Tarot of the New Vision by Pietro Alligo and Raul and Gianluca Cestaro
Review by Kim Huggens
If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.
Imagine just for a second that in front of you sits the Rider Waite Tarot deck. Imagine also that you are at this moment staring intently at the Magician card. Suddenly you find yourself drawn into the card, dragged into the scene so that you are able to walk around inside it: what do you see? If you were to walk behind the Magician, what would you find? What is in front of him that you cannot see when looking at the card normally? And most importantly, what does all this say to you about the card?
Well, this is what the Tarot of the New Vision has done. It has taken the traditional Rider Waite Tarot images, and turned them around one hundred and eighty degrees, so that we can see what was previously hidden in the cards:
"For the first time, the most famous and best-selling deck in the world from a new perspective. Men, animals, and objects, hidden up until today, come to life and acquire meaning." ~ from the side of the box
This is not saying that Arthur Edward Waite ever imagined what the 'hidden parts' of each card would be, nor that he prescribed such a practice at all, but it is simply saying that an exploration of the idea can be very useful. The deck is not called the Tarot of the New Vision for nothing: when we look at the cards from a different angle, we maybe gain new insights into them, we catch a glimpse of some previously unthought-of concept associated with the cards, and we think about the cards free from pre-learned tradition. The aim of this deck is to get us to do this: to think with new eyes, so to speak. And so the cards in this deck are sprinkled with surprises, which is one of the joys of the deck!
Very simple artwork by Raul and Giancula Cestaro makes the images on the cards uncluttered and open, very much like the traditional Rider Waite pack. The artists have tried to keep as much to the traditional images as possible, but seeing them from the other side. For instance, whilst we see the Fool from a different angle, he is still standing in the same pose we see in the Rider Waite Tarot, he still has his little white yappy dog with him, and he still wears the same clothes. The only difference is that we see his surroundings in a whole new way; instead of seeing very little before him, we find ourselves looking at an exploding volcano in the distance.
There are some brilliant cards in this deck that really make you think about the card meanings, and quite often add something to one's knowledge of the cards. For instance, instead of seeing just a wounded man surrounded by eight staffs, leaning on a ninth in the Nine of Wands, we see him from behind... And what is that coming towards him? A huge grizzly bear? Now that explains a lot! And what do we see behind the man in the Three of Wands? A group of travelers winding down the road behind him... He seems more like a leader here, a trail-blazer leading his people to greener pastures. The Five of Pentacles shows the scene from inside the church instead of the outside, but guess what? It's not really that different: there is a homeless beggar with a small child inside the church as well as outside. This speaks wonders to me; it says that even physical security can be lonely, and that the isolation of the Five of Pentacles is not necessarily material isolation.
A lot of the time, the new symbols and objects in this deck add esoteric insights, such as the apple tree with a serpent coiled around it in the Tower card. This reminds me of the story of the Fall from Eden, and the insights I gained from this would be best suited to a separate essay! There are so many great symbols being revealed in this deck, such as the two women behind the throne in the Justice card, fighting over the baby (a reference to the story of King Solomon's judgment of this situation) and the open gateway in front of the Empress, symbolizing the Qabalistic letter for this card, Daleth, meaning 'door'. The Empress in this card is very obviously a gateway through which the two children at the front of the card can enter the waiting world.
However, not all the cards of this deck are so full of new symbols and insights: sometimes, they are just the same Rider Waite image turned around, with nothing new to add. Due to the fact that they are turned around, the usual Rider Waite symbols are not seen either, so in cases like this, there is no symbolism at all. This can be seen in the rather unimaginative four Aces: two of them have a simple castle in the background, one has two children splashing water at each other, and another has a mounted rider. Some of the cards do not reveal anything new at all, and instead we are just treated to a view of the back of somebody's head. For instance, the Three of Cups is exactly the same image, with no added objects or symbols, just turned around. So instead of seeing the back of one dancing lady, we have the joy of seeing the backs of two dancing ladies. The Six of Swords is equally boring and unimaginative: a boat with a man, woman and child in it, exactly the same as the Rider Waite Tarot but just turned around. Oh, joy.
In places, the Court Cards are very strange; instead of new objects in the image, we get to see what is carved on the back of the thrones that the Queens and Kings are seated on. At times these carvings do add new insight to the cards, but they also make the card very ugly since we cannot always see the person in the card at all! In some of the Court Cards though, we get some idea of why the person is there; for instance, the Knight of Swords card shows a burning building with soldiers running from it, and the Knight himself seems very much like a soldier when put in this setting.
The backs of the cards are reversible, split into two halves: each half showing the Ace of Pentacles, surrounded by a pretty Celtic-style border. The whole of the back is set in different shades or purple and is sufficiently simple enough to be unobtrusive, yet still attractive enough to look good when being shuffled!
Sadly, I do not think this deck is good for doing readings with at all: its use instead is to help the Tarotist gain new insights into the cards where possible, and see the card meanings in a new light and from a different perspective. But to read with it would be very difficult, since the traditional meaning and symbols are not usually shown, and the fact that most of the characters have their backs to us makes for what would be, in my opinion, quite a negative reading. (Many tarot readers I know like to interpret the posture of the characters in the cards, or the way they are facing.) It is certainly a nice deck to use for comparative tarot studies, to put alongside the Rider Waite Tarot, or a deck similar to it, in order to get two very different perspectives. But it is definitely not a useful reading deck in a tarot world where there are hundreds of decks available better suited to the purpose.
Overall, this deck is a very nice attempt at seeing the tarot from a new angle, with new eyes. I think it would make a very useful addition to a tarotholic's deck collection, and would be invaluable to any comparative deck study. The fact that the deck only comes with a very short little white book (it seems thick, but that is because it is written in five different languages!) allows for the tarotist to think of their own meanings for the new symbols, but it does not provide as much information as some maybe would like. But it is not a beginner's deck, nor a reading deck, and so its appeal is limited.
Tarot of the New Vision by Pietro Alligo, Artwork by Raul and Gianluca
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
You can read other reviews of this deck here and here.
If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.
Kim Huggens is a 19 year-old Pagan Tarot reader, reading Philosophy at Cardiff University. She has been studying tarot since the age of nine, and runs talks and workshops on different aspects of the tarot. She is President of the Cardiff University Pagan Society, and runs an online tarot course at www.witchschool.com. She lives with her boyfriend in Cardiff, and currently has a tarot deck collection of over 150 decks.
Images © 2003 Lo Scarabeo
Review © 2004 Kim Huggens
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes