An Interview with Ciro Marchetti - Part Three

T.C.  You are currently working on an interactive website that will work hand in hand with the Legacy of the Divine, what is your ultimate vision with this new site?

C.M.  There are lots of Tarot sites, from Aeclectic type forums, personal blogs, to professional reading sites.  The whole spectrum is covered quite well, in most cases. But I think this will be different.

Once again, I'm trying to push the Tarot envelope.  I have tried to recreate the things that I describe in my book and use that as a visual metaphor and allow people to experience that in a virtual first person version of it.  Using your analogy of game Myst, with this web site you will be entering into a Tarot Realm and interacting with moving and eventually "talking" Tarot cards. 

It won’t just be eye candy though.  There will be some very sophisticated content.  There's a Reading Room which we have developed as a proprietary software.  Unlike most reading software that limits you to choosing between a set of offered spreads, our site permits you to click and drag cards and put them in any position and spread you wish.  You can then write a summary of your reading, save it in your personal journal or e-mail it to friends or clients.  It’s a full interactive service.

There are also features such as a daily card drawing.  The work that has gone in to this is far more in depth than you will see on other sites.  You will not just receive a selection from one of 78 random cards as your card for the day.  In our case, you will input your birthday and moon phases, algorithms behind the scenes will then give priority to certain cards and will eliminate others to filter or direct the results, all based on your criteria.  In other words, it’s choosing a card of the day that is far more personal for you.  Not just one size fits all.

The site is also designed to be a learning resource.  There is another room, The Library,  I’d like to mention, I hope that there will be good interest!  It will provide a range of articles from various leading figures of today’s tarot community.  Among them are Mary K. Greer and Rachel Pollack. 

Another exciting part of the site will be the Graphics Room.  Several times a week, I receive emails from people asking to use my images on their websites or for something else for their business.  I am quite happy with that 99% of the time. On the website though, there will be an entire room dedicated to graphic packages, that will include letterheads, flyers, posters and web banners, all themed around Tarot.  They are neutral and not have any specific reference to the Legacy or myself.  They will include blank areas where users can add their own name or logo and use the results to promote their own business. They will be high-resolution files that should provide good results from your own ink-jet printer or be taken to your local digital prints service.


T.C.  Has this website gone public yet?

C.M.  No, it has not.  I am estimating it’s about three weeks away.  The animations take a tremendous amount of work.  The Majors, Swords and Wands are complete and we are half way through the Coins. 


T.C.  Some of your designs are also available as cross-stitch patterns, where else may we soon see some of your artwork?

C.M.  I have an agent in Europe who arranges for the licensing of my images.  There are several posters and jigsaw puzzles coming out this year in Europe.  They probably won’t get here until next year.  Many of these are Tarot related.


T.C.  How does it feel to know that your decks speak to so many Tarot readers?

C.M.  It gives me a lot of satisfaction. One thing is when people admire your work on an aesthetic level, but it’s another thing when people derive something beyond that, i.e. they can use it as a tool and for a purpose as is the case with a tarot deck.  I am both touched and grateful for the e-mails I receive most of which are positive, and encouraging. Although I have to admit some have also been critical especially regarding my first deck the Gilded. Where it, (or rather its popularity) seemed to irritate some of the more academic members of the Tarot community.

I would be the first to acknowledge its deficiencies, and admit it’s not the most sophisticated deck out there. But it still provides for many the essential of what they are looking for from a deck. Namely imagery that is appealing (however subjective that may be) and imagery that stimulates or compliments the reader's own abilities. That, in my opinion, is the core function and purpose of those images. Not to try and encompass a bewildering but questionable array of esoteric content from the past. If a lack of such content puts a deck into question, then by default the readings achieved using it must also be brought into question. And that is a significant point of consideration, as with or without its deficiencies, the Gilded has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide, so I conclude that something about it must be working and that's very encouraging.  

In the right hands, 78 white cards all blank other than the title would suffice for a reading.  Anything more than that it could be argued is mere decoration.  But I consider the imagery serves as a platform. It sets the stage and provides a more elaborate feel or setting for what you, the readers go on to interpret. 

I’ll offer an example; on the 9 of Coins, I read that the woman in the garden is traditionally holding a bird of prey.  I thought, fair enough, but I couldn’t figure out why.  I envisioned this 9 of Coins as a secretive garden, a paradise like secluded area and that is how I depicted it.  In that context, a falcon had little or no place.  So I replaced it with a bird of paradise.  I don’t know, if on the academic level, that renders the message somehow less or meaningless, but I don’t think so.  My goal is to be faithful to a degree, but not such a faithful degree that I becomes a Xerox photocopier.


T.C.  This is exactly why your decks are on the top of many readers' favorite lists.  We feel that you push the envelope that you stretch and make images that bring out certain feelings, that even a non-reader can understand when looking at one of your decks.

C.M.  Well that's the intention. Using the traditional RWS 7 of Swords as an example, here we have a scene and a character, that we have been told, is a thief-like persona,   smugly grabbing five swords while glancing back at the other two.  You are left to interpret as to why.  Is he on his way back to collect the other two?  Could he physically not carry any more?  Or whatever it happens to be.  At the risk of offending her many admirers, I have to be honest and say that images like this are lacking in clarity. Had I not read what is supposed to be happening in this card, I wouldn’t have automatically concluded that message from it.  I have asked many non-Tarot people, what they thought was being portrayed in the scene?  More than most, thought it was some sort of ritual dance. 

My purpose isn’t to critique PCS's artistic skills or in any way diminish her contribution, but to emphasize by that example why I set out to try and make each of my images as self explanatory as possible.  In other words, if you were to scratch out the number on the card and you were not to count the number of swords or elements, would you still clearly identify the card and its meaning just by the scene.

So with my 7 of Swords, I’ve tried to make it very clear, that it’s this very clandestine kind of scene of this person creeping up to the open window, by moonlight.  That obviously, he isn’t a guest.  I’ve also included some visual puns.  Above his head there is a magpie.  The magpie is traditionally associated with stealing shiny little objects.  There are several of these visual little plays going on throughout the Legacy deck. I don't feel I've achieved that same clarity with all the cards, but that was the intent. 


T.C.  What has been your favorite project and why?

C.M.  That would have to be the trailer for the website for the Legacy of the Divine.  That was just fun!  It was wonderful playing around with video animation and music.   Specifically, adding in the dimension of music, which added so much to the whole atmosphere.  I was very pleased with the result.

I feel that I may have started a trend or it may be just the time is right, but I’ve noticed that lots of Tarot decks are now being promoted in this way. 


T.C.  You’ve set the bar really high here! 

C.M.  You do have to have a certain understanding of the production process behind it,  even if you don’t personally have expertice in the various components required.  In my case, I had access to those that do as I teach at a college and there were more than a few students who were very enthusiastic about being a part of this type of a project.  I had the luxury of acting like a film director.  I had the images and concept in my head and prepared precise storyboards and directed my team to make it happen. Lots of fun, improvisation and raised eyebrows from neighbors wondering what the hell I was up to filming gypsy dancers in my garage.


T.C.  You’ve received several awards for your work, which award was the most exciting for you and why?

C.M.  The last one.  The Queen of Wands from the Legacy.  The National Association of Photoshop Professionals has a worldwide Photoshop competition every year. I’ve won this award in different categories a couple of times in the past.  But this year the Queen of Wands won Best of Show.  Part of the prize was a trip to Barcelona, all expenses paid for myself and an assistant.  My wife insisted that she was my assistant.  It was a great trip.  Another part of the prize was to create an image for the front cover of their magazine, inspired by the visit.  I created an image titled "Dreams of Gaudi" which is in fact this month's cover of Photoshop User Magazine.  I used to win paint prizes at primary school which offset my otherwise bad grades, so it was always easy to impress my mum.  But being honored by one's peers is always more gratifying.  


T.C.  Is there anything that you would like to share?

C.M.  If there is anyone who would like to have an article added to my website, let me know.

There is also another section on the Legacy web site which is worth mentioning, the Hall of Knowledge.  That section simulates the scene in my book, where I am in that magical environment.  I walk up to a wall, that responds to my approach, which provides me with imagery, information and knowledge.  I’ve duplicated that scene in the website. There will be a wall that you can click on.  There will be hundreds of images available, each of which you can click on.  Each will contain a little snippet of information related to Tarot.  Anything and everything from the significance and role of animals and living creatures in a deck to crystals other symbolism.  An eclectic selection of information that you can click on and read a short, brief explanation of. This will be an ever increasing selection, so if anyone would like to contribute to it, just contact me for details.  There will be a contact button on the website once it's launched or through

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