The Legacy of the Divine is a stunning 78-card deck from Ciro Marchetti, talented artist and creator of the Gilded Tarot and Tarot of Dreams. It's roughly based on a Rider-Waite foundation, but rendered in a magical, highly realistic digital style.
Out of a fantastical cataclysmic collision that darkened the earth, comes the Legacy of the Divine.
“Imagine a civilization long before our own which also called this planet home. Imagine that foreseeing their own demise, they wished to leave us a message. This is who we were, what we achieved, what we loved, feared and believed in. This is our legacy. Remember us.” ~ Quote from extra card in the Special Edition deck.
Ciro Marchetti comes to us as a Professional Graphic Designer with relatively little Tarot experience in his background. His thoughts and design ideas bring forward a fresh perspective of standard images. For example, he has taken the liberty of changing the title of the Hierophant to Faith to encompass a wider religious theme. He also has changed the bird of prey in the 9 of Coins to a Bird of Paradise.
A common theme added to this Rider-Waite-Smith based deck are Victorian brass survey devices, theodolytes and kaleidoscopes, which he collects and has taken some artistic liberty with. Ciro explains his thoughts of the origin behind the devices in the “story.”
This deck is filled with vibrant, richly colored images. The artwork in this deck is truly captivating. Even though much of the RWS symbolism is not included in the images, it will prove to be a brilliant working deck, that is quite capable of packing a punch!
On course with Ciro’s other decks, the Legacy of the Divine carry’s the same tradition of the use of vivid color and plays in light and shadow. The images fade to a black border. Color variations vary between the Standard deck and the Special Edition deck. There are also color variations between the Special Edition decks themselves.
There are three Special Edition Deck packages available. The SE Deck, the SE Deck and Hardback Book Set, and the SE Deck, Book and Canvas set. It is a custom produced collector’s edition. It is in limited quantity. Each deck is signed. With the variations in the cards, each set is unique in it’s particular combination of cards.
The Special Edition deck is larger and thicker than standard, measuring 5 ½“ tall x 3 ¼“ wide x 1 ½“ thick. It also contains a black velvet bag, stamped with “Legacy of the Divine,” in gold foil. The Special Edition also comes with a signed 12” x 8” print of the Legacy themed montage.
The deck edges were a bit “hairy” when the deck arrived, but disappeared quickly with a little handling.
The gorgeous coffee table book, is fully illustrated and contains the Ciro’s own mythology of Tarot. This book would make a fantastic conversation piece. There is also a vinyl spread cloth available, in one of the packages. It measures 24” x 24”, which also could be framed.
The Standard Edition comes with a black organdy tarot bag and a 295 page, paperback collaborative companion book, which also contains the “story.” This book is titled Gateway to the Divine Tarot.
The second part of the book provides a variety of perspectives on the cards’ meanings from Ciro, himself, as well as highly respected tarot experts such as Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone, James Ricklef and Leisa ReFalo. Together they take you on a journey through this amazing deck.
The third part of the book is a “How To Read Tarot” section by Leisa ReFalo. She covers everything from the question, the spread, drawing the cards and interpretation to many extras. There are five spreads in the book, from a three card to a nine card spread.
This deck measures 4 ½” tall x 2 ¾” wide x 1” thick.
Both decks use the standard Rider-Waite-Smith suits: Swords, Cups, Wands, Pentacles. Strength is number 8 and Justice is number 11. The title of the Major’s and the suit titles are on the top and the cards are numbered on the bottom. Reversible friendly backs, which display another mechanical device. Both decks have a smooth finish, that fan out beautifully.
This deck will make an excellent addition to any collection. It can be picked and used almost immediately by the novice reader or the professional. It will be appreciated by anyone who owns one or both of Ciro’s other decks.
I anticipate that Legacy of the Divine will surely make it to the Top 10 of the new decks for 2009 and quickly take its place in the Top 10 of All Time.
Ciro Marchetti’s “Legacy of the Divine Tarot” is a particularly striking deck, one with rich imagery and a unique vision that comes across from the moment the deck is opened. While it is based in the Rider-Waite tradition, the artist manages to transcend the typical depictions to create a deck that is fresh, modern, and visually appealing. The rich symbolism that exists in the cards lends itself to intuitive readings, but there is still enough of the familiar imagery that standard tarot interpretations can apply without great leaps of logic (something that is incredibly helpful when just starting out as a reader!).
What makes this deck so wonderful is that it is immediately accessible regardless of expertise or training; a new tarot reader would be just as comfortable using this deck as any experienced reader. The Major Arcana has all of the standard cards that one would expect, though “The Hierophant” has been renamed as “Faith” to encompass a wider representation of religious iconography and a sense of interconnectedness. Marchetti does this beautifully by depicting a Jewish rabbi, Tibetan monk, Catholic priest, and Muslim imam engaged in prayer as their words hover around them in a beautiful golden glow. Similarly, “The Hanged Man” has been retitled “The Hanging Man,” shown as a figure suspended as though in an acrobatic performance. These small changes open up a whole new level of interpretation in readings and tend to make their innate meanings more accessible to a wider audience.
The Minor Arcana is equally stunning, each depicting the element of their suit with vivid colors and dreamlike artwork. As with any Rider-Waite deck, Wands are representative of the element of fire (with rich reds/gold and often featuring dragons or actual flames), Cups are representative of the element of water (with beautiful chalices and aquatic references throughout), Swords are representative of the element of air, and Coins (Pentacles) are representative of the element of earth. Each of the Minor Arcana cards has the suit title at the top of the card and the number associated at the bottom, making it easy to organize the cards when necessary while not detracting from the central image.
The Legacy of the Divine Tarot stands out from the other RW adaptations that are on the market in that Marchetti skillfully weaves in his own trademark aesthetic and insight into each card. In using this deck, I came to love the way in which he incorporates the astrological associations into his cards, a trend that is evident throughout much, though not all, of the deck. For example, the Ten of Cups card features a sleeping dog and cat nestled in front of a fireplace framed by ten chalices of various shapes with the glyphs for Mars and Pisces suspended in front of the fire. In this deck, Marchetti also goes out of his way to engage the reader with the court cards, which can sometimes be difficult to understand in a reading. Many of the court characters stare directly out from the card, making a visceral connection with the reader and letting their own distinct personality come through. However, the most engaging ones (to me) are the Knights, which only depict stylized helmets and elemental scenes below. This allows the reader to deepen their own understanding of the energy inherent to each knight in a way that I have not seen before in other decks.
In all, I found this to be an incredibly beautiful and evocative deck! Though I would have liked the card stock to be slightly thicker, there is truly nothing to complain about with this Marchetti creation. Any reader, novice or expert, would be happy to have this as part of their collection, as it combines tradition and fantasy in an innovative manner. Though the artist has said this is his last tarot deck, I sincerely hope to see more from him in the future!
As I looked through this deck upon arrival I had so many WOW moments. The incredible imagery grabbed me immediately and enticed me to respond. This is not a deck that just flips by. These powerful images say: Look into me. So I was excited and wanted to read this deck, it called to me to work within it, it spoke to me so I would write about it.
In saying this, it is not a hard deck to read, in fact it is so readable you feel like you are already in the story as soon as you open it. It is based on Rider-Waite and not unlike the amazing Illuminati deck of 2013, it has created such a vibrant, alluring world of images that portray this Rider-Waite journey of the Tarot. Unlike the Illuminati, there is a greater depth that calls to the magicians of tarot, the magical symbols are there, the temples are built and journey winds ever more deeply.
The Major Arcana is a wonder, the artwork here is so varied. The real portrait type image of the Magician whose strength and wisdom is an older magician than we are used to, and this realism, portrait concept is also contained in the haunting image of the Hermit. There is a circus quality to the Fool, the Wheel, the Hanging Man and the World whilst the Sun gives a Planets of the Spheres dance and the Tower takes us into an alien concept. So much to engage our imaginations in this part of the deck
The strength of engagement is not lost in any section of the deck. The minor arcana are also brilliant. The Wands obviously full of fire and magic invite us to create, whilst the swords are so original in the ethereal, moody and somber quality. We work through our pain in them. The pentacles in green take us back to the portrait type art and the realism of the physical world, approaches. The Cups I felt let down by whilst the images were pretty, I didn't feel deeply. It was a frilly almost superficial aspect to the suit.
The Court cards hold the consistency within the deck. The pages, all beautiful young portraits, although on the pentacles a young female image appears, which seems slightly incongruent. The Knights are symbolized by helmets, The Queens are extraordinary and the Queen of Wands image is used in the 2015 marketing for the deck, whilst the Kings withdraw into their settings, we are kept at a slight distance to them.
The book accompanying the deck I find uninspiring. The title: Gateway to the Divine Tarot is fantastic and aligns with the mysteries of the deck but upon opening it: there are ten chapters of a story which is a mixture of fantasy and Tarot development story. The interpretations of the cards are given from different perspectives from Tarot professionals; I like the concept but dont feel to read it.
This is a powerful and very
masculine deck. Its dominant imagery seems to demand
attention, forcefully portraying its message. It allures us
to experiment with the deck and because it is so
Rider-Waite based we can operate it very quickly however the
journey we travel is a far-cry from Rider-Waite. Ciro
Marchetti has maintained a strength of imagery right across
the three sections of Tarot. I am very impressed by
The Legacy of the Divine Tarot was first published as a Special Edition deck, prior to being mass published by Llewellyn Worldwide. It comes as a set, with the traditional 78 cards, the companion book “Gateway to the Divine Tarot”, and a black organdy bag to hold the cards. The box is a cigar type box that opens lengthwise. The cover shows the imagery from the Queen of Wands (which many of you will recognize from Leisa ReFalo’s “Tarot Connection” site). On the back is printed the following:
"Step into a lost world from long ago …
A world veiled in darkness after a cataclysmic collision that stilled the earth. Millennia have passed and only humankind has survived – through the divine gifts of dreams.
Exquisitely rich and magical, this new Rider-Waite-Smith based tarot deck by digital artist Ciro Marchetti takes you into the heart of fantasy. You can use this legacy from ages past to discover what you need for your own life as it guides you toward hope, wisdom, and inspiration."
The 295 page companion book, “Gateway to the Divine Tarot”, is a story onto itself – that also tells the story that is Tarot. The beginning of the story is all about a dream – a dream that it seems must be a reality, as there are physical manifestations of the dream in Ciro’s real environment. From there, we go far back into history, where the third planet from the sun collides with an asteroid. This is catastrophic, but some flora and fauna did survive. One species survived above all others, because it had one distinct advantage over other species – it had the advantage of forewarning.
We learn about the Blind Ones, an elite class with great knowledge. They revealed to humankind, to the hour, the time of their passing. A council was called, and the Kings and their courts of the four elements were summoned. The goal was to determine the directions and actions to be taken in the remaining twelve solar orbits.
The Four Kingdoms flourished, and were in balance with their environment. However, they were not always in balance with each other. One realm shared in their activities, but also ruled over them. They were the people that looked beyond the physical to the mind and the universe. The Blind Ones were part of this group of people. They were blessed from birth, and possessed great powers. (Another group came to my mind when I read this – the Bene Gesserit from the Dune Trilogy.) With their guidance, the civilizations that developed after the cataclysm paid homage to their common memories and heritage.
The story now moves back to the present, and to correspondence Ciro is having with a gentleman by the name of Gianluca Colombo de Savoy. De Savoy comments on the “Limited Edition Tarot” that Ciro did, and then he sends him prints, along with a handwritten note. The imagery in the “Gilded Tarot” – is it possibly not unique to Ciro? Could he have seen it before, and not remembered it? Ciro is invited to Italy – in fact, it is more of a command performance than an invitation.
Once he gets there, he hears a fantastic tale about knowledge shared between de Savoy and a small group of colleagues, and now being shared with Ciro. For various reasons, the time was not right, and this information has been suppressed. Part of this story is about gateways – gateways that are very similar to images in the “Tarot of Dreams”.
Ciro had been “encouraged” to visit Italy at a specific time because one of the gateways would be opening, and de Savoy wanted him to experience the museum that it opened into for himself. This is an absolutely wonderful section, showing a great gift for vision and insight into journey work. From this experience Ciro walked away with formative ideas for his next Tarot deck – “The Legacy of the Divine Tarot”.
The traditional names for the Major Arcana are used, with the following exceptions: The Hierophant becomes Faith, The Wheel of Fortune becomes the Wheel, and the Hanged Man becomes the Hanging Man. Strength is VIII, Justice is XI. The suits are entitled Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles; the Court Cards are entitled King, Queen, Knight and Page.
The presentation of the cards in the companion book is text only. Ciro has presented his own thoughts on the cards, as have contributors Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone, James Ricklef, and Leisa ReFalo. Ciro talks about the reasoning behind his choices of imagery for the card, while the Amberstones talk about the basic card energy. James Ricklef provides in depth commentary, while Leisa ReFalo covers each card using the following categories: keywords, reversed keywords, description, meanings, elemental attribution, planetary attribution, gifts and advice. At the end of the presentation on each card Ciro has included an applicable quote.
In a precursor to the Court Cards, Ciro talks about the Court Cards as templates for royal families. In other words, the Court Cards are flexible! In this deck, they all look directly at the reader, making a strong connection. Ciro gives a general description of each card, and the intent behind the card.
Leisa wrote a very comprehensive chapter on how to read the cards. Brief instruction for doing a one to three card daily spread is given, along with a three card Legacy Spread, a seven card Pages (or What is Needed) Spread, a nine card Knights Spread, a five card Queens Spread, and an eight card Kings Spread.
There is an appendix with attributions for elements, numbers, planets, and zodiac signs, along with an in-depth bibliography.
The cards themselves are approximately 2 ¾” by 4 ½”, of good quality card stock. The backs are reversible, with a dark border surrounding a gold and silver mechanical web (the same back as the Special Edition deck). The card faces carry the same dark border, with the Major Arcana showing the card title at the top of the card, and the card number, in Roman numerals, at the bottom of the card. The numbering and lettering is color coded by element.
The Minor Arcana Pips show the suit at the top of the card, and the card number at the bottom of the card. There is a slight difference in style, as the Special Edition used Roman numerals for the pips, while the mass edition does not. The Court Cards carry the card title and suit at the top of the card, with the lettering color coded to the elemental associations.
The artwork is digital, very much in the fantasy tradition. The Pips and Court Cards show the same imagery as the Special Edition deck, while there is some difference in the coloring (but not the imagery) in the mass produced deck. The cards that I noticed significant color changes in were The Magician, The Emperor, Strength, and Justice.
Some of the imagery carries through the Major Arcana – for instance, the same figure appears on The Fool, TheWheel, The Hanging Man, and The World. The hourglass that The Fool balances on, and its colored sand, also appears in The Hanging Man and The World.
We see The Fool balanced in space, with the Major Arcana cards arching around him. The High Priestess has eyes so pale as to almost not be there. The Emperor, standng under the sign of the Ram, evokes a sense of great power. The Chariot is a winged chariot, while the Hermit carries with him a sense of the hidden (as does the High Priestess). I love that The Wheel shows the same figure (that of The Fool) in all four of its phases. The Hanging Man is suspended horizontally over a horizontal hourglass (indicating that time is standing still). Judgment shows a larger than life Archangel, while The World shows the figure of The Fool, standing balanced on the hourglass of time, with the twelve Zodiac signs circling around him.
This is a deck that could be used by any Tarot student that had a basic understanding of the cards. It is a deck for collectors, for those that are interested in the theme of fantasy, as well as for those that want to offer their clients a choice of decks that will open up their experience o the cards.
© Bonnie Cehovet