Sunday, February 26, 2012

Deck Review - Tarot of the Mystic Spiral

Tarot of the Mystic Spiral, by Giovanni Pelosini, illustrated by Giuseppe Palumbo, published by Lo Scarabeo, operates on the premise that, "The spiral is a symbol present everywhere in nature, from the macrocosm of the galaxies to the microcosm of DNA." ~from the Little White Book.

The mystic spiral idea certainly is present in every card, although more overt in some cards than others.  I did not find myself relating over much to that concept of it, though I already breathe tarot in and out, so it may have been working on a subconscious level for me.  This deck is based on the Waite Smith system, but does not cling to it.  In most cards you can see the relation, but it is not always a direct correlation. People who like to push their understanding of those meanings ever further may enjoy this deck, if they can connect to the artwork, which I find appealing but inconsistent.  The images are sometimes drawn from mythology, sometimes from nature, and I have to imagine sometimes just from the creators imaginations.  Even so , I have found this an evocative deck to use, clear in readings, and enjoyable in its' language of imagery.  There is some mild violence in the cards, most notably in the Swords suit (but what else are you supposed to do with a Sword?) and the Knights (but that is kinda what Knights do).  A few cards feature nudity, some of it bawdy like the mooning Fool, some of it neutral like the Queen of Cups, and some of it sensual in its' beauty, like The Stars.  For that reason, I would not suggest it as a deck for children or those squeamish to that kind of imagery, though I do not find any of it gratuitous.

The cards themselves are lightly laminated, about 2.75 inches x 4.75 inches, and shuffle beautifully.  They are bordered in a trellis design against dark blue, and feature the name of the card in the six different languages at the corners.  The deck comes in a tuck box with a Little White Book for instruction, also written in English, Italian, Spanish, and German.  The booklet is concise, but gives a good starting point for the meaning of each card, and a quick idea of what the thought process was behind its' creation.  There are 78 traditionally named cards, the suits being Wands, Chalices, Swords, and Pentacles.  The Court Cards, from youngest to oldest are Knave, Knight, Queen, King.  You will find Justice as Trump VIII in this deck and Strength as XI.  The back design is a fully reversible pattern of knot work in soothing blues and greens, with gold as an accent.

I am consistently impressed with Lo Scarabeo's choices in decks to print.  They do not always click with me, but I can usually see that they are pushing at the boundaries of tarot, trying to add new ideas with their decks.  They tend to publish decks that require a bit of thought and I am all for thinking when we read tarot.

Zanna Starr at Tarot Notes Major and Minor, a must read blog for me, has also written a thoughtful review of this deck.  Please check it out, as well!

These cards are from Tarot of the Mystic Spiral by Giovanni Pelosini and Giuseppe Palumbo, published by Lo Scarabeo.

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