I’m totally enchanted by Osvaldo Menegazzi’s latest production, a handcrafted facsimile of a Piedmont-style deck from the late 19th century. The deck was originally printed by Strambo in the town of Varallo on the Sesia River in eastern Piedmont.
The cards have a charming, folk art feel with deep, rich colors printed on smooth card stock that feels very nice to shuffle. At 2.5 x 4.5 inches (6.5 x 11.5 cm) they are a bit smaller than standard cards but not small enough to be called a mini deck.
The deck is housed in a very sturdy, handmade box covered with dark-brown marbled paper. A Fool card is pasted on the cover and finished with red sealing wax. Inside, there’s a folded paper with standard Il Meneghello divinatory meanings. In addition, there’s a very brief discussion of the Piemontese style in English and Italian, and a title card with a handwritten number. Read more
Giordano Berti, creator of a facsimile 15th-century Sola Busca deck, has made another treasure available to collectors — a very beautiful 19th-century Piedmont-style deck.
The Piedmont region of Italy has a vigorous, centuries-long tradition of tarot deck production. Its unique spin on the Tarot de Marseille is documented back to the late 18th century. In 1832, card maker Stefano Vergnano of Turin was honored by the Chamber of Commerce for the quality of his playing cards. Berti’s deck re-creates a Vergnano tarot deck printed at that time. Read more
If you want to learn how to read with the Tarot de Marseille while immersing yourself in tarot’s early history, this is the book for you. The heart of the book is an in-depth examination of each trump card accompanied by a web of historic associations illustrated with numerous examples of medieval and renaissance art. The book features the 1650 Noblet deck restored by Jean-Claude Flornoy, but each chapter offers illustrations of numerous decks for comparison; so the book works easily with any TdM. Read more
U.S. Games, Inc. has just made it easier for North Americans to purchase the exquisite Chosson and Madenié Tarot de Marseille decks produced in France by Yves Reynaud and Wilfried Houdouin. The duo obtained access to decks that have been hidden away in European museums for two and a half centuries, and created 3,000 facsimile copies of two very significant TdMs. U.S. Games has acquired 1,000 copies of each deck to resell. If these decks are supported by the tarot community, they plan to produce several more.
The other day, I read the booklet that comes with the Tarot de Marseille published in France by Heron hoping to find some traditional card interpretations. Instead, I found myself in a topsy-turvy world where the Star card means death, the Death card indicates marriage, and Temperance can predict disasters of a sexual or marital nature. (Temperance with the Ace of Batons means an illegitimate child, and reversed Temperance means a man will kidnap a married woman.)
The card meanings are evidently derived from a traditional cartomancy system where fortune tellers aren’t squeamish about predicting death (Star and Ace of Cups). According to the LWB, if the Five of Swords with reversed Emperor turns up in your spread, a relative will drown. The Star next to the Ace of Batons means the death of a child, and the Star and World together predict the death of a beloved pet. Read more
Tarocchi, trionfi and carte, oh, my! Playing card historian Franco Pratesi has put up a chronological list of links to all 313 of his articles on tarot and playing card history. The only other way to get access to these articles, written between 1986 and 2013, is to subscribe to several rather obscure journals.
Of special interest to my fellow tarot history nerds: Read more
For years, English-speaking Tarot de Marseille readers have been complaining about the lack of books in English. Well, the book we’ve all been waiting for has arrived! Ben-Dov’s book has everything one could ask for in a comprehensive how-to manual: history, card meanings, symbolism, tips for conducting a reading session, and examples of spread interpretations. Read more
One of the biggest hurdles for students of the Tarot de Marseilles is learning to read the suit cards fluently without memorizing a bunch of keywords. I’ve come up with some techniques that ensure you get lots of suit cards to practice with. In fact, I enjoy these techniques so much, they’ve become my favorite spreads.
In my reading style, the suits are the meat and potatoes of the reading. They tell you what’s going to happen, how it’s going to feel, and who’s involved. The trump card derived from the sum of the suit cards is the background situation, the underlying tone of the spread, the lesson, or the archetypal energy working behind the scenes. Read more
My favorite card-of-the-day draw involves shuffling the trumps and suit cards separately, then pulling a card at random from each stack. I like to flip the two cards over simultaneously so they hit my retina at the same time, setting up resonance between them.
Suit cards describe the details and address specifics. The trumps are like a color filter or a pinch of herbs – they bring out certain qualities of the suit card without altering its core meaning. Here’s an example from my tarot journal of several entries for one suit card in combination with different trumps. Read more
The best way to develop a personal relationship with a deck is to give yourself a short reading every day and record it in a tarot journal.
I like to do my reading first thing in the morning using two or three cards. I jot down a few notes in my journal about the cards’ meaning and how it relates to my life. Then in the evening, I review the spread to see how it actually played out during my day. Sometimes I’m surprised at how well the cards described an incident that happened.
A while back I pulled the 7 of Swords on the day of a dental appointment. I couldn’t help but see the vertical sword as a drill! Read more