blk19.jpg (9762 bytes)The Black Tarot - Review by Michele Jackson

This deck is by comic book/erotic artist Luis Royo. The images are a mixture of erotica and fantasy. They do not look like they were drawn for a tarot deck, rather they look like someone went through the artist's work and decided which images would work best as which cards like the Baphomet Tarot. The cards measure 4 5/16" X 2 3/8". They have a 2 7/8" X 1 7/8" image surrounded by a black border. The card number is in the upper left and lower right border. The card name is in the upright border in Spanish and English and in the lower left border in French and German. The backs are not reversible. The images do not resemble the traditional at all. The Fool shows a woman with a goblet being embraced by a monster. The High Priestess is a woman walking among a number of large flying bats. The Empress does show a woman on a throne, but the Emperor shows a rear view of a woman being grasped by a demonic creature. What does this have to do with the Emperor? The Hermit shows a woman kneeling in shallow water over the body of a creature she has slain with a sword. Again, no correspondence with the traditional tarot card at all. Justice is VIII and Strength is XI. The art is excellent. Royo is a very popular artist whose work has appeared in many magazines including Playboy. Unfortunately his deck shows that whoever put it together either had little or no knowledge of tarot, or just didn't care. It could have just as easily been a pack of postcards.

The suits are Pentacles, Chalices, Swords and Wands. The Court consists of King, Queen, Knight and Knave. Most of the Kings, Knights and Knaves have women in the images. The cards numbered two through ten are pips, but the Aces have images of - surprise, surprise - women! A few of the pips have very small images in the center. The Three and Five of Chalices and the Four of Wands are examples. These images are very tiny indeed.

The little booklet that comes with this deck describes the scenes and further highlights the deck creator's disregard for the traditional. Statements like   "The Fool represents mystery and deceit." and "Death - This represents the daughter of the night, the sister of dreams over putrefaction, of pain, of sadness of decomposition of corruption" seem more designed to set a dark mood than to provide useful card meanings. My favorite is the second part of the meaning for the Hanged Man - "Where the semen of knowledge and suffering run and utopia." Maybe it lost something in the translation. The Minor Arcana meanings are more traditional - probably because they are pips and there was no need to try to match totally unrelated images and meanings. Two spreads are provided. One is a variation of the Celtic Cross spread that uses all of the Major Arcana cards (traditional shape with 11 cards and the remaining 11 cards laid out along the bottom and read in pairs). Its advice for reversals is that "When one of the cards appears up side down its value is lessened even if the meaning could be the opposite."  There are several statements that verge on being incomprehensible. On tarot history - "There have been numerous studies and as many other theories about the origin of the Tarot, although all of them lose themselves in a dream and as it should be, form part of the path and its 'Secrets'." The manual is in the same four languages as the cards themselves. I will attribute the many strange statements to poor translation, though Fournier is not usually so careless.

I recommend this deck for those who are fans of Luis Royo's art. I think it fails as anything but an art deck. While it does have the tarot format of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana, etc. - tarot is just being used as a structure for displaying Royo's erotic/fantasy art. I have seen this deck go for fairly high prices on ebay, but you can buy it directly from the distributor for about $21.00 including shipping.

See more cards from the Black Tarot Deck

The Black Tarot
Publisher: Fournier
Distributer: NMB

Images Copyright 1998 Fournier

Review Copyright 1999 Michele Jackson
Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes