Tarot of the New Vision by Pietro Alligo; Artwork by Raul and Gianluca Cestaro
Review by Diane Wilkes

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Yet another Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) variant, but with a twist--these images were "designed by rotating the perspective 180 degrees (the figure is no longer seen from the front, but rather from the back)." The concept is to discover what was behind or in front of the figures on the cards, offering an "ulterior extension of meanings." Some artistic license has been taken, in particular with the Kings, Queens, and some Majors, in order to make the characters more visible.  The Tarot of the New Vision is offered as a "complement and completion" to the RWS deck.

I see the deck more as the RWS with something extra--and I am not always happy with the extra something. Still, for those who use the RWS as their primary deck (or have it as their mental deck no matter what deck is being used), it does offer a new perspective.

For example, the Magician is depicted in his guise as snake oil salesman; a jacketed monkey pulls at the Magician's cape and it looks like the chalice on the table is being sold to the highest bidder. Interestingly, members of the same crowd gathered for the Magician's spiel shows up again behind the Emperor's throne. These townspeople get around.

The High Priestess gets more respect; the owl, always a totem of wisdom, stands on a ball of pomegranates sheathed in a pair of crescent moons. Two nuns, one dressed in a white habit, the other in black, bow to one another behind pillars of the opposite color.

Behind the throne of Justice (shown above) two young women fight over a baby, clearly evoking Solomonic wisdom. In fact, many of the scenes are biblically-based; several depict Edenic gardens, with the snake making his appearance in Strength, The Hermit, and even in The Tower, where the asp is wrapped around an apple tree as people fall from the burning building.

At other times, I am not sure that the shift of perspective adds much to the cards. Temperance shows the back end of an angel (not the best part, I don't think) and some odd contraption and building on land. And the Devil's big, hairy gluteus maximus is hellacious, but I doubt A.E. Waite would have approved of the laughing demon audience. A knight in armor is emerging from the waters of the Moon. Why?

Judgement may be the most interesting card of all. It shows a beatific family behind the scenes. It looks like they are floating to heaven, because white birds are soaring to the right of them. On the other side, a flock of blackbirds are flying downward--I guess they are going to the place of the hairy butt. Again, the biblical imagery is emphasized.

The artistic license makes tangible one nuance of the card--but eliminates the multi-faceted imagery of Pamela Colman Smith. Particularly annoying is the Eight of Wands, which has an angel hoisting one of the wands--this one has a pointy edge. The perspective seems off--wouldn't the arrow be going towards, not away from, the goal? The main figure on the Nine of Wands is not looking behind himself in fear, but faces some furry beast, a beast that looks more cute than threatening. The Ace of Cups shows two children splashing one another in clear blue waters, depicting a charming innocence, but that's but one aspect of the water element. The Five of Cups shows two men walking away from the central, grieving figure. Did they knock over his cups? If not, why are they there? If so, his grief seems pretty overwrought.

The Eight of Cups shows the city the man is leaving behind in full celebratory mode--there are fireworks blazing in the night sky. This seems like overkill to me.  We also see the full frontal image of the man walking away--let me just say that, unlike the Temperance angel, he looks better from the back. His beard and attire are that of a mountain man, which seems to indicate that he's going backward, not forward. The Five of Pentacles shows an impoverished and old figure embracing a child within the chapel. The picture is still rather seedy--the snow at least looks clean, if cold.

There are some cards that are enhanced by the shift in perception. The Nine of Cups shows that children are playing and eating behind the table, embodying a surfeit of pleasure.  The Nine of Swords shows a demon attacking the person sitting up in bed, which makes the nightmare vision real. Then again, the unseen can often be more terrifying than the visible. The Four of Pentacles shows that the man holding the pentacles has a view of a mountain that he faces. This adds to the solidity and intractability of this very tangible card.

A few of the cards are simply shown from the back with no additional symbols. The Three of Cups, for example, just has different profiles. The Court Cards are also not particularly illuminating. The Queen of Swords new view includes three men carrying off a casket in the distance. What does that have to do with the card? Well, the LWB offers the following keywords: Widowhood, sterility, strength. I don't think this card usually indicates new widowhood, but someone who has grown through pain. Here, the body isn't even cold yet, but the Queen looks quite composed. The Knight of Swords, thought of by some as the soldier of fortune, is given the keywords Valor, Fury, and he rides towards burning buildings and soldiers running away from the scene of the crime. This would be more apropos for the Knight of Wands, I think.

Speaking of the little white booklet (LWB)--well, even as LWBs go, it is pretty poor. Not only are the cards given the briefest of keywords (Majors and Minors), but some of the instructions are unclear at best and dubious at worst. In order to not be accused of exaggeration, I am reproducing verbatim the instructions on reversals. "In general, two thirds of the deck has [sic] a "positive" meaning and a third has a "negative" meaning. If, however, we consider that almost all of the cards viewed upside down have a negative meaning, we almost always have a negative response. In the case of the New Vision Tarot, if a positive card is upside down, its positive meaning is reduced, whereas if a negative card is upside-down, its negative meaning is accentuated. After consultation, the vision of the future will undoubtedly be brighter."

How is it possible that the future will be brighter if one reads all reversals so negatively? This anachronistic way of reading reversals seems a surefire way to depress people whose perspective was, prior to the reading, 180 degrees away from sadness.

Two "methods" are provided. The first is "The cards of meditation," which is basically a card-a-day journalling approach. I think that's the best approach for beginners, but the way it is written is a bit bizarre. If you're impressionable, you shouldn't look at the card until after you've written up your day; if you're lazy, just indicate by symbol what kind of day you've had and then look at the cards drawn for each day after a week. "The comparison will definitely surprise you." Why? If it's apt, it shouldn't be surprising. If it isn't, where's the surprise?

The second method is "The external cards and the inner cards" which involves shuffling a certain number of cards and using a "W"-shaped layout. It seems like an interesting enough layout, but I am not sure it's involved enough to merit the term "method."

The colors of the deck are bright, very similar to the standard RWS deck. Yellow is the color de jour with this deck. The biggest difference is that the New Vision backgrounds often have a gradient of color, as opposed to being flat, which adds subtlety to the images. The card backs are reversible and show a partial image of the Ace of Pentacles back-to-back in shades of indigo and white.

I recommend this set to RWS-enthusiasts looking for a new twist on an old dance. It's an interesting concept, and I found myself wanting to comment on most of the cards. This was an indicator to me that, because of the RWS popular appeal, a lot of people will find themselves drawn to examining it for themselves.

Tarot of the New Vision by Pietro Alligo, Artwork by Raul and Gianluca Cestaro
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
ISBN#: 073870413X

You can read another review of this deck here.

  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                                            
Larger than standard                                                 

Images and cited text 2003 Lo Scarabeo
Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes