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Tarot of the Mystic Spiral (Review by Zanna Starr)

Tarot of the Mystic Spiral (Zanna Starr)Tarot of the Mystic Spiral

by Zanna Starr


The everlasting search for knowledge and wisdom is represented by the spiral. It can be found in the galaxies and in DNA, the sacred geometry used in the construction of the pyramids and gothic cathedrals, mathematical constants, alchemist’s formulas, and art dating back to the Stone Age. This mysterious, cosmic symbol is also indicative of a journey, an evolution. Use the Tarot of the Mystic Spiral to help you on your own quest—whether you’re seeking personal growth, spiritual enlightenment, or a glimpse into the ultimate meaning of life.


This boxed deck includes 78 full-color cards and an LWB (Little White Book / instruction booklet). As with all Lo Scarabeo decks, the LWB has sections written in English, Italian, Spanish, French, and German. Too bad they forgot to include Bassa. (I’m just kidding of course. Some folks really dislike the multilingual nature of Lo Scarabeo decks, but I kind of like it, even if it makes the LWB look like it contains way more information than it does.)

This deck is multi-cultural as well, incorporating “Gothic cathedrals…Dervishes and Maori…yogi…Vikings…dragons, unicorns, minotaurs, and sphinxes…Archangels…Knights Templar…Continua a leggere »

Fine dalla Torre Tarot

Tarocchi Carte Fine dalla TorreLe Carte Fine dalla Torre

XVII Century Tarot of Bologna


The International Museum of Tarot sought to publish an ancient Italian deck that was as yet unpublished in the modern era.

Something not too far from the model that gave rise to the 18th century iconic illustrations of the so-called Tarot of Marseilles; well-known to enthusiasts, (and consequently to a large degree influential over decks published during subsequent centuries).

This choice went to the 17th century exemplary Bolognese deck of cards known as the ‘Fine della Torre’, which fortunately was passed down to us nearly complete and in fairly good condition. The only known example is preserved as “Tarot bolonais XVIIe s.” by the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Estampes, KH 34 rés. boit 1, cf. cat. “Tarot, jeu et magie” n° 26 B.N. 1984. Nomenclature IPCS: IT-2.)

The original card size was 105 x 43 mm. (4.1” x 1.7”) and the Trumps were printed unnumbered although became numbered by hand afterwards.

In the new edition the card size is 6 x 14 cm. (2.4” by 5.5”)

At the time of production, being a Bolognese style deck meant it would be reduced from the traditional Tarot deck of seventy-eight to sixty-two cards; eliminating the Minor Arcana numbered: 2, 3, 4 and 5 of each suit, (following the custom in vogue in Bologna since at least the mid-16th century). Of the original sixty-two, only six cards remain lost to time: 6, 7, 8 & 9 of Swords, the Queen of Cups and Queen of Coins.

It is a similar deck to modern successors, such as the Tarocchino Bolognese, but at the same time has many resemblances to its ancestors of the 16th century (with the notable exception of the Devil card); at least with regards to the twelve surviving images of Trumps on two incomplete sheets from the last decade of the 15th century. The first is in the Bibliotheque de l’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Masson Collection, (uncataloged), Paris. The second is in the Musée du Louvre, Rothschild Collection, LR 3804, Paris.

Curiosity over this precious deck of Tarot cards

In this early Tarot deck there are still traditional depictions of the High Priestess, Empress, Emperor and Pope, that were viewed unfavorably by authorities of the Papal States, and which were subsequently replaced in Tarocchino Bolognese; first by two Popes and two Emperors (by at least 1669) and eventually by images of the four “Moors” during the late 17th century.

From the perspective of symbolism, this deck shows extremely interesting details, particularly when compared to the traditional portrayal of the cards.

The High Priestess and Pope are the most remarkable cards of the Major Arcana. The High Priestess holds Keys and makes a blessing with a Latin gesture, while the Pope has a closed book and holds a cross. The latter also reveals stigmata on his hands, and has a youthful, beardless face that is decidedly feminine. The details of his Papal Tiara (a triple crown without button or cross) suggest a hypothetical design dating between 1342 and 1503.
All face cards of the Major Arcana are interesting from a historic and symbolic point of view, while the Court Cards consistently reflect complementary qualities of courtly pairing in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
The distinction between male suits (Wands and Swords) and female (Cups and Coins) is all too evident with the obvious presence of two female chambermaids. However, in this regard, there are many other significant details, such as the postures of these characters, their attire, attributes and ageless appearance.
The 10 of Coins has the inscription “CARTE FINE DALLA TORRE IN BOLOGNA” with 17th century typography. These words are capitalized and displayed vertically. Most likely one of many heirs of an abundant production of cards that was documented in Bologna with the manufacturer Pietro Bonozzi since at least 1477, while their presence was certified in town since at least 1459 (refer to the Tarot Travel Guide of Italy, 2015, page 50 by Morena Poltronieri, Ernesto Fazioli & Arnell Ando.)

The back of the cards

On the back of the cards are two winged angels. One is the classic Cupid with bow and arrow, while the other points to a large tree with a heart hanging like fruit. This is probably a reference to the myth of Apollo and Daphne; both struck by arrows of Eros, but with opposite results. Apollo fell in love with Daphne, while she flatly refused his advances after a long chase through the woods. So as not to give into the passions of the ‘God of Oracles’, this nymph, prayed for an escape and was thus transformed into the sweetly scented laurel plant, (Ovid, Metamorphoses, I, 452-567) known as “Daphne” in Greek and which consequently became the symbolic tribute to great poets in Ancient Greece.

Fine dalla Torre Tarot, box setsWork on the cards

In April 2014 Morena Poltronieri and Ernesto Fazioli (of the International Museum of Tarot) began the challenge of returning this precious Bolognese Tarot of the 17th century back to production.

The original fifty-six cards of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris are engraved on wood with a colorful façade. Poltronieri and Fazioli did not perform an actual restorative process directly on these cards, but rather worked on the images digitally, through various color definition phases, both with pastels and by utilizing computer graphics.

The first step was to print the image in A4 format and then define the contours and colors using professional pastels. The refined images were then scanned and set in Photoshop to clean up smudges caused by time and wear. One of the goals was to not interfere creatively with the look of these cards, but to preserve the original freshness, which is characteristic of the era, and a valuable and distinctive artwork. The end result is respectful of the unique designs, contours and colors, while adding a greater definition to the innate beauty and appearance inherent in the original imagery.

The missing Queens (Cups and Coins) have been redesigned and processed through Photoshop, while referring to the Court Cards of an 18th century, double sided, Tarocchino Bolognese, which is part of the permanent collection of the Tarot Museum.

For us the fruit of the labor will be in sharing the revival of one of the most important Italian Tarot works of the distant past.

After nearly four centuries, this quintessential 17th century deck is again available.

This text was written by Giovanni Pelosini and translated by Arnell Ando.

The Renaissance Origins of Tarot

The Renaissance Origin of TarotThe Renaissance Origins of Tarot


Giovanni Pelosini

Translated by

Arnell Ando

A fascinating new eBook by accomplished Tarot historian Giovanni Pelosini, which I greatly enjoyed translating, while speculating on how deeply the seeds of Tarot were planted before blossoming beautifully during Renaissance Italy. This brief but enthralling synopsis on the origins of Tarot shares not only various influences that came together to create this amazing spiritual/psychological pastime & game but also how far back some influences can be traced and from how far away. Captivating stuff…

The mystery of the origins of Tarot is linked to its creators during the Italian Renaissance, who designed the cards for the artistic and cultural legacy of humanity, while also feeling inspired by the liberation of humankind’s spiritual nature. The Renaissance was an extraordinary moment of cultural syncretism and artistic freedom of thought. In the fifteenth century, alchemy, astrology and the ancient traditions of Hermeticism had an opportunity to come together in a unique iconographic, mnemonic system of educational experiences which became the Tarot deck, complete with twenty-two original Triumphs (Trump cards). After creating this deck, humanists, scientists and writers, driven by their passion for knowledge, gathered in academic settings, protected by the Lords of Florence, Ferrara, Bologna, Rimini, Milan, Mantua and other cities, while continuing a centuries-old tradition of spiritual initiation. This Renaissance offering to humanity was created not only for recreational purposes, or divination, but in order to reveal secrets of the Neo-Platonic philosophy founded on the apparent multiplicity and uniqueness of an ordered, holistic cosmos, enriched by free spirited creativity, which through the images of Tarot, could then soar above the illusory dualism that exists between mind and matter and move towards self-realization.

Arnell Ando

⇒ Amazon: Giovanni Pelosini, The Renaissance Originis of Tarot

I Tarocchi Appropriati

Tarocchi Appropriati

Muse o Dei by Hermatena

Mutus Liber


This unusual collaborative project harkens back to a time in Tarot history when nobility would enjoy playing clever parlor games with the cards. The accompanying 96-page booklet gives a brief overview of the historical context from which the hosts of Tarocchi Appropriati (Morena Poltronieri & Ernesto Fazioli) were inspired to pay homage to such ancient Tarot word games. Written documentation still in existence from 1668 – 1725 Bologna shares how these challenging games were performed in playful (often catty) competition amongst friends. As Morena Poltronieri explains:

The “Appropriate Tarots” were presented in Bologna (Italy) and Lodovico Frati, in a manuscript of 1668, wrote about this particular system of reading. ‘The Trumps of Appropriate tarocchini’, were composed of two different parts: the first part listing the correspondence between the Trumps and the ladies of the past, and the second supplies in prose an explanation of the proposed correspondence. From this ancient system of reading was born the project “Appropriate Tarot.” Like in the past, the 22 Major Arcana inspire poetry – one poem for each card.

We are invited, along with this select group of artists to revisit an ancient era in Bologna, when a group of refined ladies would gather together to play parlor games (often ‘tongue’ in cheek’) with hand-painted Tarocchi cards, in order to test wits and lyrical skills with insight or parody on public figures & social commentary, as relating to each Trump card.

The 22 Major Arcana cards created for this deck by the various international artists are presented in B&W in the booklet along with the artists’ own interpretations, which is then followed by an inspired bit of prose by Jari Casagrande. This poet also created the IX Hermit card. While renowned Tarot historian Giovanni Pelosini who oversaw this project contributed the XIV Temperance Card. Continua a leggere »

Tarot of the Mystic Spiral (by

Tarot of the Mystic Spiral Deck

The everlasting search for knowledge and wisdom is represented by the spiral. It can be found in the galaxies and in DNA, the sacred geometry used in the construction of the pyramids and gothic cathedrals, mathematical constants, alchemist’s formulas, and art dating back to the Stone Age. This mysterious, cosmic symbol is also indicative of a journey, an evolution. Use the Tarot of the Mystic Spiral to help you on your own quest—whether you’re seeking personal growth, spiritual enlightenment, or a glimpse into the ultimate meaning of life.

Boxed deck (2 3/4 inches X 4 3/4 inches) includes 78 full-color cards and instruction booklet.

Henry Jones Sr – Halloween 2012

“My Dad is Henry Jones. GET OVER IT.”

                                                                                                 Lorenzo Pelosini

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