gnomes.jpg (13525 bytes)The Tarots of the Gnomes                Review by Michele Jackson

This deck is not your typical Waite/Thoth based deck. The creator has reinterpreted many of the Minor Arcana meanings. The suit of Cups depicts scenes about wine (a metaphor for pleasure?) and relationships. Coins are about business and money. Wands seem to be about work. Swords appear to be about politics and relations between people and government. Th cards measure 4 1/2" X 2 3/8". The art is good.

Each Minor Arcana card has a one word meaning in the border - English and Italian in the top border, German, French and Spanish in the bottom border. There is a simple scene depicted on each card and in keeping with the name of the deck, they are peopled with short, large headed creatures (gnomes). The meanings are a mixture of traditional and new. Even the court cards have meanings. There seems to be an underlying story line to each suit. For example the Wands are:

Ace - The Work 8 - The Incident
2 - The Heat 9 - The Punishment
3 - The Worry 10 - The Suit (lawsuit)
4 - The Preparation Page - The Dependence
5 - The Growth Knight - The Career
6 - The Good Fortune Queen - The Inspiration
7 - The Disagreement King - The Power

The Major Arcana have the traditional names with the exception of the Magician, which has been renamed The Shoemaker. The English translation for the Fool is "The Mad." The Hebrew letter associated with each card is provided in the top border in Italian. The assignments are from the French with Shin (Sichen) assigned to the Fool and Alef (Alepos) assigned to the Magician. Justice is VIII and Strength is XI.

There are whimsical touches throughout the deck. The Empress looks tough and the Emperor looks stupid. The Chariot is pulled by rabbits and Justice's sword has no point. One can tell that these are very small beings by the flowers. A thistle is just shy of the top of the Hermit's head. The Pages ride small animals like ferrets and roosters. The Major Arcana and Court Cards are more detailed than the Minor Arcana. The Minors usually show a gnome acting out the card meaning, the suit symbol and the card number on a yellow background. The backs show two gnomes shaking hands.

There is no little booklet with this deck. It comes with extra cards that describe a simplified reading method and brief upright meanings for each card. The meanings do not match those written on the cards. The instruction cards are probably generic and a separate set of cards was not written specifically for this deck. Lo Scarabeo's newer decks provide fold out instruction sheets that are more detailed and deck specific.

I recommend this deck to collectors. It is primarily an art deck. The meanings provided on the cards make it fairly readable right out of the box, but they are non-traditional. Although whimsical in style, this deck does not strike me as a children's deck. The gnomes are not cute and the story lines of the suits are adult.

See more cards from the Tarots of the Gnomes

The Tarots of the Gnomes
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Available from: Llewellyn Publishing

Images Copyright 1995 Lo Scarabeo

This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson