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Review: Seeing the World – Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception

Seeing the World –
Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception

Author: Jean-Claude Flornoy
Translated and Annotated by: David Vine
Editions letarot.com
2018
ISBN #978-2-914820-14-1

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“Seeing the World – Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception” is the English translation of Jean-Claude Flornoy’s “Le pelerinage des bateleurs” (2007). A 332 page book, it is one of two iconic Tarot books that have recently come out (the other book being “Pamela Coleman Smith: The Untold Story”, by Stuart Kaplan, Mary K. Greer, Elizabeth Foley O’Connor, and Melinda Boyd Parsons).

This translation came into being in a very magical way, when translator David Vine began a correspondence with Jean-Claude Flornoy, which lead to them becoming friends. At one point Mr. Flornoy mentioned to Mr. Vine that he was terminally ill – his oncologist had given him two months to live. (I remember this time period, as there was a significant Tarot seminar being held in France that Mr. Flornoy was to be a presenter at. The Tarot world was excitedly looking forward to this – unfortunately, Mr. Flornoy died before the seminar. Mr. Vine offered to translate the entire book (he had already translated one chapter) into English, and see that it was published. Mr. Flornoy gratefully accepted his offer. The world was gifted with incredible wisdom as a result of these two small acts.

Before going any further, you need to realize that I not only highly respect French Tarot historian Jean-Claude Flornoy, and his work, but I hold him in awe. He has done amazing work on restoring early Marseille decks (the Tarot of Nicholas Conver, the Tarot of Jacques Vieville, the Tarot of Jean Noblet, and the Tarot of Jean Dodal), as well as addressing divination itself, Tarot symbolism, and viewing the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot as a “coded description” of the journey through life. Flornoy sees the Arcanum as the teaching which the Ancients, master builders of the Medieval cathedrals, chose to entrust to a game of cards.

Flornoy studied philosophy, worked as a potter-ceramicist, and was involved in the construction of a hydraulic power station in France, as well as studying the Tarot for twenty years. Several years ago I queried Mr. Flornoy about interviewing him. His wife, Roxanne, responded, as Mr. Flornoy did not speak English. The result was an amazing interview with both Roxanne and Jean-Claude! You can see it here:   http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/learn/interview_flornoy.shtml. I am also going to include a link to an interview by Tarotist Enrique Enriquez, a gentleman that I totally admire! http://www.tarot-history.com/Enrique-Enriquez/pages/itw-EE-15-02-2010-eng.html.

This book represents Jean-Claude Flornoy’s view of Tarot from a psychological view, as well as that of spiritual development. Flornoy’s basic precept is that the journey that Tarot depicts is a psychological journey, rather than a spiritual one. The book is broken down into seven parts – Part One: History and Legend of the Tarot; Part Two: Tarot, Kabbalah and Sufism; Part Three: Jean Noblet, Master Card Maker of Paris, c. 1650; Part Four: The Pilgrimage of the Bateleurs, a Commentary on the 22 Major Arcana; Part Five: How To Use the Marseilles Tarot; Part Six: The Minor Arcana; Part Seven: Appendices (Rules of the Game of Tarots, 1637; Text by Thierry Dupaulis: Jean Noblet, Paris, Mid-Seventeenth Century; Bibliography).

The section on Tarot history speaks for itself. Concerning the Knights Templar we read: “The light of the sacred was all but extinguished on Friday, October 13th in the year of 1307 with the arrest of the leading authorities of the Knights Templar and then, definitively so, after Black Tuesday, March 19th, 1314. That day was marked by the burning of the chief Templars at the stake in the middle of the river Seine in Paris on the Ile aux Juifs, that is, the Isle of the Jews (though some of the men were executed elsewhere).”

In relation to the construction sites at that time, we read: “On the construction sites of the churches and cathedrals, it was not only the art of the building and of working materials that was handed down, but also, through the work in stone, wood and glass, an entire consciousness was assimilated experientially. Transmitted orally, from master to journeyman and from journeyman to apprentice, the tradition was lived in the stone, through the stone. Now, with the “strike of the cathedrals”, suddenly that system was in collapse. No one could guarantee the payment of salaries on the sites. The journeymen and the masters were being hunted by the Inquisition. In the end, therefore, they emigrated.” (This is important, because Flornoy basis his work on the late medieval apprentice-compagnon-master school of the great cathedral builders.)

The introduction to the section on Jean Noblet notes that he came from an age when the tradition was still being transmitted from master engraver to craftsman engraver at an introductory level. This puts Noblet “nearer the source” than those who came after him. His work is unique in the smallness of the card size, and in its age (it is considered to be the oldest deck in the Marseilles tradition). Another part of this section that I found intriguing was Flornoy’s descriptions of what the different colors used in the cards stood for. (An example would be the color red, in connection to the pouring out of blood.)

Flornoy sees the journey of the Tarot (and of life) in the following sequence: First Series – Trump I (incarnation) through Trump V – childhood; Second Series – Trump VI (first passion, the opening of the heart) through Trump X – apprenticeship of the building of the mental body, of the ego; Third Series – Trump XI (the self-made individual, reconstruction within and through the world of matter and the heart) through Trump XV (the period of COMPAGNONNAGE, of the building of the emotional body accompanied by the return of tears, emotional catharsis, the way of the heart and the ascent of vital energy); Fourth Series – Trump XVI (to die before dying, journeying while alive to  the other side … of reality); Remaining Arcana XVII through XX (This is the period of MASTERY, of the building of the energy body, of one’s masterpiece, the end of fear, the period of being “all heart”, and of the beginning of true education.); Trump XXI (This is the period of WISDOM, of the building of the sublime body, of the participation of individual consciousness in the World Soul. It is the period proper to the Master of the Age.); Unnumbered Trump – LE FOU (LE MAT) (LE FOU excuses himself and takes his leave. He sits astride the moment, extricates himself from the world and from life in the here and now. Past and future have both disappeared from his everyday experience. He has become the Holy Fool, the Idiot Buddha, the Divine Anarchist.)”

In presenting each Arcanum (Trump), Flornoy shows a full page black and white scan, the Key to the Arcanum, the Gateway, a discussion of the card, and the images in the card. For example: Le Bateleur (The Juggler) is the Gateway to Childhood. The Key to the Arcanum is Incarnation. The discussion includes the concept of rebirth, of being one of the cards in the Tarot where the central figure strikes a pose, along with a discussion of the tools shown in the card.

There is a short preface that I loved in “How To Use The Marseilles Tarot”– it is entitled “How Not To Use The Marseilles Tarot”. There is a reason – you will have to purchase the book to find out why!

I am totally impressed with this work! Many thanks to David Vine for the care with which he did the interpretation of Jean-Claude Flornoy’s work. Two master craftsman, resulting in an incredible, iconic work!

“Seeing the World – Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception” can be ordered here – http://www.tarot-history.com/boutique/.

© August 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

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Posted by on August 6, 2018 in Tarot

 

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Review – Trionfi della Luna Tarot

Trionfi della Luna
333

Artist: Patrick Valenza
Self-published
Deviant Moon Inc.
2016

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The Trionfi della Luna 333 is a 78 card Marseilles-style deck, with 10 bonus cards, an 2 alternate cards (Diavolo/Devil and Fulmine/Tower). (It is a cousin to the Deviant Moon Tarot.) The cards come in a flip-top box, wrapped in a stunning gold printed art wrapper that is signed on the back. (I am going to frame mine to hang in my office.) A little added flavor was the Devil card that was tucked into the wrapper! I opened the wrapper very, very carefully – it was folded with expert care, so that I could take it off in one piece, with no tears, and keep “forever”!

  • The bonus cards are numbered I-X.

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The deck itself evolved from a series of spontaneous ink drawings created on the wrappers of signed Deviant Moon Tarot decks. This was originally a majors only deck – I am so happy that Patrick decided to complete it! There is a downloadable LWB on the Deviant Moon site (or there will be soon – it was not up yet when I started this review).

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All of the titles in this deck are in Italian, with the suits entitled Spade (Swords), Bastoni (Wands), Coppe (Cups), and Danari (Pentacles). The Court cards are entitled Re (King), Regina (Queen), Caval (Knight), and Fante (Page). The Two of Pentacles follows form for a Marseilles deck and carries the information for the printer (Deviant Moon, New York).

 

 

 

 

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The cards are 2 ¾” by 4 ¾”. The backs are burgundy, with cream colored quarter moons within a diamond shape, and are reversible. The card faces show a ½” antique white border, followed by a thinner black border. The background for the images is an antique cream color. For the Major Arcana, the number is at the top of the card, in Roman numerals. The card title is at the bottom of the card, in Italian. For the Court cards, the title and suit are across the bottom of the card. As this is a Marseilles-style deck, the Minor Arcana show icons only, with the card number, in Roman numerals, centered on either side of the card.

The art style is uniquely Deviant Moon – strange creatures, other-worldly landscapes, and a sense of “in your face” reality. Bad dreams type reality! Perhaps I should say “surreal”, as opposed to reality! The background is medieval combined with 19th century lined illustrations.

 

Whatever it is – it works! It took me a long time to get used to the Deviant Moon Tarot, but once I was over that little bump in the road, I wanted every deck that Patrick could ever conceive of putting out there!

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We see La Papessa standing on a pile of books, with flames behind her. La Giustizia (Justice) stands with her sword and scales in an almost menacing manner. I love the eye that takes center stage in La Ruota (the Wheel of Fortune). Interesting that in the Re di Spade (King of Swords) he holds in front of him a shining sword, yet the sword that he holds behind him drips blood, There is a fire behind him, and the quarter moon in the sky drips blood.

 

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The Ten of Swords shows eight curved swords, with two straight swords in the middle, dripping blood. The Regina de Bastoni (Queen of Wands) shows the figure facing the left hand side of the card, with ghost faces behind her. The Fante di Dinari (Page of Pentacles) is quite the interesting figure, as it is shown running after the Pentacle icon, which has wings.

 

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with all of Patrick’s work. It is innovative, and exciting. I think that you will all enjoy this deck!

I am going to put in a plug here for the book that Patrick wrote concerning his journey with the Tarot, and how his art evolved. It is a huge, amazing book, and you all need to read it! It is called the Deviant Moon Tarot Book (U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 2015).

© December 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2016 in Tarot

 

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Review – Tarot Decoratif

Tarot Decoratif

Author: Ciro Marchetti
Artist: Ciro Marchetti
Independently Published
2016

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“A Tarot deck if a magical illustrated book like no other.
Every time you open its cover it offers you a different
and unique story.”

from the companion PDF

The Tarot Decoratif  is a 78 card deck that combines features from both the Marseilles and Waite-Smith schools of Tarot. It is self-published as a Special Edition, aimed primarily at collectors. The images follow traditional images close enough that the deck can be used easily for reading, if one is familiar with the Tarot. Marchetti is a digital artist, with several decks to his credit (Legacy of the Divine Tarot, Tarot of Dreams, Tarot Royale, The Gilded Tarot) – all of which are unique and outstanding in their own way.

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This Special Edition comes with a plethora of goodies – a signed signature card; a themed, satin lined bag; and a heavy, black, lift top box. (I am partial to black – I find the box stunning!) Reading cloths are also available for separate purchase. The option to personalize the card backs is no longer available, as the cards have already gone to the printer. There is no companion book, but there is a PDF available for download in which Marchetti describes the thought process (rational) for his personal design choices.

A small note about the PDF: I fully appreciate hearing the “story behind the story”. Seeing what is in the mind of the creator as he is creating. Those who have followed Marchetti’s work know that each of his projects is stand-alone, with vibrant energy and compelling story-lines. Many of us know that Marchetti had effectively “retired” from creating Tarot decks, and was focusing on Kipper and Lenormand oracles. He was nudged into changing his mind when he attended a presentation by Russell Sturgess at a TarotCon in West Palm Beach. Sturgess presented what to Marchetti was an entertaining and compelling view of the history of the Marseilles Tarot, the core of which was that its symbolic content was a “hidden in plain sight” reproduction of the religious beliefs of the Cathars, as expressed through the imagery of the Major Arcana. Hence, the interest to create a Marseilles based Tarot was ignited. To maintain the integrity of the deck, Marchetti reached out to a select group of people (including readers, publishers, authors, and artists of Marseilles style decks) that are acknowledged to be experienced voices in the world of the Marseilles Tarot.

Marchetti talks about the early woodcut decks, and how commercial appeal would have factored into the production of the decks. In designing the Tarot Decoratif, imagery from multiple decks was cross-referenced, as well as interpretations and views from various sources. The imagery that made the most sense was then chosen to be used. The result is imagery that is decorative, but still easily recognizable, and easily read.

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The Tarot Decoratif is a reflection of Marchetti’s personal style, and personal choices. While deeply imbued in the Marseilles style, there is enough imagery to make it interesting to those that find it a bit difficult to read with icons only.

While reading the PDF is not necessary to understanding this deck, I found it of personal interest. I did not agree with all of it, and you may not either, but it does give us insight into why the imagery in this deck is presented in the manner that it is.

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The cards are 3 ¼” by 5 ¼”, on a glossy card stock finish. There is a contrasting matt spot varnish over the outer border design. The backs have a black background, with gold inner borders and imagery, and are reversible. The card faces show a black background, with the same dual gold borders as the card backs. The Major Arcana (Trumps) show the card number, in Roman Numerals, centered at the top of the card. The card title, in French, is centered at the bottom of the card. The card of Death is numbered, but not titled.

The Court cards show the insignia for the character centered at the top of the card, with the card title and suit centered at the bottom of the card. The pips (numbered cards) show the card number, in Roman Numerals, centered at the top of the card, with the suit name centered at the bottom of the card.

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The card imagery is bold, with bright, intense colors. The pips are Marseilles style, with icons and no imagery, with the exception of a single image in the top, middle or bottom of the card. For example, the IV of Deniers shows the top of a male figure in the center of the card, with a shield beneath it. The X of Deniers shows treasure chest in the middle of the card, while the VI of Batons shows a rider seated on a horse centered at the top of the card.

 

 

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There is interesting symbolism throughout the deck, including three dice in mid-air in Le Bateleur, the Alepha and Omega signs on the page of the book in Le Pape, the cherub over the male figure in L’Amoureux, the flaming cauldron between the male and female figures in Le Diable, the family pictured in the IV of Batons, and the male figure appearing to study in the VIII of Deniers.

 

 

This is a vibrant, well done deck that would be a welcome addition to any Tarot collection, both from a collector’s point of view, and from a reader’s point of view.

© October 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Tarot

 

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