The Kazanlar Tarot
This deck, by artist Emil Kazanlar was produced as an 'Ecumenical Tarot". The deck has a Middle Eastern look, though Kazanlar borrowed from several sources. The High Priestess, for example, looks suspiciously like the High Priestess of the Wirth deck. The cards are 2 3/4" X 4 1/4". Each card has a gold Metallic border with the card's name at the bottom in four languages. I recognize English, French and German, but do not recognize the fourth language. The art is good with a lot of detail. The colors are rich and vibrant. There is also a lot of symbolism in the drawings, both Eastern and Western. The major Arcana are a strange mix of old and new. Kazanlar obviously used his own vision to produce the scenes on the Majors. As mentioned previously, the High Priestess looks like Wirth's, Strength and Temperance seem to be modified versions of the Marseilles cards of the same name, and the remainder of the Majors seem to have an Islamic influence. For example, the Hierophant has been renamed The Prophet and depicts Muhammad (face hidden by a veil) riding a horse. There is Arabic writing sprinkled throughout the Majors as well. Strength is number 11 and The Fool is number 22. The Court Cards are King, Queen, Knight and Page, and the suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Disks, though the cards also use the playing card equivalents on the right hand border.
The minors present us with an even more diverse mixture of cultures. Middle Eastern, Far Eastern, Egyptian, Hindu, and European culture are all represented. The Minors have even more symbolism than the majors. The Qabalistic Tree of Life correspondence for each Minor Arcana card is on the top and bottom of each scene. Kazanlar attributes all the court cards to En Soph. The Aces are attributed to Kether, twos to Chokmah, etc.. Kazanlar also provides the negative or "black"Sephirah at the bottom for reversals. There are astrological symbols in the left, and the card number, suit and some other symbol unknown to me on the right. Some of the Minors depict scenes from mythology, and Kazanlar indicates these in his booklet. The scenes on the Minors are not based on Waite-Smith.
The little booklet that comes with this deck is rather thick. Kazanlar explains his background and the deck's premise. He explains the Qabalistic associations of each card, which is what he bases his interpretations on. These are not the familiar Golden Dawn Qabalistic interpretations. He also provides an upright and reversed meaning for each card, though curiously he failed to provide interpretations for the High Priestess, The Empress and the Prophet.. This could be a printing error. He does explain what these cards represent, but he did not provide the positive and negative meanings provided for all the other cards. Although Kazanlar explains his Qabalistic ideas as he goes along, previous knowledge of the Qabala is probably necessary to understand what he is talking about. There are a few spreads at the end of the book, including the "Oracle of the Seraphim" which Kazanlar claims is the method that was used by the ancient priests of Israel and which he claims is the forerunner of the modern Tarot. This spread is fairly complex and requires math skills as well as reading skills. Other spreads include the "Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh", and the "Twelve labors of Hercules". The only 'common" spread provided is the "Astrological "(12 Houses), which Kazanlar has also embellished to make it his own.
I find this deck quite interesting for several reasons. The Qabalistic interpretations used by Kazanlar are not the run of the mill Golden Dawn materials. Kazanlar apparently derived them based on his own studies. I find that refreshing, even if I do not agree with some of his conclusions. He also provides an intriguing, if not always comfortable mix of myths and cultures. I am also a sucker for gold metallic ink. I would like to see a separate book published about this deck. Although the little booklet accompanying the deck provides more information than most, there is much that is left unexplained. One could spend a great deal of time studying this deck. I would recommend this deck for those looking for a fresh approach to the Tarot and Qabala. While beginners could use this deck, those familiar with the Qabala would probably appreciate it more. Those enamored of the Golden Dawn tradition may find this deck bewildering. Kazanlar goes off in many directions, and his vision is not always clearly stated. You are left to puzzle through some of his ideas, correspondences and assignments without assistance.
I do not usually provide excerpts from the little booklets that come with decks, but I am going to make an exception in this case to give the reader an idea of what Kazanlar is trying to accomplish with this deck. See the Kazanlar Tarot
- Kazanlar Tarot
- ISBN: 3-905017-97-0
- Available from:
- US Games Systems
- 179 Ludlow St.
- Stamford CT 06902
- (800) 544 - 2637)
- Fax (203) 353 - 8431
The Ecumenical Tarot
The ecumenical attitude allows that different religions lead equally to God. The tarot is an old ecumenical tradition which contains the holy symbols of God that recur in similar forms in all the great religions., since God permitted his people to worship him in different ways., although he is the same God for all and everywhere. The Old Testament was referred to by the Hebrew kabbala, which represents the origins - of the Tarot, since it gave rise to the mystical letter and number systems. The New Testament as well, contains the symbols of the Old. Likewise the Koran contains passages whose headings consist of one or more letters the meaning of which are certainly no different from those of the kabbalistic letter system in the older monotheistic traditions.
I was born in Iran of a father of mixed Turkish and Persian origin and a Hungarian mother and lived in the home countries of my parents, who were followers of different religions. It became clear to me that the God of my Asian relations was the same as the God of my European relations. After studying painting, philosophy and general linguistics, I discovered that the tarot is an applied system of art and meditation for the purpose of ecumenical improvement.. This then is my ecumenical tarot which I now pass on to you with descriptions of the arcana and of a few spreading systems for stimulating predictions. I wish you good fortune for every situation in which you use it!
Yours with ecumenical greetings.
Dr. Emil Kazanlar
Six of Wands
In the positive position this card derives from Tipharet and in the negative position from Amanalech. In the picture, the smiling Buddha sits on a holy lotus flower. We see the four earthly elements: the blue water under the lotus, the brown earth above the water and the horizon, the red of the sun's rays at sunrise and sunset for the fire of the radiant star. Around the head and body of the Buddha, the air is filled with a golden glow. The Buddha's navel chakra or manipura appears like the microcosmic sun.
In the positive position with the top, uppermost: Victory of the ideal of beauty in the inquirers life. His will be positively influenced. He can find at this point the glorious King of Heaven on the Earth. Excellent News Happy fulfillment of hopes. Victory over an opponent without strife, through diplomatic means. Surprise and success.
In the negative position with the bottom uppermost: Late arrival of the expected answer. Fear and stress through the success of rivals and competitors. Implacable struggle, whose outcome can not be predicted. It would be better not to fight whatever the cost.
(The Kazanlar Tarot Deck booklet, translated from the French, pages 3-4 and 55-56)
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