows Aillen clutching a small harp and breathing out his breath of fire on the stricken Hall.

For me, this emphasises the aspect of the Tower which tells us that so long as we remain inert, nothing will change, nor improve, nor develop. No progress will take place until we shake ourselves out of our self-induced stupor and take action… no matter how that action might unsettled or disturb us.

This is an attractive deck, and one which I think would work in meditation and in reading, especially if you develop an understanding of the different tales behind its attributions.

Courts follow the traditional pattern- Knave, Knight, Queen King. The leaflet enclosed with the cards is fairly informative, though the Minors are only defined in terms of keywords. However some of these single word stimulants are thought provoking – the Ace of Pentacles is defined as Shape for example.

And there’s an interesting spread given with this deck as well, which is based on analysing elemental or directional influences affecting the querent. I thought this layout would probably be extremely useful for assessing spiritual balance among other things.

Review by Jan

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