I Tarocchi Delle Fiabe (Fairy Tale Tarot) by Diane Wilkesfi14.jpg (18594 bytes)

This beautiful Lo Scarabeo deck is one of my favorite Majors-only decks. Some cards are more beautiful than others, but this is true of all decks.  It is especially true of decks where individual artists each contribute only one card, and I Tarocchi Delle Fiable is such a one.

The cards are based on traditional fairy tales. I am lucky to have an Italian brother-in-law, and he translated the story titles I didn’t recognize.

Some of these fairy tales are more obscure to the average American than others (Rapunzel, Donkeyskin, The Pied Piper, and The Wild Swans are the ones most familiar to me). The delightful thing about this deck, though, is the artwork. Despite being a diverse group of artists, each has managed to convey something of the enchantment and wonder of fairy tales, and even though the artistic styles differ, all seem to fit together, much like a compendium of fairy stories seems all of a piece.

I love the Magician (Il Mago), with the file of mice following in his wake as he plays a clearly compelling tune. It’s a new way to see the Magician: the flute he plays serves as his magical wand. Rose Thorn (L’Imperatrice) resembles Thumbelina, and the image is of a tiny girl cradling something invisible in her arms; her throne is a delicately-petalled flower. Such a nurturing Empress--even her royal seat exudes fecundity. The Hierophant (Il Papa) looks like Babar, dressed in a coronation robe, but the nude image in the sinuous trees seems an unusual acolyte.

The Chariot (Il Carro) seems to be a collage, as does Strength (La Forza), though most of the other cards seem to be paintings or drawings. Justice (La Giustizia) has the distinction of being the sole black and white image, and I’d love to read this story to see how it relates to this archetype.

Strength (La Forza) is perfectly matched with Beauty and the Beast; I love the idea of the tame gentling the wild with kindness and caring (talk about a fairy tale). Temperance (La Temperanza) seems to be an altered form of Snow White (three dwarves instead of seven--you just can’t get good help these days!). Though the woman’s face on the card is as thin as a Modigliani model, you get a sense of ethereal beauty. Her hair streams behind her, against the card’s backdrop of the night sky, with indistinct stars that augment the perception of mystery and timelessness.

The Death card (La Morte) could be my favorite version of this card--I can imagine lying on my deathbed, resigned to leaving this mortal coil, only to be revived by beautiful music. This card is hauntingly beautiful, yet doesn’t sugarcoat death as something cuddly and cute. It is pleasing, despite its odor of sadness.

I am looking forward to tracking down these stories, so I can gain a richer understanding of the matches between the tarot card and the fairy tales ascribed to them.

These cards can (and do) stand on their own, though, giving those of us who are verbally -oriented something new and special to take with us in our understanding and interpretation of the Tarot.

Review Copyright 1999 Diane Wilkes, Images Copyright 1997, Lo Scarabeo

This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson