2012 Tarot of Ascension - Michelle Penco and Pierluca Zizzi
“The beginning of the new millennium will see the symbolic date of 2012 as the inexorable death of the ‘old world’ and the dawning of this new era. The Tarot of the Ascension allows us to relate to the leap of knowledge and to understand how our spiritual evolution should proceed…The Querient [sic] who uses this Tarot must be prepared to ask important existential questions about his or her method of seeking a mystical path…” – From the Little White Book to the 2012 Tarot of Ascension

Aesthetically speaking, one of my absolute favorite Tarot decks flowed from the paintbrush of artist Michele Penco: the Dark Grimoire Tarot. When I saw her name attached to another Lo Scarabeo deck (2012 Tarot of Ascension), immediately I put it on my Amazon Wish List (even though I’d have to wait months for it to be published!).

When the 2012 Tarot of Ascension finally releases into the world, I couldn’t wait to open my deck and see how this talented artist rendered and interpreted the energy (and hoopla) surrounding the year 2012.

Card after card, I examined the art and the “feeling” I got from each.

Disappointment crept in. Why didn’t the 2012 Tarot evoke the same feelings of awe as the Dark Grimoire Tarot? I looked to the box, and discovered that there was another name attached to the 2012 deck (that wasn’t listed when I put it on my Wish List): Pierluca Zizzi.

I don’t know the extent of the collaboration, or how the second artist may have affected Penco’s renderings. But I will say that the 2012 Tarot doesn’t have the symbolic depth and color contrast of the Dark Grimoire Tarot.

Like most Lo Scarabeo decks, the 2012 Tarot of Ascension measures 4 ¾ x 2 ½, with Minor suits Pentacles, Chalices, Swords and Wands and the Court cards Knave, Knight, Queen and King. The front border provides the card name in six languages, and the card backing features a non-reversible image (a bright star fixed above a tree-dotted plain).

And, as is almost always the case with Lo Scarabeo Tarot decks, the interpretations offered in the Little White Book to the 2012 Tarot of Ascension bear little or no resemblance to actual card imagery.

A distracting, unnecessary aspect of the card imagery lies with the placement of large suit symbols among the central illustration. For example, the 6 of Pentacles shows six large coins with faces surrounding the central figure. In the 8 of Swords, a lone figure traversing a cobbled road faces two animalistic creatures. However, eight swords placed all around the scene distracts from projection and evaluation and, thus, any helpful interpretation.

Most scenes from the 2012 Tarot of Ascension lack intriguing composition and unusual elements, let alone references to 2012 (including absence of any Mayan symbolism or ethnicity—that I could detect, anyway).

Most of the Majors are very well done—the best cards in the deck, in my estimation. In fact, I love the Death card, which shows a huge grim reaper on a stage, pulling aside a curtain to reveal spiraling galaxies and celestial wonders while tiny humans fret over mundane matters. But the Aces are outright bizarre and most of the Minors are just too non-descript (for example, the 7 of Swords merely shows a close up of a woman’s face—not much expression on her visage—surrounded by seven swords)—although, admittedly, some of them do follow Rider-Waite iconography.

In the 2012 Tarot of Ascension, we don’t see Mayan imagery (the people who created the calendar that “stops” at 2012), nor do we see any New Age imagery that points to practices or abstractions of ascension “energy” (celestial beings, crystals, energy, etc.).

I have to wonder if Lo Scarabeo is attempting to take advantage of “hot” cultural and spiritual topics by naming decks “Sweet Twilight” (movie) and “2012” (impending year of spiritual import to some), even though the actual imagery has nothing to do with the references.

If you love what you see in the 2012 Tarot of Ascension online imagery, then maybe this deck will be a good fit for you. For me, I was quite disappointed at plunking down my money on a deck that lacked the quality of Penco’s Dark Grimoire Tarot, as well as any spiritual depth for those “existential” questions the LWB claims to offer seekers.

Below are 18 images from the 2012 Tarot of Ascension:

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