Tarot Lukumi conceived by: Emanuele Coltro Guidi, illustrated by Luigi Scapini
Review by Djenra
This is a 78 card tarot deck. The cards are standard size, but perhaps a touch longer or taller than most decks. They are well crafted and laminated; they shuffle well. The cards are titled in Spanish. The four suits are: Bastos for Wands, Copas for Cups, Espadas for Swords and Oros for Coins. The court cards are: Rey, the King; Reina, the Queen; Caballo, the Knight and Sota for the Page.
The deck comes in a box which includes a good sized booklet. The picture and the colors of that box make it light, bright and attractive. The box has on its front one of the most beautiful cards in the deck, which is a picture of the Warriors. The Warriors are received by one who enters into the Lukumi tradition to help them deal with life and protect themselves from the unseen forces and dangers as well as the obvious dangers in life. It is the beginning of things and so well deserves a place on the box.
The Major Arcana titles are changed, as they are in Spanish, but in general they stick to the concepts and to the format of traditional decks over which is superimposed and added to each Major, the visage and the symbols of the Afro-Cuban Orisha.
The images depicted on the Minor Arcana are scenes from the patakis, the stories of the Lukumi passed on by an oral tradition; they do not follow in any way the format of Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
The person who conceived of the deck, Emanuele Guidi, had the artist, Luigi Scapini (Medieval Scapini, Stained Glass Tarot) use the faces of people actually in his religious life for some of the Orisha shown in the deck. The artist's technical style is excellent.
The Lukumi Tarot is not a Rider-Waite or a Crowley clone. It shows the legends and stories of the Spiritual Intelligences who are the Orishas of the Lukumi practice which is called La Regla Ocha or La Regal Lukumi. Regla means “rule”, as in the rules of a practice or a religious way of life.
The overall beauty of this deck is the function it serves. This is a deck that was prayed for by the community of Spiritualists, priests and initiates of the faith who use the tarot in their work with clients and each other. The need for this tarot was great. It is not a tarot to collect dust way up on a shelf . It is a tarot that was made to be used. It was made because the practitioners and their Spirits, though used to adaptation, did not feel really comfortable with the tarot decks they were using.
This deck is a first in many ways. Unlike the Tarot of the Orishas, this is a full-sized tarot deck, and, unlike the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, it deals specifically with the Afro-Cuban traditions of the Lukumi people in Cuba. Afro-Cuban Lukumi is in itself also a mixture of influences which include the Kongo, Yoruba, Catholic and even some Arada or Vodoun influences.
The only shortcoming with this deck is that a full-sized book was not released at the same time as this deck. Though a good sized booklet is contained in the box, the majority of the space in said booklet is used to repeat the basic information on the background of the Lukumi faith and the cards in three languages (Italian, English and Spanish), which cuts down on the amount of actual space given to providing even cursory meanings for each card.
When the deck was opened and asked to state its purpose in the world, it responded with Seis de Copas, the Six of Cups. This card shows a scene of Orisha elders arranged around a Star of David, each drinking a red liquid from a goblet-shaped clear glass. In the center is an alchemical pelican with six small chicks' mouths open, taking in their food. As one can see, this has nothing to do with the traditional Six of Cups meaning, so one must go to the booklet, where according to the author of the deck, this is a card “about harmony and brotherhood.”
Those who do not know the qualities of the Orisha and their stories which the booklet goes over all too quickly might briefly find themselves at sea. They will not be able to interpret the cards based on the scenes on them, unless they are either intuitive, imaginative, or psychic. This is a new tarot deck and each deck is a world, unless it is a clone. New meanings need to emerge for each card based on the principles of the Lukumi religion and culture
This tarot deck is not yet available for sale to the public in the USA. The Lukumi Tarot is published in Italy by Dal Negro. However, a look at their site does not show a link to the deck as of this writing . I purchased my deck at Alida and received fabulous service, as always.
You can see other cards from the Lukumi Tarot here.
Lukumi Tarot by Emanuele Coltro Guidi, illustrated by Luigi Scapini
Publisher: Dal Negro, Italy
Djenra formerly published reviews on the now-defunct Lunar Ace under the name of Darkart. Djenra is a Spiritualist with over 35 years with tarot and a former member of the World Tarot Readers. She is an initiate in La Reglas Congo, La Regla Lukumi, and in the Haitian system of Vodou. Djenra is a published author of a non-fiction book on the Lukumi religion, and is a poet whose work can be found online at the Song of the Siren webzine. A married mother and grandmother, Djenra is currently writing a tarot workbook and working on a second book on a particular event in tarot history.
Page © 2003 Diane Wilkes