I Tarocchi di Eva by Gianfranco Goberti
Review by Diane Wilkes

I thought of entitling this review, "See Michele--I'm not a prude!" Why? My dear friend, Michele Jackson, often accuses me of prudishness, and, as my reviews of most so-called "erotic" decks have been rather scathing, I was afraid my reputation was completely doomed in the tarot community. But in the Tarocchi di Eva, an erotic deck that I find both delightful and clever, I have found (with this review) a riposte to such naysayers.

All I ever asked was that erotic tarot decks actually have something to do with tarot. And they never seemed to. The Tarocchi di Eva does. The Majors are actually clever (and sexual) illustrations of the archetypes. The Fool wears a striped shirt, a silly grin, and carries a big stick (no! not that big stick!)...but his eyes are two breasts. You can't look at this card and not laugh--and feel the Fool's energy at the same time. The High Priestess' face is concealed by a book (with a yin-yang symbol on the cover). We can see most of her body, though--she is dressed in black garter and stockings and the key she holds between her legs looks suspiciously like a riding crop. Her back is literally against a wall with a mantle, which holds two symbols that appear repeatedly in the deck--an apple (Eva's favorite fruit) and the egg, a symbol of the eventual fruits of procreation. (The non-reversible backs depict an apple core, showing that someone has eaten of the fruit 78 times.)

The Empress and Emperor are shown together in both cards--a naked Empress sits on the Emperor's lap, his face placed in the perfect position to kiss her derriere in card III; Trump IV shows the Empress in a similar pose, but her position makes it likely that she will be kissing a different part of his anatomy.

The Hierophant is kind of interesting--we see him from the back, holding his tools of the Church. Behind him is the image of a long (phallic?) finger with a wedding ring circling it. I suppose it speaks to the ramifications of Church-sanctioned unions purifying the act arising from the "fall from innocence."

Justice, numbered VIII, shows a naked woman holding scales that serve as different-colored bra cups, and a sword across her pubis, the hilt a reversed triangle. How very discreet of her.

The Wheel of Fortune (at top) is a round red hoop skirt a can-can dancer would wear--and peeking from its folds are legs in the pose from that very dance. Too clever! Strength depicts a woman and muscular lion in a sensual embrace, reminding me of a story written by my friend Tom Tadfor-Little. A naked woman on the Temperance card pours water from an urn into a pool of water she shares with an equally naked man--a shared bath that will result in some wonderful alchemical creation, no doubt. A tree with clouds rises from the blue waters, adding to the idyllic quality of the scene.

But my favorite card is The Devil, which shows a snake curled around an apple tree. A woman's naked body makes up a good portion of the trunk, and the snake has a very smug smile on his red face.

Not all of the cards are erotic, or even display nudity. But every Major Arcana card is ingenious, witty, and charming, and offers at least an amusing comment on the archetype, if not an insight.

Alas, the artist didn't spend as much thought on the remainder of the cards. The Minors are simple pips. I suppose Goberti felt that Swords and Wands were phallic enough not to incorporate further artistic license, but on the Cups cards, the goblets are all shaped like buttocks and the coins (Denari) are all embossed with a naked woman's body. The Court Cards are also less clever than the Major Arcana, but some offer a chuckle. The Page of Denari approaches a woman (who we only see from the thigh down--like the High Priestess, she, too, wears a garter belt and black stockings). The Page carries a big gold coin and wears a besotted smile, and one thinks of a young man having his first sexual experience. It may be with a prostitute, but he looks awfully happy.

The artist is a man, and there's definitely a certain degree of chauvinism, or at least, heterosexuality--this guy is not fantasizing about other men. But there's no brutality or dull salaciousness to the artwork--it's good-humored and pokes fun at itself, as well as our sexual foibles and fantasies. I find nothing offensive about this deck at all (and, as an alleged prude, one would think I am easily offended).

The cards are a thick matte cardstock and the artwork is engaging and accomplished. The Majors, Aces, and Court Cards are depicted against a white background, the Minors against a light brown one. I am unsure what the reasoning for that is, as the accompanying booklet is in Italian and very short (4 pages). The casual printed font simply enhances the deck's informal insouciance.

I recommend this deck to those who have an interest in erotic decks, or anyone who wants an expensive entertaining, "different" tarot. It is a collector's deck--a limited edition of  500 copies. It is much more of an art deck than a reading deck, but I am sure one could think of many ways to use the Major Arcana to pass the time in a pleasurable manner.

You can purchase this deck from Alida.

  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) X  
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions   X
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                   X  
Smaller than standard                                             X
Larger than standard
(approx. 3" X 5 1/2 ")                                          

Images 1996 Maurizio Tosi
Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes
On loan from the Brigit Horner Collection