“Round Tarots were used to emphasize the concept of cyclicity that then evokes the concept of life. The cards, which are no longer limited to a geometry that establishes right side up or inverted figures, force the eye to focus on the centre of the figures, and therefore better understand the symbols and meanings to which they allude". – From the Circle of Life Tarot LWB
Egg and sphere, wheel and coin, circles embody the idea of containment and continuity. Through solar disks, halos and mandalas, the circle also symbolizes Divinity—the paradoxical essence of both everything and nothing. According to the L(ittle) W(hite) B(ook) of the Circle of Life Tarot, “the concave side of curves evokes feminine nature and reminds man of the nurturing protection of his mother’s womb” while the convex part “evokes the concept of growth and power represented by the nature of the male.”
While linked to the illusion of beginning and endings, the circular form also connects to fate and destiny—limitation and limitlessness—in mystical traditions. In his new book Transforming Fate into Destiny, author Robert Ohotto notes “that it’s in honoring your Divinely designed circumference that you’ll find your center, and through this that you can change the world.”
It is in this spirit that the Lo Scarabeo team has created a new rounded deck, the Circle of Life Tarot. Some individuals enjoy the rare rounded deck because it takes reversals out of the reading equation, while others enjoy the shape from an aesthetic standpoint. Like other Lo Scarabeo decks, this one also features the card name in six languages.
Insectile creatures, toothy amphibians, bat-winged humanoids, hybrid animals and other strange beings populate the Circle of Life Tarot. Many of the whimsical images flow along the confines of a circular border, rendering an unusually fresh vantage point not found in most traditional rectangular decks.
Many of the illustrations from the Circle of Life Tarot invite contemplation and stimulate speculation (who is the man in the 9 of Wands—and what’s on the ribbony paper he’s so closely inspecting? And why in the world would he have nine lit candles melting on the brim of his hat? The tiny woman in the 7 of Pentacles sitting among six colored eggs—what does she hope to catch with her beetle-baited fishing pole?), while others are just plain perplexing. What am I looking at? What could it mean?
Those who enjoy fanciful decks (e.g. fairies, elves and fantastical creatures) will likely have a predilection for the Circle of Life Tarot, as would collectors yearning for a circular deck. In my opinion, such an unusual deck begs for a full-length book rather than the fortune cookie phrases disguised as card “meanings” in the sparse LWB. I feel that Lo Scarabeo missed a great opportunity for adding a more universally appealing circular deck to the marketplace, unless they plan to produce more in the future.