Review by Solandia
A fully illustrated 78-card deck by Pietro Alligo and Mauro de Luca, this is a pretty themed tarot that pays homage to the myth of the mermaid. As described in the companion booklet:
"This sea being similar to man fascinates but at the same time strikes fear because in her lies the secret that gave place to mankind. Her hybrid image highlights an unfinished evolutionary process. She unveils our ancient animalistic and savage nature. The sea or lakes in which the mermaids live, after all, are the symbol of the unconscious profound layers of our personality."
Artistically the Tarot of the Mermaids is painted in greens, blues, pinks and traditionally feminine colours, and has a very watery, undersea feeling. Inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith style, these cards borrow just enough from its symbolism for the underwater-themed scenes to be recognisable. The Hierophant keeps his staff, the High Priestess holds a scroll, and the Magician has a trident and caduceus and swims in a garden of coral, shells and fish.
By design, these cards almost wholly feature women. Traditionally male figures have been modified so that the only mermen appear in selected majors (the Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, and Hermit) and in the King cards. As a consequence, there is a lot of female nudity and a slight topless beach vibe, mermaids not being known for their large amounts of clothing.
The suits are titled with the standard Chalices, Swords, Wands and Pentacles, but the images show a different association. The suit elements are represented by Shells, Tritons, Oars, and Pearls and are purplish-blue, blue-green, reddish-brown and orange-red in overall tone. This gives the Pentacles and Wands cards a warmer energy than the other suits. (Swords in particular has a very gloomy cast, as its scenes were happening deep underwater on a stormy and overcast day, and its mermaids are drawn with reptilian rather than piscine tails. Even so, one of my favourite cards in this deck is the Knight of Swords - shown skimming over the ocean on the back of a dolphin.
The border treatment on these cards is very nice, not only functional but also decorative. The titles are enclosed in green panels top and bottom, which have a subtle pattern of darker green bubbles. The backs area the mirrored images type favoured by Lo Scarabeo of late. This deck shows a small image of the Magician repeated in a dark teal colour.
This is an appealing tarot deck with a pretty, feminine energy. I recommend it to those who enjoy attractive artwork, and for readers past the novice stage.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.
Review by Cerulean
My first reaction to the Tarot of the
Mermaids was 'how beautiful' for the colors and images. I
had read that I could use what I know from the Rider
Waite Smith meanings. I also hoped that the pictures
would be inspirational to me. In other words, I was
hoping for more depth than just looking at another pretty
If you are looking for challenging images, this
is not a deck with war or combat stories. I found
the images more gentle than in the LS Olympus or
Dante, for example. I found it comparable in beautiful
color to the Dante Tarot or the Tarots of the Crystals.
The half-human figures in Mermaids are primarily
female: I only count about 20 images with strong or
identifiable masculine images.
There are some decks that are so
pretty that I want to use them, but they follow an image
structure that can be hard to follow. Tarots of the
Crystals is problem for me—its swords as water imagery
seems unique to the deck. If I wanted to be able to
read it as the artist intended and have common
meanings, I have a lot of guesswork ahead of me. Two other
decks that I am still learning include the Olympus and
Dante Tarot. I've almost grasped enough of the
mythology surrounding the Olympus tarot to use it in
readings. But it still throws some curves out to me.
I pulled one card from the Tarot of the Mermaids and one
from the Olympus. Mermaids has a Seven of Pentacles
scene where the seeker is looking at a half-buried
treasure and seven pearls are floating upward. The meaning
is a businesslike exchange or trade. I could almost
form a tale where the mermaid has come to a reward of
seven pearls after a search. Or the story point is she
has to find the pearls to continue on her journey.
Whatever the tale, it came easily and floated sweetly into
my imagination. I also thought if my imagination is
short of water scenes, here's a good way to become
If I compared the Mermaids Seven of Pearls to
the Seven of Pentacles in the Rider Waite Smith or Thoth, I
have another rich mix of ideas. But if I wanted to be
challenged, I pulled the Seven of Pentacles in the Olympus
Tarot. Because the Olympus has unique suits, the seven of
pentacles is a shield with the Medusa's head. The Greeks
are fleeing from Apollo holding the shield. The
meaning of the seven of pentacles is terror. My Ovid
translation says the Medusa's head will symbolize the extremes
between beauty and terror. That's quite a story
variation. Even as a comparative read, this would take some
work. Because the Olympus uses mythic figures, I have a
little help to find out more about the story.
as reading tarot or as an inspirational one is very
pretty for those who enjoy seashore or water scenes. To
my pleasure, I pulled the Strength card from the deck
and the smiling mermaid is gentling a massive sea
lion. I am an avid student of kayaking when I can. I
remember being surprised by a young sea lion, giving me a
doe-like glance of curiousity and following other sea
The minor suits follow the water imagery in this way:
Wands become oars in a maize-gold setting, Cups are
shells in lavendar blue, Swords are tritons in teal
shades, and Disks are pearls in sunset coral tones. I
like the design notes and descriptions of various
mer-people in different cultures. This is a lovely tarot that
reminds me of the inspiration of the sea and shore.
Cerulean is starting new tarot projects that may
include the Sansai Experience and short stories. She is
exploring various Asian-Western art and literature topics.