Tarot of Reincarnation Review
© 2008 by Judith A. Johnston
This is not really a tarot deck, it’s a tarock deck, used for playing the game of tarock in Europe. However, because it has 78 cards split into Major and Minor Arcana, you can adapt it successfully to conventional tarot systems. It also has absolutely nothing to do with reincarnation, but has a Natural History theme which was why I bought it.
Some people immediately label this sort of deck as “unreadable,” but if you look closer, it is an example of a particular deck that can light up the intellect and help you pursue other interests while tying into tarot. Like most things in life, it is the effort you put into them that makes them meaningful.
Lo Scarabeo is never too helpful with information and reference material concerning the graphics in their decks, but after some research, I found that the original illustrations were published in the 19th century in a Funk and Wagnall’s dictionary circa 1895. This is mentioned with some of the images at an online site of clip art:
me reading that this depicts the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca formerly A. mogilnik or A. imperialis.) Aquila is Latin for “eagle,” and this eagle is thought to be the model for the aquila, the standard of the Roman legions. The adults look most like Golden Eagles and are dark with a pale shawl.” At first I thought it was the Golden Eagle, because the Imperial Eagle is pretty rare if not extinct these days, but it was still prevalent in the 19th century when these images were created. Similarly, the “Little Owl” on the High Priestess card is a Barn Owl, and the “Hawk” on the Emperor card is a Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, and the “Blackbird” depicted on the Tower is a Mistle Thrush, Turdus viscivorus. If nothing else, the deck is an example of why Latin names for species are so important to use for reference.
After pinning down the exact species (not always possible as I found with the “Frog” on the 7 of Hearts), I made short notes on the animal’s habits and habitat and then made further notes in list form that tied specifics about this animal into the archetypal definition of the card. As part of my research, I have tried to find interesting artwork, jewellery or photographs to go with each animal. I found a photo of a mechanical bank with a chimpanzee to illustrate the chimpanzee on the Magician card in my notes, and a lovely picture of a silver pendant of a swordfish, that I used to illustrate the Swordfish on the 2 of Hearts card.
This is the sort of thing I like to do to learn about a deck and make it relevant to me. Many people complain that there are no books for most Lo Scarabeo decks, and that’s one of the reasons I like them, because you can look things up yourself and make the archetypal images meaningful to you by writing your own notes and exploring the theme. If you are interested in animals, the naming of species, illustration, science, travel, and natural history, you would like working with these cards.
Hearts – Animals from the sea or reptiles like the frog, jellyfish, turtle.
Clubs – Insects like beetles, moths, spiders.
Diamonds – Mammals like the giraffe, camel, fox, hyena.
Spades – Birds like herons, pelican, hawks.
It also includes two Fool cards, a woman and man, which resemble the male and female significator cards from European fortune telling decks, although it is not necessary to use them this way. And don’t forget, you can always separate the 22 Major Arcana cards and use the Minor Arcana by itself as a playing card deck with gorgeous illustrations.
This is a handsome and interesting deck for any purpose.