Tarot Deck Reviews by Lee A. Bursten

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The Erotic Tarots

I must begin this review by stating that I am biased against it, as I do not see the point of an erotic Tarot. Sexuality plays a part in many decks, and rightly so; it would be wrong for a deck to totally exclude such an important aspect of life. But personally I find the "naughty" sort of pornography seen in this deck to be rather unappealing.

A lot of work seems to have gone into this deck, more than it deserved, in my opinion. Each card includes elemental and astrological correspondences. The little white booklet includes a divinatory meaning and an astrological meaning for each card. Often, the divinatory meaning and the astrological meaning for a card are not only unrelated to each other but are both unrelated to the picture. An example is Justice, showing a close-up of a middle eastern woman (one of the few cards where the erotic theme seems to have been forgotten). The divinatory meaning is listed as "Sobriety, fairness, detachment, duty, responsibility, impartiality." The astrological meaning is "Leo - I want, creativity, joyfulness."

Most deck creators assign Leo to Strength and Libra to Justice precisely to avoid this kind of conflict. Perhaps itís unfair for me to choose that particular card, but most of the Majors show the same dichotomy in meanings. Listing the standard astrological attributions to the Majors is worse than useless if no effort is made to try to connect the astrological concepts with the pictures.

Iím also puzzled by the pictures themselves. There seems to be nothing connecting the pictures except the fact that most of them are pornographic. They are a mish-mash of styles, countries and eras. The pictures in the Majors do actually relate to the concept of the cards, in a sleazy sort of way, as in the Chariot, in which a woman rides a movie camera with abandon. Some of the artwork is quite accomplished, as in the 3 of Water. Other cards seem quite sketchy and crudely drawn, as in the Knight of Water. Most of the cards are much more hard-core than the ones Iíve chosen to scan.

There is quite a lot of sadism in the deck, which some (including me) will find quite unsavory. One example of this is the Lovers, which shows a woman modeling for a painter. The sheet she is sitting on is spattered with blood from the many cuts on her back. Yuck

Some of the pictures do show some artistic imagination. The 9 of Air shows a woman stepping out of a painting. And my favorite, the Knave of Air, shows a (fully dressed) plumber executing a ballet step. The meaning given for that card is "Helper, the source of inspiration, attention and grace." Since this is not as far as I know a standard meaning, it leads me to suspect that the picture came first and the meaning written to match the picture, rather than the other way around

In fact, after looking at this deck I have the overwhelming feeling that it was created by the artist or the editors simply going through the artistís portfolio and choosing pictures that sort of matched the concepts of the Majors, and picking any pictures at all for the Minors and making up meanings to match them, with a few cards (perhaps including that sketchy Knight of Water) hurriedly drawn to order. This would explain the disparity of styles in the deck. I have no idea if this is actually what happened, but thatís how it strikes me.

Iím not sure what audience Lo Scarabeo was aiming for with this one. I would venture to guess that most American Tarot collectors would not find this appealing. Perhaps itís a European thing and I just donít get it.

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The Erotic Tarots by Milo Manara
Lo Scarabeo s.r.l. Via Varese 15 c - 10152 Torino - Italia
Tel. 011 283793 - 011 283978 Fax. 011 280756
Internet: http://www.loscarabeo.com - E-mail: info@loscarabeo.com


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