“The deck designed by Davide Corsi, under the supervision of Lo Scarabeo editorial team is the most recent and highly evolved representation of the Pictorial Key. Even though it is ostensibly simple and essential, the images, realized with modern painting techniques, are brimming with real and relevant symbolism, ideas, and intuitions that can be applied to various existential levels: ethical, meditative, divinatory and metaphysical.” – From the L(ittle) W(hite) B(ook) to the Pictorial Key Tarot
From the Italian artist who illustrated the Tarot of the Elves emerges a vibrant CGI deck firmly planted in Rider-Waite-Smith imagery—the Pictorial Key Tarot. Gleaming metal and pockmarked stone, smooth marble and rough-hewn wood interplay with luxurious fabrics, star-studded skies, rippling waters and billowy clouds, but at the center remains the familiar RWS cast of characters and symbols.
At first blush, the Pictorial Key Tarot resembles another black-bordered CGI deck: the Gilded Tarot. However, there are several differences between the two decks. In the Pictorial Key Tarot, no card names or suits grace the borders, only Roman numerals for the Major Arcana, numbers and suit symbols for the Minor Arcana, and emblems for the Court cards (i.e. a helmet for Knaves, horse head for Knights, and crowns for the Kings and Queens).
The Pictorial Key Tarot takes less interpretive risks than the Gilded Tarot with its conformity to RWS imagery, and thus lacks the unnecessary frills, filigrees and random planetary placement of the Gilded Tarot. Yet, stark it is not because although the Pictorial Key deck stays faithful to the RWS, there is enough fresh artistry to make this an interesting and appealing deck even to veteran Tarotists (for example, there is a menacing sea monster in the foreground of the Moon card rather than the traditional benign crustacean).
Although some of the faces appear slightly mannequin-like upon closer inspection, there is enough detail and character in the imagery to paint a well-rounded intuitive picture despite this drawback. There is full frontal nudity in the Lovers and The Star, so if you’re uncomfortable with anatomically correct renderings or if you read for children, you may want to consider those elements.
The cards measure approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inches with an attractive rose-cross emblem on back that is reversible. In addition to the deck-only version, you can order the Pictorial Key Tarot Deluxe which comes with a tan velvet bag embroidered with red oroborus motif and satin tassels.
Personally, I’m enjoying working with the Pictorial Key Tarot and have had great success with it for spiritual contemplation. I find it familiar, comforting and clear—a wonderful deck for obtaining lucid insights and encouraging personal growth.
Below are 12 images from the Pictorial Key Tarot. To see comparison images of the Gilded Tarot versus the Pictorial Key Tarot, click here.