Tarot Duszy by Manuela Klara Olszewska
Review by Diane Wilkes

This Polish tarot book and deck is not a set--the cards are attached at the end of the book on three color pages. The cards are quite small, and are not perforated; you have to cut them out individually.

The book itself looks quite interesting, but as it is all in Polish, I can't tell you much about its contents. At the end of the book, there are 34 sample cards from other decks that you can purchase from the Studio Astropsychologii, and they range from popular decks like the Marseille and Morgan-Greer to the erotic Black Tarot, as well as the rarer Polish ones.

The artwork on this deck is rather crude and the colors are often rather dark and murky. Symbols seem to be erratically wedged into every available space in some of the cards and the effect is somewhat oft-putting. One example of this is the Hierophant, who for some reason is given Jupiter as an astrological assignment. Perhaps this is because the Catholic Church is such a powerful presence in Poland. Ironically, the title of this card is "Kaplan," a rather powerful tarot presence in the United States.

The Empress is one of the lighter and more attractive cards in the Duszy Tarot, and the swan is often associated with this archetype. The Emperor includes the traditional ram in the background, but a fluffy lion sleeps at his side. Normally, that animal is associated with the Strength card, not the Emperor, though I can certainly understand why the King of the Forest makes an appearance here.

The Duszy rendition of the Hermit may rank as the most unpleasant version of this card I have ever seen. He looks almost Satanic, and is certainly grasping and greedy. Instead of sharing his light, he looks like he's using it to contact the fires of Hell.

If the Hermit is unusually menacing, the Tower is relatively benign. The colors are light and reminiscent of a sun-baked Italian terrazzo, though the tower itself is in flames. Still, a placid goat lies happily at its base and the image is not one of unalloyed chaos and disaster. The Judgment card is unusual, and seems heavily church-based--it shows rays of light pouring down on a man who holds a book embossed with a huge cross as a naked woman shrinks away towards the dark of the moon. Talk about a microcosmic illustration of the Religious Right!

The World card is also interesting, because of the unique seraphic symbols at the four corners and the androgyne who dances within a snake that serves as both circle and cosmic hula hoop. This card seems to reverse the message of Trump XX, and speaks to a higher evolution.

And maybe I'm projecting just a wee bit.

The card backs are a red starburst against a black sky and are clearly computer-enhanced, a style at odds with the cards' artwork. Astrological attributions are at the right hand, bottom corner of each card and are definitely not the Golden Dawn correspondences. The World has no astrological attribution--clearly, it transcends them.

Altogether, this deck seems like a bit of a mish-mash, and, since I am unable to read the book that might explain the strange symbols and correspondences, I have to say that this deck, while interesting, is not a must-have for anyone who doesn't speak Polish. However, if it were found at a good price, collectors might want a copy of it.

I am unsure how to obtain a copy of this deck, but the book offers the following information:

Click here for the website.

The e-mail address is: wydawnictwo@studioastro.com.pl

NOTE: A Tarot Passages reader went to the website and found it was quite easy to order this deck, which is about $5 in US currency. However, ordering and receiving it are not the same thing. The site owner insists on a bank transfer and does not accept credit cards.

Tarot Lekarz Duszy by Manuela Klara Olszeska
Publisher: Studio Astropsychologii
ISBN#: 8386737263

  Yes No
78 cards   X
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI   X
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana X  
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Rods/Wands, Cups/Chalices, Swords, Pentacles/Disks)   N/A
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions   N/A
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Smaller than standard
 (2" x 2 3/4")                                           
X
Larger than standard                                                X
     

Images 1999 Studio Astropsychologii
Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes
On loan from the Brigit Horner Collection.