Heart Tarot - Maria Distefano
“It becomes immediately clear that the Tarot of the Heart is an uncommon deck dedicated to love, to sentiment, to feelings, to friendships, and to the bonds that each person develops with those around him. In reality, when we speak of love, there is the risk of imagining only romantic love; even if this is one of the more common and important forms of love, it is certainly not the only one.” – From the Little White Book to the Heart Tarot

An ambitious and innovative venture on behalf of Italian publisher Lo Scarabeo, the Heart Tarot pulses on the scene with what might be the first heart-shaped Tarot on the market.

With bold fire-truck red borders, these large cards measure approximately 4 ½ x 4 ½ inches at their widest with card names transcribed in six languages that surround the central image. The card backing is understandably non-reversible, with two lovers entwined in a yin-yang embrace.

Although difficult to shuffle (even hand-over-hand), the Heart Tarot presents whimsical, intriguing illustrations that have an Alice in Wonderland type feel to them (especially the checkered background of cards like the Knave of Swords) or perhaps a fairytale land peppered with lost humans, satyrs, unicorns, mermaids, gnomes and other fantastical creatures.

However, this isn’t just a pretty art deck. In fact, most of the images in the Heart Tarot cover big-picture archetypal themes that affect (or afflict?) humanity, as well as those daily occurrences so often fraught with joy, small favors, bewilderment, play, curiosity, art, friendship, romance, wistfulness, protectiveness, sensuality, decisions, betrayal, dreams, excess, discovery and so on.

Thus, unlike some fantasy decks, the majority of illustrations offer not only clear, accurate guidance for the “human stuff” of life, but also excellent inspiration and insight for creative endeavors.

Case in point: I was experimenting with a five-card character development spread found in Hal Zina Bennett’s outstanding book Write Starts. I’ve been working on a novel for over a year, and decided to take the Heart Tarot out for a spin with Hal’s Developing Characters Spread.

Well, let’s just say that I had such illuminating, surprising discoveries about my lead character using this spread that I used the Heart Tarot to perform yet another five-card spread for a second character!

I’ve also used the Heart Tarot for personal meditation and general one-card readings and it’s proven to be straightforward and spot-on.

The Minor Suits from this deck are Chalices, Pentacles, Wands and Swords, and the Court cards follow the Knave, Knight, Queen and King demarcation. The Little White Book is worse than useless in this particular case (as are most Lo Scarabeo LWBs). For example, the 7 of Wands card shows a bird’s eye view of a youth painting a red heart onto graph paper, colored pencils strewn about her. The LWB meaning given for this card? “Prosperity, opportunities. Solid ties, a long-desired love conquest. Gratifying emotional situations, intriguing and malicious (!) relationships.” (Exclamation mark mine.)

I guess I’ll never understand Lo Scarabeo’s decision to print original LWBs for decks that don’t match up with the card imagery. Don’t get me wrong, many of their LWBs, if not most, offer fresh, unusual interpretations—it’s just that they rarely correspond to the imagery, often diametrically opposed in both description and connotation.

But as seasoned Tarot enthusiasts know, LWBs are often a waste of trees anyway, so don’t hold this against the Heart Tarot (or any other deck, unless you’re a Tarot beginner needing and wanting consistency).

Although heart-shaped, I don’t feel this is a particularly romantic deck lending itself to relationship readings (although you could certainly use the Heart Tarot for that purpose). Rather, it’s a deck imparting whimsy and quiet nudges, perfect for creative inspiration, inner child explorations or uplifting contemplation. Its gentle, inventive illustrations by Maria Distefano offer unexpected revelations, so I think it would be a fine deck for any type of reading.

If you happen to get the Heart Tarot, make sure that you check to see if all the cards are there! My deck, which was still sealed in plastic, was missing four Major Arcana cards (Temperance, Devil, Tower and The Stars). After I contacted Llewellyn (American distributor for Lo Scarabeo), the customer service team was very helpful and apologetic, offering to send me the missing cards which they did speedily.

Both eye candy and heart candy, I highly recommend this most unusual deck, especially if you desire to see the world through the eyes of love and innocence.

Below are 18 images from the Heart Tarot:

Related Reviews
The Back in Time Tarot Book - Janet Boyer
Silver Era Tarot - Aunia Kahn
Shadowscapes Tarot - Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
ShadowFox Tarot - Richard and Jennifer ShadowFox
Twilight Realm A Tarot of Faery - Beth Wilder
Otherworld Tarot - Alison Williams and Sarah Nowell
Morgan's Tarot - Morgan Robbins and Darshan Chorpash
Shining Angels Tarot – Giuditta Dembech and Federico Penco
Imperial Dragon Oracle (Majors Only) - Andy Baggott and Peter Pracownik
Hallmark Tarot - Darla Hallmark
Hezicos Tarot - Mary Griffin
The Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night - Davide Corsi
Tarot of the Animal Lords - Angelo Giannini
Tarot of the Sweet Twilight - Cristina Benintende
Tarot of Dreams (Mass Market, Self Published Edition) - Ciro Marchetti
The Fairy Tale Tarot - Lisa Hunt
Legacy of the Divine Tarot - Ciro Marchetti (Llewellyn Publishing)
Tarot of the Magical Forest - Hsu Chi Chun and Leo Tang
Affirmations for the Everyday Goddess Deck (Majors Only) - Pamela Wells
Quantum Tarot - Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler
Golden Botticelli Tarot - A.A. Atanassov
Contemplative Tarot - Adriano Buldrini
Mayan Tarot
Rumi Tarot - Nigel Jackson
Legacy of the Divine Tarot (Self Published Edition) - Ciro Marchetti
Mythical Goddess Tarot - Sage Holloway and Katherine Skaggs
Paulina Tarot - Paulina Cassidy
Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set (Smith Waite Centennial Tarot)
Pirate Tarot - Lucas and Carrie Amodio; Liz "Galindorf" Harper
Langustl Tarot - Stephan Lange
The Transparent Tarot - Emily Carding
Tell-Me Tarot - Arik Eyal and Nir Cassuto
Trump L’oeil: Tarot of Portmeirion - Craig Conley
Undersea Tarot - Frank Fradella
Faerie Tarot - Nathalie Hertz
The Truth-Seeker's Tarot - David Fontana
Dark Grimoire Tarot - Michele Panco
Major Tom's Tarot of Marseilles
Touchstone Tarot Limited Edition - Kat Black
Deviant Moon Tarot - Patrick Valenza
The Alchemical Tarot Renewed - Robert M. Place
Pearls of Wisdom Tarot (First Edition) - Roxi Sim and Caeli Fullbrite
Tarot of the Angels - Arturo Picca and Giordano Berti
Circle of Life Tarot - Maria Distefano
Pictorial Key Tarot - Davide Corsi
Tarot of the Pirates - Bepi Vigna, Michele Benevento, & Arturro Picca
Lo Scarabeo Tarot - Mark McElroy and Anna Lazzarini
Fantastical Creatures Tarot - Lisa Hunt and D.J. Conway
Sorcerers Tarot - Antonella Castelli
Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot - Graham Cameron
Jean Noblet Tarot - Jean-Claude Flornoy
Vanessa Tarot - Lynyrd Narciso
Mystic Faerie Tarot - Linda Ravenscroft and Barbara Moore
UFO Tarot - Arturo Picca
Arthurian Tarot (2007 Version) - Caitlín and John Matthews
Sharman-Caselli Tarot - Juliet Sharman-Burke and Giovanni Caselli
Ancient Tarot of Lombardy - Ferdinando Gumppenberg (1810)
Ramses: Tarot of Eternity - Giordano Berti and Severino Baraldi
Tarot of the III Millenium - Iassen Ghiuselev
Egyptian Tarots Mini (Lo Scarabeo)
Spirit of Flowers Tarot -  Laura Tuan and Antonella Castelli
Lover's Path Tarot - Kris Waldherr
Hudes Tarot - Susan Hudes
Hermetic Tarot - Godfrey Dowson
Forest Folklore Tarot - Kessia Beverley-Smith
Napo Tarot - Betty Lopez and Napo
Easy Tarot Kit (Gilded Tarot) - Josephine Ellershaw
Crystal Tarot - Elisabetta Trevisan
Universal Fantasy Tarot - Paolo Martinello
Fantastical Tarot - Nathalie Hertz
Fenestra Tarot - Chatriya Hemharnvibul
Tarot of the Saints - Robert M. Place
Halloween Tarot - Kipling West
The Instant Tarot Reader (Zerner/Farber Deck) - Monte Farber and Amy Zerner
Tarot Discovery Kit (Zerner/Farber Deck) - Monte Farber and Amy Zerner
Medieval Enchantment - The NIgel Jackson Tarot
Victorian Romantic Tarot – Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov
Tarot of Oz - David Sexton
Maria Shaw's Tarot Kit for Teens - Maria Shaw
Tarot of the Dead - Monica Knighton
Tarot of Prague - Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov
Tarot of the Spirit World – Robert De Angelis
My Tarot: Colour Your Own Deck - Juliet Sharman-Burke
Llewellyn Tarot - Anna-Marie Ferguson
World Spirit Tarot - Lauren O'Leary and Jessica Godino
Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot - Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov
Animals Divine Tarot - Lisa Hunt
WorldTree Tarot - Ann Cass
Tarot of Reflections – Francesco Ciampi and Pietro Alligo
Tarot of Metamorphosis – M. Filadoro and L. Di Giammarino
Fairytale Tarot - Karen Mahony, Alex Ukolov, and Irena Triskova
Transformational Tarot - Arnell Ando
Da Vinci Tarot - Mark McElroy, Iassen Ghuiselev, and Atanas Atanassov
Rohrig Tarot - Carl-W. Rohrig
True Love Tarot - Amy Zerner and Monte Farber
Babylonian Tarot - Sandra Tabatha Cicero
Pagan Tarot - Gina Pace
Golden Tarot of Klimt - A.A. Atanassov
Bright Idea Deck - Mark McElroy
Archeon Tarot - Timothy Lantz
Housewives Tarot - Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum
Epicurean Tarot Recipe Cards - Corrine Kenner
Tarot of Dreams - Ciro Marchetti and Lee Bursten
Revelations Tarot - Zach Wong
Tarot of the Four Elements - Isha Lerner and Amy Ericksen
DruidCraft Tarot - Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm; Will Worthington
Gilded Tarot - Ciro Marchetti
Oracle Tarot - Lucy Cavendish
Golden Tarot - Kat Black
Tarot de Paris - J. Philip Thomas
Quest Tarot - Joseph Ernest Martin
Tarot Affirmations - James Ricklef
Lo Scarabeo Tarot Gallery Book
Tarot for Writers - Corrine Kenner
The Only Tarot Book You’ll Ever Need - Skye Alexander
In the Cards: Fame - Mariah Fredericks
Beginner's Guide to Tarot - Juliet Sharman-Burke and Giovanni Caselli
Wild Mercy: Tarot Inspired Musings - Elizabeth Cunningham
In the Cards: Love - Mariah Fredericks
Easy Tarot Kit - Josephine Ellershaw
Learning Tarot Spreads - Joan Bunning
The Everything Tarot Book (2nd Edition) - Skye Alexander
Tarot Discovery Kit - Amy Zerner and Monte Farber
The Instant Tarot Reader - Monte Farber and Amy Zerner
Llewellyn's 2007 Tarot Reader
21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card - Mary K. Greer
Absolute Beginner's Guide to Tarot - Mark McElroy
Maria Shaw's Tarot Kit for Teens - Maria Shaw
Tarot Tells the Tale - James Ricklef
Tarot Journaling - Corrine Kenner
Everyday Tarot: A Choice Centered Approach - Gail Fairfield
The Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume IV - Stuart Kaplan and Jean Huets
The 2-Hour Tarot Tutor - Wilma Carroll
Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled - Rachel Pollack
Llewellyn's 2006 Tarot Reader
Tarot Workbook - Juliet Sharman-Burke
Tarot for Life - Prospero
Tarot Tips - Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone
What's in the Cards For You? - Mark McElroy
Power Tarot: More Than 100 Spreads - Trish Magregor and Phyllis Vega
What Tarot Can Do For You: Your Future in the Cards - Barbara Moore

Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.