Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Each year the Italian Tarot Museum hosts a collaborative Tarot project, with a different theme. For 2008 the theme, LiteraTarot, was dedicated to great classics of literature, either contemporary or from the past. The goal was to take a recognizable element from the work of literature and meld it with the traditional meaning and symbolism of each card. This was a wonderful, large scale project in that multiple continents were represented. Arnell Ando hosted the deck for the United States, with other decks coming from Asia, Europe (due out in early 2009), and Oceania (this deck, hosted by Fern Mercier of New Zealand, is already out).
Each deck is a Limited Edition (300 copies), Major Arcana project involving the host and 21 other Tarot artists. Arnell has created a separate page on her artist site, where we can see the artists, and learn a bit about them, and their previous work (as well as see scans of the complete deck).
In fall of 2007 Arnell and her husband visited the Museo Dei Tarocchi. On her site she has a link to a journal about her visit, along with photo’s of the building and the people. With an artist’s eye, she was awed by the 400 year old stone building, by the museum itself, and by its dedicated curators, Ernesto and Morena, who founded and run the museum.
The museum is magickal – Arnell talks about tree trunks that open up to reveal hidden shelves of prized Tarocchi, and tiny doors with lit windows hidden in the stone walls that open to show off miniature artwork.
Ernesto and Morena also give guided esoteric tours, and maintain a museum website. This is a great site to visit to get a feel for the work being done by these marvelous people. They are also doing exhibition work – so – if you are going on vacation anywhere near Italy, see what is being offered!
Those of you who were at BATS (the Bay Area Tarot Symposium) in October of 2008 heard Arnell present this deck, and had a chance to see it in person – and feel the excitement that Arnell generates about it. To bring together a group of people, and accomplish a project like this – what a great and unique opportunity! Oh, by the way … Arnell and her husband hand carried the original artwork to Italy, where they now hang on the museum walls!
The twenty-two artists for this deck, the cards they contributed, and the literature reference are as follows:
The Fool – Anissa Morello – The Canterbury Tales
The Magician – Leslie Cochran – The Secret Garden
The High Priestess – Diane Wilkes – The Mists of Avalon
The Empress – Sue Silva – The Red Tent
The Emperor – Teppei Ando – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
The Hierophant – John Glock – The Lord of the Flies
Lovers – NoMonet – Interview With the Vampire
The Chariot – Marie White – The Wonderful Wizard of OZ
Justice – Julie Cuccia-Watts – The Book of the Dead
The Hermit – Arnel Ando – The Razor’s Edge
The Wheel of Fortune – Jean Hutter – Around the World in 80 Days
Strength – Sally Ann Stephen – The Color Purple
The Hanged One – Ellen Lorenzi-Prince – The Descent of Innana
Death - Michele Jackson - Sula
Temperance – Lunaea Weatherstone – Sense and Sensibility
The Devil – Alexandra Genetti – Gauthe’s Faust
The Tower – Chris Paradis – Don Quixote de la Mancha
The Star – Joanna Powell Colbert – Lord of the Rings
The Moon – Red Scott (aka Red Dog) – Memoirs of a Geisha
The Sun – Tamar Solomon – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Judgment – Elizabeth Cherry Owen – Pilgrim
The World – Teresa Taranto – Tales From the Arabian Nights
The cards are approximately 2 ¾” by 4 ¾”, of quality cardstock. The backs have a ¼” white border, surrounding an orange and gold inset, and are reversible. The card faces have no border – the image continues to the edge – which is my personal preference, but something that one does not often see. The card number, in Roman numerals, and the traditional card name are placed in differing positions on each of the cards.
The cards come in a book-like carrier, with a ribbon tie on the left hand side, and ends that come up from the top and bottom so that the cards do not fall out. Publication information is on the back, with a random card from the deck on the front. It is well put together, graceful, beautiful, and serving its purpose.
I loved all of the cards in this deck, but especially the High Priestess, which shows a female figure (Morgaine), in a dark dress, facing a the body of water between Avalon and Glastonbury. On the water we see a white barge, with oars and a swan like end, the barge that she must summon to help her re-enter Avalon. In the upper right hand corner is a magickal rainbow.
There is a print-out that comes with this deck that shows each artist’s story for the card that they drew. The stories, and the cards, work in combination to bring this deck alive, and to show how the world of literature reflects the same archetypes that inhabit the Tarot. It is a learning experience, and a great gift.
This deck can be purchased from Arnell’s site, or directly from the Museo Dei Tarocchi bookshop. Please note - when ordering from Arnell’s site, there is a discount for those in the United States and Canada. It is, for me, much more than a collector’s deck. As with its sister deck, it also has a place in personal study, and is an excellent resource for journaling and story writing. It opens the mind, and the heart!
© January 2009
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.