Review by Kim Huggens
Anybody who knows what Milo Manara’s
‘day job’ is will immediately understand exactly what this deck is about. For
those of you who don’t know: Manara is a Spanish pornographic comic artist. As
such, this deck’s images range from erotic and pornographic to weird, a little
scary, humorous, and sometimes rather shocking. It certainly is not a deck for
those who do not appreciate nudity or graphic sex scenes in a Tarot deck, and
those with a faint heart or weak stomach would not benefit from the Manara
The Major Arcana are numbered traditionally, with their Italian name on the bottom left-hand corner, and the English, German, French, and Spanish names in the top right. The bottom right corner bears an astrological symbol, and the top left shows the card’s number. Unfortunately, that really is as far as the deeper meanings go in this deck. It seems the images on the cards were chosen simply because they loosely resembled some concept from the cards. However, some of the images bear absolutely no relevance to the card they are supposed to represent! Most of the Majors are fairly humorous, but there are some that are deeply thought-provoking, even though they may bear no meaning in relation to the cards. Possibly my favorite piece from this deck is the Judgement card, which shows the pale body of a young, attractive woman lying on a small hill seemingly dead, with white doves being ‘born’ from her. The image is serene, and very meaningful.
All the artwork in the cards is wonderful. One thing I will always praise Manara for is his use of a paintbrush! He uses watercolours, and his artwork is so detailed and realistic that I often wish I could decorate my walls with the cards from this deck (though I’m sure my landlady would not approve!).
The Minor Arcana have suits of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, instead of the usual Coins, Swords, Wands, and Cups, and the card’s number can be found in the top left corner, within the symbol of its element. There are, unlike most Tarot decks, no swords, cups, wands, or coins anywhere to be found in the Minor Arcana, so you have to rely on the number and symbol in the top left hand corner to tell which is which.
Each Ace portrays an attractive woman with big breasts and a seductive smile, and on all the Minors apart from the Aces and Courts are two astrological symbols in the bottom right hand corner. As with the Majors, it is rare that the images on the cards hold any relevance to the meaning, but there are some occasions where this happens, though usually in a satirical context. For instance, the Seven of Fire (Wands), which is traditionally interpreted as ‘valour’, shows a scene where four nurses are very busy with a male patient, who is quite powerless to stop what is happening. In this suit we also find the most shocking card in the deck: The 10 of Fire, which shows a man trying to rape a woman. Call me fussy, but I’d rather not see that in a Tarot deck, and it certainly isn’t ‘erotic’ at all, though very true to the meaning of the card itself.
The Court cards are just the same as the rest of the deck: often quite meaningless but pretty to look at. I am constantly surprised by the number of perfect breasts Manara has squeezed into one Tarot deck. For those who don’t enjoy the idea of having to stare as impossibly perfect woman measuring 38-20-35, I don’t recommend this deck. On the other hand, there are probably lots of people who would enjoy that!
I can’t really say any more about this deck, as it isn’t a deck for reading: Instead, it is one of those decks you’d have in a collection, or just to ‘appreciate the fine artwork…’ I certainly don’t suggest you attempt to use it to read for anyone who is easily embarrassed, under 18, or, in fact, anybody you don’t know really well! It has also been suggested that this deck is very sexist, promoting a negative view of women as a sexual play-thing, which can be seen as a valid point considering the women shown in this deck. (All of them are stunningly beautiful, shapely, with large breasts and long legs.) One might also say that the deck is too ‘Barbie-doll’, since it doesn’t show any ‘normal’ women: no women with a little podge on their thighs or cellulite, nor are there any women who have given birth four times so far and spend hours doing housework! Then again, the women in the deck are pretty to look at.
If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.
- Manara: The Erotic Tarot by Milo Manara
- Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Kim Huggens is an 18 year old Pagan, studying for a Philosophy degree at Cardiff University. She has been studying Tarot heavily since the age of 9, and currently lives with her wonderful boyfriend, Simon, in Cardiff. She also enjoys writing and collecting Tarot decks, and currently has around 110 in her collection.
Images © 2000 Lo Scarabeo
Review © 2003 Kim Huggens
Page © 2003 Diane Wilkes