Review by Solandia
The Olympus Tarot is an epic, dramatic tarot filled with familiar scenes from the myths and legends of the Ancient Greeks. Published by Italian publisher Lo Scarabeo, it joins popular elements from five thousand years of Grecian history with the 78-card tarot framework.
Each of the twenty-two cards of the majors is associated with a one of the many deities of the Ancient Greeks. Some divinities have been linked with an entirely suitable major arcanum - Pan as the Fool, Apollo as the Sun - while the linkage of others seems more of a stretch. Poseidon as the Hermit and Demeter as Temperance seem unusual, but most of all, Hestia as the Tower. The traditional card of destruction or violent change is the goddess of the hearth 'who taught man how to build houses', and XVI has the suggested meanings of useful thought, simplicity, and adequacy. (Different!)
The meanings of the minor arcana have been altered from the norm, and the suits are atypical. Instead of Cups, Pentacles, Wands and Swords, we have instead suits of Places, Objects, Creatures and Heroes. (Though the titles are printed on the cards using the standard suit names.) Ancient Greece is a basis of modern Western thought, so of course the pantheon, myths and heroes are familiar to most. Sparta, Athens, Odysseus, Jason, Midas and Narcissus. Athena's Shield, the Trojan Horse, Apollo's Lyre, Cyclops (the Ace of Wands), Cerberus, the Sphinx, Medusa, Pegasus, the list goes on.
The little white booklet, the standard pamphlet included with Lo Scarabeo decks, is an essential companion to the Olympus Tarot deck. It gives three aspects of meaning for the major arcana, one each for a concept related to the divinity, a behavioural aspect, and the divinity's dominating personality trait. For example, the Lovers card, Eros, has aspects of Enriching thought - Yearning - Ambition. For the Moon, Artemis, the aspects are Pure thought - Honesty - Virginity.
The minor arcana are given a very short description and a single keyword, eg. The Three of Wands/Creatures is Medusa: 'the demon in a petrified landscape… her memories, her guilt, her punishment. Nostalgia. Or Knight [of Pentacles/Objects]: Trojan Horse. The wooden horse in front of the walls of Troy. Betrayal.
Visually, the cards are lifelike coloured line drawings, enclosed by a brown tiled design. The backs of the cards show a reversible battle scene design in relief; white on dark blue. The artist worked on the Tarot of Casanova before beginning the Olympus Tarot, and the artistic style of line drawings is similar. There is some nudity in this deck, both male and female, but it is not out of character for the theme.
This is not the best deck for the beginner, as a working knowledge of Ancient Greek history & myth and a general tarot familiarity are necessary to interpret readings meaningfully. But, while not suited for beginners, the Olympus Tarot is a working tarot deck for the experienced tarot reader.