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Hello, and welcome to my blog. This is where I’ll share book reviews, my favorite tarot decks, tidbits of tarot history, and some ideas I’m working on that combine tarot and astrology. I’ll also bring you news and reviews about Italian books and websites. Please explore the other pages on this site for in-depth articles on tarot history and tips on reading with historic decks.

The Triadic Tarot

A square Tarot de Marseille with cards that can be turned in any direction! Pips arranged in triads according to a system described by the French occultist Papus. This radically unique deck will spark your intuition and give you a solid system for interpreting the pips. The sixty-page booklet that comes with the deck gives you everything you need to read with it. It’s great fun playing with the possibilities in these cards. Let’s look at each component of the deck in detail. Read more

Rereading the Classics: Yoav Ben-Dov

About this series:

If you want to read with the Tarot de Marseille (or any deck with non-illustrated pips) and only know English, get acquainted with these six essential authors: Yoav Ben-Dov, Jean-Michel David, Camelia Elias, Enrique Enriquez, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Caitlín Matthews. I plan to spend the winter rereading them and reporting on a few tips or exercises from each author that strike me as especially interesting. Stay tuned for J-M David in a few months. Here’s what stood out for me in Yoav’s book, Tarot: The Open Reading. Read more

I Tarocchi Rosenwald by Marco Benedetti

There’s something compelling about the Rosenwald deck. It’s enough like the Tarot de Marseille to feel comfortable; yet its quirky details give it a slightly exotic tone. For a transcendent experience, hold Benedetti’s gold and silver Rosenwald cards in your hands. Read more

The Deck and Book of the Deification of Sixteen Heroes

The legendary “da Tortona” deck, grandfather of all tarocchi/tarot decks, is now accessible thanks to a small but incredibly rich book by Ross G. Caldwell and Marco Ponzi; and a recreated deck by Robert Place, The Marziano Tarot.

About 1420, the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, asked his secretary and advisor, commonly known as Marziano da Tortona, to invent a card game. Marziano created the Game of Sixteen Deified Heroes, a deck of cards with four suits numbered ace to ten and an extra suit of illustrated cards – the same format as the game of trionfi/tarocchi/tarot invented about 15 years later. Read more

Speed Reading the Tarot with Christiana Gaudet

Christiana Gaudet is my kind of tarot reader: concise, no-nonsense and practical. She gets right to the point without stalling for time; and knows immediately what aspect of a card to highlight. Her decades of full-time reading shines through her technique. She intuitively knows what the client needs: practical advice, compassion, reassurance, a kick in the pants – she can deliver any of that with any card. I’ve given an exercise below that will help you read just as fluently and quickly. Read more

The Visconti Sforza Tarot: A Book by Cristina Dorsini

Just released: The third book in Dorsini’s trilogy about the fifteenth-century Visconti decks.

In the fifteenth century, Italian aristocrats would commission an artist to make a one-of-a-kind tarot deck painted with precious materials on a background of embossed gold leaf. The three most complete decks in existence were commissioned by the Dukes of Milan in mid-century. The Il Meneghello workshop has created facsimiles of all three decks and published three books with historic and artistic background information. Read more

The Jean Dodali Tarot Recreated by Sullivan Hismans

The Dodal/Dodali Tarot, one of the earliest and most historically important Tarot de Marseille (TdM) decks, has been beautifully recreated by Sullivan Hismans at Tarot Sheet Revival, after two years of painstaking craftsmanship. Hismans, who gave us recreations of the Budapest and Rosenwald sheets, is a visual artist fascinated by the physical reality of tarot cards and the craft of card making. His process is the same with all his decks – he examines different versions of the cards available in museum databases, takes the elements apart, then alchemically recombines them to create a transformed, but historically accurate deck. Read more

Oswald Wirth Facsimile Decks by Marco Benedetti

For the first and last time on this blog I’m reviewing a deck by a DFO (Dead French Occultist). I usually run out of the room when someone starts in about Kabbalistic associations with tarot (it’s a personal hang-up). But I know a gorgeous deck when I see one. Marco Benedetti’s gold foil edition of Wirth’s 1926 deck is pure magic. Read more

I Tarocchi Marco Benedetti: An Homage to the Visconti-Sforza Deck

I came across this deck on The Gamecrafter while looking for something else and was immediately taken by the graceful, clean lines and minimalist design. The deck designer, Marco Benedetti, is not an artist, although he’s had architectural training, and this is the only thing he’s ever created. The deck is based closely on the Pierpont Morgan Bergamo Visconti-Sforza deck (V-S) with plenty of quirky personal touches, since it was never the creator’s intention to simply redraw the V-S deck.

Benedetti’s goal was to return to the roots of tarot and strip it of the extraneous occult symbols that had been laid on over the centuries. He believes that any symbolism should be implicit in the overall design, so he made his drawings simple and ambiguous to keep the viewer’s imagination from being imprisoned by specific images. Read more

Trzes’ Mamluk Deck: The Granddaddy of European Playing Cards

In 1931, Leo Mayer discovered a nearly complete deck of medieval playing cards in the Topkapi Museum of Istanbul, giving the world solid proof that European playing cards originated in the Islamic world. With its ornate design and gold accents, this deck is comparable to the hand-painted, gold-embellished decks that were the rage among Italian aristocracy in the mid-15th century.

The Trzes deck is a modern reconstruction based closely on the original, with fifteen reconstructed cards. The booklet says it’s “a recreation from scratch that makes use of the original design principles…the cards the Mamluk people might have produced, had they access to modern technology, such as vector graphics software or modern printing devices.” Read more