“In these tarot cards created by Martinello, the ancient symbols are reinterpreted, using the imaginary world of Fantasy literature. Every icon refers to a universe where elements of the medieval world merge with others that belong to myth and fantasy, taking on mew meanings, but maintaining ancient content and symbolism.” – From the LWB
When I saw some sample cards online from the Universal Fantasy Tarot, I was mesmerized. I loved the bold colors and unusual depictions—and felt confident that I would love this deck. So I pre-ordered it through Amazon.com and when I got it in my hands, was *blown away* at the stunning artwork on this deck! Truly, I haven’t seen anything like it. Aesthetically speaking, I believe it to be the most beautiful deck I’ve ever seen. And my husband, an artist, agrees! He’s fawned over the Universal Fantasy Tarot ever since it came in the mail. He even went so far to say that he feels most—if not all—of the cards in this deck could be framed and hung with pride in our living room.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase “fantasy art”, I tend to think of the gaudy, revealing covers of sci-fi paperbacks—or the half-nude She-Ra’s entwined around the legs of a dragon ala artists like Boris Vallejo. (And let me tell ya, that ain’t my idea of good art…)
So I was thrilled to discover that the Universal Fantasy Tarot features gorgeous jewel-tone hues, fantastical creatures, unusual elements (such as body armor comprised of a many-windowed castle!), and incredible detail work. Sumptuous, flowing garments swirl and cascade around bodies (the icy blue gown on the Queen of Swords is *amazing*!), and Martinello’s re-interpretation of Tarot symbology is astounding.
For example, a huge, elongated headdress crowns The Empress—but it’s supported by what looks to be a steel pole. When I first saw this image, I thought the headdress looked like a stylized brain (trust me—it’s not gruesome!)…and how the “brain” and logic of The Emperor brings support and balance to the emotional subjectivity of The Empress.
When I saw the 6 of Cups—which features a winged creature that looks rather like a feathered snail, with two children atop its shell…”fishing” for a lost cup that fell in the water—I couldn’t help but think “trying to retrieve something lost in the past”. And the 9 of cups? A yawning dragon-like creature (clad in what looks to be a smoking jacket!) seems to stumble out of a hangover fog while nine lamps burn inside golden cups. Has this party animal been burning the midnight oil in a drunken indulgence, perhaps?
From the distressed Hanged Man suspended by a bird high above the Earth’s atmosphere, to the elegant Knave of Chalices accompanied by an equally exotic companion (a floating, human-sized fish who breathes air!)—each dynamic image from the Universal Fantasy Tarot will draw you in, capture your imagination, spark intuitive insights, and enrapture you with its profound beauty. Whether you’re a deck collector or a storyteller, a Tarot reader or a journaling seeker, the Universal Fantasy Tarot will almost surely surpass your expectations—and make you thankful that you have eyes to behold it.
(Note: While it’s easy for me to gush about this deck’s beauty, I suppose I should include some minutia: the attractive, futuristic backs are fully reversible, the Minor Suits are Chalices, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles, and the Court Cards follow the Knave, Knight, Queen, and King rendering. And does it “read” well? You bet ya! I performed a few readings and they’ve been uncannily insightful.)
Below are 10 images from the Universal Fantasy Tarot:
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