Bosch Tarot  by Alexandrov Atanassov                      Reviewed by Pam Woo

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

I have yet to see a through or major review of the Bosch Tarot and the little white book (LWB) shamefully omits telling you anything about this artist. However, I've taken a few art history courses, so I'll take this opportunity to babble some more.

Well, let me start with the deck; it's a finely-made art deck from Lo Scarabeo. The cards are slightly longer than a normal deck of cards on a thin but coated stock. The backs are six art pieces in two rows and three columns and the same six inverted on the other side and therefore reversible.   This is really all typical Lo Scarabeo, but it comes with a LWB, instead of additional cards. The LWB is very peripheral with some stuff on history, upright meanings, "the shadow" (a meager attempt to explain how tarot "works") and a cross (not Celtic) spread.

Let's talk about the art itself. My favorite part. But first a warning. This is not a reading deck. None of the meanings fit the picture. They just found pieces that look somewhat correct or had the right number of pips. No corresponding meanings as far as I can tell. Moving on...If you are familiar with Hieronymous Bosch, an early 16th Century artist, his work is very, very detailed to the point of looking cluttered. In fact, the cards are only a tiny (maybe 1/100th) section of a larger "busy" looking works. On the cards, it looks like fine color pencil work but most are really oil on wood panels. In fact, I've noticed only a bit less than one-fifth of the cards are pieces from the same art piece, his very famous "Garden of Earthly Delights". In any case, they look like surrealistic, strange, even whimsical, scenes but they are anything but. 

Knowing Bosch's symbolism and his life, this deck IS the most depressing deck I own. His vision is dark and he wants to unite nightmares with reality. The man was a pessimistic misanthropist who literally believed the world was going to hell in a handbasket.  Moreover, as part of a cult-like group known as Adamites, he believed this to be entirely the fault of women, so he's a misogynist too. To him, Eve is the incarnation of original sin. Some of the cards would be quasi-erotic if they weren't so disturbing (things and projectiles where they don't belong and animalism). 

Some typical Bosch symbolism includes: 

fish: lost promises
glass: the easily broken nature of fortune
eggs: alchemy and sex
birds: witchcraft, atheist
fruit: carnal pleasure
rats: falsehoods, lies

All in all, he's trying to say humanity is destined to damnation, deserving of hell after that original Fall and complete abandonment to evil.  Despite all this, he is one of my favorite artists, foreshadowing surrealism by nearly 400 years. He had an incredible imagination, although a depraved one, and morphed plant, animals and 
humans together in a very dream-like manner. 

So this is the quintessential art deck. And I enjoy it as thus. It's definitely not for everyone.

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

Bosch Tarot
"Realized by" A. Alexandrov Atanassov
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Distributor: Llewellyn Publishing
ISBN#: 0-73870-012-6

Pam Lyn Woo has studied the tarot for the last five years and is currently creating a rock'n'roll themed tarot deck. She is a student and next year will be attending UC Berkeley, majoring in molecular and cell biology: immunology and minoring in art, the practice of.


Art 2001 Lo Scarabeo 
Review 2001 Pam Woo
Page 2001 Diane Wilkes








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