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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

Magic Manga Tarot

Dan Pelletier

I had a problem with reviewing the Magic Manga Tarot.

It kept reviving the ‘What is Tarot’ topic, a topic commonly bandied about on the electronic forums.

Then there was an evening here a while back when I sat with Robert Place discussing, “What is Tarot”. With his knowledge of symbolism, it was a great in depth discussion. I had a difficult time keeping up.

My inability to ‘keep up’ was further enhanced by my dabbling in Manga and Anime based Tarot, an appreciation for the Asian Tarot market. There’s that question I like to ask people, “If River Tam used a deck, what would it look like?” I like to move Tarot out into the future, when man lives amongst the stars. Add five hundred years to the calendar. What does Tarot look like?

We have expectations; we have ideas and concepts about what Tarot is. It has certain symbols, placed in certain orders, many predating A.E. Waite’s sweeping influences.

Back in 1970, David Palladini produced the Aquarian Tarot. Some images lacked the expected symbology, instead depending on character pose and expression to convey the elementary emotions that the symbols that we count on would project if they were present. It was the dawn of the Character Driven Tarot.

Then a few years back, something even more unexpected occurred.

Tarot began to sweep like a grass-fire across Asia.

There are myths that Europeans have created for and about Tarot. Although we’ve tried to correct them during the last thirty years, they have begun to sprout as facts, in the Asian markets. Some Asian Tarot books include (with new experts and photographs) the revelation that Tarot comes from Ancient Egypt….

Western symbols don’t carry the same meanings or weight in Asia. Asian numerology and astrology developed with differences. And some things don’t translate well, variances occur, changes occur in both directions of translations.

When I first began to explore Asian Tarots a few years back, I was at once captivated and shocked by the imagery. The Clamp X featured pictures slapped onto seventy-eight cards willy-nilly, with complete disregard for traditional ‘card meanings’ regarding suit, numbers, placement in a sequence.

But let’s not get too excited yet. Not all Asian Tarots are character driven. Some pay very close attention to accepted Western symbology and meanings. Some (the Derakkusu ban Hihou Tarot is an excellent examle) pay such a dedicated homage to western numerology, that westerners often fail to understand the subtlety, which may be closer to Ikibana than standard pip arrangement.

Evan Yi Feng’s Lunatic Tarot mirrors WCS in a specific manga art style.

Some folks go on about the Tarot Archetypes and ‘bringing them (the Archetypes) into our lives.

An ‘archetype’, and more accurately an archetypal image, by definition is an image that ‘means’ the same thing regardless of cultural interpretation.

Eastern Archetypal Imagery makes us rethink such statements.

They (the images) do not stand-alone and plainly convey the intended emotive reaction. Either images are not archetypal, or they do not fit the meanings, or our definition of Tarot is too narrow and restrictive.

One could make the mistake of assuming that Asian deck designers are careless by looking only at decks such as the Full Metal Alchemist and Clamp X.

The Magic Manga is a deck that will convince the astute user that our current definition of Tarot is far too narrow.

The Trumps are somewhat reminiscent of traditional western trumps, Strength is a stern looking woman either wrapped in a lion-skin or embraced by a lion (numbered in the continental fashion as XI), the Hierophant bows behind a Japanese cenotaph, the Fool is in Motley….

Some make us stretch our minds; Temperance holds a pendulum – and has both a black and white wing, the Hanged Man is enveloped in spider webs, the Devil shows only the victim sporting wrist restraints, and the Empress trims a rose standard.

The minors contain some vast variances.

The Two of Wands displays for us a stern teacher mid-sentence, the Two of Swords has a nurse displaying two scalpels, the Five of Wands shows a tightrope walker, the Four of Cups an indifferent ship captain, the Eight of Cups a woman in mourning, the Five of Cups a scientist mid-experiment who has just had a florence flask shatter.

Now each of these images actually illustrates the accepted standardized modern meanings. But each does so in a method that makes sense to the western mind with study and some pretty free-form thought association.

The Five of Cups makes sense when one considers there are levels of ‘disappointment’, or spilled milk. There are different types of leaving for the woman in the Eight of Cups, but what about that Four of Cups?

Take a look at the Four of Cups in the WCS. Three cups sit in the same configuration as the man’s contact with the ground. Three points of contact, a tripod. A fourth cup is introduced. But above. Like the man’s head that rests above the three points of contact. This is actually an illustration of the Z-axis, or three-dimensional geometry. This is something that man would have noticed once he began sailing. It is the first instance of human evolution where the Z-axis becomes crucial (awareness keeps one from capsizing).

The two scalpels for the Two of Swords? The aspect usually overlooked in the WCS Two of Swords is that of mastery. To sit with two swords at the ready while blindfolded implies a certain mastery with swords.

The Magic Manga is created in a warm and soothing palette. The deck and LWB are in Deutsch, Français, English, and Español.

“The cards should look like vintage prints. Thus the color parts are even (no soft gradients, structures or painted-like surfaces) and partially decorated with patterns. In order to avoid too bright, colorful and mawkish cards, I decided to use only four slightly discreet colors (winered, bottle-green, pale yellow and dark grey-blue) and mixed them and added some pattern” says Viviane, who drew the Tarot art in the style of Kaori Yuki (of Angel Sanctuary fame).

I really really like it. It could be a new benchmark for Asian Tarot art. It could have a few cards that five hundred years from now – would appear on a Tarot deck out in the black, where constellations no longer exist, and Earth is far behind, only legends of the old exist.


2 comments to

Magic Manga Tarot

  • Fangirl

    I know this is a little old, but I wanted to stop in and say the X/1999 Tarot deck by CLAMP is probably a knock-off; they made an actual (but incomplete) set that was sold, card by card, with individual volumes of the manga as it was released. The full set you can buy on eBay includes some of their actual cards, and random artbook pictures for the rest.

    What they’ve actually done is viewable here and they have a much more recognizable iconography than the most-likely-a-knockoff deck on eBay (which I own and, being familiar with the series, some of the, erm, untraditional cards actually make sense in context if you know who the characters are or what the story event in the picture is).

  • You would not believe how long ive been looking for something like this. Scrolled through 7 pages of Google results couldnt find diddly squat. First page of bing. There was this…. Really have to start using it more often!

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