Thursday, 29 May 2014

The King of Cups | Art | Visconti Sforza




From the workshop of Benifacio Benbo, 
Il Re di Coppe, 
Visconti Sforza Tarot

Yeah, there's so much of the figure missing that when I looked at this image I thought the King was actually lying in a box with only his legs sticking out.  As if he had been SLIGHTLY overusing his Cups.



And here's what The King of Cups looks like when he's not lying in a box.

The top image was sold in 2008 at the Milan auction house for Christies for a jaw-dropping 19,500 Euros.

So the next time your other half rolls his/her eyes at your frantic late-night, wine-fuelled ebay bidding to procure YET ANOTHER tarot deck, you can point out that it's AN INVESTMENT.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

What's been the most expensive Tarot deck you've ever purchased?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Queens of Shoes

If a picture is worth a thousand words, why not use images to help secure the meanings of the court cards in your head? To this end, I thought we could KICK off today (see what I did there?!) with an exploration of the Tarot Queens through the medium of HIGH-HEELED SHOES!

*very scholarly face on*

The Queen of Swords

Clever, sharp, possessed of a razor wit and allergic to all sorts of flattery or bullshit, the Queen of Swords needs something suitably spiky as her footwear.  I picked this because of the fantastic spiked heel, airy cut-out feel and butterfly motif!

The Electra by Sophia Webster


The Queen of Wands

She helps us handle everything in our lives with passion - if you're not going to do it REALLY WELL, why bother? says the Queen of Wands.  Mediocre isn't a word in her vocabulary and she likes to see every challenge as an opportunity.  She can be relentlessly upbeat - very tiring for the rest of us! She is also passionate about passion, hence I chose something really stand-out-sexy for her - tadaaaaah!


Leopard-print Louboutins, of course!


The Queen of Cups

This Queen is focussed on relationships and is very much in touch with her emotions - and helps you get in touch with yours too.  The power of emotions help us to create  - and experience - our inner world, regardless of whether we make love, make oil paintings, make music, make friends or make peace.

I wanted to find something that was 'of the sea' so chose shoes with pearls!  And since she is all about relationships, what better than a pair of lacy wedding shoes?

Yes, she would rather be wearing flip flops - but one needs to SUFFER for one's high heel

Queen of Pentacles

This Queen's power is related to home, health and wealth.  She appears if we need to ground ourselves  - a spot of gardening, meditation, physical activity, care of your health, redecorating the spare room etc. But if any Queen was going to extoll the virtues of a the wellington boot, it would the the Queen of Pentacles.  But since there's no such thing as a practical high heel..... I had to do a powerful lot of googling. Googling shoes.  What hardship.  But the struggle was worth it, for I found this: 

Grrrr - have lost the source link for this image, sorry!

But shhhhhh, don't tell the other Queens or they'll want them too!

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Ancient Tarots of Lombardy | Meet the Families!

I recently bought a handful of Marseilles-type Tarot decks and the Ancient Tarots of Lombardy is one of them.  This design dates from 1810, according to the box. It is published by Lo Scarabeo and comes with the LWB details (written by Giordano Berti) on cards, rather than a leaflet.  I find this a bit of a faff trying to find the English section amongst the cards.  But that probably says more about my untidy nature than anything else!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The 8 Marriages and 7 Husbands of Elizabeth Taylor

King and Queen of Wands
One of the side effects of living as Elizabeth Taylor for a week (other than really sore eyes from too much mascara and eye-liner) was an unhealthy interest in her many husbands.  And bourbon.

Why not, suggested a friend, write about her husbands and relate them to various Tarot court cards? Why not, indeed.  

Elizabeth Taylor's love life is the stuff of legend - death, divorce, adultery - all seen through the lens of a newly born media merry-go-round.

Mine is exactly the same - apart from the death, adultery and celebrity, of course.

There's a lot to get through - shall we just dive in?

Monday, 12 May 2014

Meet The Family | Ancient Italian Tarot | Lo Scarabeo

I don't know about you, but I'm increasingly drawn to antique Tarot decks and this Ancient Italian Tarot from Lo Scarabeo is currently one of my favourites.

I believe that the original engravings for this deck were made by a prominent Milanese engraver named Carlo Dellarocca.  This is the 1880 version of the deck, published by Lo Scarabeo (my copy dates from 2000).  As far as traditions go, this deck is a Marseilles-based deck (unillustrated pips, Justice VIII/Strength XI) with Majors and Court titles in Italian only.  These old decks are untrammelled by Golden Dawn influence and I find them extremely refreshing!

One of my Tarot bug-bears is that the Court section of a deck can feel poorly thought out, with little or no consideration going in to the personalities of the 16 characters and the traits that each conveys. But in this deck, they are very distinct personalities - even if they are not quite what you expect!

 Let's meet the Fantes, Cavales, Reginas and Res!

Page (unexpected news) Knight (traveller) Queen (friend) King (entrepreneur)
We have the Bastoni family, or Wands to you and me.  Notice how the club is quite different in each image.  The Fante (or Page) holds a large, rough-hewn club emphasising the unformed, beginning nature of the Page...the Cavale (Knight) holds something that seems to have a bit of a dent in it, the Queen's club is very decorative and the King's enormous  ....... club.....leaves us in no doubt that he's the main man!

Colour-wise - this family show a lot of green - the living, vital wand.  There is also red for the fire of Wands.  But heck - colour might not count for anything other than what the printers had available to them at the time - this is a pre-GD deck after all!

Take a good look at the Pages in the Ancient Italian - they're all considerably older than many modern decks portray them!

Page (researcher) Knight (mercenary) Queen (widow) King (lawyer)

The Spade (Swords) family look quite pleasant sorts, even though every last one of them is tooled up for a fight!  What do you make of the Queen's robe, folded into an opening between her legs? One of the LWB meanings for her is 'sterility'  Hmmm - maybe I'm reading too much into the folds of that robe, which looks to me like a 'fachina' (as my son used to call it).

Colour-wise - one might say that a sky blue is the common denominator?  Suitable for Airy Swords! But look! Also a lot of red!

Notice how all the swords are depicted at an angle, except the King's - his sword is bolt upright and he is, of course, scrupulously fair in his dealings with people. The Fante's sword is almost upright, but he also sports a little dagger at his waist - suggesting that duplicitous nature that we know and luff about the Page of Swords.

Page (messenger of luff) Knight (passionate but unfaithful lover) Queen (lover/wife) King (Artist/mature person)

Take a good look at the Cups or Coppe family - this is the only family group where there is not a single weapon on show (the King of Danari has a sword too).  This family's power is founded in relationship - the love is mightier than the sword, if you will.

The Coppe family memberes are decked out in blue - suitable for a suit associated with Water.  And red prevalent in this lot too!

All the Knights in the deck approach their family from the right hand side (except Danari enters from the left!) and have horses moving at different speeds, but the slowest looking horse is given to the Knight of Wands.  In post-Golden-Dawn decks, this is the VERY boy you would expect to have the fastest horse!

Page (student) Cavale (consultant/arrogance) Queen (Heiress, greed, marriage of convenience) King (business/rich man)

Meet the Danari family AKA Pentacles.  Notice how in this family, the Cavale and King both have Swords in addition to their suit symbol.  For the Cavale the coin hangs in the air in front of him and he doesn't look hugely interested in it as he canters along behind it with his unsheathed sword resting on his breast.  The King also has a sword, but it remains in its scabbard behind him.  He is the only King who LOOKS at his suit symbol and holds another one on his knee - the getting of material goodies is important to this guy!

The meanings ascribed to the Page and Cavale are more what I would expect from the Swords characters..... the 'mercenary' nature of the Swords Knight I would probably associate with the Knight of Pentacles.  In this deck, the Knight of Danari is so clearly following the money!

Colourwise? Nothing really jumps out at me - other than the Queen's golden skirt! Lots of red, blue and green *sigh*

So, what conclusions can I draw about the Courts of the Ancient Italian Tarot?

They are very attractively portrayed and each one is a unique character.  There is no real colour-coding of the suit families, but then we are looking at a deck that predates this tendency.  The etchings are refined and the cards are beautifully coloured throughout the deck

The meanings ascribed to the cards are, on the whole, as we generally understand them to be, with the exception of the Fante and Cavale of Danari who are described more like Swordy types.  And the Cavale of Swords is described more like the Danari chap should be.  Solution? I suggest just swapping around those descriptions so that they keep with your understanding of these courts.

What do you think of the Ancient Italian Tarot families?  What's your favourite Marseilles-type deck?



Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Knight to King: Check your mate!


Tartarus as he is today -
Still clutching a motorbike wheel!
So, I started dating my other half when we were at school.  At that point he was a clever, bespectacled lad with a bit of a wild side.  The specs were soon ditched for contact lenses and as soon as the school blazer was abandoned, he embraced motorbikes with messianic fervour.


Monday, 5 May 2014

The Poet's Tarot | Annette Spaulding-Convy & Kelli Russell-Agodon

Queen of Mentors - Poets' Tarot
Time to delve into a new Tarot deck via its Page of Swords! Except for The Poets' Tarot, it's the Queen of Mentors that we're looking at.  Worry not, all will become clear :-D 

The Two Sylvias Press ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund The Poets' Tarot.  The two women behind the deck, Annette Spaulding-Convy (ASC) and Kelli Russell-Agodon (KRA) very kindly agreed to talk about their newly launched baby!

Me: OK - first of all tell me about the Two Sylvias Press - what or who is it?!   



Thursday, 1 May 2014

Beltane Spread 2014

The Beltane cards from The Wildwood TarotClick on link to visit their Beltane post on facebook
but don't go yet! Stay and read m'spread!
Beltane is one of the ancient festivals that has managed to hang on in modern consciousness via a variety of little traditions - In Scotland, for example,  girls will have been nipping outside to wash their faces in the morning dew.  I did that this morning, but it was mainly rain, I think!

This is a big Fire Festival and also associated with The Great Rite - fire and creation - fabulous combination!!

So I dreamed up a little spread that you might find useful:

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