secret.jpg (9669 bytes)The Secret Tarots                                      Review by Michele Jackson

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I found this deck interesting in the fact that I liked the Minor Arcana much more than the Majors. Usually it is the other way around. Most artists tend to put there best efforts into the Majors with the Minors being left whatever inspiration remains. The artist may have done the same thing here, but I find the Major Arcana rather dark and the scenes seem less detailed than those in the Minors. The cards measure 4 3/4" X 2 9/16". The scene takes up most of the card with a thin border on either side and a thicker border on the top and bottom. The card name is in the top border in English, French, German and Spanish, as is the card number. The card name is in the bottom border in Italian. Justice is VIII and Strength is XI. The Major Arcana have the traditional names. The suits are Chalices, Pentacles, Wands and Swords and the court consists of King, Queen, Knight and Knave. The art is good. It seems to be a combination of pen and ink and watercolor. There is some nudity.

The scenes are based on Waite with the majority of the cards being reinterpretations of Pamela Colman-Smith's work. There are some notable exceptions. The Five of Pentacles shows a beautiful woman being photographed and the meaning given is "unrealizable wishes, excessive ambitions." I found the mixture of old style clothing with modern hairstyles a bit odd. They have a dark and brooding quality which I suppose can be explained by the premise of the deck. Per the fold out booklet, the deck tells the story of the Fool as he travels through "the Land of Secrets." Per the booklet, this land is "...a magical world , inhabited by angels and devils, peopled by enchanted beasts and extraordinary characters, whose deeds become important exemplary events." The suits represent four kingdoms in this land: the Kingdom of Pleasure (Cups); the Kingdom of Richness (Pentacles); the Kingdom of Sorrow (Swords) and the Kingdom of Human Work (Wands).  In light of the fantasy world premise, the mixture of styles and dark and brooding Majors make a bit more sense. The backs have a blue, reversible scene

This deck is published by Lo Scarabeo, who heretofore have not provided little booklets, relying instead on extra cards that provided brief meanings and skeletal instructions on how to do a simplified reading. This deck seems to be the first to make the complete switch over to booklet vice extra cards (their Visconti Tarot Deck had both). The little booklet is a fold out sheet that provides some background information. Frankly, I didn't find this information very useful. It seemed to want to steep the reader in mystery. Comments like "Only those who have the gift for divination can loose the secret knot, reread the past and disclose the future." and, "Unskilled Magicians [the reader is referred to as the Magician] should preferably answer only vague and general questions." are a hindrance rather than a help. The booklet provides very brief upright interpretations. The bulk of the booklet is spent weaving the tale of the Land of secrets. A separate story is provided for each suit as well. The meanings are fairly traditional though there are a few surprises such as "possible souvenirs" for the four of cups. The stories add a different touch to what is basically a very Waite-like deck.

I recommend this deck for collectors and for those who are familiar with the Waite deck, but would like something new. Those familiar with the Waite deck or one of its clones should be able to read this deck right out of the box.

See more images from the Secret Tarots

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The Secret Tarots
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Artist: Marco Nizzoli
Available from Llewellyn Publishing

Images Copyright 1998 Lo Scarabeo

This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson