“Using the Mayan Tarot means relating with primordial forces like time, water, and fire. It means understanding the profound fusion that they had with the jungle, with animal predators of the earth and sky.” From the Little White Book
Captured in authentic-looking imagery, the profundity and complexity of Mayan culture finds expression in Lo Scarabeo’s Mayan Tarot.
Measuring approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inches with an attractive border and understated reversible backing, the cards of the Mayan Tarot depict the agricultural, ritualistic, and spiritual mythos of this rich civilization.
Terra cotta plates (chalices), torches (wands), suns (pentacles) and lances (swords) represent the Minor Arcana suits. The Major Arcana cards are numbered, but not named, so readers may need to refer to the Little White Book to ascertain what god, goddess or belief is depicted in a particular image.
As with most Lo Scarabeo Little White Books, some of the interpretations are disjointed, nonsensical, or contradictory. With the Mayan Tarot, some of the card meanings offered are bizarre or downright chilling, which means the LWB would likely prove quite confusing (or frightening) to those new to Tarot.
For example, the 10 of Torches: “The screaming monkeys in the wild face off and imitate each other. This is how they dialogue.” Or the 3 of Lances: “The magic drug gives a mystical experience: in the vision instinct is followed and the synthesis of what is being sought is observed.” Such meanings wouldn’t provide much insight for those learning the Tarot or unfamiliar with Mayan culture.
However, artistically speaking, I think the Mayan Tarot is one of the finest decks dedicated to this oft-maligned and misunderstood civilization. If you happen to be interested in Mayan and other Central American cultures, do consider acquiring the Mayan Tarot. Because it’s Rider-Waite in style, those already familiar with Tarot—and who don’t mind minimally animated Minor Arcana—will likely be able to enjoy this deck out-of-the-box.