The tarot deck I am using this month is a collector’s item: La Porta Celeste — I Tarocchi delle Stelle. The Tarot of the Stars. It was one of the first in my deceased brother’s collection that caught my eye. It’s a beautiful deck, and large — 6″ X 3.5″, and seems as if it’s the sort of deck one would use to do readings. It also seems more mystical than some, since this deck supposedly has its own cabalistic and alchemical system which is unique when compared to western tarot decks. The artist, Giorgio Tavaglione, integrated copious symbolism into his designs, particularly the astronomical information illustrated above each image. The problem with this deck (and the reason I never used it before) is that the book that comes with the deck is written in an archaic Italian dialect, very difficult to translate because it is loaded with magical and alchemical double entendres.
This is from the introduction:
“Tra le piu antiche immagine-peniero, la Spirale e una delle piu profonde e misterose. Nella Spirale vi e il concetto del Lairinto, con la sua entrata e la sua uscita. Nel Labirinto, con la sua entrata e la sua uscita. Nel Labirinto vi e l’idea/senso della Vita, del”evoluzione individual e di tutta la Societa Umna. Dalle inciscioni megalitiche dei Celti a quelle dell’Africa Nera, dalle decorazioni Mayaa e Azteche a quelle Indu, Deva e Asura, sino all doppia spirale Cinese dello Yin-Yang, la Spirale ha expresso ed esprime l’esensione, lEmanazione, la sviluppo nella continuita, ciclica in una Rotazion Creativa. Qesta meravigliosa immagine Cosmica e simbolo del E’quilibrio nello squlibrio dell Ordine all ‘interno del Cambiamento, della Mutaione. Nella Spirale logritmica si ha la permanenza della forma nonsante la crescita assimetrica.”
The following is more or less a translation, via Google and Word:
“The Spiral is one of the most profound and mysterious images. In the Spiral there is the concept of the Labyrinth, with its entry and exit. In the Labyrinth there is the idea / meaning of Life, of the individual evolution and of the whole Human Society. From the megalithic incisions of the Celts to those of Black Africa, from the Mayan and Aztec decorations to the Hindu, Deva and Asura ones, up to the double Chinese spiral of Yin-Yang, the Spiral has expressed and expresses the extension, the Emanation, the development of a continuous cycle of a creative rotation. This is a wonderful cosmic image and symbol of balance within change. The spiral stays formed, notwithstanding its asymmetric growth.”
It would take me forever for me to retype the book and try to translate it, though I might do a bit here and there. This deck is supposed to be similar to Papus, Wirth, and Cagliostro, all of which conform with the scholarship of Eliphas Levi, whoever he is. I do have both a Papus deck and a Cagliostro, which might help. I imagine, if I continue my tarot studies, I’ll eventually be able to figure out some of the symbolism on my own. If not, I can simply use it like I do any tarot deck, referencing my own collected meanings for each card. (I’ve been keeping a notebook where I keep note the meanings of the cards from various sources, sort of a personal key to the tarot.)
Beyond the ludicrousness of including an instructional book that purportedly even modern Italians can’t read, there is another problem: the large cards make them difficult to shuffle, and the matte finish makes it hard to fan out the cards on a table to choose each day’s offering.
It’s still one of my favorite decks, despite all this, mostly because it seems like a quintessential tarot deck. Too bad it’s not going to be one I use frequently, because I have a duplicate deck in case I damaged the cards. Or perhaps I can sell the duplicate; after all, it is a collector’s item.
What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?
A fun book for not-so-fun times.
Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.