Marita Liulia Tarot by Marita Liulia
Review by Saskia Jansen
When I first received the Marita Liulia Tarot, I wasn't very much impressed. It arrived at the same time as several other long awaited decks, so I only gave it a quick glance, and decided it was average and not very interesting. I was even in doubt whether or not I should keep the deck. But I finally decided to keep it and it found its home in a nice little box and disappeared into a drawer.
But somehow I wasn't done with it. It kept on being on my mind, since I know I hadn't even given it a fair chance. When I decided to write a review, the first deck that came to mind was... the Marita Liulia Tarot. So I took it out to have a good look and got better acquainted with the deck.
The Marita Liulia Tarot is a deck made by the Finnish multimedia artist, Marita Liulia. The images have clearly been made and manipulated by Photoshop or a similar program. The background of many of the cards remind me of the background you also see on many webpages. Most of the images use photographs of real people and I am not sure if the author took those herself.
The deck comes in a flat small box. The overall presentation of the set is good, but I think the price tag of 34 Euro (almost $42 US) for the set is a bit steep. The box states that this is "a New tarot for Old ceremony." I also read the phrase, "Become a Witch or Wizard yourself" on the box, but I had to wonder how we are supposed to achieve this using a deck that has no real pagan influence. The accompanying booklet is printed in English, French and Italian. It tells more about the artist, advertises further how good the deck is, and gives a little synopsis about every card's meaning. Nothing spectacular or special here.
The cards are rather small, but of a nice quality. They are not flimsy or sticky. A major drawback for me is that the minors have keywords on them. Also, some of the titles of the cards in the Major Arcana have been changed. This starts with the Fool, which has been renamed "The Dreamer". I personally am not too impressed with the image of this Dreamer. It looks very New Age-y and connected with the universe, but what exactly is the purpose of all the circles in the card? The booklet informs me that The Dreamer card is innovative and enterprising, a visionary living in the moment. I don't really see that in this image.
Another card that has been renamed is the High Priestess. In this deck, our High Priestess is named "The Witch" and shows a woman resting a book on a golden, Egyptian-looking statue of a Sphynx. Nothing magical or intuitive about the card though. The Empress card is more traditional, showing a woman surrounded by orchids. The Hierophant is "The Guru" in this deck and shows a man that I have never seen, but that undoubtedly is some kind of guru in Finland.
The deck follows the Marseille order, so at number eight we find Justice (at top), which I find surprisingly interesting. It shows a woman meditating, with the image of a chip or motherboard from a computer on the background. I like the opposites in this card, with the technology at one side and the spiritual on the other. In a way, I am surprised this card hasn't been renamed Balance.
The Hermit is quite traditional. The Wheel of Fortune is pretty, but without much depth. Strength is a kind of a weird card, which I personally could have seen as Justice, too. A woman crosses swords with a shadow image of herself. The Hanged Man looks like a guy in his pyjamas who is nicely snoozing. It doesn't really has the feel of a normal Hanged Man to me. Death, on the other hand, is quite different, showing a skeleton wearing Inca or Aztec warrior garb.
And this is the pattern that occurs all through the Major Arcana: average, uninspiring images are suddenly interrupted by interesting, thought-provoking ones. Unfortunately, there are not as many of the latter as I would like.
The minors are illustrated and tell their own story, although in some cases this story is quite unclear and the image doesn't fit at all with the interpretation or keyword in the card. A good example is the Five of Wands, with the keyword Challenge. This card shows a woman giving a wand to a man. Personally I think this image would have fitted very well on the Two of Cups, but where is the challenge?
A bit further in the suit of wands we come across the Eight, which again is a very interesting image. The card is called Movement and it fits the image very well. The circles are not unique to this card. Marita Liulia has used circular patterns like this in several other ones, like The Wheel.
The cup cards again alternate interesting images with totally useless ones. The Four of Cups ("Grief") is very clear in its meaning and offers a powerful image, as does the Seven of Cups ("Daydreams"), which shows a woman in romantic dress sleeping with a book on her body, as if she has fallen asleep reading it. But again, what does the author want to express with that woman in the strange skirt in the Eight of the same suit? The picture evokes nothing.
This is really the pattern of all the minors. Some cards show interesting images that are clearly giving a message and at the same time there are some cards in the suit that make no sense. The court cards are even more disappointing. They have no message of their own at all. There are two more cards I would still like to mention, the Two and Eight of Pentacles, both of which I find pretty interesting, the first because of the principle of balance being portrayed and the second because of its modern feel.
I am still not very much impressed with the deck. The art is pretty decent and there are definitely some cards that are very interesting and make you think. Unfortunately, there are only a few in the deck and the majority of the cards are very average. I personally don't think this deck is suitable for reading. It could have been much better if the author had given less thought to the art and more to the actual meaning of the cards.
I recommend this deck only to those who like the art and for collectors, but for serious reading there are many other, much better decks.
You can see more images of this deck and purchase it on the artist's website.
Saskia Jansen is a tarot collector and reader from the Netherlands. She bought her first tarot deck in 1996 and has been hooked ever since. Her main interest is in historical Rider Waite Smith decks and clones, and is the proud possessor of a Roses and Lilies Pamela-A Tarot. Her collection currently contains more than 600 tarot decks.
Images © 2004 Marita Liulia
Review © 2004 Saskia Jansen
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes