“In a world that is increasingly alienated by the struggle for power, by a love of money, and by a yearning for fame, the Angel Tarots [sic] can be guides, almost like a spark of light during dark times, and to find your way amidst confusion.” – From the L(ittle) W(hite) B(ook) to the Tarot of the Angels
Heralded as special agents of the Divine, angels appear in sacred texts, literature, art, mythology and movies. These beings deliver messages to humanity, as well as bring solace, guidance and protection. Some individuals believe that the angelic realm consists of “good” and “bad” angels (often called demons), while others feel that these powerful creatures manifest only light and love.
With lively imagery, artist Arturo Picca displays a wide variety of angelic beings in Tarot of the Angels. From warrior angels to playful cherubs, dark entities to humble servants of humanity, a myriad of vocations and persuasions find expression in this ethereal deck.
As I began to examine each of the cards from this deck, my first impression was that the artwork looked rather crude and unappealing. However, by the time I came to the Hanged man, I realized that this deck had something significant to offer.
I continued to study the imagery from each card and found myself inexplicably choked up, perhaps graced in that moment by a Divine presence. This stirring was certainly not maudlin (I’ve never been particularly attracted to angel art), but seemed to be a spontaneous and unconscious reaction to the Tarot of the Angels, especially the Chalices.
For example, The Devil card shows a seated horned, winged creature with his hands on two heads—which are actually part of the armrest. Even if one didn’t believe in literal possession or even demons, the illustration aptly depicts the destructive compulsion of unexamined thoughts and cultural spells. While “the devil” may not have made someone do “evil” deeds, how much of the world’s cruelty finds its roots in prejudice and ignorance—two conditions under the aegis of The Devil.
Speaking of roots, the Knight of Pentacles is one of my favorite cards in the Tarot of the Angels deck. A knight bedecked in heavy armor sits upon a plodding horse. A dark angel hovers over tangled, barren roots encompassing the back half of the horse and reaching past the head of the seated rider. Meanwhile, a white angel near the front of the horse appears to be pushing back the stagnant, twisted vines as if attempting to free the Knight of Pentacles from a permanently snarled state. What an inventive way to portray inertia, shortsightedness (the helmet barely has slits for the eyes!) and clinging to the past. (In hand writing analysis and other traditions, the left hand side indicates the past, although I don’t know if this detail was intentional or not.)
While many of the actual card meanings are quite insightful and inspirational, especially if your path invokes and reveres angelic beings, the LWB presents a decidedly dualistic, patriarchal spirituality. Therefore, if your religious path leans towards an omniscient male deity, good versus evil, punishment for “bad” behavior, harmful entities, reward for playing nice and upholding “truth” and “justice”, then you may find theological value in Giordano Berti’s text.
If you’re looking for an angel-themed deck that isn’t airy or exclusively New Age positivism, you may want to give Tarot of the Angels a try. The imagery invites speculation and contemplative musings, as well as story possibilities, intuitive insight and spiritual comfort (and perhaps warnings?) from a host of angelic messengers.
Below are 13 images from this deck:
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