Review by Solandia
The Lords in this, the Tarot of the Animal Lords from Lo Scarabeo, are anthropomorphic figures with an animal head on a human body. Featuring insects, birds, and wild animals of the world - tigers, lynxes, elephants, koalas, birds, walruses, and a few domesticated animal (cat, rooster, ram and goat) all are ably drawn by Italian artist Angelo Giannini.
The minor arcana suit emblems have been altered, and rather than Swords, Wands, Chalices and Pentacles, these are now Butterflies, Salamanders, Crabs and Beetles. The major arcana are linked with animals as follows:
High Priestess Cow Elephant
Lovers Mandarin Duck
Chariot Swan and Crowned Crane
Justice Barn Owl
Hermit Black Bear
Wheel of Fortune Butterfly
Strength Mongoose and Snake
Hanged Man Bat
Moon Owl and Cat
World - Dolphin
The merging between human and animal well executed on the majority of cards, keeping the character and look of the animal, but translating it to a human stance and situation with charm and realism (as much realism as is possible for a deck set in a fairy-tale universe filled with half-animal, half-human creatures!).
There are so many beautiful and highly appropriate cards worth mentioning the kindly and compassionate sage that is the Tortoise in the King of Cups; the beaver on the Tower card, suddenly flung into the water when his log-dam collapses; Flamingo and Temperance, long-necked and elegant. The two snakes on the Seven of Swords, conferring in whispers. Judgement is a crocodile, linking with Egyptian mythology. And the Six of Wands, with three roosters strutting and blowing trumpets. There is, however, one exception: the Koala on the Queen of Wands. Its not the best artistic rendition of a koala, and its dress is somewhat disconcerting. (Koalas are stocky, grumpy, and ungodly noisy creatures, and this one is a slim figure dressed in a low-cut blouse and harem pants.)
The meaning of the cards, as given in the little white booklet, do not really stray from the norm, but there is one significant difference. All cards have positive meanings when upright, and negative meanings only apply if reversed. Reversals would need to be used for a full-spectrum of meaning, as cards that are traditionally darker Three of Swords, Five of Pentacles, Ten of Swords all have a positive spin and only have negative connotations when upside down.
The link between the animals and the Tarot archetypes is intuitive and easy to understand. This deck would be an easy introduction to Tarot, allowing the newcomer to easily draw connections between the known qualities associated with the animal, and the more unfamiliar Tarot archetypes.
The Tarot of the Animal Lords combines the animals strength and qualities with the Tarot archetype for a simple yet detailed and very pretty set of cards with a whimsical, positive energy.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.