Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Tarot’ Category

From My Bookshelf: Sigismondo Malatesta and the Italian Renaissance

Sigismondo Malatesta, bad boy of the Renaissance, gave us our first documented evidence for tarot. Researcher Franco Pratesi discovered a note in a Florentine account book dated September 16, 1440 saying a deck of naibi a trionfi had been sent to Malatesta that was beautiful, expensive and decorated with his arms. In 1452 he surfaced again in connection with tarot. Bianca, the Duchess of Milan, sent a note to her husband Francesco saying Malatesta was asking for the trionfi cards that were made in Cremona. Read more

Tarotforum RIP

Waves of shock and grief are rolling through a large segment of the tarot community in reaction to the announcement that www.tarotforum.net will be shut down as of July 14, 2017.  Since 2002, Tarotforum has been one of the largest and best-moderated communities on the internet. When Tarot_L on Yahoo shut down over a decade ago, Tarotforum became my go-to place for tarot history. I’m greatly relieved to learn that the forum will still exist in read-only form, so we won’t be losing its huge storehouse of information. Read more

Three New Tarot de Marseille Books

Things have certainly changed since I began reading with the TdM around the turn of the millennium. Back then there were no books in English on the subject; so I spent a fortune on shipping for a small collection of books in French. Since then there have been almost no other basic TdM books in English. I recently found three books that show the tide is turning. Read more

The Cartomancer December 2016 Issue

This magazine just keeps getting better. The latest issue has several articles that especially intrigued me.

In the Tarot Art section, Monica Bodirsky’s Lucky Lenormand deck caught my eye. Its swirling, free form watercolor background appeals to me since I adore abstract art. Bodirsky appears twice more. Bonnie Cehovet reviewed her deck, then Bodirsky contributed an article on cartomancy, the proliferation of Lenormand decks, and the role imagery plays in a reading. Read more

Tarot History Rant #5: Etteilla the hairdresser

At least three times in the past few weeks I’ve heard people refer to “the hairdresser Etteilla,” mindlessly repeating disinformation that Eliphas Levi and A. E. Waite rather viciously spread about the founder of modern tarot. Etteilla-bashing hit its stride in the mid-19th century when Eliphas Levi published statements like:

Etteilla or Alliette, an illumine hairdresser, exclusively engrossed by his divinatory system, and the emolument he could derive from it, neither proficient in his own language nor even in orthography, pretended to reform, and thus attribute to himself the Book of Thoth.

This illuminated hairdresser, after working for thirty years, only succeeded in producing a bastard set, the Keys of which are transposed, so that the numbers no longer answer to the signs.

The writings of Etteilla, now very rare, are obscure, wearisome and barbarous in style.

Generations of authors have mindlessly parroted Levi without bothering to learn about the man behind the slander. Read more

The Cartomancer Magazine Summer 2016

The August 2016 edition of The Cartomancer contains two weighty, serialized articles, as well as the usual gorgeous artwork and an intriguing range of topics. The article that anchors this edition for me is Marseille Tarot: A Phylosophical Enquiry by three Brazilian tarotists. In this article, the first of two, the authors describe various philosophical approaches to tarot study. Quite frankly, I had a hard time sorting it out; but here’s how I disentangled the threads into four main approaches to tarot: Read more

The Visconti Sforza Tarocchi by U. S. Games

U.S. Games Systems has just reissued their facsimile of the Pierpont Morgan Bergamo Visconti Sforza Tarocchi, originally produced in 1975 and still in print. They’ve added bonus cards with portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Milan, probably by Bonifacio Bembo, who most likely created the original deck in the 1450s. Both editions are the same size as the original cards: 3.5 x 7.0 inches. Let’s compare the two decks. Read more

Mutus Liber: The Bookstore of the Museo dei Tarocchi

The Museo dei Tarocchi’s new online bookstore makes it very easy to order their books and decks using Paypal. I celebrated their grand re-opening a few months ago with my usual lack of self-restraint and ordered a pile of books and one very interesting deck. Ordering was a breeze, and it took less than three weeks for my loot to make its way from Italy to California. Read more

Reading Between the Cards

Lately I’ve been doing readings with just two cards. I don’t read the cards one-two, past-present, cause-effect. I read the space between them: the field of energy, the tension, the interaction. I ask what must happen for one card to turn into the other, or for one card to reach out to the other and transform it?

A few weeks ago I asked Lo Scarabeo’s Ancient Italian deck what I can do to kick off a summer of creative and artistic experimentation. I got the Star and Nine of Cups: waters of heavenly inspiration cascading through the levels of cups. But the Nine of Cups has a sterile, conformist feel, like rows of soldiers or synchronized dancers. Something stale and dry is being watered. The cards resemble the fountain in my living room where water cascades down several vertical levels of copper flowers. Read more

Tarocchi Perrin 1865

Giordano Berti, who brought us the historically important Vergnano and Sola Busca decks, has done it again, producing a small print run of a virtually unknown deck. The Tarocchi Perrin, originally printed in Turin, is a delightfully unique deck that’s heavily influenced by Dellarocca’s soprafino design. Read more