Universal Fantasy Tarot Cards – Mar 8 2007
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About the Author
Lo Scarabeo's Tarot decks have been acclaimed all over the world for originality and quality. With the best Italian and international artists, each Lo Scarabeo deck is an exceptional artistic value.
Commited to developing innovative new decks while preserving the rich tradition of Tarot, Lo Scarabeo continues to be a favorite among collectors and readers.
Llewellyn is the exclusive distributor of Lo Scarabeo products in North America.
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Top Customer Reviews
1) card depictions largely follow the traditional RW symbolism, with a few exceptions, so this deck is adequate for beginners;
2) printed on good quality cardstock, with a very nice cardback design that captures perfectly the fantasy/mechanics feel of the art;
3) a few of the cards are stunning: personal favourites include the Empress and the Queen of Swords.
1) most of the cards are, unfortunately, nowhere near as stunning as the Empress or the Queen of Swords. Aside from another dozen or so cards that are really nice, most of the deck is rather forgettable. Having said that, art is, of course, entirely subjective and there are people who will like all the artwork on all the cards. I just thought it was too bad that only a couple really wowed me. And with other decks out there like the Shadowscapes deck, where the art on ALL the cards is simply out of this world, the Universal Fantasy Tarot leaves a bit to be desired.
2) the cards are not glossy and plastified, but again, this is a matter of personal taste. I simply prefer the heavier, more durable cards manufactured by US Games Systems Inc.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
From the little white book enclosed with the deck: "Ancient symbols are reinterpreted, using the imaginary world of Fantasy literature. Every icon refers to a universe where elements of the medieval world merge with others that belong to myth and fantasy, taking on new meanings, but maintaining ancient content and symbolism."
The magical fantasy creatures---dragons, elves, winged horses, giant mice and even a huge winged snail (6 of chalices)---bring to mind Tolkien's worlds. The deck itself is an enitre new realm to delve into. Imagination rules!!!!!
I was immediately drawn to the Strength card which pictures an elegant, stately woman wearing a mauve/red gown petting a striking green dragon who is wrapped around her and appears to be leaning into her protectively and lovingly. Her hand rests gently on his head.
Many of the cards I found true to Rider-Waite's interpretations, but I would not recommend this deck for beginning Tarot readers. If you're a novice and buy this deck for readings, it could be confusing as some of the cards' meanings are ambiguous and the little white book isn't very detailed or clear on some cards. I always recommend a Rider-Waite type deck for those first coming into Tarot.
The four suits are Chalices, Wands, Swords and Pentacles.
To me, Tarot is a tool for opening my spirit to life's mysteries and wonder: 78 cards with pictures and symbols that are used for meditation by connecting me with my subconscious mind. This deck is a beautiful, enlightening addition to my collection.
When I saw some sample cards online from the Universal Fantasy Tarot, I was mesmerized. I loved the bold colors and unusual depictions--and felt confident that I would love this deck.
So I pre-ordered it through Amazon.com and when I got it in my hands, I was *blown away* at the stunning artwork on this deck! Truly, I haven't seen anything like it. Aesthetically speaking, I believe it to be the most beautiful deck I've ever seen. And my husband, and artist, agrees! He's fawned over the Universal Fantasy Tarot ever since it came in the mail. He even went so far to say that he feels most--if not all--of the cards in this deck could be framed and hung with pride in our living room.
I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase "fantasy art", I tend to think of the gaudy, revealing covers of sci-fi paperbacks--or the half-nude She-Ra's entwined around the legs of a dragon ala artists like Boris Vallejo. (And let me tell ya, that ain't my idea of good art...)
So I was thrilled to discover that the Universal Fantasy Tarot features gorgeous jewel-tone hues, fantastical creatures, unusual elements (such as body armor comprised of a many-windowed castle!), and incredible detail work. Sumptuous, flowing garments swirl and cascade around bodies (the icy blue gown on the Queen of Swords is *amazing*!), and Martinello's re-interpretation of Tarot symbology is astounding.
For example, a huge, elongated headdress crowns The Empress--but it's supported by what looks to be a steel pole. When I first saw this image, I thought the headdress looked like a stylized brain (trust me--it's not gruesome!)...and how the "brain" and logic of The Emperor brings support and balance to the emotional subjectivity of The Empress.
When I saw the 6 of Cups--which features a winged creature that looks rather like a feathered snail, with two children atop its shell..."fishing" for a lost cup that fell in the water--I couldn't help but think "trying to retrieve something lost in the past". And the 9 of cups? A yawning dragon-like creature (clad in what looks to be a smoking jacket!) seems to stumble out of a hangover fog while nine lamps burn inside golden cups. Has this party animal been burning the midnight oil in a drunken indulgence, perhaps?
From the distressed Hanged Man suspended by a bird high above the Earth's atmosphere, to the elegant Knave of Chalices accompanied by an equally exotic companion (a floating, human-sized fish who breathes air!)--each dynamic image from the Universal Fantasy Tarot will draw you in, capture your imagination, spark intuitive insights, and enrapture you with its profound beauty.
Whether you're a deck collector or a storyteller, a Tarot reader or a journaling seeker, the Universal Fantasy Tarot will almost surely surpass your expectations--and make you thankful that you have eyes to behold it.
(Note: While it's easy for me to gush about this deck's beauty, I suppose I should include some minutia: the attractive, futuristic backs are fully reversible, the Minor Suits are Chalices, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles, and the Court Cards follow the Knave, Knight, Queen, and King rendering. And does it "read" well? You bet ya! I performed a few readings and they've been uncannily insightful.)
To see 10 images from the Universal Fantasy Tarot, visit the Reviews--Decks section at [...]
Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)
Because of the complex depictions used, I would not recommend this deck for a beginner unless they felt particularly drawn to it.
I like how the designs are patterned after the traditional while adding their own style and flair and magic to each image. Echoes of what I feel to be the primary guiding symbols and structure (the choreography of each, if you will) are present in each card -- close enough to Rider-Waite for me to be able to stick to my understanding (and the book I use!), and far enough to feel more free and deeper to the subconscious in the reading. Probably what would be called an ideal intermediate deck. I absolutely love it.
If you are a fantasy fan, you are going to love, and I do mean love this deck. A few here say these illustrations follow in the footsteps of Tolkien, I disagree, this is the sort of fantasy art the borders mecha, almost steampunky in flavor. Such as the Wheel, or the Ace of Coins. The colors are rich and vibrant with a strong palate of jewel tones so rarely used. And to be honest I can't get over the clothing and drapery of the figures. I still swoon over these even after having owned this deck for several years.
To be fair these are not easy cards to read, and this deck demands a full study. The good news is, if you are familiar enough with RWS, then you'll do just fine with these cards. However, they are not so easy enough to read them at a glance, and require closer study and contemplation when reading a spread. I get to some readers this may be a disadvantage, say if you're reading at a fair or at the school yard like I used to do when I was younger, but as a whole this is a good thing. I think too often, many readers just glance at the cards rattle off what they mean and rarely contemplate the depth of each card. Basically, this deck will make you think and sit. It doesn't just give you the reading, it makes you work for it.
I do agree the cardstock is flimsy, thinner than the other Lo Scarebeo decks that I own, but I chalk this up to the detailed ink and printing required. It's not worse than the Llewellyn decks and god knows some printings of the gilded tarot are flimsy as it gets. However it shuffles well, and feels great in the hands. I so love a good Lo Scarebeo pack, as they are narrow and tall and are great for my small feminine hands. So if you do read professionally, and you do fall in love with this deck, you may want to invest in another copy.
As for the accuracy, this deck is spot on. After years of reading the tarot I know each deck has a different flavor. The RWS tends to be very straight forward and kindly or harsh depending on the reader. This Fantasy deck is straight up, no sugar coating, but the straight truth as it is without any adulterants. So straight forward can this deck be, that readings can be too harsh and too flagrant. Be warned, readings with this pack are not for the delicate sitter, or the faint of heart. Never ask it questions you aren't sure you want answered. I find that my particular copy has little pity for chosen ignorance and it is up to me the reader to offer empathy to my sitters.
If anything this is one of the most unique decks on the market and I would suggest buying it just for the artwork alone. It's complex and deep, providing a challenge to experienced reader, but not so much so as to be unreadable like the Favole Tarot.