I am all in when it comes to autumn and think the holiday season begins pretty much as soon as Labor Day is over. I love decorating my house for the holidays, starting with Hallowe’en. I even decorate for Thanksgiving and celebrate that aesthetic for several weeks before launching myself headlong into Christmas. I put my house back to Ordinary Time sometime in January — and depending how things are going, sometimes it’s late January. It’s all good. The more festive the better, am I right?
So it’s October again, and if you’ve been reading this blog for a minute, you know that means it’s time for Witchy Weekends! This year I thought I’d do something a little different, so each week my intention is to feature a different beautiful tarot deck. I have collected these my entire adult life, and while yes, of course, I have the classic Rider-Waite and its popular derivatives, the decks I most love are the ones with more unusual imagery, the ones that interpret the stories of the Major and Minor Arcana in unexpected, or at least thoughtful, ways. I’m fascinated by the way the cards have traditionally embraced the plot structure archetype of the Hero’s Journey. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to read them all, but even if I never do, I can admire the gorgeous artwork.
The first deck I’m featuring is the Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot, published by Lo Scarabeo in Italy, copyright 2014. The collection was edited by Pietro Alligo.
The artwork on this deck is reminiscent of Mark Ryder’s work, I think, in the way it blends the Gothic with a sort of candy-coated palette. It fetishizes youthfulness but not in a particularly indecent way: I don’t find a significant theme of sensuality in these cards. Rather, there’s a strong undercurrent of precociousness in this artwork and an acknowledgement that the innocence of youth is a cliché. You also will not find a wealth of diversity here.
Many of the cards allude to fairy tales or other children’s stories. Wonderland’s Alice shows up more than once, and this example from the Major Arcana references Snow White.
Now for the Minor Arcana. The first suit, cups, typically deals with emotions and corresponds to the element of water. Many of the cards in this deck reflect nautical imagery or creatures or interpersonal connections.
The next suit — called discs in this deck but sometimes called coins or pentacles — concerns itself primarily with material issues and the element of earth. Like many reflections on consumerism or materialism, you’ll find depictions of power imbalances here.
The wands suit is primarily about actions and the element of air. In this deck the wands appear to be clubs; in some decks they’re called staffs or staves. Many of these cards, in this deck, include animals, suggest movement or travel, and portray interpersonal dynamics.
The final suit, swords, concerns itself with conflicts and the element of fire. In this deck, the artwork for this suit includes many images of implied or explicit peril.
The artwork of the Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot is just lovely, if you’re interested in a pale and waifish aesthetic with a dose of world-weariness thrown in.
Are there any tarot decks whose artwork you particularly enjoy? Tell us about them in the comments section. And Happy October!