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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

REVIEW: THE GODDESS TAROT BY KRIS WALDHERR

THE GODDESS TAROT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kris Waldherr is an illustrator, writer and designer. Her works were exhibited in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, she is an author of popular decks such as Goddess Inspiration Oracle, The Lover’s Path Tarot, The Anubis Oracle and books Doomed Queens, The Book of Goddesses and The Lily Maid. She lives in New York with her husband, anthropologist Thomas Ross Miller and their little daughter Thea.

Find out more about her on her website: http://kriswaldherr.net/main/

ADVANTAGES

It is not strictly the goddess oracle deck, it is Tarot deck inspired by goddesses. I find the paintings of Kris Waldherr to be the main advantage. As I have already mention in the review of Goddess Inspiration Cards her graphics appeal to me and the cards are alluring visually. In fact Goddess Inspiration Cards were created after success of The Goddess Tarot as a deck of oracle cards for the users who are not fluent in reading the Major and Minor Arcana.

Obviously when you interpret the readings of The Goddess Tarot, the question arises immediately what to mostly concentrate on: the primary meaning of the Tarot card or the myth about the goddess presented on this card? That is why it is essential to attribute goddess to the arcane adequately, basing on the myths, symbols or elements. It is a complex task and matching female deities to the quintessentially male figures seems to be the main limitation. I must admit that Kris Waldherr somehow managed to fulfil this task. The only things I don’t agree with are:

– incredibly feminine Freyja attributed to the arcane of The Emperor. I find a severe Athena more appropriate choice, however Athena represents the arcane of Justice in this deck (and I admit this assignment makes sense, too)

 – I am not convinced by the assignment of the sea goddess to the arcane of The Devil (here called Temptation) associated with an earth sign of Capricorn 

– I believe that if you take into consideration the nature of Gwenwhwyfar (‘the May Queen’), the card of Judgement which she represents should rather be named Revival

I believe and strongly insist that the original meaning of Tarot arcane should be the primary interpretative level and the goddess myth should only be its completion (especially that the mythological background is presented in a very  cursory manner in the booklet).

A huge advantage is the possibility to try this deck yourself here.

DISADVANTAGES

The deck is really interesting, however remembering the previously asked question (which came first? Tarot card meaning or the goddess myth?) I must say that its semantic chaos is really disturbing. The author somehow took shortcuts  because goddesses are only present on the 22 Major Arcana while the Minor Arcana are the reproductions of the images from Rider – Waite – Smith deck while the order is taken from Tarot of Marseilles and the deck of Alistair Crowley. It is actually the deck of goddess half – Tarot wink3 .

I also think that the rejection of traditional names is a disadvantage and it may be confusing. If you look at the name of Freyja’s card, Power, you may confuse it with the actual card of The Strength.

Kris Waldherr has attributed divine patronesses to all the four suits of the Minor Arcana and the figures representing each suit have characteristic features of people living in the place where the goddess was worshipped. And so Chalices (beginning the cycle of Minor Arcana against the tradition) are attributed to Venus, Wands to Freyja, Swords to Isis and Coins to Lakshmi.

ISSUE

78 cards + 3 additional ones with the information about the deck

a booklet with an introduction written by the author, short description of the Major and Minor Arcana meanings and example spreads (3 Cards + the Celtic Cross) and some empty pages for notes

a box

the goddess tarot

In a booklet each card is presented in the following way:

– name of a card

– a short description of goddess (Major Arcana) or the image on the card (Minor Arcana)

– meaning of the card when it is placed in a regular position

– meaning of the card when it is placed in a reversed position

The size of cards is 12 x 8,5 cm

Back side of the card is an ornamental motif of golden leaves placed between vertical and horizontal golden lines on a light blue background.

EXAMPLE CARDS

Athena as Justice

Athena in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Isis as Mage

Isis – Hathor in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Lakshmi as Wheel of Fortune

Lakshmi in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Nine of Wands

9 of staves

Three of Chalices

3 of cups

Two of Swords

2 of swords

Six of Coins

6 of coins

Back side

3

Copyright©1997 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Publisher: U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

ISBN: 1-57281-066-1

MAJOR ARCANA

O BEGINNINGS – Tara
I MAGIC – Isis
II WISDOM – Saraswati
III FERTILITY – Estsanatlehi (Changing Woman)
IV POWER – Freyja
V TRADITION – Juno
VI LOVE – Venus
VII MOVEMENT – Rhiannon
VIII JUSTICE – Athena
IX CONTEMPLATION – Chang O
X FORTUNE – Lakshmi
XI STRENGTH – Oya
XII SACRIFICE – Kuan Yin
XIII TRANSFORMATION – Ukemochi
XIV BALANCE – Yemanya
XV TEMPTATION – Nyai Loro Kidul
XVI OPRESSION – The Wawalak
XVII THE STAR – Inanna
XVIII THE MOON – Diana
XIX THE SUN – The Zorya
XX JUDGEMENT – Gwenwhwyfar
XXI THE WORLD – Gaia