The DaVinci Tarot from Lo Scarabeo

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davincitarot.jpg I’ve been working with the Da Vinci Tarot (book by Mark McElroy, art by Iassen Ghiuselev and Atanas A. Atanassov, published by Lo Scarabeo) since it became available in 2005. Leonardo Da Vinci‘s work has always inspired others to create and to build upon his drawings and research, and this deck and book set is an excellent addition to the collection Da Vinci inspired projects. The art work is based on Da Vinci’s original drawings, with additions by Ghiuselev and Atanassov.

Da Vinci didn’t set out to create a Tarot deck; however, the artists and author combed Da Vinci’s notebooks for drawings and ideas which could be adapted to the Tarot, and did an admirable job of it. If you’re not familiar with Da Vinci’s line drawings, this deck will likely encourage you to seek them out. A good painter has to be good at drawing, and Da Vinci’s line drawings, many of them sketches for his famous paintings, are excellent. The two artists show great respect for Da Vinci’s work, and their additions to the drawings are not at all noticeable, unless you happen to know the original piece they adapted.

McElroy’s book is an excellent example of what the book in a book and deck set should be. He starts with a brief, but informative, overview of the history of Tarot, and of Da Vinci’s life and work. In following chapters, McElroy explains the philosophy behind the creation of the deck, and how Da Vinci’s work is well-suited to adaptation to many purposes.

The next chapter is devoted to working with the particular deck, and creative approaches to Tarot reading. The book includes two spreads, a Pentacle Spread based on Da Vinci’s drawing Vitruvian Man, and an Insight and Inspiration Spread based on Da Vinci’s diagram for a flying machine.

The final chapter, which is actually most of the book, is a commentary on each of the cards in the deck, including notes on the illustrations. For each card, McElroy lists what the card encourages, what it cautions against, general commentary, and exploration questions to consider as you work with that card. The exploration questions in particular are excellent for refreshing one’s thinking about the image and the symbols in the card. This is especially helpful in dealing with the “difficult” cards, such as the Tower (“How can I incorporate and make the best use of setbacks?”) and the 10 of Swords (“How can I make a decision and be done with this situation?”).

This deck is an excellent choice for anyone, as it inspires the reader to examine the traditional cards in a different way. I especially recommend it for readers who feel they’ve hit a plateau with their work and are looking for a fresh take on the cards. The exploration questions for each card will keep you busy for weeks, if not months, and your understanding and experience of the cards will be much richer and more meaningful for you and for your client.

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