The Book of Shadows | Andrea Aste | Page of Swords |Kickstarter

Published by Alison Cross on

Andrea Aste

I first encountered the delightful genius of Andrea Aste when I was on Arnell Ando’s Tarot Tour of Italy back in April and I was struck a) by the amazing artwork that he showed us and b) the overall vision of his Tarot project.

So, here’s a quick Q&A with the man himself about that vision and his Tarot deck – through the Page of Swords, of course!
Me:  Andrea – for those that aren’t aware of your Tarot project can you briefly outline it here?

Andrea:  “Thanks Alison, it is very kind of you. The project is a vision I had 3 years ago. I wanted to create a multimedia project meant to be a tour of exhibitions: I wanted to re-create a parallel fictional world revolving around a mysterious deck of tarot and a coded Alchemy book… 

“Thus I started to create the deck and the book.. but While working on them I had many ideas.. the tarot started to tell me their stories, new suggestions, a plot, feelings. I imagine strange places, old dusty libraries, strange alchemists and secret sects..I had a plot for a film..and I did it! 
“An historical thriller-mockumentary, where I decided to present everything I’ve created as a real archaeological discovery… The goals of the project is always the same: create a parallel world in the Renaissance, to show how, in our world, philosophy, alchemy, magic, occultism, art and new-born sciences were mixed all together. It is a great challenge. I think we need more culture and what better way than to create a series of exhibitions where people can have fun and think, see things in many different ways and discover our perception of reality changed through time? 
“So, while organising the tour of exhibitions, I thought it would have been great to start to share the project with people. I looked for sponsors in my country, Italy, needless to say in vain. So I decided to make everything in English and go to another level: international one, on kickstarter! 🙂

Me: Tell me about the Tarot deck itself – is it ‘traditional’ in that it has 78 cards, four suits, 22 Majors etc?

Andrea: “The deck is very traditional in its concept. I wanted to present it as the first ever created, the origin of all tarot decks. It is a game of fantasy, but a challenge too!

“I have my artistic style, I wanted to be very personal, in my style, not in a possible renaissance style… so I had to work on the meanings and references of every single card, to make it realistic as a primordial tarot. It was fun and very interesting – I spent months studying books and tarot, consulting historians, logicians, an art expert, a sociologist (one of my best friends has a PhD in Sociology – he’s an expert of magic phenomena from a sociological point of view). 
“The tarot is inspired by the Marseille deck and above all from the oldest surviving deck: The Visconti Sforza. So, yes, 22 Major Arcana, 78 cards in total, numeral cards in the Italian oldest tradition, with every number represented by the corresponding number of items. The 8 of cups shows 8 cups! 🙂 very traditional 🙂

Me: Have you renamed any of the cards?

Andrea: “Actually the card has the name given by the tradition of the Marseille’s deck… but I didn’t want to write in any language: Old Latin? Old English? German? Italian? Which language could ever being used to create the first tarot?

“So, I opted for NONE… I invented a code, every symbol is a set of meanings, like in Egyptian hieroglyphs, or the Mayan’s symbols. So every name of every card is composed of symbols that capture the name of the card and its meaning.  It was a very complex game to play…but I loved it, but it was a dream I had from the time when I was studying philosophy at University: invent a language, a parallel world, a fantasy realm where to settle my stories… 🙂 I did year before, transforming it into my full time job! 🙂

Me:  Let’s look specifically at the Page of Swords (on right) – there are no keywords or titles as such on the card … but there are those mysterious symbols! Can you explain for me the symbols and what the card represents within your deck?

Andrea: “Every symbols has a meaning, a set of meanings all correlated one to the others.

“The Page of Swords’s name it is compose by two symbols: The first means “warrior”, “guard”,”the one who is fighting for…”. The second one is the symbol of the “Swords”. The court cards are the less related to the tradition. I kept the meaning, but not the figures. I wanted them to be set in the parallel world with fantastic creatures, strange costumes, no clear cultural references – they are set in a mythical past. They are mysterious and very visionary. In this way I can use them in the future to evolve other part of the parallel world, to expand the world I created two years ago with Torineide, an exhibition held at the Natural Science Museum of my home city, Turin. 
“The fantastic creatures and some of the characters I created there come back in The Book of Shadows. The idea is to create over time, a huge fictional world, where everything is interconnected. a multimedia project… I guess I will be very busy in the future 🙂

Me:  I think that you will be VERY busy in the future, Andrea!  Here at Tarot Thrones, I focus on the court cards of the Tarot.  Your courts are structured Page, Knight, Queen and King – what do those ranks mean within your deck?

Andrea: “I respected the traditional ranks and names of the traditional decks. I’ve just taken the “tetragonal” structure of the 4 cards and give them a fantastic-fictional background.

Me: Could a beginner Tarotist use your deck or is it aimed at experienced readers?

Andrea:  “I guess a beginner could have lot of fun with this deck and project, but like in every aspect of life, the more culture, curious, and active toward the world you are, the better you can reach out and understand it.

“We have the misfortune to live in time where there is not enough time to go deep in what we like or what interests us – there are too many pressures, too many roles and rules we “are” forced to follow and play

“For example – Who would take a German Grammar and dictionary just for the pleasure to read Faust by Goethe? Just the ones who have allowed themselves to do it… Difficult time, culture is everything, poetry,  music, art – if we lose these, we lose what makes us human…we are not robots, our goal is not to produce or consume but to explore, learn and improve ourselves 🙂

Me:  Tell me about the other items that make up your whole Book of Shadows project?

Andrea: “The Book of Shadows is a deck, a book that tells part of its stories and with all the “technical” data about the cards,  along with the new spreads inspired to the major constellations, the symbols, etc… and the film.

“The pivotal point of the project is the mockumentary: “The Book of Shadows”. It’s an historical thriller revolving around the mystery of the manuscript and the tarot created by the Alchemist.

“Philosophy, history and science are intermingled with fictional facts, invented arcane references and symbols, citations of esoteric passages from fabricated manuscripts, all of which are used to create an illusion of authenticity and truthfulness. The narration is accompanied by sensationalised newspaper articles, commentary and arguments by fictional cultural intellectuals, logicians, archaeologists and art historians, etc…

“To create a perfect illusion of veracity some selected guests, who are well known international experts in different fields, have been contacted to be interviewed, so that they could express their point of view about the Alchemist’s works as if they were real. Fiction and reality had to be totally fused together: Prof. Roger Scruton, Prof. Augustus Casely-Hayford, Mary K. Greer, Chris Butler, Arnell Ando.

“In certain moments the fabric of the parallel world is ripped apart and another level of reality appear: an animation, narrated by international star Arturo Brachetti, tells the Alchemist’s story.

“In his search for knowledge, the Alchemist devises a new game: the Tarot cards. He wanted to challenge Nature and, by cheating her, to gain her secrets. But Destiny thwarts his plans and reality shatters into thousands of pieces. The Tarot cards take life transporting the Alchemist into a discovery journey…

Me:  It sounds amazing! You are showcasing your work in Australia soon?

Andrea:  “I will present the Film, the international première and the project 🙂 yes.

Me:  There are only a few days left on the kickstarter – can people still contribute?

Andrea: “Yes sure. we need help to make the parallel world real, to make it grow, and share it 🙂

It’s not too late to support Andrea’s vision – and bag yourself a copy of this intriguing deck!

or you can keep up with the deck’s development on facebook!

TABI has backed this project!

*** EDIT  21 April 2017 *** The deck and accompanying book can now be purchased on Amazon as ‘The Lost Code of Tarot‘ 

Alison Cross

The Tarot's Court Cards are my specialist area.  They talk to me. Not LITERALLY though ....


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