Review by Djenra
The Lukumi Tarot shows events from the legends and stories of the Spiritual Intelligences who are the Orishas of the Lukumi pantheon which is called La Regla Ocha or La Regla Lukumi. (Regla means "rule" as in the rules of a practice or a religious way of life.) The person who conceived of the deck Emanuele Guidi has had the artist, Luigi Scapini (artist of The Medieval Tarot and The Stained Glass Tarot) use the faces of people actually in his religious life for some of the Orisha shown in the deck. The artist's technical style is excellent.
This deck is a first in many ways. Unlike the Tarot of the Orisha's this is a full sized Tarot deck, and unlike the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot it deals specifically with the Afro-Cuban traditions of the Lukumi people in Cuba. Afro-Cuban Lukumi is in itself a mixture of influences which include the Kongo, Yoruba, Catholic and even some Arada or Vodoun influences.
This is a 78 card Tarot deck. The cards are standard size but perhaps a touch longer or taller than most decks. They are well crafted and laminated and shuffle well. The cards are titled in Spanish. The four suits are: Bastos for Wands, Copas for Cups, Espadas for Swords and Oros for Coins. The court cards are: Rey, the King; Reina, the Queen; Caballo, the Knight and Sota for the Page. The back of the cards is a brillant shade of ruby red and shows an image of a two faced Elegba, one side brown and smooth skinned and young and the the other side a gnarled and bearded black old man a row of cowrie shells runs like a river between the two faces. The back design is completely reversible.
The deck comes in a box which includes a good sized booklet. The picture and the colors of the box make it light, bright and attractive. The box has on its front one a beautiful image which is also the frontspiece of the deck and the booklet - a picture of the Elekes and the Warriors. The first initiation of La Regla Lukumi is the receiving of the Collares (Spanish) or the Elekes (Yoruba). The Elekes Warriors are received as a shield and the Warriors or Guerreros (Spanish) as a protection by one who enters into the Lukumi tradition. They serve to alert them to the the unseen forces as well as the obvious dangers in life.
The Major Arcana have changed their titles as they are in Spanish, but in general they stick to the concepts and to the format of traditional decks over which is superimposed and added to each Major, the visage and the symbols of the Afro-Cuban Orisha. The images depicted on the Minor Arcana are scenes from the pataki's, the stories of the Lukumi passed on by an oral tradition, it is here that the deck does not follow in any way the artistic format or content of Rider-Waite deck.
The overall beauty of this deck is the function it serves. This is a deck that was prayed for by the community of Spiritualists, priests and initiates of the faith who use the Tarot in their work with clients and each other. The need for this Tarot was great. It is not a Tarot to collect dust way up on a shelf. It is a Tarot that was made to be used. It was made because the practitioners and their Spirits though used to adaptation, did not feel really comfortable with the Tarot tools they were using.
The only short coming is that a full sized book was not released at the same time as this deck which though it contains a good sized booklet in the box, must use the majority of the space in said booklet to repeat the basic information on the background of the Lukumi faith and the cards in the three languages of Italian, English and Spanish which cuts down on the amount of actual space given to providing even a cursory meaning for each card.
When the deck was opened and asked to state its purpose in the world, it responded with Seis de Copas, the six of cups. This card shows a scene of the Eldest of the Orisha arranged around a Star of David, each drinking from a goblet shaped clear glass a red liquid. In the center of the scene is an alchemical pelican with six small chicks with open mouths taking in their food. As one can see this has nothing to do with the traditional 6 of cups meaning, so one must go to the booklet where according to the author of the deck this is said to be a card "about harmony and brotherhood."
Those who do not know the qualities of the Orisha and their stories which the booklet goes over all too quickly and briefly when at all, might find themselves at sea. They will not be able to interpret the cards based on the scenes on them, unless they reach down into their intuitive, imaginative or psychic selves. This is a new Tarot deck and each deck is a world unto itsef. New meanings need to emerge for each card in the Lukumi Tarot based on the principles of the Lukumi religion and culture.
Djenra is a Spiritualist with over 35 years experience with Tarot. She is a former member of the World Tarot Readers. Djenra is an initiate in several African based religious systems. She is working on her first Tarot Workbook and on a second book on Tarot history. She is a writer, the published author of a book about the Lukumi religion, and a poetess.
Review by Oshuniyi Odofemi
The Tarot Lukumi by Luigi Scapini and Tata
Emanuele Coltro Guidi is the first Tarot Deck dedicated
entirely to the Afro-Cuban Orisha Spiritual system known
the world over as Santeria, and to its practitioners
as Lukumi. There have been attempts before in
placing the Orishas in Tarot, such as the Tarot of the
Orishas, which to the Orisha community was a big
disappointment. Then the Orishas, where featured in the New
Orleans Voodoo Tarot, and although that deck is quite
beautiful, let it be known that Lukumi is not Voodoo and it
was a bit weird that the Orishas where placed in that
deck. Also not to mention that both The Tarot of the
Orishas, and The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, are not
traditional Tarots, in the sense of the word.
Tarot, is just that, a true Tarot deck, that is a feast
to the eyes, and pleasant enough that both the Orisha
community as well as the Tarot community can enjoy this
Although it stays true to the tarot system, one
must understand that, each card is dedicated to an
Orisha, an Elder in the religion, or a certain Patakis of
the religion. If you do not have the basic knowledge
of these things, you will be lost. Reason being,
most of the cards are based on Pataki, these are sacred
tales that are the body and wisdom of the religion.
Each Pataki is a tale that explains the life of an
Orisha, or a situation in the Orishas life that teaches
moral lessons, as well as explain why things are. This
is apparent in many of the cards. Such as the
Enamorados, "the Lovers" which depicts the tale of Chango,
Ochun and Obba. And how Ochun tricked Obba into slicing
her ear and placing it into Chango's food. If you
know this ancient tale, then the interpretation to that
card will come clear to you. Sadly to say the small
booklet that comes with the Deck really does not go into
explaining much of these things. So the person who has
little knowledge of Orishas, as well as the average Tarot
reader will be a bit lost. It is not that the booklet
that comes with the deck is bad, it is okay, and with
it you can learn to read the deck. But if you had
more knowledge in the Sacred Patikis many of the cards
would come clearer when interpreting them.
Lukumi is average size, a bit thinner that regular Waite
Tarot, and so they fit small hands well, and shuffle
great. The coating of the cards is a bit on the thin
side, but durable. The back of the deck is a red
background showing the believed Ancestors Santero and
Santera, Negro Fransisco and Negra Thomasa, separated by
Cowrie Shells and they are reversible.
There are 22
major Arcana, are is Spanish as are the Minor Arcana
and they are as follows.
El Loco "Eleggua" = The Fool
El Brujo "Nganguero" = The Magician
La Sacerdonsa "Iyami Horonga" = The High Priestess
La Emperatriz "Ochun" = The Empress
El Emperador "Chango" = The Emperor
El Somo Sacerdote ‘Orunmila" = The High Priest
Los Enamorados = The Lovers
El Carro "Iyawo" = The Chariot
La Justicia "Ogboni Edan" = Justice
El Ermitano "Babalu Aye" = The Hermit
La Rude de Fortuna "Opon Ifa" = Wheel of Fortune
La Fuerza "Oya" = Strength
El Corgado "Oba Koso" The Hanged Man
El Baron Del Cemeterio "Iku" = Death
La Templanza "Olokun" = Temperance
Olosi = The Devil
La Torre = The Tower
La Estrella "Yemaya Asesu" = The Star
la Luna "Yewa" = The Moon
El Sol "Olo Orun" = The Sun
Jucio Final "Egungun" = Judgement
El Mundo "Lucero Mundo" The World
The Minor Arcana
are in Spanish and they are Bastos, "Wands" that
depict Ancestor Staffs, Arrows, and Osain herb sticks.
The Espadas "Swords" depict machetes, and swords.
The Copas, ‘Cups" depict Tureens, Cups, Bottles, and
Gourds. Finally Oro, depict coins.
Warning.. The deck
is true to Lukumi in that many of the elements are
there, and nothing was swept under the rug. In the cards
5 of Wands, the card depicts a rooster being
sacrificed to the Warrior Orishas. 6 of Wands depict the
Orisha Ochosi holding a prize hunted Deer with arrows in
its body and blood dripping down. 4 of Swords depict
Oggun thinking after he had decapitated some human's
heads and hung them on trees. 3 of Swords depict Oggun
getting caught buy Obatala after he rapes the Orisha
Yemmu. Lastly 6 of Swards depicts human possession, and
this card is so powerful that many who do not
understand Orisha possession will find it a bit disturbing.
The Lukumi Tarot have the typical King, Queen, Knight,
and Page, but as the other cards they are in Spanish.
Rey, Reina, Caballo, and Sota. Some of the Queens are
seen as the Catholic Saints that are respected in
Santeria Lukumi, such as Santa Barbara, who is venerated as
Chango, and Our Lady of Charity who is honored as Ochun.
Many Catholic Saints have been a great part in
preserving the Orishas in the Americas, so this was needed.
The Orishas, Saints and people in the deck are
Africans, Mulattos, Taino Indians, and European, so this
deck will appeal to almost everyone. The cards come
with a small little booklet the explains the
interpretation of the cards in Spanish, English and Italian. But
honestly it would be more beneficial if an accompanying
book would be published such as the ones that came with
the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, and The Tarot of the
In closing I was a bit on the iffy side when I read
that Luigi Scapini was doing this deck, I have his
Medieval Tarot and I had seen his Stained Glass Tarot.
Booth are beautiful, but I could not imagine his art is
an Afro-Cuban flair. But let me say, I stand
corrected, Luigi Scapini is a genius, at viewing this deck
one would say
he was an Initiated Santero for years.
Which I believe he is not.
I highly recommend this
deck, for both the collector as well as the reader, it
is one of those decks you will probably be seeing
most Latinos use, but if you have an interest in
Santeria and love the Orishas, this deck is an excellent
addition. I do not recommend this deck to the beginners, or
those who do not like graphic scenes, as well as some
nudity. All in all this is a very refreshing deck, that
is receiving a lot of notability, not just in Lukumi,
but also within all the other Orisha traditions.