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Tarot Reflections

 May 01, 2003

Deck Review: Tarot of Casanova
Christopher delaMaison, CPTR

Christopher delaMaison works as a computer and networking technology instructor at Pioneer Pacific College in Wilsonville, Oregon. He was introduced to the Tarot through the Scottish Rite Masons over 10 years ago. He is active in the SCA and Sci-Fi communities in Portland, Oregon. His many-faceted skills include doumbek drumming for belly dancers, as well as learning how to sleep through long, dreary faculty meetings without snoring.

His web site: features a number of items which you simply have to see for yourself.


The Tarots of Casanova is one of two erotic decks I have examined, produced by the tarot publisher, Lo Scarabeo. It is a fascinating deck, in that its premise of being is based on the life of Casanova, gives it a flavor not found in other erotic decks.

Casanova, or Giovanni Giacomo Casanova de Seingalt, lived from 1725 to 1798. We know him through his memoirs simply as Casanova. His colorful life spanned some of the most formative years of late 18th century Europe. He was not only a Freemason and esotericist, but an accomplished writer, diplomat and spy. His romantic escapades, like his endless attempts at finding a stable income, always seemed to lead to some additional endeavor. He played the game of life, never content with what he had, always wanting more.

The artwork depicts scenes from the late Renaissance of Venice, where Casanova had lived. Raimondo uses a number of these scenes to illustrate many of the exploits of Casanova's life, matching them to the Major Arcana.

Good examples of this are the Hanged Man, where Casanova is seen repelling down from the lead chambers under the roof of the Doge's Palace; and The World, were Casanova is writing his memoirs while employed as a librarian for the Count of Waldstein in the castle of Dux, Bohemia, during the last years of his life.

The Minor Arcana show a number of scenes, any of which could have been plausible events in Casanova's life, or things he might have witnessed. The artwork itself is richly ornate, and yet makes use of softer, muted colors, as if watercolors were used. This is a credit to Raimondo, as the scenes themselves convey the stark realities of the pursuit of the lust for life. Vivid, bright colors would tend to detract from the messages conveyed by the scenes.

The court cards, however, seem to break from this pattern of realistic events. They seem to be much more esoteric in feel. Most of the characters are wearing masks, with the exceptions of the Knave of Cups, and the Queens of Swords and Pentacles. Of the four knaves, the Knave of Cups is more appropriately featured without a mask. His message of the use of the energy of the suit of cups is best delivered without the use of a mask.


The Queen of Swords is lacking her red hair, but is shown seated, rather provocatively on a red chair. She makes no pretense about her ability to use the sword she is holding, when it suits her wishes. The Queen of Pentacles, also shown in a provocative manner, is holding a pentacle between her legs. It is as if she is inspiring, or perhaps inviting, one to use the pentacle energy she is playing with. In either case, masks are not needed for their messages.

Many of the characters featured in both the Major and Minor Arcana are shown using masks to hide their faces. Perhaps this gives us a clue as to how Casanova may have seen his contemporaries. Just as there were plots, sub-plots, and perhaps counter-plots, so to do these characters seem to be playing their roles of disguise and deceit. The masks hide their emotions from one another, as well as hide their actual intent.

This is readily seen in the Two of Pentacles, where an orgy is taking place. Both parties are clothed, and they never seem to look into each other's eyes. They are concerned only for the pleasure of the moment, not the lasting fulfillment of a committed relationship. It is the excitement of the mystery of the moment, and the flash of ecstasy that is craved.

The cards themselves are the standard size of all the Lo Scarabeo decks. They feature multiple languages, Italian at the top of the card, then English and French at the lower left, and German and Spanish at the lower right. The Major Arcana are number in Roman Numerals, with the Minor Arcana number in decimal format. The Major Arcana seems to be formatted like the Marseilles deck, with Strength as IX and Justice as VIII, which for myself presents no problem.

Like all of the Lo Scarabeo decks, the cards come shrink-wrapped, with a simple foldout instruction sheet, all of which is enclosed in a shrink-wrapped box.

Using this deck for public divination may pose a bit of a problem. Most professional readers tend to use decks that are more "politically correct," which I would agree with. However, there are times when this type of deck would be appropriate, such as at a singles party, were topics concerning sex are the norm. Using careful judgment, a reader could have quite a time using these cards in an appropriate environment.

Taken as a whole, the Tarots of Casanova is most notably a "male oriented" deck. This is not surprising, as the subject of this deck, Casanova, was the 18th century's version of a playboy. Casanova not only loved the women he chased after, but he also loved food, wine, court intrigue, as well as the city of
Venice itself. It is this lust for life itself, not just sex, which is the theme of this deck. If you are interested in reading for clients, who are operating from their "second chakra," you might consider this deck.

Published by Lo Scarabeo,
Torino, Italy. Available in the U.S. from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. ISBN 0-73870-016-9.


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