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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.

Gerard Bodet Tarot Restored by Sullivan Hismans

Devil card Gerard Bodet Tarot

The Gerard Bodet Tarot restored by Sullivan Hismans (Tarot Sheet Revival) may be the oldest complete Rouen-Brussels deck we have. Around the year 1500, tarot migrated from Italy to France and entered a new phase of development. Milanese tarot swept across Europe, becoming the standard gaming deck and evolving into the Tarot de Marseille pattern. An alternate style migrated from Florence and Ferrara, then lurked underground until surfacing in Paris in the mid-seventeenth century as the Jacques Vieville deck, a hybrid of the Tarot de Marseille and Rouen-Brussels patterns. Let’s look at what’s distinctive about this style and where Bodet’s deck fits in with its development. (All cards in this article are Gerard Bodet unless stated otherwise.)

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Reading Minchiate Cards with Brian Williams

This is turning out to be Minchiate Month! Marco Benedetti just published a restored and recolored Fiorentine Minchiate which I reviewed here last week. A few recent videos feature this deck. Links to everything are at the bottom.

What if you want to read with this expanded tarot deck? What resources will help with card interpretations, especially those unfamiliar cards like Charity, Prudence, or the Eastern Emperor? Two books by the late art historian Brian Williams are indispensable for studying the iconography of both Tarot and Minchiate.

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A Fiorentine Minchiate Restored by Marco Benedetti

Announcing a Fiorentine Minchiate deck produced by Marco Cesare Benedetti of Rome, Italy. The strong lines, rich colors and expressive faces make this limited edition deck very readable. Before I get into specifics of Benedetti’s deck, let’s get clear on what a Minchiate deck is and how it differs from tarot.

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Tarot and Divination Cards: A Visual Archive by Laetitia Barbier

Turning the pages of this book is like wandering the corridors of an enchanted castle where the walls are lined with over-sized images of tarot and fortune-telling cards, art from previous centuries, and the occasional surprise from contemporary popular culture. Barbier’s infectious joy and delight in all things cartomantic shines on every page of this wondrous book with the same energy and creativity she brings to her tarot classes on the Morbid Anatomy platform.

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Gold Foil Visconti-Sforza Deck by Lo Scarabeo

Lo Scarabeo Visconti-Sforza deck box

One of my favorite Visconti-Sforza decks has just been re-issued — seventy-eight cards in sparkling gold foil published by Lo Scarabeo. Unfortunately the gold doesn’t scan well; but trust me, it’s dazzling. I had to photograph the box at an odd angle to see the light reflecting off the gold. This deck is one of the first historic reproductions I ever purchased nearly twenty years ago. I read with it often, so I’m very happy to have a back-up deck in case I lose a card.  But there is one very big let-down that would otherwise be a deal killer for me. Here’s a comparison of the two editions.

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Marco Benedetti’s Personal Visconti

Box Cover Benedetti Personal Visconti

The Visconti-Sforza deck is a hybrid mash-up of sixty-eight original cards painted by Bonifacio Bembo about 1450, six cards that were created by a different artist around 1475, and four cards that are still missing and have to be recreated by a contemporary artist whenever the deck is republished. Marco Benedetti has never been happy with the ten replacement cards, and dreamt for years of creating his own version of these cards that would enhance the deck rather than detract from it. This deck brings his personal vision into fruition. By drawing on other works by Bembo for most of the replacement cards, he has revived the deck’s original spirit.

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Tarot-Heritage Tenth Anniversary Roundup: Odds and Ends

Winding down my website’s tenth anniversary summer celebration. Even here in sunny Santa Barbara, where weather rarely happens, I can feel a subtle shift in the air as we head toward autumn. To finish up the series, here’s a grab bag of articles that don’t fit into any category.

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Tarot-Heritage Tenth Anniversary Roundup: The Visconti-Sforza Tarot

Celebrating my website’s tenth anniversary: 174 blog articles and 42 website pages on tarot history, reading with non-scenic pips, and decks of historic significance. Throughout the summer, I’m going to group the most useful articles by topic and send out links in a series of blog posts.

If fifteenth-century aristocrats hadn’t tried to impress their friends with hand painted, golden tarot decks, and if those decks hadn’t been preserved in museums, our knowledge of tarot’s origins would be very limited. The most complete deck of this type, the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, is one of the most frequently published historic decks. We can’t overestimate its importance. Below are links to deck and book reviews as well as articles on historic background related to this deck.

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Tarot-Heritage Tenth Anniversary Roundup: The Soprafino Style

Celebrating my website’s tenth anniversary: 174 blog articles and 42 website pages on tarot history, reading with non-scenic pips, and decks of historic significance. Throughout the summer, I’m going to group the most useful articles by topic and send out links in a series of blog posts.

Today I’m listing everything I’ve written about the soprafino style. Originating in Milan in the 1830s, it has been reproduced by many publishers down to Lo Scarabeo’s current mass market version. Printers have borrowed random details from the style, especially in Piedmont. See reviews of those decks listed in last week’s blog post on Piedmont decks.

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Tarot-Heritage Tenth Anniversary Roundup: Piedmont Decks

Celebrating my website’s tenth anniversary: 174 blog articles and 42 website pages on tarot history, reading with non-scenic pips, and decks of historic significance. Throughout the summer, I’m going to group the most useful articles by topic and send out links in a series of blog posts.

The Piedmont region has one of the oldest tarot traditions in Italy. Its geographic location made it the crossroads where the playing card traditions of Italy and eastern France mingled. Below are articles on the Piedmont tradition and reviews of individual decks.

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