The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot
Book: Marco Marini
Art: Luigi Scapini
The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot sums it all up in a nutshell through its title. The interpretations offered in the book by Kabbalistic scholar Marco Marini are based completely on the Kabbalah. Marini is both a scholar and a teacher. His vast knowledge shines forth in the guidebook. I have no background in Kabbalah and admit that I understand very little of it. A great deal of the guidebook, therefore, went right over my head. I’m happy to report that after experimenting with the deck off and on for several decks (something I do for all my deck reviews so I get to know the deck well prior to reviewing it) I have come to discover that the cards work well with the traditional RWS interpretations as well. So for those of you who learned Tarot card meanings from the likes of Eden Gray, Rachel Pollack, and others, you can use this deck with the card interpretations you have learned over the years. Mr. Marini also includes a divinatory interpretation of each card so a reader need not focus solely upon the Kabbalistic aspect of the deck and the deck can easily be used by someone who knows nothing of Kabbalah, such as myself.
As for the other half of the title, “Visions,” the artwork of Luigi Scapini is just that – visionary. No other word describes it, except perhaps “trippy.” It’s very trippy. I haven’t used that word in decades, but it nicely describes the art. The images are not just otherworldly, but they look very shamanistic in nature. I immediately thought of Graham Hancock’s wonderful book, Supernatural, which is about altered states of consciousness attained through trance – many of which were induced via the use of hallucinogens, shamanism, and the wondrous visions shamans receive on their journeys to the otherworld. There are illustrations in Hancock’s book drawn by actual shamans and the artwork of Scapini for The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot is very reminiscent of shamanic otherworld visions.
If you’re interested in simple renditions of the pips or an RSW clone you will find neither in The Kabbalistic Visions Tarot. What you will find in this deck is a visionary world of surreal images populated with characters and each cards’ Kabbalistic significance explained for those who wish to focus on that aspect of Tarot.
This is not your mother’s Tarot deck.
Scapini’s visions are surreal. The little white dog of the RWS Fool card has been replaced by a baby crocodile that chomps on the Fool’s left leg. The Magician appears in his traditional “as above, so below” pose,
but he points to a disembodied eye above a sun within a prism surrounded by four calla lilies. The Popess (aka High Priestess) is the famous Venus of Willendorf figure that dates to the Upper Paleolithic (28,000 – 25,000 BCE). She is depicted in black and spews milk from both nipples as she feeds her many blue and yellow babies to either side of her while two green primate-type creatures with erect phalluses face one another along the base of the image.
In a word, trippy, and that’s just the first three major arcana cards. The art is highly detailed and although the cards measure 3 ½” x 5 ½”, they each have a thick black border that measures approximately 5/8” on all four sides of the image. The image itself measures 2 3/8” x 4 3/8”. The paintings are created to look as though they have been painted upon ancient scrolls so the edges of each image is frayed with rips and tiny gaps and both ends are rolled under as though the image is on a scroll that has just been rolled open. Card titles appear on the base of each scroll and have been painted by the artist since the font is the same, but there are slight differences to show the titles were hand-created, which is a lovely touch that adds to the already unique personality of The Kabbalistic Vision Tarot. Each scroll is unique. The artist did not use a template. Painting the images to make them appear to have been painted on ancient scrolls is a very interesting idea that appeals to me, but I just wish the borders were more narrow so the artwork could be showcased at
slightly larger dimensions. The images have a lot of very interesting detail and if you really enjoy Tarot art as I do, I recommend you first view this deck with a magnifying glass so can see all the tiny nuisances of the imagery, some of which are really quite startling and thought provoking.
The packaging, as always from Schiffer, is strictly top-notch with a lovely hinged lid to the box that is also attached by white ribbon with a magnetic closure that allows the box to be stored standing on its end just like a book. There are two separate well-crafted recessed wells within the box; one for the guidebook and one for the cards. The deck’s guidebook is 256 pages and measures 5 5/8 x 7 5/8″. For each card a thorough discussion of the Kabbalistic imagery is included along with a simpler divinatory interpretation. The guidebook concludes with four spreads: The Kabbalistic Cross, The System of the Seven Cards, The Game of the Pyramid, and The System of the Twelve Cards. The book is paperback bound with nice, thick paper. Included is a nicely laminated poster that measures 14 X 20″ & is the definition of trippiness. Some details of the deck & the poster I do not consider suitable for children or even teens. My daughter took a look and freaked out. The cards have a thin yet sturdy laminate and are gilded in pewter. Word to the wise: do not shuffle these the first few times while wearing black pants unless you like glittery black pants. I thought it was a pretty cool effect myself.
If you are looking for a tarot deck that is unique and very different from the norm
whose imagery can help to create an altered state if you meditate upon it, then wonderfully unique and trippy Kabbalistic Visions Tarot is definitely the deck for you.
Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.