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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

SIGE

“Let silence take you to the core of life.”
~Rumi

“My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me to listen to the voices not produced by tongues, nor shouted from throats. Now … I sip at silence and listen to its inwardness that chants songs of the eons, reciting praises of the sky, announcing the mysteries of the Unseen.”
~Kahlil Gibran

SIGE

Silence in Gnostic cosmology, primary female Principle who emanated other aeons including Sophia (Wisdom).

ABOUT THE GODDESS

Gnosticism was a popular philosophy of the Roman’s Empire’s  eastern lands (especially Egypt and Phoenicia) in the first and second century of our era. It combined the elements of Christian, Hellenic and Roman philosophies (especially Gnosis, dualism and Hermeticism). One of its major assumptions is the domination of energy over matter and the necessity of constant self-development; soul’s redemption occurs on the path of Gnosis i.e. enlightenment, emancipation, the oneness with God. Gnostic movement was diverse and was early condemned by the Church Fathers thus the original writings have not remained and the Gnostic views were preserved only in the papers of its adversaries. It was not changed until 1945 when the papyri of Nag Hammadi were discovered. As a consequence of this finding, it was possible to reconstruct Gnostic gospels and other important writings presenting Gnostic philosophy.

Most Gnostic systems are based on the concept of aeons, the emanations of God who is known as The One, Absolute, the Monad, Aion Teleos (The Broadest Aeon), Bythos (Depth), Proarkhe (Before the Beginning), Arkhe (Beginning). Depending on the school the aeons are differently classified and named but for the purpose of this post I only concentrate on the beliefs of Valentinianism. The Valentinians considered aeons to be twin pairs of male and female energies called syzygies; the primary ideal Principles are male Bythos, Proarkhe or Propator and female Ennoia (Thought, Intent), Charis (Charis) or Sige (Silence). They conceived and emanated male aeon Nous (Mind) and female Aletheia (Truth) from whom Zoe (Life) and Logos (Word) originate together with other twin male – female aeons who form Pleroma (Oneness, Fullness)*.

Aeons

The last and the youngest female aeon was Sophia (Wisdom) who, due to ignorance or the need of forming, emanated Demiurge, the creator of the material world, and therefore lost her place in Pleroma. To save her and human kind, Bythos emanated Christ who was born as Yeshua and taught people how to achieve the state of enlightenment (Gnosis).

Valentinian Pleroma

According to the Valentinian system, two perennial coexisting Principles began the life in the Universe by emanating aeons in their likeness, i.e. male&female ones and creative by nature (because they emanated further aeons). It is not clear whether two primary Principles have always been dual. According to the previous beliefs and even some Valentinians, the primary Principles were either above all the sex or a hermaphrodite who split into male and female elements. Also according to Cyril of Jerusalem, Sige was Bythos’ daughter and with him she conceived Logos but it has to be mentioned that the author was a relentless critic of both Arians and Gnostics and presented this origin only to ridicule them (it is similar with Irenaeus of Lyon who sneers at the idea of Silence and Word coexisting in one Pleroma). 

As a matter of fact, nomen est omen because it is the silence which surrounds Sige herself and it is difficult to find any information about her. However, her message in the card decks is very clear, Be aware of the fact that silence is a great force.  It is wise to decide when it is better not to speak or not to answer. Experience the creative silence of concentration before you start acting. This is the goddess of contemplation who convinces us to slow down, to ponder and to rest. Remember that when you are alone and you do not communicate with environment, you contact your true self. We often crave for love and acceptance so much that we suppress our real needs. Our civilization pushes us to live in the community and therefore being alone and silent may cause anxiety in us. Drawing the card of Sige helps us find the power to confront ourselves.

Sige shows the non-action which comes not from indifference but from the ability to think and to observe. She reminds us that the word can both heal and kill and once it is said, it cannot be unsaid. If Logos was born from Silence, it means that Silence is creative by nature and it incorporates the element of searching for knowledge and understanding. Because of its feminine aspect, this knowledge is intuitive and subconscious but without searching we shall not attain the enlightenment**. The power of silence is within each of us and each of us must confront it at some point of life. If we do listen, the silence and focus can speak loudly and clearly but when we try to ignore them, they begin to scream and to demand attention.

This is the power of concentration and inspiration indispensable before we start acting. It brings to my mind the message of the Fool (Zero or Twenty – Second Major Arcanum of Tarot) and the letter Alef of the Hebrew alphabet, This is the moment when we have an idea but it remains unspecified yet, it has only begun developing in our mind and it has not been showed to the world yet. This is the moment when we take a breath to present our idea to the public, to name it and to make all our expectations, assumptions and talents happen but before the first word is pronounced everything can still be changed. There is still time to modify the nature of the word because it is still being created.***

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

No images of Sige survived antiquity and it is not certain whether they existed at all.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

Person showed by the card of Sige is close-mouthed and silent, often shy but also wise. When accompanied by other cards (e.g . Persephone) it may suggest a difficult childhood, quarrels in the family or opinionated parents. When negative it shows a person who either talks too much, is unable to listen to others, tells lies, gossips or expresses an opinion but thinks about about something different and does yet another thing.

Advice

You can feel overwhelmed by the amount of events in your life now. Perhaps some serious disturbances in everyday routine such as disease or loss of something valuable will force you to stop and reconsider what you really need and how to achieve it. Do not make any serious decisions at the moment as it is not the time to act. Avoid noise, do not shout at others, try not to let racing thoughts overpower your mind, do not react to provocations nor answer back. It is advised to to calm down and meditate. If it is possible, take a couple of days off. If it is not, ask the people who surround you to give you a breather. This must be the time only for you.

Love

In a relationship: possible problems with communication. Listen to your beloved more and speak less yourself. It is probable that conflicts have grown to such an extent that a (temporal) separation is required.

If you are single:  this is the time for you, you are advised to concentrate on observation and learning, not on flirting. Perhaps you withdrew from your social networks or family life.

Finances

This is not a good moment to act, you should rather spend it on thinking the problem over or planning a strategy.  While searching for a job this cards encourages to plan your own business especially in the professions requiring creativity and intelligence. It is also a warning that either your boss or your colleagues do not tell us everything or maybe even hide something important.

Health

Pay attention to the diagnosis because something may be unnoticed or neglected during the examination. It is possible that you must consult at least a couple of doctors before the reason of  disease will be determined.  Do not pull an all-nighter and try to get enough sleep . You do need rest and peace, if you do not take a break now health problems will soon affect you seriously. Endangered parts of the body: larynx, pharynx, throat, thyroid, tonsils and tongue.

IMAGES

The first image of Sige comes from the deck of Pamela Matthews and personally I consider it to be extremely beautiful.

The one from the deck of Doreen Virtue seems a bit like a Disney princess.

Sige in Doreen Virtue's deck

*First eight aeons are called The Ogdoad.

**The purpose of Gnosis is is the liberation from the constraints of the world and achieving  enlightenment.

*** Based on the programmes of Danuta the Tarot Reader and translated from Polish.

Based on http://gnosis.org and English Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeon_%28Gnosticism%29, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentinians

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