I love going to the little town of Glastonbury for a day out- I come across all kinds of obscure books and tarot cards. The right decks always seem to be waiting for me to buy them. This time, I came across The Impressionist Tarot- reduced from 15.99 to 6.99. How could I resist ?
I’d actually never heard of it, and was intrigued. It’s published by Lo Scarabeo, as so many decks are, and was created by artist Arturo Picca. The book that accompanies the cards was written by Corrine Kenner. Lo Scarabeo have sometimes produced disappointing decks, but this one is lovely.
The cards themselves are of reasonable quality, if a bit on the bendy side. They are glossy and really nice to handle. The deck is close to a standard Rider Waite size, just a couple of millimetres narrower. Around the edges of each card is a frame – gold on the front, wood on the back.
The whole deck is a work of art. Some of the pictures closely resemble the original paintings but have had some details changed, and the artist has been able to reproduce light and textures, making, in some cards, for a good,if not simplified, representation of the original works.
This deck recreates the styles of Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh and Gauguin.
The Major Arcana is a mixture of these artists’ styles and the four suits are all based on individuals – Van Gogh for swords, Monet for cups, Manet for wands and Degas for pentacles.
The court cards are well-represented, as are swords, cups and wands, but pentacles are represented by yellow ribbons and yellow flowers, which I found off -putting at first – I’m used to the more traditional discs- but it was easy enough to adapt after a few readings. All the cards are numbered and have a symbol of the suit at the top, and the court cards have symbols at the lower edge.
Some cards stick close to the traditional Rider Waite images , and some are completely different. That might be confusing for someone who is learning the tarot, but ok for an experienced reader. I like some of the interpretations, for instance, the Two of Swords, the Eight of Wands and particularly, Death.
Most of the images are little pieces of art in themselves, which is such a wonderful visual experience – there are many decks that are beautifully executed of course, but this deck is not only well done, but also a little bit different from the norm.
I bought the big box version of this deck that contains the colour glossy booklet, which is high quality and well- written. There’s an original reading layout called the Gallery of Dreams, and some info on how to prepare to read the cards. Each card is described briefly, with planetary and elemental information, enough to get an idea of the meaning of the card. There is history about the relevant artist and a quote. There’s also a paragraph on the inspiration for the card’s image. I would have like to have seen deeper interpretations of the cards, but it’s adequate, and follows the traditional Rider Waite style of interpretation.
Throughout the booklet there are many facts about all the featured artists (hopefully accurate) and this alone makes it interesting. If you’re not that taken with Impressionism though, you might find it pointless to include this in what is essentially a tarot interpretation book.
The box is sturdy and opens sideways like a book, and there is a magnetic closure for the lid. Inside, the booklet is on the top, and there’s a space underneath for the cards with a ribbon to assist the removal of the deck. The whole package is glossy and well -presented.
I’m not too bothered about packaging – I prefer my cards in the old-fashioned, no frills thin cardboard sleeve, but some might prefer this larger and more sturdy packaging, especially with the informative booklet.( There is another version of the deck that does come in a smaller box, but which only includes a white paper booklet).
Using the cards is a nice experience – the colours and old-fashioned, classic images give a calm and sophisticated atmosphere to work with. The whole deck exudes a peaceful aura, even the more negative cards. I like this aspect very much. It’s certainly a very gentle deck in some ways, but still, all the images are full of movement, light and energy.
The only card I’m not keen on is the sun -it just doesn’t look joyous enough – but then, there’s always one or two cards in any deck that I’m not fond of. My favourite cards are the court cards- such wonderful people bursting with life – and also the Empress, who looks so composed and elegant, but with a hint of mischievousness about her.
It might become a regular thing for me to use this deck for the more nervous of my clients because it is so calming.
I find the Impressionist Tarot to be a surprisingly other- worldly, despite its very down -to- earth images. To me it portrays a combination of being in touch with both physical reality and spirituality. It has a definite dreamy quality to it, but at the same time still pulses with energy.
If you like the Impressionists, you will appreciate the work and thought that has gone into producing this lovely deck. And if you are looking for cards that are calming and dream -like, you might like to give these a go.
Read more about tarot here