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REVIEW: UNIVERSAL GODDESS TAROT BY MARIA CARATTI &ANTONELLA PLATANO

UNIVERSAL GODDESS TAROT

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

MARIA CARATTI uses Tarot, runes, I Ching and a crystal ball for divination, she also deals with magic and focuses on the cult of the Great Goddess, paganism and spells. She is the author of Wheel of the Year Tarot and Wicca Divination Kit and has also collaborated in the development of Secret Forest Tarot and Harmonious Tarot decks. She lives with cats.

Find out more about her on her website:  http://www.mariacaratti.com/

ANTONELLA PLATANO (called by Maria Caratti ‘MagicaAntodalleManidOro“‘ meaning Magical Antonella of the Golden Hands) is an Italian cartoonist. She was born February 12 1973 in Cuneo and graduated from an art college in 1991. She has always been fascinated by comic books and collaborated with Sergio Bonelli Editore, the comics oriented publishing house (she is the co – author of such titles as Legs Weaver and Nathan Never), she has also collaborated with such publishing houses as San Paolo and Rainbow. Antonella has illustrated some popular Tarot decks released by Lo Scarabeo: Witchy Tarot, Gay Tarot, Tarot of the 78 Doors and Wheel of the Year Tarot.  Her favourite techniques are pencil and ink. I have not come across her personal webpage but you can find her profile in a Wikia about comics here.

You can also check the deck’s profile on Lo Scarabeo page and all the cards on Maria Caratti’s Youtube channel. She has also posted some initial sketches of the deck by Antonella Platano on her Facebook profile.

ADVANTAGES

Most important advantage of this deck is the fact that it indeed presents 78 goddesses and nymphs from all over the world. Authors have matched them quite adequately to the Minor and Major Arcana and included not only the most important goddesses but also those less known making the user search and google them. Maria Caratti explains on her page that she initially intended to publish a deck called The Ladies of Magic consisting of around forty cards and presenting the Wiccan themes, however Piero Alligo, an artistic director of Lo Scarabeo, suggested she could instead create the Tarot deck where a goddess would be assigned to each Arcane. It was a real challenge and required deep research in the mythologies, legends and folklore of the world. I have already mentioned in my review of the Goddess Tarot that it is not an easy task to connect the goddesses’ myths, elements and symbols with the original meanings of the Tarot cards.

Most of the choices the author has made seem to  merge successfully goddesses myths with the basic meanings of each Arcane. The best associations seem to be Athena as The Emperor, Aphrodite as The Lovers, Hekate as The Hermit, Arianrhod as The Wheel of Fortune, Ishtar as Strength, Kali as Death, Lilith as The Devil, Morrigan as The Tower and Gaia as The World. As far as the Minor Arcana are concerned , the best assignments seem to be Psyche (Two of Chalices), Leto (Five of Chalices), Maya (Seven of Chalices), Calypso (Eight of Chalices), Hestia (Ten of Chalices), Yemanya (Queen of Chalices), Saraswati (King of Chalices), Sif (Five of Swords), Nehalennia (Six of Swords), Blodeuwedd (Seven of Swords), Fortuna (Ace of Coins), Juno (Queen of Coins) and Lakshmi (King of Coins).

In most cases goddesses are presented in accordance with the cultures they were venerated in and are depicted in archetypical situations and places with typical attributes (with some exceptions which I will present below).

The order and names are taken from a traditional Tarot de Marseilles (Justice as the eighth card and Strength as the eleventh one), authors kept the original names of cards with the exception of The Wheel of Fortune which is renamed simply as The Wheel and The Star (the Pleiades are presented on the card so the name takes plural The Stars).

DISADVANTAGES

I mentioned the cards which seem to be well assigned to the original Tarot meaning but there are also some to which I have some serious objections. Starting with the Major Arcana, I do not think that Demeter, the goddess of earth and vegetation, should represent the card of The Mage who is linked to the element of fire. I believe that much better choice for this arcane would be Brigid who appears in this deck as King of Wands. I do not understand at all the assignment of Kuan Yin to the card of Queen of Wands, firstly because she does not fit the original meaning of Tarot card and secondly because I associate her with the element of water rather than with fire typical for Wands. Studying the legends about her, you will indeed find the description of fire as it is seen on the picture but it is just a piece of plot and it does not characterise the heroine. I absolutely do not perceive Kuan Yin as Queen of Wands, in reality she seems to be her complete opposite smirk2. I would rather match Freyja to this card, especially that she is not present in this deck at all. I do not really understand the reasons why Flora was assigned to a swift like an arrow whizzing in the air Eight of Wands (particularly that she encourages: Lie down with me on this soft grassy carpet and close your eyes in the deck’s booklet), I’d rather see Iris here, however she is Knight of Wands in this deck. I would connect Oya not with the card of Knave of Wands but with Knight of Swords as she is traditionally linked to the element of air, storms and expressing oneself i.e the domain of Swords. I do not really understand what is Inanna, Queen of Heaven, doing on quintessentially earthly Four of Coins.

You also have to face the basic problem whether a goddess really is a goddess zeby. What to do with the figures who are not clearly defined in stories as women? Is it really worth to risk including them in the deck? I can understand attributing Lan Tsai Ho (Lan Caihe), one of Eight Immortals, whose gender is not determined, to the arcane of The Fool, this choice can be explained by the original meaning of this card (ambiguity, lack of focus, numerous different possibilities, something which may lead to many options). However, in the case of Akycha (Seven of Wands) it is doubtful because according to the sources I accessed, Akycha is male. Ten of Wands shows a very interesting motif of Caeneus/Caenis whose myth seems consistent with the original meaning of this arcane, however if we followed this way of thinking, Tiresias could equally be included in this deck.

Unfortunately, unlike Maria Caratti I am not amazed by the illustrations made by Antonella Platano. I do not like this cartoon and comic like style. As far as I know, opinions about Lo Scarabeo’s artwork vary, there are certainly a lot of fans but there is also a large number of opponents. I always repeat after Romans, de gustibus non disputandum, however I have got the right to disagree with the way of depicting goddesses. They are mostly presented in a manner adequate to their eras and civilisations, but in some cases their clothing differs radically, the most obvious examples are Pandora (Four of Chalices), Nehalennia (Six of Swords), Rhiannon (Knight of Swords) and Aine (Knight of Coins).

pandora

nehalennia1

Rhiannon in Universal Goddess Tarot deck by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

aine

Honestly speaking, I do not know whether it is a deliberate action or just a mistake (however after doing so much research, it seems to be rather unlikely). Perhaps I am a traditionalist in this particular area but I simply do not accept such attitude. When I watch the cards of goddesses or historical series, I do want to see the clothing from that particular era and civilisation, not a fashion show à la goddesses or catwalk clothes “inspired by” a certain dynasty. I only accept a deliberate modernisation of archetypes as it happened in case of Cordelia Brabbs’ deck.

ISSUE

78 cards + 2 additional ones, a title card and the one with other Lo Scarabeo decks enlisted

a booklet in English, Italian, Spanish, French and German, it contains introduction by both authors, short messages from goddesses on each card and a spread called The Temple

a box

universal goddess tarot

A booklet added to the cards contains a short presentation of each goddess and her first person message consistent with the original meaning of the Tarot arcana.

The size of cards is  12 x 6,5 cm

Back sides of cards show double female profile joint by a hexagram inscribed in a Wiccan symbol.

EXAMPLE CARDS

Athena as The Emperor

Athena in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Brigid as King of Wands

Brigid as King of Staves in the Universal Goddess Tarot deck

Demeter as Mage

Demeter in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Isis as The High Priestess

Izyda – Hathor w Universal Goddess Tarot Marii Caratti&Antonelli Platano

Lakshmi as King of Coins

Lakszmi w Universal Goddess Tarot Marii Caratti&Antonelli Platano

Seven of Wands

seven of wands

Nine of Chalices

nine of chalices

Five of Swords

sif1

Seven of Coins

seven of pentacles

Back side

2

©2006 Copyright Lo Scarabeo

Publisher:  Lo Scarabeo

ISBN: 888395523-4

MAJOR ARCANA

 0. THE FOOL – Lan Tsai Ho
1. THE MAGICIAN – Demeter
2. THE HIGH PRIESTESS – Isis
3. THE EMPRESS – Astarte
4. THE EMPEROR – Athena
5. THE HIEROPHANT – Aditi
6. THE LOVERS – Venus
7. THE CHARIOT – Eos
8. JUSTICE – Maat
9. THE HERMIT – Hekate
10. THE WHEEL – Arianrhod
11. STRENGTH – Ishtar
12. THE HANGED MAN – Frigg
13. DEATH – Kali
14. TEMPERANCE – Anahita
15. THE DEVIL – Lilith
16. THE TOWER – Morrigan
17. THE STARS – the Pleiades
18. THE MOON – Selene
19. THE SUN – Amaterasu
20. JUDGEMENT – Cerridwen
21. THE WORLD – Gaia

MINOR ARCANA

WANDS

Ace – Bast
2 – Ataentsic
3 – the Horae
4 – White She Buffalo
5 – Pele
6 – Andraste
7 – Akycha
8 – Flora
9 – Angerona
10 – Caeneus/Caenis
Knave – Oya 
Knight – Iris
Queen – Kuan Yin
King – Brigid

CHALICES

Ace  –  Habondia
2 – Psyche
3 – the Graces
4 – Pandora
5 – Leto
6 – Hina
7 – Maya
8 – Calypso
9 – Nike
10 – Hestia
Knave – Hebe
Knight – Epona
Queen – Yemaya
King– Saraswati

SWORDS

Ace – Bellona
2 – Fides
3 – the Norns
4 – Ch’ang O
5 – Sif
6 – Nehalennia
7 – Blodeuwedd
8 – Persephona
9 – Ate
10 – Sakuntala
Knave –  Diana
Knight– Rhiannon
Queen – Tara
King– Coatlicue

COINS

Ace  –  Fortuna
2 – Hemera and Nyx
3 – the Esperides
4 – Inanna
5 – Hel
6 – Acca Larentia
7 – Estsanatlehi (Changing Woman)
8 – Nu Kua
9 – Rosmerta
10 – Ben Saiten
  Knave – Fulla
  Knight – Aine
  Queen – Juno
King – Lakshmi

AMATERASU

AMATERASU

A Japanese goddess of the sun, co – creatrix of the world who watches over its order, protectress of people and ancestress of the Japanese imperial family according to the beliefs of Shinto. Her name originates from the stem amateru meaning „Shining in Heavens” and when its full form is used, she is called Amaterasu-ōmikami (The Great August Goddess Shining in Heavens), Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami and Tensho Daijan (Goddess of the Sun).

ABOUT GODDESS

Her name first appears in Japan’s oldest chronicles Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. According to most myths kami (spirit, deity) Amaterasu came to being with her two brothers when their father, the first man in the world, Izanagi returned from Yomi, the Underworld.  He went there to take his late wife Izanami back but he failed (according to another version Izanami gave birth to Amaterasu as their first child as soon as the Japanese Archipelago came into being). He came back to the world of the living and purified himself; when he was cleaning left eye, Amaterasu, goddess of the sun, was born, cleaning his right eye resulted in the birth of Tsukuyomi, god of the moon and cleaning his nose, Izanagi created  Susanoo, god of the storms and the sea. Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi got married and became the rulers of heavens, however when Tsukuyomi killed Uke Mochi, the goddess of food, Amaterasu, abhoring violence and bloodshed, sent him away, dividing in this way the day from the night.

Amaterasu’s relations with her other brother were tense as well. When impulsive and unpredictable as a storm Susanoo was to travel to the Underworld, he came to say goodbye to his sister, she, however, knowing his nature, doubted he had good intentions and got ready for the fight. God of the winds challenged her to prove her wrong and Amaterasu agreed. The aim was to create living creatures from an object: goddess of the sun broke Susanoo’s sword into three, chewed the parts and spat them out creating three women while her brother made five men from her necklace Mikuratana-no-kami, the symbol of power. When they started to argue who was the winner, a coarse god of the sea fell into rage and started to devastate rice and silkworm fields to that point that he eventually demolished her heavenly palace. Amaterasu was so scared and discouraged that she escaped to earth and hid in a cave (later to be called Ama-no-Iwato – ‘The Cave of the Sun God’ or ‘Heavenly Rock Cave’). She had no intention to get out even though Susanoo was punished and banished from heavens. Grief – stricken goddess did not realise that all the radiance and warmth of the sun disappeared from the surface of earth with her departure. Knowing that life could not survive without the sun, other gods kept begging Amaterasu to get out of the cave but she strongly refused. Desperate gods thought of making her leave with a trick. They have organised a party with noisy music right outside the cave and a clever goddess Uzume (Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto) placed an eight pointed mirror and a tub in front of the entrance to the cave. She overturned the tub and started to dance on it throwing her clothes off. Other gods found it so humorous that they burst into loud laughter and Amaterasu got so curious of what was happening outside that she moved slightly the stone blocking an entrance. When a sunbeam reached the mirror and the goddess saw what radiating beauty she was, she got out of the cave and gods blocked immediately the entrance  with a rock. They asked Amaterasu not to leave heavens ever again and she agreed.

Amaterasu emerging from the cave

(Amaterasu emerging from the cave with the Imperial Regalia, painting: Origin of Iwato Kagura Dance by Utagawa Kunisada, 1857 )

Susanoo was apologetic and brought Amaterasu his sword  Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (‘Grass Cutting Sword’) as a sign of good will. She then gave the sword, the jewel Yasakani no Magatama and the mirror Yata no Kagami to her grandson Ninigi, son of Oshihomimi, one of the humans created during Susanoo’s challenge. According to Shinto mythology, these objects were to provide help in terminating wars ravaging Japan when Ninigi’s great-grandson Jimmu claimed the throne as the first Emperor. They became the Imperial Regalia and up to this day they are a closely guarded treasure which is only used during the coronation of emperors. Japanese rulers have been considered to be Amaterasu’s descendants and worshipped as deities, this cult has not been finished until the end of WWII when the American authorities demanded it as a part of peace treaty. Also the Japanese flag was changed at that time as the previous one depicted the sun  (here is a naval version)

Naval_Ensign_of_Japan.svg

However, the motif of chrysanthemum, symbolising the sun, was preserved as the sign of an Imperial Family.

the flag of Imperial Family

Amaterasu was considered to be a peaceful, balanced, protective and generous goddess. She was believed to be the protectress of people and helped them to develop such crafts as weaving, building or rice cultivation. The sun goddess is venerated in the Ise Jingū temple in the city of Ise and Hibiya Daijingū in Tokyo. The Yata no Kagami mirror is stored in Ise Jingū; the sanctuary is also famous for its ceremony called Shikinen Sengu when every 20 years the temple wooden buildings are rebuilt on a the area nearby and the goddess is offered new robes and food. The Hibiya Daijingū temple was erected in Tokyo in 1880 so that the followers do not have to go on a pilgrimage to Ise.

Amaterasu’s official cult resembled somehow the one of Hestia. The goddess was venerated by a high – priestess called Saiō on the behalf of the Emperor. Saiō originated from the Imperial Family and held her office throughout the reign of the Emperor who appointed her. According to legend this tradition was established by Princess Yamatohime-no-mikoto, the daughter of Emperor Suinin, who was searching for the best place to worship Amaterasu for twenty years until she found Ise and decided to build a sanctuary there. Saiō was being chosen when a previous Emperor died and the previous Saiō’s term of office expired with his death. The choice was based on divination, although it was a custom that one of new Emperor’s daughter was to become a Saiō. High – Priestess had to be a virgin, health and beauty were also important factors. When a new Emperor was crowned, a future Saiō moved to a separate part of the palace and was undergoing the processes of purification and learning a proper ceremonial (including a special language of priestesses where the the impure words were replaced with a special cipher). After eight months the new Saiō was sent to a building called Nonomiya prepared especially for that purpose and one year later she was going with her retinue to Saikū, the seat of priestesses near the Ise shrine (on those days it was forbidden to bury the deads). Her service included praying for peace, offering the first harvests to deities in September and performing ceremonies during the Tsukinamisai festival at the Ise temple in June and November. Being Saiō was treated as an honour and the will of heavens so if she fell significantly ill, she could have been dismissed from her office. She was bound to remain a virgin throughout her stay in the temple therefore breaking the vow of chastity was treated as a reason to remove the high – priestess from the service to the goddess. There were some cases of suicides among priestesses when their reputation was questioned (according to chronicles Takuhatahime, daughter of the Emperor Yūryaku, fell the victim of her enemies’ calumnies so she buried the sacred mirror and then hanged herself). After the Emperor’s death or resignation, Saiō could come back to the court, get married and have children (similarly to the Roman beliefs marrying a former priestess was a great honour). If for some reasons Saiō was dismissed before the end of her office, no other was chosen in her place until the reign of a new Emperor. The office of Saiō was held until 14th century.

When Buddhism became more and more popular in Japan, Amaterasu was recognised as a manifestation of bodhisattwa (either Kuan Yin or one of the forms of Buddha himself).

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Apart from the Imperial Regalia Amaterasu is closely connected to roosters crowing at the dawn and a raven called Yatagarasu (Eight-Span Raven), her personal messenger to Emperor Jimmu who not only helped his army pass the rocky mountains safely but also went scouting and even negotiated on his behalf.

Yatagarasu the Raven

DIVINATION MEANING

PERSON

A person of great beauty, knowledge, talents and serenity who yet does not want to shine in the company. Someone reliable but modest who does much and talks little. Also a shy and timid person who escapes from problems and hides from the reality. In negative a narcissistic person focusing on their appearance and awaiting flatteries.

ADVICE

Come out of your hiding place. Regardless of how talented you are, you will waste it if you do not let yourself shine. Even if you are tired and discouraged now, remember that life still holds many pleasant surprises for you.

Do not escape from problems. Focus on one goal even if it seems trivial. Do not start many things at the time because you will not complete any of them or they will not be done thoroughly and you will get even more frustrated.

It is not your task to hide in the corner. It is your task to shine with your beauty, wisdom and smile. Beauty is not just pretty face and body but rather charm which attracts people to you. Build your self-worth from the inside, do not base it on the opinion of others. Without self worth it will be difficult for you to keep balance, set boundaries and love others wisely.

Silence or withdrawing from the annoying conversation is not giving up or failure. You win by not allowing the mental aggressor suck energy out of you. It reminds pulling the rope, if you let it, the person on the other end will fall down. Withdrawing from people and focusing on your inner life to think an important matter over is a very good idea. However, when you draw conclusions, do not keep them for yourself but rather put them into practice.

Hiding emotions inside will not make them disappear, instead they will be consuming you so it is much better to throw them out. If you do one thing, feel sth different and speak yet another thing, you are dispersing your energy. Let your thoughts, words and acts be one. Show integrity. If you put masks on, you will not let others to like, respect and love the real you. They will only like, respect and love the image of you that they have. It is impossible to build a true relationship with another person if you use illusions as a base.

Even if you feel like being immersed in darkness now, be sure that eventually you will shine.

Coming back to the world. New beginning. Competition. Strong position. Beauty. Radiance. Warmth. Fun. Music. Dance. Laughter. End of sadness. Harmony. Peace. Sensitivity. Creation. Teaching. Life Force.

In my personal interpretation, this card has often the similar meaning to The Sun, 19th Major Arcane of Tarot. Its energy is a bit “softer”, though, unlike a clearly male The Sun in Tarot.

LOVE

If you are in the relationship:  cooling down in a relationship, partner may become silent or withdraw from family life but it is also the time of improvement and solving problems out. Regardless of whether the union will resurrect like a phoenix or not, this card definitely assures you that the ultimate outcome will be positive to you.

If you are single: you are single because you isolate yourself from the world on the external or internal level. Either you do not go out to the places where you can meet new people or you do not let people approach you and you keep distance even when you are at the party or in the company of acquaintances.

FINANCES

Good time in finances. Promotion or pay rise. If the question concerns a new venture, this card suggests it will bring a satisfying result.

HEALTH

Internal diseases. Inflammation of organs. High temperature. Unrecognised depression. Post traumatic stress disorder. Excessive or low activity. Endangered parts of the body: heart, eyes.

CARDS

Classical representation of Amaterasu inspired by the picture of Utagawa Kunisada in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Amaterasu in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

A very similar image of Amaterasu looking at the cave in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

 Amaterasu in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Amaterasu in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Amaterasu in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton-

Amaterasu with the mirror in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Amaterasu in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Radiating Amaterasu in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Amaterasu in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Amaterasu in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Amaterasu in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Amaterasu with a rooster and a decorative headdress in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano as The Sun (according to one of the myth version seeing Susanoo approaching Amaterasu pinned wild boar tusks into hair to protect herself. Her brother used them, not her necklace, to create human beings)

Amaterasu in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

A fainting nymph…oh sorry, Amaterasu in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Amaterasu in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Blue Haired Fairy from Pinocchio…oh sorry, Amaterasu in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Amaterasu in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Based on English and Polish Wikipedia, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20090712x1.html and http://www.angelfire.com/de/poetry/Whoswho/Amaterasu.html .

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