Millennium Tarot 2000 by Amerigo Folchi Review by Diane Wilkes
Unlike most decks by Amerigo Folchi, the Millennium Tarot 2000 was released by a German publisher. The little white book (LWB) is all in German, so I am unable to translate it at all, but I don't think I'm going out on too much of a limb to say that the focus of the deck is to commemorate the most important people in the last millennium. I say that because the Major Arcana, Aces, and Court Cards are all attributed to famous individuals who lived during that time.
We begin with the Fool, Albert Einstein, with an undeniably zany look. His motley dress goes well with his facial expression--his eyes are wide and a bit manic...and he is sticking out his tongue at us all. The reversible backs of the deck are this same image back-to-back within a patterned border. The Magician is Leonardo da Vinci and the High Priestess is Johanna von Orleans. I think we know her better as Joan of Arc. In between the black and white pillars, she wears a gleaming white cross and holds a leather-bound book, but she's got a sword sheathed in the folds of her gown. When we move on to the Empress (Kaiserin Maria Theresia), I realize there will be plenty of German and European figures I am not familiar with represented, as well as famous people I do know, like Napoleon (The Emperor), Louis Pasteur (The Hierophant), Mona Lisa (The Lovers), and Abraham Lincoln (Strength).
Some of the matches are wonderful: I love the literal and symbolic linkages of Nelson Mandela and The Tower. Napoleon is the quintessential Emperor, and Charles Lindbergh will always be identified with his legendary flight across the Atlantic (as opposed to his Nazi-sympathies), which makes him a wonderful choice for the Chariot. I simply love the image of Marilyn Monroe as the Queen of Cups. There is also something irresistible about George Washington as the King of Pentacles. The Death card, which features John F. Kennedy holding a copy of the Death card as the sun rises in the background, is particularly poignant.
Other celebrity-to-archetype couplings seem less ideal: Princess Diana as the Queen of Swords (she was known for her compassion, not her sterling intellect), Louis Pasteur as the Hierophant, Mozart as The Devil. I really wonder at some of the choices. Perhaps the 15 page-LWB would be of use here--I can't say, as I don't read German.
The deck itself is very much a Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) clone, which makes it ideal for readings. Strength (Die Stärke) is the title of card XI, but the image is of Justice (Die Gerechtigkeit), which is the title on number VIII. I didn't notice this mistake until it was brought to my attention by a non-native English speaker. There is not much of a learning curve here, but knowing the biographies of the people featured in the cards and finding a way to relate them in a reading could only enhance the experience. At 2 1/2" x 4", the size is closer to playing cards than traditional tarot, which I find a blessing. I can shuffle these babies quite easily. The box, however, is far from portable: it's 4 1/2" x 7", which is substantially larger than an average tarot deck box. This makes no sense when the cards themselves are so small.
The Folchi touch is always deft and contains elements of humor: the Ace of Wands (Rembrandt) has a dashing pen-and-ink drawing of the artist that makes him appear to be a Musketeer as well as a creative genius. The haunting essence of the Nine of Swords is accented by the grey background.
I obtained this deck in a trade and understand that it is difficult to find, but I would recommend it for Amerigo Folchi fans (of whom I am definitely one) and those who would like a twist on the RWS. A card that came with the deck showed other sets published by ASS, such as "Mummy Rummy," which leads me to believe that the publisher is known for playing cards and novelty decks. While this deck could be considered same, Folchi's artwork makes it far more to me.
Click here to read a sample reading with this deck.
Millennium Tarot 2000
ASS Publishing 1999
Cards © 1999 ASS Publishing
Review and page © 2001 Diane Wilkes