Sara Tarot by Beata Marcinkowska
Review by Diane Wilkes

Like the Antic and Mistic Tarots, the Sara Tarot is one of three decks published by a Polish publisher named Sara. The artwork on this seems to me the least innovative of the three, though it has its own charms, to be sure.

As in the other two decks, the triple moon symbolizing the goddess appears on the High Priestess card, but this one also includes a cat cleaning herself. (I assume she's a female cat because she appears on the High Priestess card!) The setting is perfect for creating spells by the light of the moon--showing us a more energetic High Priestess than usual--she seems actively and purposefully engaged as she examines her scroll. Justice is another normally static card that, in the Sara Tarot, depicts a woman advancing with an upraised sword, a long and weighty sword, at that. She's also holding scales, but they are definitely not what's leading the way. That point is emphasized by the bloody hatchet that rests on a stump at her feet.

The Lovers card is also rather modern. It shows a blond man talking to a woman in a come-hither vamp pose, as a more discreetly dressed woman approaches. She doesn't look happy with the state of affairs, either. Maybe he'll buy her an eight carat purple diamond ring as a token of apology.

One of my favorite cards in this deck is the unique take on the Wheel of Fortune. Monkeys caper about the rim of the spoked wheel, and, as in the Antic Tarot, the suit symbols grace the four corners of the card. (In the Mistic, the suit symbols are placed at the center of the wheel.) The setting of the scene has a rustic charm, but you can imagine how the appearance of monkeys might impact the seemingly serene landscape.

Strength (subtitled, "The Strength") shows another bucolic setting--you can practically hear the birds chirping overhead and smell the honeysuckle as you look at this image of a blonde-tressed woman and her domesticated lion in their perfect garden. It looks like an illustration of the motto, "God's in His heaven and all is right in the world." I am not sure it expresses the Strength archetype, but it's a lovely card just the same.

Temperance, on the other hand, while usually one of my favorite cards, creeps me out a bit. The facial features on the angel are indistinct, and she looks sightless, not a quality I normally consider a characteristic of this card. The Devil, however, is aptly frightening--a red-eyed, horned creature sits atop a huge white skeleton, interestingly combining an element of the Death card, as well. The naked couple in the picture are yoked to either the Devil's claws or the skeleton itself, but the chains seem rather thin and easily broken.

The Tower is also interesting, in that it features not only the requisite falling bodies, but also two people fleeing from the scene in opposite directions. Did they set the fire, or are they merely lucky enough to escape unscathed? This image could open up an interesting look at a situation during a reading.

The Sun depicts two naked women with glorious golden-orange leonine locks stretching like triumphant felines in the round orb of the sun and its rays. The image is rather unique and quite powerful. Less so is the World card, which shows a woman in what can only be called a g-string in an awkward position. However, instead of a victory laurel wreath, she is ensconced in a circle of stones, which is a wonderfully Saturnian image.

The unillustrated pips in this deck are the most unexciting of the three Sara tarots. Wands are golden scepters against a bilious green background, golden Cups have a red background, Swords, light blue, and Pentacles are against a yellow-orange backdrop. The image on the Pentacles is particularly brutish and ugly.

The Court Cards are rather uninspired, as well. A nice touch is that all of them seem to inhabit the same castle, but the rooms reflect their rank and station. The Page of Pentacles sits in a meditative pose as a fire burns behind him. Perhaps he is worrying over money, or the lack thereof. There seemed to be an interesting story there until I noted his fellow pages have the same backdrop. The only differences is that the Page of Swords is fingering his blade (and yes, the scene is as phallic as that sounds), and the Page of Wands is in a more contemplative stance. The appearance of fire, which is prominent in all depictions of the Pages, the Queens, and the Kings, seems to overwhelm the other suits.

The Sara Tarot is printed on white matte cardstock that seems heavier than the other two Sara Tarots. No  little white booklet accompanies the deck in the box and the reversible backs are a simple lattice pattern of maroon and white (all the Sara Tarots have the same back design, but the Sara Tarot backs are maroon and white--the others are turquoise and white). This deck is, to me, the least attractive and interesting of the three Sara Tarots, but the occasional Major Arcana card offers such food for thought that I recommend it to collectors and those looking for a deck with attractive, thought-provoking Majors, but who don't mind simple pips.

While the box doesn't include an ISBN number, it does offer the following information for ordering:

Firma Sara
43-013 Katowice, ul. Świętego Jana 10
tel. (032) 253 99 03

You can also order this deck from the artist's website, or email her. The decks are very reasonably priced when you order them from her directly.

 

  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   N/A
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Smaller than standard
 (approx. 4 1/2" x 2 1/4")                                            
X
Larger than standard                                               X

Images Sara
Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes
On loan from the Brigit Horner Collection