Universal Fantasy Tarot

Deck by Paolo Martinello
© 2006 Lo Scarabeo

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The Fool in
                Universal Fantasy Tarot2 of Chalices
                in Universal Fantasy TarotQueen of Wands in Universal
                Fantasy Tarot
                Chariot in Universal Fantasy Tarot2 of Swords in Universal
                Fantasy TarotAce of
                Pentacles in Universal Fantasy Tarot

                Fantasy TarotAs the name implies, the Universal Fantasy is a deck of intricate, detailed fantasy art that blends with the concepts of Tarot.  I think it is, for the most part, very well done in terms of creating fantasy art to fit into the picture of Tarot.  This deck is likely to be a hit for those who enjoy fantasy themes and art.

The coloring is beautiful in this deck -- very life-like in a way that is bold enough to be believable, but not so bold as to be overbearing.  In this deck, you will find swirling, flowing, and cascading garments and design.  This is far better than comic book art, so if the word "fantasy" makes you think of a comic book . . . you'll want to revisit that idea through this deck.  The art is far more detailed than comic book designs.

Through this deck, you will find mystical types of creatures and beings, dragons, winged horses, and even some apparent demons . . . all telling a story of its own for each card.  The backs of the cards are reversible with a black border and the Wheel card presented in each corner like a mirror image -- something I've found a lot in Lo Scarabeo decks to use a card from the deck and mirror it for a reversible back.

The face of each card has a white border around it, with a black top and bottom border.  The number of each card is included in the top black border.  You'll also see six different languages on each card.

5 of Swords
                in Universal Fantasy TarotThe Tower in Universal Fantasy TarotAlthough fantasy art is not typically my favorite genre or theme for the Tarot, I must say that the colorful art is brilliant in the cards.

There are a few cards that I questioned as to why a particular scene was chosen. For example, I think the Five of Swords in this deck would be an appropriate Tower card . . . and the actual Tower card, although it shows a huge rock structure that is starting to crumble, just doesn't suggest the impact of Tower energy to me.  I feel that more in the Five of Swords imagery where a figure seems to rise from the buildings and is taking control in a way that could be destructive.

Although I don't think I would recommend this deck to a Tarot beginner, it is a deck that can further spark the imagination and creativity of an experienced reader.

I enjoyed going through the deck, card by card, to look at new insights that this deck could reveal or emphasize perhaps more than a traditional deck might do.  There are so many cards I could talk about here, but of course, I can't evaluate every one of them in the space of a review.  So I'll mention a few of them and what I like about the presentation.

The Two of Cups (pictured in the sample cards above) shows me a man who looks into a mirror . . . but instead of seeing his own image, he sees the image of a woman.  She may be the woman of his dreams that he already has in his life . . .  or the partner he desires and would like to unite with.  He sees someone other than just himself as he gazes into the mirror.  I think that idea shows a readiness for one to be in a relationship when they are able to think outside of just themselves and their own needs.  He is dressed in a suit of armor, so perhaps he is the Prince who seeks his Princess . . . or maybe she is a woman that he must fight for in some way.

The Two of Swords, also featured above, is the card that is presented on the deck's box.  She truly seems haunted in this card, and as we understand that there are difficult choices to be made with the Two of Swords, one can have a tendency to blindfold themselves to the truth or to making a decision.  I can easily feel that energy in this version of the Two of Swords.  The creature that looms just above her gives the impression of her feeling so haunted or conflicted about what lies ahead with a decision she might make.

We see a horse of a different color in the Chariot card -- three winged horses in fact, all in shades of pastel (see image above).  This is not a traditional representation of the Chariot card, but then this is also not a Rider-Waite cloned deck.  It strays from tradition, although you can still find many images that are familiar.  The Chariot card in the Universal Fantasy Tarot doesn't portray a charioteer with horses connected to a chariot, but the varying colors and the different stances of these winged horses show us varied states of readiness, with the first horse standing calmly, the middle horse seeming to be ready to trot, and the horse at the far end seeming to want to run.

In real life, we have to pull together these varying forces within us to find a healthy balance. We have to know when to stand still, when to walk, and when to move quickly to our desired goals.  So although this is a different presentation of the Chariot, I can feel the meaning behind this card as I do so many others from this interesting Tarot deck.

The Six of Cups is fascinating in that it presents a winged snail-like creature.  Two individuals are on the back of this creature along with five cups.  The sixth cup is being fished out of the water by the male figure on the back of the winged snail. 

The LWB for this card simply states:  "Fate has unknown and surprising ways of revealing itself, sometimes linking distant times and feelings."  To incorporate what we know about the Six of Cups in terms of memories and the past, I can link this card to "fishing" for what we seek through something of the past.  Although we should not try to live our lives in the past, sometimes the answers we need in the present could come from an issue or experience of the past.

The LWB (little white booklet) that accompanies this deck is 63 pages in length, and it is written in five languages.  So it's very brief in offering meanings for the cards.  You would fare better using other material for interpretation than the LWB.  The brief meanings offered can also be difficult to connect to some of the cards as well.  This is typical of many little booklets that come with decks, however.  It's not necessarily a shortcoming, but it's just something common to see.

With some thought, this deck can actually be quite fun to explore.  It lets you be creative and use your imagination . . . and by doing so, you can tap into those intuitive sources within yourself as well.  It's a deck that offers a challenge -- but in an exciting way -- to work with the cards and find your personal meanings within them.

Deck Details - Universal Fantasy Tarot

Number of Cards in Deck: 78

Size of Cards:  2.6" x 4.74"

Included with deck: A 63-page little white booklet written in five languages

Major Arcana:  Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers,
Chariot, Strength, Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, Hanged Man, Death, Temperance,
Devil, Tower, Stars, Moon, Sun, Judgment, World

Suit Names: Chalices, Wands, Swords, Pentacles

Court Cards:  Knave, Knight, Queen, King

Back Design of Cards: 

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