Tarot de Paris - J. Philip Thomas
"The Tarot de Paris is the progeny of a twenty-one-year gestation period, compiled from more than 3,500 photographs taken during hundreds of miles of trekking back and forth across the city. Even as I complete this phase of this work it is difficult to grasp all that has transpired from one brief phantasm on an escalator, beneath a statue, on my first day in Paris. From that experience I now understand that life can teach in a moment what our socio-reality will not admit in a lifetime." -- J.Philip Thomas, creator of Tarot de Paris

The vision for Tarot de Paris came unexpectedly. On a windy, March morning in 1981, J. Philip Thomas was walking on the Champs-Elysées on his first-ever trip to France. Wanting to avoid the onrush of tourists, he made his way to the Louvre via the métro. As he exited, he felt the warmth of the sun on the back of his neck. Turning towards the heat, he became momentarily stunned by an intense light that was streaming out through a wreath held high by a female statue, riding in a horse-drawn chariot that seemed to be leaping right off the façade of the building.

Thomas then has a supernatural vision of all the Major Arcana cards as a sequence of statues, located somewhere in Paris. (This was his first trip to France, mind you.) Somehow, he knew that he should immediately stop whatever else he was doing and set to work on finding and photographing these statues. The resulting images would then be assembled, by photomontage, as the cards of a tarot deck. The Tarot de Paris is the result of that amazing vision.

This gorgeous deck features 78 cards presenting a dazzling array of classic and contemporary art and architecture found in Paris. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, with many of them re-named as follows:

Fool - The Source
Magician - Initiation
High Priestess - The Veil
Empress - Nature
Emperor - Order
Hierophant - The Awakening
The Lovers - Harmony
Justice - Equilibrium
Hermit - The Recluse
Wheel of Fortune - The Sphinx
Strength - Presence
Hanged Man - The Question
Death - The Crossing
Temperance - Alchemy
The Devil - Energy
Judgment - The Angel
The World - The Universe

The Minor Arcana is divided into the suits of Water, Air, Fire, and Matter. For the Court Cards, Queen and King are retained but two additional Courts have been created: Stallions and Spirit. The back of the cards feature the Rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral transposed on a black background. Because the image isn't centered, however, you will be able to tell reversed cards. Card dimensions are approximately 5.5 X 3.5 inches. The deck is accompanied by a fully illustrated book of 240 pages which details the meanings of the cards, as well as a number of new readings devised just for this set. Also included is a silk cloth for laying out the cards.

I highly recommend the Tarot de Paris, especially if you're an enthusiast of architecture, sculpture, art, and the City of Lights.

Thomas has added a new card called to the Majors called The Spinner, but it's not available as part of the deck. Below are 12 images from the Tarot de Paris:

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