Tarot of Reflections – Francesco Ciampi and Pietro Alligo
“This game of reflections causes us to immerse ourselves in the complexity of reality, not so that we become disoriented but rather to help us better understand ourselves and our fellow man.” – From the companion booklet

Tarot of Reflections is a thoroughly funky deck, with gorgeous coloring, exquisite line drawings, and stark imagery. Most of the cards feature a reflection of some sort—below, above, or beside the central image.

Cards such as the Queen of Wands, 5 of Pentacles, Knave of Pentacles, 10 of Wands and Queen of Swords project a Goth-like vibe.  With their green hair (or green flesh!), some characters seem eccentric (the Knaves look as if they’re in drag) and perhaps otherworldly. Yet, they clearly reflect the human spirit whether in celebration (4 of Wands), contemplation (3 of Wands), exasperation (2 of Pentacles), defeat (5 of Swords), or self-satisfaction (9 of Chalices).

Saturated in vibrant hues, most of the illustrations follow Rider-Waite-Smith imagery, but some—such as Strength and the 4 of Swords—do not. However, after reading the Little White Book (which isn’t worthless like most of them), the meanings become clear. For example, the 4 of Swords shows a man breaking free from chains—or is he being held back by some force? The description of this card says, “Too much activity tires the body; too many interests debilitate the mind; too many enemies weaken the psyche. You must limit your efforts.”

Tarot of Reflections uses traditional RWS card names, but the Courts are Knave, Knight, Queen, and King. Justice is Trump 8 while Strength is Trump 11, and the Minors suits are Chalices, Pentacles, Wands, and Swords. The cards measure approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inches, the card title is in six languages around the border (discreetly), and the backs feature a fully reversible motif (mirror images of the Moon card in various shades of green).

I love the all-too-human expressions on several of the cards. The 5 of Swords shows a woman clad in a sleeveless, gossamer dress—one hand bandaged, the other inside a boxing glove, and an eye swollen and bleeding. She looks like she’s about to say something, and I can almost here her say “Crap…I should have just walked away.” Interestingly the LWB says “…the most bitter defeat is the one that could have been avoided.”

On the 9 of Chalices card, a man sports a ruddy nose and cheeks, traditional indications of alcoholism. His bare belly protrudes onto his lap and his flaccid chest sag onto folded arms. (Get this guy a bra!) He may be making money off the vices of others (there’s an overflowing bag of coins in the background), but you can be sure he’s partaken of the liquid fire, too.

The partially clothed woman in the 5 of Coins is missing some teeth, and she appears to be in a stone room—perhaps a basement. Food is on the floor, her mouth is agape, and her hand runs through her hair. Is she a prisoner? Is she mad? Is she desperate and destitute?

The Tarot of Reflections does indeed reflect the gamut of human experiences, and does so in unexpected, unusual ways. This would be an excellent deck for journaling and self-reflection, but it’s a solid reading deck, as well. Deck collectors will no doubt want to get this deck because of the unusual line drawings and depictions by Francesco Ciampi and Pietro Alligo. There is full frontal nudity in this deck (The Star et. al.), so if you’re skittish about nudity for any reason, you’ll want to steer clear.

This deck engaged my senses from the beginning, and I look forward to getting to know this deck even better—especially for spiritual and personal contemplation.

Below are 10 images from this deck:

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