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.