Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The "Piatnik Wien Tarot" was a major (to me) find on the New Age Discount Books site (the Mondazzi site). What I have intuited from the packages, or found through research on the Internet, is that the deck was published in Austria in 1974, and is also called the "Pointner Tarot", after the artist, Rudoplh Pointner. I was unable to locate an ISBN number anywhere, but did note the following on the bottom of the deck packaging: "Piatnik Tarot", under which was printed "Nr. 2825". It appear that there was more than one printing, and I have no idea which printing my specific deck came from.
On the front of the box is printed "Tarot Piatnik Wien, XXII Arcana Major, 56 Arcana Minor". On the back of the box is printed "Faszination" under which is printed "Intuition" on the top, and "Divination", under which is printed "Interpretation" on the bottom.
The cards themselves are 2 3/4" by 5 1/2", on sturdy card stock. The large size is a bit difficult for smaller hands to work with. Only the face of the cards is glossy. The back of the cards are done in black and white, with a 1/4" white border. In the middle of the card, against a patterned background, we see a Sun and all four phases of the Moon. Under that is the name of the artist and the date published (Tarot Pointner 1974). Under this is the name of the publishing company (Ferd. Piatnik & Sohne Wien), with the four suits represented under it. To the right hand side of the suit graphics we see a white square, and to the left hand side of the suite graphics we see two white triangles, back to back, with one point upwards, and one point downwards. You would immediately be able to tell if a card had been drawn in the reversed position.
The faces of the Major Arcana go completely to the edge of the card. The art is two dimensional and somewhat cartoonish, with eye-popping coloring in reds, yellows, blues, greens, and purples. The card number in Roman numerals is at the top of the card, with the card title in the bottom in French. The card titles are traditional, with Justice as VIII and Strength as XI. For the most part, the scenes resemble those of the "Rider-Waite Tarot". The High Priestess is shown in profile, facing the right hand side of the card, with a female figure standing behind her, and a Dove in the upper right hand side of the card. Le Pape appears standing between two pillars, with a Dove above him, and an insert with two figures, one in red and one in green, beneath him. The Le Chariot card inserts some humor with the traditional Chariot on the top portion of the card, with a race car inserted below it. Force shows a weight lifter in the top portion of the card, with the traditional female figure and lion in the bottom portion of the card. The Fool has his arms hanging down, forming a triangle beneath his face, rather than behind his back.
The Minor Arcana are numbered from 23 to 78, starting with the Roi de Denier (King of Pentacles), and ending with the Ten of Batons (Ten of Wands). Each suit carries a colored border, with a playing card symbol in each of its four corners. The suit of Denier (Pentacles) has a blue border, and carries the symbol for the suit for Diamonds. The suit of Espees (Swords) carries a yellow border, and the suit symbol for Spades. The suit of Coupe (Cups) carries a green border, and the suit symbol for Hearts. The suit of Batons (Wands) carries a pink border, and the suit symbol for Clubs.
The Court Cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The card number is at the top of the card, and the card title and suit at the bottom. The Pips are done in the Marseilles style, with suit symbols, but no illustrations (other than a small amount of background styling that seems to serve no purpose). The card number (as given by the author) is at the top of the card, followed by the appropriate playing card symbol, and the card number in Roman numerals.
There are two extra cards to the deck that appear to represent Tarot spreads. On one card we see a linear three card and a box-like five card spread, while on the other we see a seven card spread done in the form of a pentacle.
The LWB (Little White Book) is unusual in that it gives no publishing information what so ever (except for listing the name of the publishing company on the front). A bit of Tarot history is presented, which is somewhat credible, even though it does wander a bit. The mystical (esoteric) significance of the Tarot is mentioned, along with its psychological importance (referencing Carl Jung and the process of individuation).
The Major Arcana are presented in text only (no scans), with a short discussion of the card and upright meanings only. I would like to share a few of the meanings:
I. The Juggler, or Magician (Orion): Who dares, wins!
V. The Pope, or the High Priest (Jupiter): Religious inspiration, responsibility, some doubts.
XII. The Hanged Man: Reversal of values, ordeal, tribulations.
XVIII. The Moon: Peril, a trap, warning, trial.
An interesting note on the introduction to the Minor Arcana is that the author feels they were added to the 22 Major Arcana cards a considerable time after the Major Arcana came into existence. The numbers of the Minor Arcana are arranged in the following square, and accorded principle and secondary influences:
8 1 6
3 5 7
4 9 2
The author lists the first series in the Minor Arcana as the Coins (Pentacles). The influences are for material wealth or assets. Coins are associated with the element of Fire. The suit to follow is that of Swords, which is seen to be a symbol of power, authority, strength, courage, and masculinity. Swords are associated with the element of Air. The third suit listed is that of Cups, considered to be a feminine suit, associated with feelings and emotion. Cups are associated with the element of Water. The fourth suit listed is that of Wands, associated with domination, superiority and culture. Wands are associated here with the element of Earth. There is a chart for each suit listing the cards, their number, and their positive (upright) and negative (reversed) meaning.
This deck, with its modern art imagery and fierce coloring, is certainly a collectors item. It is also a highly usable deck, especially for those clients that are "stuck" with traditional images and relate to the coloring and imagery here. because there are no illustrations on the cards, the reversal of elemental associations for Pentacles and Wands has negligible impact. Set aside the LWB, and treat it as a traditional deck. I found it great fun to peruse the Major Arcana and identify the esoteric and astrological symbols set amongst all that color!
© March 2007
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.