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The Boiardo 15th c Poem
Tarot history in brief

quotations from various people

Functions of Readings
What is Tarot?


Med. on XVIIII

Emily E. Auger

Tarot and Other Meditation Decks

L. Atkinson

Orphalese Software review

S. Arwen

Memory & Instinct

Kathy Berkowitz

Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 1)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 2)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 3)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 4)

Nina L. Braden

Tarot in Literature

David Brice

Birth of Tarot

Colin Browne

Square & Compasses Tarot

Lee A. Bursten

Journeys in Tarot Creation
Vachetta review


Review: The Lo Scarabeo Story

Ross G. Caldwell

Tarot History

Bonnie Cehovet

Tarology - Poetics of Tarot
Review: Secret of Tarot
The Mystereum Tarot

N. Chishty-Mujahid

Concerning Ghisi’s Laberinto

Craig Conley

A House of Tarot Cards

A.B. Crowther

Rachel Pollack interview

Jean-Michel David

On Paneurythmy and Tarot
Tarot's expression of the numinous
Yarker, Tarot & Arcane Schools
Waite-Smith Sun card
The Fool as Wandering Jew
Tarot as Christian Art
Education through Tarot
Tarot: the vatical & the sacral
Fortuna, Ass & Monkey
Steiner and Tarot
1701 Dodal restored!
Enc. Tarot vol I-IV: review
Christ, World & Sin
Caveat Emptor:
       Visual Tarot

Tarot & AlefBeit
Review: Jean Payen Tarot
Tarot and Freemasonry
I-Ching and Pip Cards
Whither directing your course?
Tarot & the Tree of Life
Ovid, Egypt and Tarot
When the Devil isn't the Devil
Four elements and the suits
Court Cards & MBTI
Certification & Codes
Jean Dodal Marseille
Conference FAQs
Golden Dawn
Kabalah & Tarot
Golden Tarot review
Annual spread
Iraqi Museum
Two Brief TdM reviews
Meditations on the Tarot

Enrique Enriquez

The Joy of Wordplay
J-C. Flornoy interview
Embodied Tarot
Indirect Suggestions
Whispering to the Eye

Mark Filipas

History of Egyptian Decks
Lexicon Theory

Jean-Claude Flornoy

in memorium
from Oral Tradition

Roxanne Flornoy

Children and Tarot
from Oral Tradition

Mary Greer

Killing the Thoth Deck
On the Tarot of the Four Worlds
Egypt, Tarot and Mystery School Initiations

William Haigwood

The Sixties: Counterculture Tarot

Alissa Hall

Parlour Tricks

Kris Hadar

The Tarot

Claas Hoffmann

Crowley-Harris 'Thoth' deck

Michael J. Hurst

Tarot Symbolism review

K. Frank Jensen

Century with the Waite-Smith

Shane Kendal

A Poetry of Tarot

Ken J. Killeen

The Metaphysical Bible

Barbara Klaser

Language of Tarot

E. Koretaka

Cardinal Virtues

Dovid Krafchow

Kabbalistic Tarot

Lisa Larson

Perceptions of Spirituality

Suzan E. Lemont

Therapeutic Tarot Work

Eric K. Lerner

Diloggun and Tarot

N. Levine

Tarot of Prague review

C. Liknaitzky

Journey in Ceramics

Joep van Loon

Tarot Wheel

Karen Mahony


S.J. Mangan

Fool, Alef & Orion

Robert Mealing

Petrarch’s Triumphs
Jean Noblet Tarot
Hunting the "true" Marseille Tarot
Cary Sheet

Fern Mercier

Playing the Fool

C. de Mellet

Inquiries into Tarot

Sophie Nusslé

Fantastic Menagerie

Robert V. O'Neill

Tarot Symbolism
Tower Iconology

Michael Owen

Xultun Tarot

Dan Pelletier

Magic Manga Tarot
the Blank Spot

Robert M. Place

The Fool's Journey

Debra Rosenthal

Looking at the Jacques Vieville

Mjr Tom Schick

Tarot Lovers Calendar

Inna Semetsky

Counseling Reading for Spouses
Learning the language of images
Re-Symbolization of Self
Tarot (dis)contents

Diana Sobolewska

'Bateleur's tale'

Russell Sturgess

Jesus's New Testament

N. Swift

Sufism & Tarot

Arthur E. Waite

Symbols of Tarot

Tarot of the Master

by Giovanni Vacchetta,
colored by Michela Gaudenzi

Review by Lee A. Bursten


The Bagat

Six of Coins

The Moon

The Queen of Swords


I was very intrigued by this deck when I first saw it. It was created in 1893 by Giovanni Vacchetta along decorative lines, not unlike the Classical Tarots deck also published by Lo Scarabeo. It’s an attractive deck, with expressive faces and interesting touches, such as the leopard on the Fool card, or the orthodontic Devil. But what’s really interesting about this deck are the tantalizing suggestions of esoteric content, such as the bat, lizard, star and snake decorating the Magician’s table.

Since this deck was created some 17 years before the Rider-Waite-Smith [RWS] deck, and in an environment presumably unconnected with Golden Dawn influences, one is left to wonder to what extent Vacchetta had anything more in mind than simply creating a decorative deck. This is especially apparent in the Minors, which are the most illustrated pip cards I’ve ever seen. In fact, they are so fully illustrated that I would categorize them as scenes. Some look as if they almost could have been included in the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck, such as the Nine of Cups. And many, although not all, seem to suggest fortune-telling meanings, such as the Nine of Swords, which, amazingly, shows a heart impaled by swords. And can it be entirely a coincidence that the Four of Wands shows a tree laden with fruit, which is certainly suggestive of the common R-W-S meanings of a happy home, celebration after labors, or harvest?

Lo Scarabeo has done an excellent job producing this deck. The coloring by Michela Gaudenzi is vivid yet sensitive. The cards are bordered by dark green, which richly complements the colors. And each card contains a keyword, discreetly placed running up the left border. Unlike past Lo Scarabeo decks, these keywords have been thoughtfully done and could be quite helpful in deciding what the Minor cards might signify.

Dealing with any creative work from a different culture can be very educational regarding the attitudes held by those who lived in that time and place. Unfortunately, this can have a negative side to it, when those attitudes are unacceptable from today’s standards. The King of Coins for this deck is pictured as, to quote the Little White Booklet, “a Jew intent on coining money”. I decided long ago that while one must understand that anti-Semitic novels, such as those of Dostoyevski or Edith Wharton, were products of their social milieu; that doesn’t mean I have to read them. Likewise, I’m certainly not going to put up with such things in a Tarot deck. Of course, many people will think I’m overreacting, so rather than make a recommendation, I’ll just invite my readers to look at the picture and decide for themselves. I don’t fault Lo Scarabeo for this, of course. In fact, they’re to be commended for making such an attractive and interesting deck available to the modern reader.


Lee A. Bursten is the creator of The Gay Tarot, and has been studying Tarot off and on for about 20 years. He enjoys reading about Tarot and searching for the “Perfect Deck,” which is always just around the corner but out of reach. He is very grateful to Michele and Diane for posting his reviews [at Tarot Passages], and especially to his significant other, Larry Katz, for his superhuman patience.

Tarot of the Master is available at

This review, reproduced with reviewer’s permission, first appeared on Tarot Passage’s website

Images are from the uncoloured 1893 Giovanni Vachetta edition, also recently reprinted


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Tarot of the Master

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