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Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visibly appealing, but lacking symbolically, April 13, 2007
This review is from: The Gilded Tarot (Book and Tarot Deck Set) (Cards)
Probably the most popular of the Photoshop decks, the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti is certainly a visibly appealing Tarot deck. Framed in striking black and gold, each card is an alluring influx of bright colors, contrasting and blending to create one of the most exciting Tarot palettes available today. The deck comes with a companion book written by Barbara Moore, which is quite thorough in explaining the cards in a way that draws a connection between what Marchetti has created and the actual meaning of the individual cards. Aside from explaining the Gilded Tarot deck, the book covers basic aspects of Tarot reading, such as spreads, preparations, reading reversals, as well as exercises for becoming more familiar with the cards.

At the top of the respective cards of the Gilded Tarot there is an oval shape framed in gold, as well as matching rings along the sides. Within the ovals adorning the Major Arcana are the Roman Numerals representing the card. Inside the ovals atop the Pips, including the corresponding Court Cards, there are four different colored gemstones, one for each suit. The Swords, which are the element of Air, have a blue stone. The Wands are the element of Fire, and all have a red stone. The Pentacles element of Earth is represented by a green stone, and the stones on the Cups are orange, which the element is Water. Although green for Pentacles is accurate, it would have been better served to have the Swords yellow, the Wands orange, and the Cups blue. As a result the gemstones as depicted can only be used as memory markers without symbolic correlation because the choice of colors will mislead.

The Photoshop art is powerful, but I am not a fan of photographic imagery, such as faces, being blended with hand drawn art. There is a distinguishable difference between the two elements, and it reminds me of having your picture taken with your head sticking through a cardboard cutout at an amusement park. The blending of the photo images of faces with the art is quite vexatious given that the art is superb in itself, and Marchetti didn't need to do it. The instances of individuals depicted on the cards where he actually chose to draw the face instead of pasting in a photograph of a face are remarkable. One would have to wonder why a talented artist would make such a choice.

Some of the cards are very close depictions of the traditional symbology as presented in the Rider Waite Smith Tarot deck, while others are completely indiscernible in meaning. Marchetti's choice of a jester juggling the signs of the Zodiac on the Fool card isn't representative of the beginning of anything, seems to be more representative of comic buffoonery, and reflects a misinterpretation of the meaning of the card titled, The Fool. The Hermit card, on the other hand, is a magnificent representation of wisdom through isolation and introspection, while only reflective of The Hermit from the Rider Waite Smith deck.

Another mistaken translation of symbology from the Major Arcana is the Justice card, which here is depicted with a blindfold. The symbolic representation of "justice is blind" is equated to human law, and specifically the need to make a conscious effort not to judge by prejudicial or preconceived notion, the guilt or innocence of someone accused of a crime against a criminal statute. Karmic Justice doesn't suffer from human fallibility and provides a perfect balance of action to equal action on a level that exceeds the human scale. The blindfold implies a need to strive for perfect justice, whereas the Karmic Justice represented in the Tarot has no need to strive, for it is already perfect.

Looking at the Swords we can see that the Three of Swords is the same as the Rider Waite Smith except with two of the Swords entering the heart from beneath, instead of all three from the top. The Sixth of Swords is a wonderfully delineated card, but she is alone in the boat which misses the necessary element of being steered to safety through troubled waters by a benevolent force, not her own. The card offers no indication of a difficult transition, nor the hope of calm waters ahead. What it looks like is a nice night to take your Swords out for a little boat ride under the full moon. The Page of Swords card is traditionally interpreted to be a young person on the edge of action, although they are not sure exactly what they face, they are strong willed, ready to act, and somewhat conflicted by the need for restraint. In the Gilded Tarot we see a very colorfully dressed young lad posing for a portrait, perhaps to be hung over the fireplace, and appears to be on the verge of nothing in particular. Among the other missing elements in the deck is the Ten of Pentacles where there is no family depiction, while family is strong with that card. Also the Eight of Cups has no reference to emptiness, or that something is missing. It does have what appears to be a platypus, though.

Aside from my feelings of inaccuracy in some cards there are many cards in the deck that are good representations, such as the Four of Cups that depicts indifference, and the Five of Wands that expresses constructive competitive activity. As I mentioned it is quite a visually stimulating Tarot deck, though I believe that Jennifer favors it more than I, and perhaps I am too staunch a traditionalist, but in my opinion it is really more designed for visual impact than Tarot interpretation. It would certainly make a nice addition for a collector of decks, and would provide a good resource for a beginner, but I would be resistant to recommend it as the whole from which one could accurately learn and interpret Tarot cards. To be fair on that last point, in my opinion, only the Rider Waite Smith deck is capable of being a complete learning and interpretation deck on its own.
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