Review by Spacegoat
This unique, heart-shaped tarot, by Maria Distefano (who also painted lo Scarabeo’s round ‘Circle of Life’ tarot), will surely take some time to get used to. Purchased only yesterday in Watkins, London’s wonderful esoteric / new age bookshop, I believe it will take some time to come to a conclusion about this one.
This is the first heart-shaped tarot to be published. The box itself is very appealing, and has a ‘homemade’ feel about it. Look inside the box and you’ll see what I mean. Because of the heart shape, the paper on which the cover art and text has been printed has had to be folded over the rim of the box (and its lid) and carefully cut into one centimetre sections, each section folded and adhered within. The finished result gives a sense that each deck has been blessed with a ‘personal touch’, which is appropriate given the name of the deck.
The characters within the deck are very similar to those in the ‘Circle of Life’ tarot: fragile, fairy figures, their postures often fluid, giving the images life. Occasionally, animals also appear on the images, sometimes with the fairy figures, and in one occasion on their own (the 2 herons on the 10 of wands).
The major arcana’s images express the traditional meanings of the cards, with a free-flowing style that gives the deck its own character. However, many of the minor arcana do not bear images that express the traditional meanings. In many cases, the image on the card is not only at variance with the traditional meaning, but also has no relation to its accompanying text in the LWB. An example of this is the 8 of cups (chalices), which bears an image of a girl peering over a table at 8 variously decorated ice-creams. The LWB says ‘frivolities, desires. New romantic stories are fully gratifying. Unstable relationships need to be better defined. Desires are fulfilled. Frivolities and fleeting romance’. It’s hard to see how the image expresses this. Neither is the traditional meaning of the 8 cups (abandonment), illustrated in this image.
There are many other instances of inconsistencies, but really they are irrelevant. The deck is very attractive, clearly a lot of effort has gone into it. The major arcana’s images are faithful to the traditional meanings, and invariably given a unique twist. What I’m trying to say is that, despite the inconsistencies, I like the deck, and if you’re not a traditionalist, you’ll enjoy it too.
To end, I’d like to say that the images on Maria’s ‘Circle of Life’ tarot (also an unusual shape for a tarot – round) are 100% faithful to the traditional interpretations, but given a unique twist. Her work is a welcome contribution to the evolving world of tarot imagery.
SpaceGoat is a music-therapist and teacher, based in London, UK. His current music project can be heard at MySpace and if you have time on your hands and love the guitar, you may also like to visit his works at Youtube.