Another beautiful edition of The Cartomancer just arrived in my mailbox. With a new owner, Arwen Lynch, the magazine has become even more eclectic. This issue contains thoughts on shadow work with tarot, plus articles on divination with tea leaves, Lenormand decks and playing cards. I was very happy to see several pages of tarot art in rich colors on a black background — a tradition in each issue. Read more
Around the year 1565, two men on opposite sides of northern Italy wrote down their thoughts about the moral lessons in the tarocchi deck. In the 1980s, both essays were discovered by playing card researcher Franco Pratesi, and were recently published in Italian and English as Con gli occhi et con l’intelletto: Explaining the Tarot in Sixteenth Century Italy. Generous footnotes and introductory material by Ross Sinclair Caldwell, Thierry Depaulis and Marco Ponzi put the essays in their historical context. This extremely important book shows us how a typical, well-educated Christian of the time would have seen the cards, without the distractions of occultism and Egyptomania that came a few centuries later. Read more
Another historically important Piedmontese deck produced by Giordano Berti just arrived in my mailbox. Like Berti’s other productions, this deck is housed in a sturdy handmade box lined with felt and covered with marbled paper. The cards are protected by a sparkling gold bag and are accompanied by a booklet with detailed historical background. Read more
Once there was a time when lovers of tarot seeking to look at beautiful cards had to (gasp!!) purchase a book! In that long-ago time (say, 1976) there was no Google, no wikis, no surfing nor clicking. To indulge your tarot obsession, you hopped in your Ford Pinto and drove to a local bookstore where these beautifully illustrated volumes nestled on a shelf.
The three books described here are all over-sized, hardbound, beautifully illustrated, focused on the Tarot de Marseille, and published between 1973 and 1986. They’re easy to obtain for about $5.00 at online used booksellers. Yes, you can see many more decks online, but there’s something magical about holding a large book in your hands and looking at a curated selection of cards. Read more
Has anyone read the folded sheet of paper that comes with every Il Meneghello deck? Recently I became curious enough to dust off my Italian dictionary and read it carefully. Osvaldo Menegazzi, the owner and artistic force behind Il Meneghello, is a native of Milan who’s been immersed in tarot most of his long life. I was hoping for special insights from a Milanese perspective. Instead I got a dose of Oswald Wirth. Read more
Yves Reynaud has produced facsimiles of historically important decks like the Madenié, Burdel and Conver. Now he’s done it again with a recreation of the 1713 Jean-Pierre Payen Tarot, one of the few Tarot de Marseille Type I decks available to purchase. If you’re familiar with any of Reynaud’s decks, the Payen is the same high-quality, limited-edition production housed in a sturdy box. Let’s put this deck in context with the Tarot de Marseille tradition. Read more
Hop on a magic carpet and let Jean Huets fly you back to 1447, when a war between Milan and Venice had northern Italy in turmoil, the Sforzas were still a few years away from ruling Milan, and tarot was a novelty.
With this latest issue The Cartomancer is transitioning to its new owner/editor Arwen Lynch-Poe. I’m very happy to see that the magazine is just as beautiful as ever, stuffed full with tarot art printed in luscious colors. The articles are on a wide range of topics, so there’s something for everyone. Here are a few of my favorites: Read more
The Tarocchino Bolognese engraved by Giuseppe Mitelli is a unique treasure. Just as the Visconti-Sforza deck was a luxury item commissioned by an aristocrat from a prominent artist in Cremona, this exceptionally beautiful deck was commissioned around 1660 by Count Bentivoglio of Bologna from a prolific Bolognese artist. Read more