“…the Third Millennium is a new door to the future, opened after hundreds of other doors which have led us along the journey of mankind whose prehistoric graffiti contain the first step towards interstellar satellites. It is along this lengthy journey that we find ourselves again, our soul, our identity as people which have a vital need for spirituality and technology.” – From the companion pamphlet

Medieval iconography and bar codes, hidden puzzles with classic symbolism and web addresses—an unusual amalgamation, to be sure, especially for a Tarot deck!

Yet that is exactly what you’ll find in the Tarot of the III Millennium by Lo Scarabeo, illustrated by Iassen Ghiuselev. Skillfully rendered Majors in monochromatic shadings offer striking poses and unusual vantage points (I love the Hanged Man clutching a bowler hat and umbrella!). Unfortunately, the cover of the box is misleading, showing the Magician in full color. The Minor Arcana strain to tell a story—but the readers aren’t given a clue as to the characters, let alone the plot.

I’m the type of person who loves puzzles and mysteries, so the Tarot of the III Millennium beguiled. The companion pamphlet (not booklet) hinted to repetition of numbers, images and codes—mimicking the endless flow of information in modern times and humanity’s need to catalogue, mark and order. In fact, the companion pamphlet to this deck went so far to say that the fragmented images were each a part of another whole—related by some mysterious connection…or lack thereof.

So I spent a few hours with the Tarot of the III Millennium, attempting to piece together the disparate pieces of this elaborate enigma. Pretty much off the bat I saw that the Aces went together—and then got to working on the Minor suits (the Majors appear to be self-contained and rather traditional, although uniquely illustrated). I was able to piece together overlapping images for all of the Cups, but couldn’t find a place for the 9 of Cups. Could this mean something, per the pamphlet?

I then got to working on the Wands, and found two different pictures formed by the Fire suit, and the same for the Air suit of Swords. I tried to analyze the number patterns—but no meanings bubbled to my awareness. And the Coins? Only the 9 and 10 of the Earth suit seemed to go together.

The Minors seem to be telling some medieval tale of religious intrigue, poverty, subjugation and even war. But without knowing the players or the story, the images were essentially meaningless to me—both on their own as an original oracle or as a Tarot deck. Because the Majors, Minors and Courts are illustrated differently, it’s like “playing “with three different, unrelated decks.

The Minors are arranged quite unusually: blue ink drawings are coupled with small images of Tarot of Marseilles cards—the only indication to number and suit. Mathematical formulas, barcodes and other schematics also crop up among the nebulous “tale” attempting to be told by the deck creators.

Other than the mini-TdM images imbedded within the Minors, the only multi-hued imagery in the Tarot of the III Millennium is the Court cards. Web addresses on the Courts offer another peculiar motif: each URL ending refers to the specific functions of the Knaves, Knights, Queens and Kings. For example, the pamphlet says:

“The Knave represents something or someone with whom we have superficial but consequently practical relationships. The suffix ‘.com’ therefore indicates the world of business, negotiations, and publicity.”

The Knights are indicated by “.mil”, the Queens by “.net” and the Kings by “.org”, with the reasoning behind the attributions likewise given.

In addition to being the only polychromatic cards in the Tarot of the III Millennium (which, incidentally also portray mini-TdM counterparts within the main image), the Courts depict fantastical creatures performing unusual acts (like emerging from a cleric’s mouth or pouring drink down the mouth of a bald man encased in a wooden barrel). Even the humans don’t seem quite “right” in these cards.

Granted, the companion pamphlet to this deck *does* explain the rhyme and reason of the color choices and some of the symbolism. But I wondered if we are being toyed with considering the comment “…distinguishing the important from the irrelevant without clues or points of reference is so tiring and time-consuming”—because this echo my sentiments after working with the Tarot of the III Millennium.

The cards measure approximately 4-3/4 x 2-5/8 inches, and the backings are NOT reversible with their depiction of the Fool from this deck amid a schematic background of some sort.

The Tarot of the III Millennium is both ambitious and strange, which means that art deck collectors would probably enjoy having this deck for its sheer novelty. However, it’s not a working deck, in my opinion, nor one conducive to contemplation or personal growth—and certainly not a good choice for Tarot beginners.

Below are 12 images from this deck:

Here are a few pictures of the "puzzle":

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Tarot of the III Millennium - Iassen Ghiuselev