“The Tarot of the Spirit World is designed for exploring the boundary between the world of reason and that of emotions, that Middle-earth where shadows come to life and our unconscious universe takes shape, even if fleeting and often illusory.” – From the publisher
The Tarot of the Spirit World is an unusual and unique deck that portrays various types of spirits as they intersect with humanity. These spirits are divided into five categories:
• Major Arcana – Gods and higher demons
• Wands/Fire – The lower demons (lemurs) which symbolize fears, obsessions, passions and faults
• Chalices/Water – Kind hearted spirits which appear as benevolent apparitions and influences
• Swords/Air – Angels, custodians and judges of human actions
• Pentacles/Earth – Spirits of ancestors and forefathers
The card backings, mirrored reflections of The Star, are fully reversible. The Court Cards follow the Knave, Knight, Queen and King ordering and Justice is Trump 8 while Strength is Trump 11.
As with most Tarot decks produced by Lo Scarabeo, Tarot of the Spirit World is accompanied by a 63-page Little White Book with card interpretations in five languages. (Only 14 of those pages are in English, so the card interpretations are very brief.) Because of this limitation, there isn’t much information provided on the mythology of the deck, which is unfortunate.
Although the meanings are brief, they are not trite. Instead, we are offered profound observations for our consideration and contemplation. This, along with the fresh, unusual imagery, provides an excellent canvas for projecting hopes, fears, and questions.
I found quite a few cards of interest, and one in particular makes me laugh out loud: The Hierophant depicts a papal figure with a mitered headdress, while a canine, gargoyle-like figure in the background appears to be licking a bone. However, every time I look at this card, I see the gargoyle making a gagging gesture with the bone. As one who has come out of a rigid religion, I can’t help but chuckle—especially since such narrow mindedness metaphorically “makes me gag”!
The 6 of Wands, usually a card of victory in the Tarot, finds an alternative expression in the Tarot of the Spirit World: a girl looks out of a window made up of wands while a grinning devil on the other side flashes her a grin of triumphant glee. The meaning is “Defeat is not always a loss. Sometimes it is an unhoped-for salvation.” The interpretation in itself provides food for thought, but when I see this image, I can’t help but think “What price to pay?” and “To what degree am I capable—and willing—to sell out for advancement, accomplishment, or comfort?” Because the Wands can deal with issues of the self, this kind of ambiguous imagery provides a whole host of interpretive possibilities! (Although, admittedly, the scarlet demons of the Wands take a bit of getting used to in this deck!)
However, some cards don’t seem to match the suit/number, nor the interpretation found in the LWB. For example, the Queen of Pentacles shows a woman in modern clothes next to a crystal ball, eyes shut in a meditative pose. My first thought is that this would better fit the Queen of Cups; however, the meaning in the booklet is more than a little confusing: “Greed is often a legacy that arrives from afar, the child of a removed absence.” Riddle me this, Batman, but what in the heck does *that* mean—and, moreover, what in the world does it have to do with the card image?!
If you can take the Tarot of the Spirit World on its own unique merits, I feel it’s a good deck for contemplation, journaling, and personal growth. Many times, it sheds light on divinatory meanings, too.
I’ve used this deck for several personal readings and the message has always been straightforward and right on target. However, despite its good points, it’s not a deck that I’d like to work with, especially since a few of the images don’t seem to connect in any way with the suit, number, or LWB meaning. Perhaps having insight about the mythology of the paintings would remedy my misgivings, but since Lo Scarabeo rarely publishes companion books of substance to accompany their often-intriguing decks, I only have the deck and LWB to make my assessment.
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