mana14.jpg (17015 bytes)Manara - The Erotic Tarot                Review by Michele Jackson

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

This new deck by Lo Scarabeo is a mixture of erotic art and Tarot. The cards measure 2 5/8" X 4 3/4". There is a black outer border and a thinner, inner border that is colored according to suit, with yellow for the Major Arcana. The Major Arcana have the traditional names, with the exceptions of cards V - The Priest, X - The Mirror, and XII - The Punishment. Justice is VIII and Strength is XI. The suits are named for the elements - Fire, Water, Air and Earth. The court consists of  King, Queen, Knight and Knave. The card names are written in the top border in English, German, French and Spanish. The name is also in the bottom border in Italian. The Minor Arcana have the symbol for their element in the upper left border. The card number is written in the symbol. The Minors also have a planet and a sign in the lower right border. These are the same astrological correspondences used by the Golden Dawn. The backs are reversible. The art is good. The style is similar to that seen in adult comic books.

This deck has many cards that depict attractive people, but are not what I would call erotic. Justice, the Tower, the Ace of Earth and several of the court cards are examples. There also seem to be various story lines running through the deck, but they are not discussed in the little booklet and I can not make sense of them. For example, the man shown on the backs appears in the Three of Fire and the Two of Earth. The King of Fire, Four of Water, Eight of Air, Knight of Air and King of Air all have Native Americans in the scenes. Why? Is there a reason, or is this the artist being multicultural? Of course, with all these Indians, we need to throw in a cowboy. There also seems to be a fantasy thread running through the deck. Fairies, demons, and monsters all make appearances. There are some disturbing scenes. The Ten of Fire seems to be showing a woman on the verge of being attacked. The Five and Knave of Water also show women as victims. To be fair, the men in the Five and Seven of Fire look like they could be being taken advantage of as well. The straight slender legs, shoes and socks of the girl in the Nine of Earth gives one the impression that she is rather young -- maybe too young. I did not catch on to the Hermit at first, but found it rather clever when I did. Various sexual acts are depicted - group sex, masturbation, sadism, voyeurism, and the aforementioned possible attacks and possible pedophilia. There is no homosexuality - male or female.

Some of the cards seem totally out of place. The Knaves of Fire and Air come to mind. Although the deck highlights the Golden Dawn astrological correspondences, I see little or no correlation between the Golden Dawn card meanings and/or astrological correspondences and the images depicted on the cards. I suppose one could say that the poor woman in the Ten of Fire was oppressed, but that is one of the very few cards where I see any semblance of correlation. I don't know what the artist was trying to accomplish with this deck. I have nothing against erotic tarot decks;. I have several in my collection, but they are art decks or theme decks. The inclusion of elements and astrological correspondences seem to indicate a deck that wants to be taken seriously as an esoteric or reading deck. Yet the disparate imagery confounds this desire.

The deck comes with a fold out sheet, vice a little booklet. The astrological and elemental symbols are shown on the cover to assist those not familiar with them. The Major Arcana have brief card meanings, augmented by keywords for the astrological symbol assigned. The Minor Arcana also have brief meanings and astrological explanations. The meanings seem to be based on the Golden Dawn, though the astrological explanations seem to cloud rather than clarify meanings more often than not. Two spreads are provided - a relationship spread and an astrological spread. I'd like to see a full length book for this deck that explains the images.

This deck tries to be both an erotic art deck and an esoteric deck. However, the two goals are difficult to combine. I think it is more successful as an erotic art deck than as an esoteric deck. Esoteric decks usually have an underlying structure that is evident in the imagery. This deck lacks a coherent structure. Each card seems independent of its mates. Esoteric decks are also used for readings, among other things. Most of the readers I know would not use this type of deck unless they were intimately involved with the person they were reading for. I recommend this deck for collectors and those looking for a deck with some erotic imagery. Fans of adult comic books may also find this deck appealing. 

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

Manara: The Erotic Tarot
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo

Images Copyright 2000 Lo Scarabeo

This page is Copyright 2000 by Michele Jackson