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Tarot Reflections

  February 1, 2003

Deck Review: Comparative Tarot
Sheila Hall, CTM


Sheila Hall has been studying the Tarot for 16 years. She has just received her CTM certification and is currently working towards her CTI. Sheila is an ATA mentor, reading on both the Free Tarot and Free Reading Networks, and also serves on the ATA Education Committee. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and two sons.



The Comparative Tarot deck is a Lo Scarabeo deck with a new twist. The deck consists of 78 cards, with each card carrying the same image from four different decks. The images included in this deck are from the Tarot of Marseilles, the Universal Tarot, Tarot of the Sphinx, and Tarot of the Origins. The top left corner has the Universal Tarot and next to it, on the top right, are the images from the Tarot of the Sphinx. The bottom left is where the images from the Tarot of the Origins deck are located, and the bottom right are the Tarot of Marseilles images. The concept of this deck was developed by Riccardo Minetti, a member of the Comparative Tarot elist.

The Comparative Tarot deck offers the opportunity to view the same images from different decks in a convenient way. It's nice to be able to view one card that holds four images, instead of having to lay cards out from four different decks in a side-by-side fashion to study and compare them -- especially with each deck stemming from a different cultural view.

Each card's title is printed in five languages, which are shown at the bottom of each card in white print. The five languages are: English, Italian, Spanish, French and German.

The four images are set on a blue background with a blue dividing border surrounding each one, so the images appear in their own frame. The LWB is also printed in the five languages, which are separated in a manner that allows you to turn to the language you prefer and work without the distraction of sorting through the other languages.

The LWB briefly discusses the Comparative Tarot Method, and the way to use the included book. Each card includes a list of Comparative Keywords beginning with a Core Meaning, then keywords are offered for each individual deck.

As Sim states in the LWB, "Each deck possesses its own unique voice," Each deck portrays the individualistic views or renditions of its respective artist, and we can learn so much about a card and the message it relays by looking at the differing images.

The Comparative Tarot Method allows us the opportunity to reflect on the different versions of the same card, contemplate the author's vision for the deck, and understand the intentions and messages being relayed in each image. We can learn and grow so much when we study these images and we gain more understanding of the many ways there are to communicate through symbolic images.

The Comparative Tarot deck provides an inventive method that allows us to explore the symbolic messages from a variety of decks. When reading with the deck, it's incredible to be able to view the images on the cards and compare them with each other with such convenience, and also to see which image seems to speak a little louder than the other three that is shown on the card.

I can't begin to count the times when I have taken different decks and laid them out to view varying versions of the same card, in order to gain additional insights from a reading. I have to admit that at first, I thought viewing four different images on one card would be distracting, but quite the contrary, I find it rewarding. I like the opportunity of being able to view all the symbolism in the pictures and compare them. I recommend this deck and working with the Comparative Tarot method as an avenue to learning more about tarot and the symbolisms they contain, although I believe that it could be hard for beginners to work with.

Valerie Sim's website, Comparative Tarot, offers insights into the Comparative Tarot Method and interesting essays written for the cards.The Comparative Tarot deck is published by Lo Scarabeo and distributed by Llewellyn. It can be purchased through Llewellyn and other sources.


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