“Before providing allegorical elements, the drawings of the Crystal Tarot offer an atmosphere, a sequence of sensations which are communicated to the reader through observation of each card...The image is like poetry in this deck: to use and interpret it, we must trust our inner poetry.” – From the LWB
If stained glass windows were broken into curvilinear shards and re-assembled to reflect the Art Nouveau style, you’d have the distinctive Crystal Tarot by Lo Scarabeo. Painted by Elisabetta Trevisan, green and blue hues softly dominate the cards, while textured yellows, oranges and reds add understated contrast.
Loosely based on the art of Viennese painter Gustav Klimt, this 78-card deck boasts intricate detailing in the Major Arcana with lovely geometric patterning and flowing lines among the non-illustrated Minors. The diverse, expressive Court Cards follow the Knave, Knight, Queen and King arrangement, and Justice is Trump 8 while Strength is Trump 11.
There is so much depth to the Majors—I feel I could step right into the card and enter this unusual world created by Ms. Trevisan. One of my favorite cards is Justice, where a stunning robe of electric magenta cascades over the Lady holding the sword and the scales. And the Strength card? The patient, persevering woman—both hands on the head of a feisty lion— looks at us as if to say “I’m tying to hold this together—but how much longer?!”
Imbued with personality, the Court cards are exceptional. The King of Pentacles sits among craggy rocks, almost at one with the cavernous landscape. I especially love the Knave of Swords, who rests his hands on the hilt of his weapon, looking downward at the chessboard upon which he stands.
I bought the Crystal Tarot based on an online review that showed only four Majors and two Aces. While the Majors are stunning, my heart fell when I saw the Minor Arcana. While a few of the Minors are quite clever—the 3 of Pentacles portrays glyphs of the three Earth signs (Virgo, Taurus and Capricorn) embossed on the coins—most of the numbered cards are unremarkable. In fact, the 7, 9 and 10 of Cups are *identical* except for the additional cups—which seems unfortunately lazy to me.
Some elemental motifs pop up unexpectedly, without seeming rhyme or reason, such as water/Moon symbols among the Swords Courts and butterflies among the Chalices Courts.
As you may know, most LWB are practically useless, but this one is especially confusing. For example, the Majors aren’t named beside the brief interpretation, but rather a keyword (e.g. Will for Magician, Stability for Emperor, Prudence for The Hermit and Energy for The Wheel), and some of the phrasing—enigmatic. For example, the introduction to the Swords states: “Faced with Swords, we are in the cold world of the mind and intellect where everything is connected to something else until magnificent but sad geometries are formed.”
Suffice to say, the Crystal Tarot is not a good deck for beginners! If you like the Art Nouveau style, you may want to add the Crystal Tarot to your collection as an art deck. It’s regrettable that the Minors aren’t fully illustrated, but if you like Marseilles-like decks, you may not mind this at all.
Below are 10 images from the Crystal Tarot:
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