into the world of Tarot started because of my life long desire to see
the great pyramids of Egypt. My dream was about to come true, my life
partner, Sandra Thomson said why not take the trip? My plane was to do a
lot of meditation in the great pyramid and Egypt's sacred places.
always speaks in symbols. My psychic development teacher said if I
wanted to learn symbology I should study the Tarot. That was the
beginning of my 20 some year journey down the Tarot path. After three
co-authored books, a generous Tarot library, and more than 300 Tarot
decks later, I am still on the Tarot path.
Games has done it again. They have produced a beautifully illustrated
Tarot deck of 78 cards and 146-page book set with a wonderful extra, a
full-sized (17-inch by 23-inch) full color Celtic Cross Spread fold-out
sheet. The sheet shows how to lay out the spread in detail and explains
what a preponderance of cards from any suit or Major Arcana of the
Fradella Adventure Tarot might mean.
Tarot cards are a 4 ¾” x 2 ¾.” The backs illustrate a Fradella monogram
with reversed letters combined so it will not give away the upright or
reversed position of card. The black and white illustrations of the Major
Arcana in the book are oversized (a great idea) so you can see the detail
that is so important in reading about the cards. The Major and Minor
Arcana are illustrated by J. P. Dupras, an award winning artist, with 72
heroes/villains (a couple are repeated) from Frank Fradella’s iHero™
many wonderful characters, so little time; however, each is a treat, and
they are all worth taking the time to read about and reflect on them,
their place in the deck and the archetypal world, and how we see them as
part of our lives. Fradella’s heroes are concisely described, powerfully
and beautifully illustrated. They expose you to a new style of modern
mythology. They represent “a world of people and powers, costumes and
simple fact is that we tell stories about people,” Fradella writes. “They
just happen to be people with superpowers, or people who wear costumes.
But people nevertheless.
“It’s that humanity in
our characters that makes them such ideal candidates for representation on
the tarot,” he says. “They have the same basic needs and worries as you
and I. The same joys and fears. And that goes for the villains, too.
You won’t find any cardboard stereotypes in our bad guys. Just normal
people whose greed or anger gets the better of them.”
For each of the cards,
Fradella has created a short description, almost like a short O’Henry-like
story. For instance, for The Hierophant, whom he depicts as a man with
swan wings, called The Swan, Fradella says, “The Swan stands on the steps
of City Hall in Lake Andersen, holding the keys to the city that the Mayor
gave him moments before. At the foot of the stairs, reporters listen
intently for anything the feathered do-gooder might say. The Swan has
just rescued a few teenagers from their own folly as they attempted to
drive their car over the frozen surface of the town’s namesake.” For the
remainder of the story, well, you’ll have to get the deck and book.
Fradella uses The Fool’s journey to follow the heroes and villains of
his e-zine universe. Each card offers insight into how power,
reflection, and the awareness of The Fool is tempered and expanded
through his trials and the lessons that each card (as a stepping stone)
presents him on his journey.
What’s in a name? Mystery, power, and maybe a bit of a hint of who we
are or who we might want to be. Fradella’s names and descriptions of
his characters offer us a thumbnail sketch of the personality and
attributes of the hero/villain who rules each card. His descriptions
stir an inner calling and recognition of the talents and powers we all
hope we would find somewhere in ourselves.
His heroes have names like Pulsar, The Magician; Etheria, The High
Priestess; Aura, the Empress; and, despite his angelic appearance, a
villain named Monarch as Temperance. Their names create an atmosphere
and feeling for these characters even before you meet them. The name I
fell in love with as soon as I read it was Prophecy, for The Hermit. It
forced me into a new and different perspective of the card. Fradella
describes the essence of The Hermit as “. . . a soul apart from others,
but willing to offer guidance. . . . He has learned the most important
lesson of all—that the only future with no doubt is the one you
The Hanged Man (otherwise known as Eclipse, a misfit) tells you where
The Fool has come from. “Here, at last, The Fool has earned a rest from
his endless journey, this is a time for inaction, where the events that
The Fool has put into motion will yield their fruit. In regards to the
Justice card before this one, The Hanged man could be viewed as waiting
for a verdict to be returned.”
The last Major Arcana, The World, depicts a beautiful women, “whirling
in mystic energy.” She is the “the most powerful sorceress in the
world.” Fradella goes on to explain his understanding of the card.
“Like Solitaire, [her name] The World is not about simply having such
power, or wealth, or happiness, but rather the culmination of having
earned all of those things.” Fradella says the last key “represents a
life well lived, a journey well traveled. The World is all we have ever
hoped to become. And we have achieved it by using skill and willpower,
opposing the sometimes-cruel twists of fate and the folly of our own
For me, the depth of insight and intuition of any Tarot deck lies in the
Major Arcana; however, some wonderful surprises come from the cards of
the Minor Arcana of Fradella’s deck. Wands are now Staves, “a common
tool for the modern crime fighter.” Cups are Masks, because they convey
or contain emotions. Swords are now Blades, “for obvious reasons, and
finally, Pentacles have become Disks, as the concept of currency expands
to incorporate information in the digital age.” The Minor Arcana are as
powerfully drawn as the Major Arcana with their own meanings, which
follow the stories of the deck’s heroes through their interactions with
the Minor Arcana cards.
For instance, the Seven of Masks (Seven of Cups) shows the hero, with
his back to us. Seven different masks emerge from clouds of energy.
Fradella says of the card, “Dressed in black and gold, Dreamweaver
exorcises his powers of illusion to manifest the seven masks that dance
before him. Each one comes from a different culture, representing
different aspects of both the illusion and its creator.
“This is a representation of an imagination that has been given too much
rein. Dreamweaver may soon discover that the Seven of Masks indicates
his powers are spread too thin, and deceptions are the order of the
day.” How’s that for a different picture and explanation of the Seven
The chapter “Reading for Yourself and Others” has many treasures in it.
Fradella writes in his subsections “Care And Handling” and “Shuffling,
Cutting, and Dealing the Cards” clear, simple, and easy directions for
understanding these processes. I applaud him for raising awareness
about ethics and Tarot card readings, i.e., “. . .there exists a certain
code of ethics that every tarot reader should adopt. When a person sits
across from you and looks to you for guidance, they’re seeking
enlightenment on their own life’s journey.” Fradella then goes into
detail about his own ethics and has impressed me so much with his
concise and clear understanding of Tarot ethics that I am now including
some of them it in my own personal code of ethics and crediting Frank
Fradella for the great thought and insight that went into them.
Two readings truly illustrate how Fradella’s cards can be read and the
interpretations/understanding gained from them. The reading for “Paul,”
using the Celtic Cross spread, gives good insight into the meaning of
each card in the position it occupies. The reading for “Amy” is a
three-card Past/Present/Future spread. Again Fradella gives more
details for understanding how to read his cards.
So, what started as a lark purchase for me soon became an eagle’s
treasure with its own colorful and different wings that flies higher and
wider than many other decks I have seen. The Fradella Adventure Tarot
is a surprisingly beautifully illustrated, powerful deck employing
hero-style crime fighting adventure drawings, an entirely new and unique
set of archetypal characters. I happily add this deck to my 300-plus
Tarot deck collection. I intend to keep it handy for the new insights
it can provide me into the Tarot cards.
The book-deck set (ISBN 1-57281-363-6) is published by U.S. Games
Systems, Inc., and is available in bookstores. Their
website is at www.usgamesinc.com.