Secret Tarot Deck
by Marco Nizzoli
a review by Solaris, CPTR
The Little White Book is 332 pages, 32 in English. It has one spread, the Celtic Cross. I think that this Little White Book should have at least given the descriptions of what the characters are changed to and reasons behind changing the names. Downloadable expanded instructions are available from www.loscarabeo.com
Size is 3 1/8 H by 1 3/4 W, and although miniature, it shuffles easily. This Miniature deck is a copy of the original size released in 1998. Card borders are slim white with the card # in top left and cards' names in six languages at the other corners. Artwork style is comic book ink-wash medium in muted browns, blacks, and blues, almost Gothic style. The clothing is a cross between Crusades, Medieval and 18-19thCentury Italian time period. Card backs are a reversible blue wash. A man wearing Italian head-gear is seated in a battlement, looking left at the cannon ball he holds in his hand. A mountain peak with snow is visible in the background through the window.
Structure 78 cards--22 Majors, 4 suits minor arcana. Majors: Names have been changed to: Magician/Elf; # 8 Justice/Dryad;Wheel/Oread; Temperance/Sylph; Devil/Troll; and Star/Nyiad. The Fool has tethers around his wrists, which may show up in other people depicted in the rest of the deck as he follows his path. The Magician has a snake coming out the top of his head and his posture is such that he is not reaching up with one hand and pointing at the ground with his other hand like in Rider Waite decks. Once again, posture is noted as this Emperor is not seated.
The High Priest (Hierophant) is standing between two pillars with a lion head on the left and human head on the right, without the two acolytes at his feet, and there are no layers to his hat and no key. The Chariot has the chariot being pulled by two lions looking at each other and lying down. The charioteer looks to the left and not straight ahead. A winged monkey with a sword and crown sits atop the Wheel with a dog ascending on the right and monkey descending on the left. The monkeys have fleur de leis on their tail tips. Death card is the usual robed, skeletal grim reaper riding a horse and holding a scythe.
Temperance has an otter in the background, which would indicate living both in water and on land, much like the angel. The Tower sits atop a crag with a jagged path through pointy rocks leading to it. It has two windows that are lit and a door that is closed. There are five cattails in water in the Sun card, and one of the twins is holding a frog. Judgment has poplar trees and looking at the card one wonders if it is a sunrise or sunset for the spiritual meaning of the card.
What I like and dislike about this deck: This deck is a collectors deck that I just had to have because it is different from what I normally collect. It will read just as well as a Rider Waite deck, but isn't one I want to use for public readings due to its artwork being dark. I would use the cards mentioned in this review for comparative purposes with the same cards of other decks. Strength #8 and Justice # 11 have been changed. This deck gives a few noteworthy new meanings: Moon/illusions; Sun/Clarity; World-Globe/Completeness. Most of the card meanings in the Little White Book (little white book) are one or two key words fitted to the deck's theme. I can't see where in the cards' pictures the suits are called hearts, bells, acorns, and leaves, as this change was not explained in the Little White Book:
Suits: Cups/ Chalices/hearts, Pentacles/ Bells, Wands/Acorns, Swords/leaves.
In courts illustrations only the Knight of Cups does not show his face. The others are clad in armored helmets with faces showing. The King of Pentacles and Queen of Swords are pictured standing while the other kings and queens of the suits are all sitting. This deck's theme is dark and moody/fantasy if you refer to the Queen of Swords wearing widow black, the 10 of Wands woman smoking a cigarette and holding a broken skull, the crucifixion in a waste land scene that comes to mind with the 10 of Swords.
The postures of people in this deck are worthy of taking notice. The fool's fist is clenched, shaking it at the dog. The women's poses appear gothic and haughty, especially the queens. Some of the court cards queens and kings are sitting and others aren't.
This deck can be somewhat dark and may be difficult to read with as many of the cards aren't related to RWS imagery. I like it because of its size. If you like Italian style imagery, this deck will please you. The Secret Tarot Deck (Llewellyn ISBN 07387060270 would be perfect to use with the Comparative Tarot Method. Take a look at the deck on line before you buy it.Back to Index