Tarots of the Origins written & illustrated by Sergio Toppi
Review by Valerie Sim-Behi
This is part of a larger article on Tarot and the Shaman
"Ancestors and the Underworld"
As I look at these cards, I see the Ancestors... I journey to times long before the written word. I smell the campfire, hear the crackle of logs breaking apart in the flames and watch as the fat drips rather rancidly from the smoking torch casting shadows on the rough walls all around me…. A child squats on the dusty floor playing with a small bundle of varied colored stones. A baby cries shrilly and then hushes with a little gasp as its hungry mouth fastens on its mother’s life-giving nipple… An elder coughs from the back of the cave. The cough is dry and tired, and I know that this wise one will soon embark upon a passage that is one of many in the spiral of life…
Such is the world I see and remember when I use this deck. It is a harsh world full of hunger and pain, but it is also one full of small spontaneous joys long forgotten. The glimpse granted by this deck is not for everyone. Images within these cards are full of blood, bone, sweat and raw emotions. Some Tarot readers will not want to look at them. But this is an excellent window from which to view that seen previously in shamanic journeys to the Lowerworld. The Shaman is used to such visages of both pain and triumph, and will probably enjoy this deck.
The illustrations are rendered in pen and ink with washes of watercolor. Sergio Toppi is an immensely talented artist and he has brilliantly captured the feeling of tribal community and shamanic vision. Looking at the Nine of Blood, you can almost hear the primal scream of the woman giving birth. But the neck that is corded now in pain will later bend to the small head that we see emerging in the foreground, and her sweaty face will beam in a timeless smile of motherhood and Life.
In the blue tinted Two of Soul, we see the spirit of an old Shaman "speaking" to his apprentice. The young successor has his back to us, but we can feel the bond between them as we look at the spiritual and meditative face of the older Shaman.
This is a deck I grab often after a journey to find a power animal or to find a source for painful fragmentations. The hand used to heal should not be used to cover the eyes or hinder any vision. It is necessary for the Shaman to see fully in order to do the work that must be done in this world and in the others.
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See more card images from this deck here.
Tarot of the Origins by Sergio Toppi
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo; US Distributor: Llewellyn Worldwide
Valerie Sim-Behi is the founder and moderator of Comparative Tarot, an email list devoted to studying cards of different decks in comparison to each other. She has worked with the tarot for over 30 years. Valerie created a spread that will appear in the book accompanying the Victoria-Regina Tarot by Sarah Ovenall, and has written various articles, including one on the Comparative Tarot method that will be published in Llewellyn's Tarot Calendar 2002. You can visit Valerie at the Comparative Tarot website. Valerie wants to offer special thanks to Leah Pugh, Scanner Goddess for this series.
Review © 2001 Valerie Sim-Behi
Page © 2001 Diane Wilkes
Images © 2000 Lo Scarabeo