Vikings Tarot by Manfredi Toraldo, art by Sergio Tisselli

Review by Lee A. Bursten


If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.


This visually appealing deck takes as its theme, obviously, Viking legends.  The cards are quite engaging, using watercolors in a style similar to Anna-Marie Ferguson’s Legend: The Arthurian Tarot, but the art avoids that deck’s somber tones and instead revels in a much more colorful palette.


The Little White Booklet provides a short description of the Vikings, and explains the deck’s structure: the Majors show the Aesir, the supreme gods; the Wands are the Giants; the Chalices are the Vanir (“indigenous gods, they were deposed by the Aesir and then became their brothers, expressions of the nature of the sea”); the Pentacles are Dwarves and Elves; and the Swords show Men.


I was very pleased with the booklet’s text for the Majors; each card’s description gives the name of the god pictured, a short description of the god, and an explanation of the scene, all in a few well-chosen words.  Unfortunately the need for brevity takes its toll in the Minors; the text identifies the characters and supplies divinatory keywords, but we are left to wonder what stories the cards tell.  This deck cries out for an accompanying book.


Toraldo has done a good job in researching his subject.  I recognized some of the scenes and figures (Odin as the Hierophant, Thor on his Chariot, Heimdall guarding the Rainbow Bridge as the Hermit), but others were unfamiliar to me, such as Ullr for the Emperor, “more ancient ruler than Odin,” who “took over the throne of Odin for ten years.”


Many of the cards are quite striking, such as Temperance, which shows Balder, the sacrificial god, standing on a barren plain, smiling, while blood streams from both hands to the earth at his feet, from which small white flowers grow.


There is a slightly jarring stylistic incongruity in the deck.  Since the suit of Pentacles shows Dwarves and Elves, many of the figures shown in that suit seem more cartoonish or fey than those in the other cards, as can be seen in the Six of Pentacles.


Although there are many amply-endowed women in the deck, I must note that the deck as a whole has a decidedly masculine flavor, such as, for example, the King of Wands.


Overall I’d recommend this deck for the beautiful watercolor work, and of course for anyone who has an interest in Norse mythology.  Perhaps in the future Lo Scarabeo will publish a book for this set, which it richly deserves.


If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.


Vikings Tarot

By Manfredi Toraldo, art by Sergio Tisselli; idea by Lo Scarabeo; graphics by Pietro Alligo; instructions by Manfredi

Published by Lo Scarabeo, distributed by Llewellyn Worldwide

ISBN No. 073870415-6

Lee A. Bursten has been studying Tarot off and on for about 20 years. He enjoys reading about Tarot and searching for the "Perfect Deck," which is always just around the corner but out of reach. He is very grateful to Michele and Diane for posting his reviews, and especially to his significant other, Larry Katz, for his superhuman patience.

Images © 2003 Lo Scarabeo
Review © 2003 Lee Bursten
Page © 2003 Diane Wilkes