Table of Contents


Tarot Reflections

 May 1, 2004

Review: Tarot of Mermaids
Tracy Hite, ATA Treasurer, Networks Manager

Tracy began her own Tarot journey while recovering from her first son's birth on New Year's Eve, 1996. She tried to study on her own for nearly a year, picking up what she could from books and websites, but she had a lot of trouble piecing everything together. Through membership in  the American Tarot Association, she met the contacts and gained the expertise needed to gain her certification as a Certified Tarot Master.

Tracy uses a variety of decks to gain a fresh perspective on problems, or to point out ideas or issues she might not have considered otherwise. She admits that she can't predict the future, but does believe that working with the cards can help "move life forward."

Tracy is honored to serve as Manager for both the Free Reading Network and the Free Tarot Network. She also volunteers as Treasurer of the ATA and webmaster of the Comparative Tarot site.


If you're the kind of person who is easily offended by female nudity – bare breasts in particular – then stop reading right now. Tarot of Mermaids is probably not the deck for you.

Still here? Good!

The very word “mermaid” conjures up images of all that is feminine: beauty, grace, mystery, and emotional depths. She is both familiar and alien, human and primordial. As the deck's booklet points out, “Her hybrid image highlights an unfinished evolutionary process. She unveils our ancient animalistic and savage nature.” If your goal as a tarot reader is to tap into the collective unconscious, then what better guide to those waters than the mermaids?


Tarot of Mermaids
by Pietro Alligo and Mauro De Luca
Published by Lo Scarabeo
ISBN 0738704148


Although clearly inspired by the Rider-Waite “standard” deck, most of the traditionally masculine cards have been replaced with feminine counterparts. Apparently mermaids never wear anything more than scarves or a little jewelry, so there are bare breasts at every turn. The Knaves (pages) and Knights are all female, as are the Magician, the Fool, and even the Hanged Man (although she's still called a Man). The Emperor, the Hermit, and the four Kings are still mature male father figures, and there are a few younger men scattered through the Minor Arcana, but they are the exception far more than the rule. The Chariot driver might be a handsome young merman – if there weren't a helmet covering his face. He's got an attractive torso, at least, and powerful arms guiding his porpoise-drawn clamshell boat.

Gender bending isn't the only change made to better fit the deck theme. Although traditional names are printed on each card, the suit icons have been replaced with aquatic versions, and each suit shares a dominant color scheme. Chalices become purplish blue Shells, Pentacles are orange-red Pearls, Swords are blue-green Tridents, and Wands are golden brown Oars. Cards are labeled at top and bottom in dark blue bands that look like drops of water, and the “white space” of the card borders is a pale aqua. Strength's lion has become a walrus, her hair blown into a leminscate in the wind. The Magician, pictured on the box, also wears an infinity symbol in her hair. Death shows a mermaid washed far up onto a decaying beach, a cloaked figure astride a hippocampus (mer-horse) in the background. The Five of Pents' church is a shipwreck, the lame beggar a blind mermaid being led by a companion.

My favorite card in this deck is the Moon. A huge crescent moon shines down between two darkened lighthouses. There's the usual pair of canines, one howling and the other sitting, though it's not quite clear whether they're dogs, wolves, or one of each. The crayfish, usually tiny, here becomes a huge mermaid version. Her back to us, she struggles to pull herself up onto land.

Although Tarot of Mermaids does not have a companion book available at this point, the enclosed booklet contains a lot of useful information about mermaid myths and lore. There's also a mermaid-shaped spread, the cards above the water line exploring the visible or known aspects of a situation and those below plumb the hidden depths. And if English isn't your preferred language, as with all Lo Scarabeo decks, the same information is provided in Italian, Spanish, French, and German.

Once you move beyond the abundant nudity, Tarot of Mermaids is both beautiful and functional, and is highly recommend for readers of all levels.


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