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Posts from the ‘Tarot’ Category

The Cartomancer Spring 2016 Edition

Congratulations to Jadzia and Jay DeForest, Bonnie Cehovet, and everyone else involved with this beautiful publication. The latest edition of the Cartomancer celebrates their first anniversary of publication.

Here are some highlights from this issue: Read more

The Cartomancer Winter 2015

The third issue of The Cartomancer just landed in my inbox, and it’s a beauty.

My favorite section contains luscious full-page layouts of decks. I love the black background that intensifies the colors and makes the cards sizzle. One deck caught my attention: the Tribal Secrets Tarot where the creator photographed belly dancers interpreting the cards in their own way.

Some of my favorite articles: Read more

Fifteenth-Century Playing Cards from Guinevere’s Games

In the fifteenth century, playing cards were a novelty. Italian aristocrats commissioned hand painted, gilded trionfi decks from their favorite artists, while their counterparts farther north were doing the same with one-of-a-kind playing card decks.

Guinevere’s Games offers four fifteenth-century playing card decks through Gamecrafters. Three of these decks were hand painted luxury items, while the fourth is a basic black and white deck. These are not collectible facsimiles. They are printed in rich colors on smooth paper and could be easily shuffled and used for game playing. Each deck is housed in a tin and accompanied by background information. Here are details on each deck. Read more

The Reader’s Digest Capek Tarot de Marseille

I associate the Reader’s Digest with seeing copies in a basket in my grandparents’ bathroom. Tarot just doesn’t seem to be aligned with the Reader’s Digest’s market niche; so I was intrigued when I learned that a Tarot de Marseille published by Reader’s Digest was on Ebay. Since it was only $11, I decided to satisfy my curiosity.

I’m very pleased with the quality of the cards and book, a collaboration between Czech artist Jindra Capek and writer Vlasta Duskova. The twenty-two cards are set into a niche at the bottom of a sturdy box which holds a 110-page hard-bound book that’s extensively illustrated in color. Read more

Jodorowsky Retrospecitve

According to a review in the November 2015 issue of Art News, a museum in Bordeaux, France has just wrapped up a 50-year retrospective of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s career. In the photo shown here, peeking out from under the screen, you can see the bottoms of the Tarot de Marseille that Jodorowsky designed with Philippe Camoin. But Jodorowsky is about a lot more than tarot. Read more

Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology

The poems in this important anthology take us on a ride from black jack tables to the Last Supper. Many poems gently evoke the essence of a card, like lingering incense. Others delight us with new insights, like Tony Barnstone’s paired poems on the same card upright and reversed; or Amy Schrader’s poems on court cards. The Devil has been transformed by Lore Bernier (I am restrained by a lack of restraint) and Amanda Chiado (He was the kid who only ate the icing). On these pages we hear the voice of a rather smug Temperance angel, a tricksterish Fool and a foolish Fool, and Judas as the Hanged Man. Read more

The Spanish Captain in the Vandenborre Deck

Question: Who is the Spanish Captain, and what’s he doing in a tarot deck?

The Short Answer: He’s a character from the Commedia dell’Arte who substitutes for the Papesse in a type of 18th-century Belgian deck.

The Long Answer: Read the rest of the article.

What is Commedia dell’Arte?

It’s a type of popular theater with roots in the classical world. It flourished in Renaissance Italy and spread throughout Europe, especially France, in the 14th through 18th centuries. An array of standard characters appeared in every play like Harlequin, Pantalone, and Pulcinella, who was the prototype for Punch and Pierrot. The audience instantly recognized these characters by their masks, their walk, costume and regional accent, as well as characteristic slapstick routines, stage business, gestures, jokes, and favorite curse words. Read more

52 Plus Joker: A Card Collector’s Club

I’ve just discovered an association for aficionados of antique and collectible playing cards called 52 Plus Joker – The American Playing Card Collector’s Club. (How about a tarot club called 21 Plus Fool?) Their beautifully illustrated quarterly magazine, Clear the Decks has plenty to keep a tarot historian happy. I’m very impressed with the level of scholarship in their articles – this isn’t just a hobbyist magazine. Read more

Tarot: Haiku and Haibun

Tarot was the last thing I expected to see in the latest issue of Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America.

If you’d like to write haiku but feel constrained by its extreme compression, try haibun. Haibun consists of a few sentences or short paragraphs of prose with a haiku inserted somewhere. The haiku resonates with the prose but isn’t a literal illustration.

Here’s a tarot haibun by Alexis Rotella. Read more

Tarocchi Visconti di Modrone (Cary-Yale) from Il Meneghello

Osvaldo Menegazzi, the artistic genius behind Il Meneghello, has once again created a beautiful facsimile of an historic tarot deck. This deck, commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, in the 1440s, is one of the oldest Italian tarocchi decks we know of. The cards were hand-painted on an embossed gold background, much like the Visconti-Sforza deck commissioned by Filippo’s son-in-law, Francesco Sforza, a decade later. Read more