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Published by stuarthaim41, 2019-10-23 00:24:11

ORV52_book

ORV52_book

by Ciro Marchetti

Copyright © 2019 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
All rights reserved. The illustrations, cover design, and
contents are protected by copyright. No part of this
booklet or deck may be reproduced in any form with-
out permission in writing from the publisher, except
by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in
connection with a review written for inclusion in a
magazine, newspaper or website.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Made in China

Published by
U.S. GAMES SYSTEMS, INC.

179 Ludlow Street
Stamford, CT 06902 USA

www.usgamesinc.com

Introduction

The Tarot Grand Luxe is my latest tarot
deck project. The special edition was
self-published and geared principally to
collectors. I made the assumption that anyone
reading the accompanying booklet is already
reasonably familiar with tarot and specifically
with the Rider-Waite-SmithTM deck upon
which the images of this project are, for the
most part, based. So I felt it would be some-
what redundant to provide yet another com-
panion book or document that explains the
historical content and meaning behind each
image of every card. Many cards of this deck
are in familiar enough territory relative to the
RWS that I don’t think further explanation is
necessary. Nevertheless, since in some cases I
have deviated to some degree from those tra-
ditional core images, I prepared this booklet
as a brief summary to offer some insight into

-3-

my personal ideas and objectives. Depending
on the card, this may constitute a few lines, in
others merely a summary of keywords. I would
emphasize however that these are only my
personal ideas and views, and ones with which
you may not always concur. But should that be
the case, hopefully the images themselves will
still offer a flexibility of interpretation that you
can work with.

h

To provide some initial context, we should
acknowledge the obvious, namely that the
pen and ink illustrations of Pamela Colman
Smith and the earlier Tarot de Marseilles wood-
cuts that preceded them, between them rep-
resent the visual foundations upon which the
tarot genre is built. They serve not just as the
core sources of tarot traditions but in the opin-
ion of many, are infused with aesthetic artistic
merits along with religious, spiritual, political
and esoteric symbolism. While you can’t negate
the importance of these earlier deck images, I
do question some of what has been subsequently
written and concluded from them over the cen-
turies that followed. The reality (in my view) is
that in many cases the illustrative style of these

-4-

earlier decks do not provide sufficient defini-
tion to clearly portray much of what has been
ascribed to them. In my mind, much of what
has been written about them is conjecture,
influenced by varying perspectives, such as
moral or social values that have changed over
time and vary between geographical regions.
Not to mention the personal beliefs, perspec-
tives and agendas of the individual authors
along the way. The results are a veritable pot-
pourri of interpretations ranging from well
researched conclusions to imaginative but less
credible theories. Nevertheless, despite the
inconsistency between them, many inter-
pretations have gained varying degrees of
traction and credibility from their respective
followers, if only because of frequent retelling
and reconfirmation over time. But in the
absence of any concrete historical origins that
can be referenced to serve as the definitively
correct or intended meaning behind those
early images, we are left with a rather incon-
clusive scenario where tarot imagery remains
somewhat enigmatic.

As a designer, this is both a dilemma and an
opportunity. Many choose to follow tradition
faithfully, accurately reproducing the com-
position, color and line work of those earlier

-5-

decks. This approach seems to be popular even
today with numerous (accurate) re-workings
of the older decks. These endeavors are to be
applauded as some are quite beautiful, and
some certainly meet with the approval of the
more traditional members of the tarot commu-
nity. But such an exercise, while representing
a technical challenge of sorts, creatively is one
that offers little interest to me. Furthermore,
I cannot deny that in many cases I simply do
not see in those early images what others claim
to see. The actions, gestures, expressions etc.
of the various characters occupying those
cards are simply not depicted clearly enough to
support all the interpretations that have been
subsequently ascribed to them. I am simply not
convinced that every detail within any given
composition was deliberately included with
such symbolic intent. A flower, animal, or ray
of light might in some cases simply have been
included as decorative content. But even if such
elements were intentionally symbolic, that sym-
bolism might not have served cross-culturally.
In many cases I feel that people see form and
function not because it’s there but as a result
of it having been pointed out and suggested to
them as such. I know this to certainly be the
case in my own work, where for example people

-6-

have often attributed meaning to some feature,
even negative space, that may coincidentally
resemble some other form. While it would be
tempting in such cases to take credit for such
“clever” visual play and claim it to have been
deliberate, I can’t in all honesty do so. I refer to
this phenomenon as the “poodle in the cloud.”
What is fundamentally a random shape, once
pointed out as resembling the form of a poodle,
can often elicit an “ah, I see it now” response
from viewers. In tarot, this ambiguity serves a
positive role. The easily recognized “poodle in
the sky” is the very feature that allows the lesser
illustrated patterned designs of the Marseilles
pips to be read intuitively. Where the interplay
of shape and form offers infinite possibilities
of interpretation. To a similar, albeit lesser
degree, the pen and ink tarot illustrations of
Pamela Colman Smith, which are not partic-
ularly detailed, can be treated in a comparable
manner. Her illustrations are clearly beloved by
many and the importance of her role in tarot’s
history is beyond question. But at the risk of
offending many in the tarot community (which
I often do) I have to say that for me personally
her style and composition do not always provide
me with clarity. Body proportions, poses,
expressions, direction of pointing fingers etc.

-7-

are by comparison to her illustrator peers of
that historic period, lacking in terms of drafts-
manship and detail required to provide a clear
narrative of the scene. Once again, I say this not
as a critique but to suggest that it provides some
flexibility of interpretation. I cannot emphasis
how important I consider that to be. If tarot
did have a definitive historical basis, if in the
imagery of each card there was an absolutely
clear depiction, and their meaning universally
accepted, the result would be a rather rigidly
prescribed set of images that would offer far less
room for intuitive input. Thus, the vagueness
I’m referring to and for all the reasons I’ve men-
tioned, is actually tarot’s strength and the basis
for its appeal. What we have is a combination of
relative structure and basics but one that is still
malleable, one that can be molded by the reader
to best reflect the nuances and circumstances
of an individual reading. My approach has been
to produce imagery that is relatively familiar
to the same corresponding cards from earlier
decks and maintain that same ambiguity, but
with a more detailed illustrative style and occa-
sional personal visual twists.

h

-8-

In terms of technique, my artistic medium of
choice is digital. In recent years there seems
to be an ever-increasing production of tarot
decks, in part because of this new medium that
allows for the use of direct photography or at
least manipulated photographic sources. This
might suggest a “relative” ease and speed, but as
with all mediums, there are variations in how
it’s used and the final product. Art is subjective,
its quality should not be judged by the time
it takes to produce it. Nevertheless, for those
who are interested in such things, my process
involves very simple initial sketches that serve
as a starting point. These almost always get
changed along the way to the final image, but
they serve as a base from which to then search
for usable reference material. In the case of
faces, I often combine multiple sources, select-
ing references of mouths, eyes, hair from differ-
ent faces, which I then mix, match, distort and
warp to create new ones. I use the same method
for background, landscapes, skies etc. These
are then combined with my own illustrated
elements, all manipulated further to create a
common visual consistency. The process con-
tinues with numerous minor manipulations,
for example adding light and shadow so that the
various elements acknowledge and respond in

-9-

a credible manner to imaginary light sources.
While much of the base material may have
originally been photographic, the end result is
fully reworked, digitally painted using a tablet
and pressure sensitive pen. Last but not least in
this Grand Luxe deck I have added a final stage
that deliberately diffuses the crisp detail typical
of many photo or digital decks and produces a
more hand-brushed/painted texture. All in all,
this labor intensive process often entails around
20 hours of work per card. For those technically
familiar with Photoshop, many cards utilized
over 80 layers.

-10-

Major Arcana

-11-

0 ✦ FOOL

Between the Marseilles and
the RWS there is a significant
discrepancy in how the Fool
is depicted. The dog (or cat
as suggested in some decks)
is clearly attacking the Fool
in most Marseilles decks.
This might suggest the Fool is a traveler, but
an unwelcomed stranger. A social outcast
either by choice, mental or physical illness, and
presumably poverty. This Fool’s journey would
have been a far cry from the more decoratively
dressed character we see in Pamela Colman
Smith’s scene. In her RWS tarot the dog seems
less intimidating, and so we are told, might
in fact be his pet willingly accompanying his
owner as he leaps innocently off the cliff. I
would imagine the Marseilles depiction to be
the more accurate of the two, but nevertheless
I have mixed and matched elements from both
traditions. This Grand Luxe Fool is foolishly
but decently dressed. His headdress is decorated
with symbolic representations of the Arcana,
along with a Shakespearean flourish. King
Lear’s Fool summarizes the somewhat unique
and ironic position the Fool had, probably the

-12-

only member of court that safely had the ear of
the king and the ability to laugh into it.

I ✦ MAGICIAN

This card illustrates wisdom
in various forms. The books
in the background sym-
bolize academic learning,
while the various glass vials,
instruments and mechanical
artifacts in the foreground ref-
erence the alchemical and scientific realm. The
owl and the ankh conjure the intuitive, natural
and spiritual elements.

II ✦ HIGH PRIESTESS

The High Priestess sits
between the two pillars of
wisdom. She is the feminine
energy that balances the male
energy of the Magician. The
owl connects these two cards
that for me share some com-
mon qualities in their unworldly, secretive, and
veiled mystery. Both figures suggest a combina-
tion of their individual spirituality along with
acquired knowledge.

-13-

III ✦ EMPRESS

This card depicts Gaia,
Mother Earth. A tree trunk
morphs into a human form,
its canopy provides a home for
birds, and a variety of crea-
tures inhabit the sanctity of its
shade. Between all the living
beings here is a shared concept of abundance
and maternal nurturing.

IV ✦ EMPEROR

Unlike a monarchy, where a
king or queen has a hereditary
position, an emperor is a posi-
tion gained through personal
endeavor. This card is about
power and political manip-
ulation along with whatever
necessary allegiances and support come with it.
This kind of personal achievement reflects the
reality of circumstances rather than privilege.
The writing on the scroll translates as “Author-
ity not truth makes law.” A somewhat cynical
Roman proverb that I consider to be equally
appropriate in contemporary times. In his
other hand is a “ fasces,” a bundle of sticks, and

-14-

a small axe. As separate elements the sticks are
inherently weak and breakable, but together as
a combined force they strengthen and become
unbreakable. The axe symbolizes the rule of
law that oversees and keeps that combined
force under control. The fasces symbolism and
the word itself is the basis of the political term
Fascism.

I chose to include this symbolism because it is
easily understood and applicable in other peri-
ods and political circumstances.

V ✦ HIEROPHANT

For me this character is pure
symbolism. While I believe
it can represent all organized
religions, clearly in its orig-
inal tarot role it represented
the pope and the Christian
church. I have reverted to
that representation here, but in a manner that
depicts more the title than the man. Who he
was may have had political and theological
ramifications, during any given tenure, but in
theory at least, it was his spiritual role that was
important, not him as an individual. This role
and its underlying significance was reinforced

-15-

to the masses by the visual pomp and grandeur
of decor. Here he sits resplendently silhouetted
within the magnificent swirled columns of
Bernini’s cupola.

VI ✦ LOVERS

For the Lovers card I couldn’t
resist the Romeo and Juliet
portrayal, even though it
results in a purely romanti-
cized image. This card is also
about other kinds of relation-
ships, bonds, commitments
and connections, particularly those based on
shared values. The cranes are a symbolic flour-
ish; as a pair they are known to mate for life.

VII ✦ CHARIOT

An end destination or goal
is established, but to get
there will require consid-
erable determination and
effort. There is energy and
drive from varying sources
but it may be in conflict. As
symbolized by the two horses pulling in two

-16-

different directions, there may not be common
agreement and purpose. Focus and control are
required to channel that energy at the desired
pace and in the direction you choose.

VIII ✦ STRENGTH

Many years ago when I was
working on my first tarot
decks, I remember Rachel
Pollack told me that Strength
(in the context of tarot)
means strength of will,
rather than physical. In most
tarot decks it’s the female
controlling the obviously physically stronger
lion. In my new Strength image I chose to
depict a windy scene. The leaves, woman’s hair
and clothing, and the lion’s mane are all blow-
ing in the wind. As such, the wind serves as a
source of strength, an intangible essence, that
cannot be directly seen, but most certainly is
felt. Its strength and power is clearly evident
via its effect on everything around it.

-17-

IX ✦ HERMIT

Unlike the tarot Fool who may
be rejected by society against
his will, the Hermit chooses
and seeks out his isolation.
Revealed by the light of his
lamp, he searches new paths
and directions. This card is
about solitude and quiet contemplation and the
understanding that comes from introspection.

X ✦ WHEEL

This card borrows some
elements from the traditional
Wheel of Fortune card, includ-
ing a token reference to the
Marseilles tarot. It represents
the eternal cycle of contrasting
fates and fortune, each a com-
bination of our own influence and choices, but
many things are ultimately determined by luck
and circumstance. The hare is an indication of
things to come, I will rule. The lion, the present
I am ruling. The monkey, possibly a mocking
realization of the temporal nature of our pre-
vious state, I did rule. And finally the abstract
empty fourth non-state, I have no rule.

-18-

XI ✦ JUSTICE

Scenes of statues and imagery
of a blindfolded Justice figure
are often used to symbolize
the impartial role of a judicial
system. Presumably this
blindness permits decisions
to be reached fairly without
bias or distraction, strictly to the letter of
the law. On this card, the letter of the law is
represented by the feather and the power to
apply that law is signified by the sword. If only
that symbolism of impartiality was actually the
case in the real world.

XII ✦ HANGING MAN

The colorful decorative
leggings might suggest that
the man hanging in this card
is none other than our Fool.
If you discount the Fool card
numbered as zero, then the
Hanging Man card XII can
be seen as the halfway point along the Fool’s
journey through the Major Arcana. The idea of
the hanged man has evolved from a medieval
form of punishment, to come to mean a form of

-19-

voluntary if uncomfortable meditative pause.
From this inverted position he can contemplate
his circumstances, his past and possible future,
from a different perspective. The red thorns are
a token reference to the Marseilles rendition of
this card.

XIII ✦ DEATH

As someone who loves masks
and includes them in many
of my illustrations, I couldn’t
resist the opportunity to do
so here and portray death in
this manner. I’ve included
a decorative embellishment
from the masks used during the plague when
collecting the corpses. The long snouts stuffed
with dried flowers and herbs were considered
to have offered protection from inhaling the
airborne vapors commonly believed to have
been responsible for the deadly scourge. A single
white rose pays homage to the RWS Death card.
As with the Fool and Devil, this card also has its
own collectors of trinkets. The ravens reconfirm
their own mythological associations bringing
additional deathly symbolism to the card.

-20-

XIV ✦ TEMPERANCE

In tarot, Temperance is about
balance, synthesis, harmony,
and creating the right mix
of elements. In this card the
traditional pouring of liquid
from one cup to another is
substituted by a radiating
path of light, which indicates a flow of energy
creating spiritual alchemy. Negative is changed
to positive, past to future, bad to good. Or you
may view it, if you wish, simply as a glowing
version of water flowing into wine.

XV ✦ DEVIL

The ultimate tempter offers us
all manner of worldly goods
and pleasures. In this card,
the ‘Fool’s gold’ is shown
as miniatures of the Minor
Arcana suits: the cup, sword,
wand and pentacle. Show-
ing the golden trinkets hanging upside down
from his hand provides a means of showing
the pentacle in its pentagram form. I have also
included a Marseilles-based reference to the
bondage that would result should we accept the

-21-

devil’s offer of bling. His multicolored, albeit
grotesque, headdress indicates a connection
to the Fool, perhaps as his alter ego. Another
little detail I have added is an attempted optical
illusion. For most people it would appear as
if the Devil is staring directly at you, which is
appropriate. But some of you will on occasions
see it differently, as if he is looking down at his
imprisoned human captives. Just stare at it for
a while and the illusion may present itself. The
devil specializes in delusion.

XVI ✦ TOWER

The Tower card portends a
sudden disastrous change
bringing calamity. This edifice
is typically shown being
struck by lightning, the tower
top engulfed in flames. And
that is exactly how I initially
produced it also. However, at the time I was
working on it, Hurricane Irma was threaten-
ing to ravage Florida. The formidable size and
force of this oncoming storm was a cause of
significant concern. My home and those of my
immediate family were in the predicted path for
a direct hit. The symbolism of this card took on

-22-

a more threatening and personal perspective.
Would I in the next 24 hours also lose my
roof to a Marseilles breath of God? I tempted
fate and continued to work on this image as
the weather conditions outside deteriorated.
I modified the image to reflect these circum-
stances. Fortunately, the storm veered away
sufficiently that we were spared any significant
damage. But it did do tremendous damage
elsewhere. As a result, this Tower card will
always have a more personal meaning to me.

XVII ✦ STAR

After the destruction of the
preceding Tower card, the
Star offers hope and the pro-
verbial light at the end of the
tunnel. In creating this card
I reproduced the concept, the
figure and the scene shown
on the traditional Marseilles and RWS decks.
Here, the figure kneels in the water and we see
her self-reflection. I have included a single star
to represent inspiration. Since heavenly bodies
shift in the sky over time, I felt it was unneces-
sary to include the seven additional stars often
shown in tarot symbolism.

-23-

XVIII ✦ MOON

The Moon card alludes to the
unconscious, deceptions and
the imagination. It brings to
light hidden fears and fanta-
sies. To differentiate between
the tamed and the wild aspect
of our natures, I have used the
traditional pairing of a domesticated dog on
the left, and a howling wolf on the right. This
conceptual comparison of captive domesticity
and wild freedom is further symbolized by one
being chained and the latter having broken free.

XIX ✦ SUN

The Sun card exudes bril-
liance and glory. While the
majority of the cards in this
deck correspond to quasi
Renaissance or Medieval
settings, this card embraces
a hint of symbolism and
decorative style from other cultures and periods
in history, most notably Ancient Egypt and
Mesoamerica. Their respective cultures share
this common universal sun god deity.

-24-

XX ✦ JUDGMENT

In depicting the final days of
judgment, this card suggests
an opportunity to make
amends for mistakes made
in the past and make a fresh
start. This Judgment card
follows reasonably close to the
traditional RWS imagery. An angel’s trumpet
calls the dead on the day of reckoning. The
flowing movement of the flag of Saint George
visually echoes the motion of the silhouetted
figures rising from and passing through the
cemetery gates. While the flag is a symbol of
crusaders, the doves emblemize the peace that
comes from reconciliation and redemption.

XXI ✦ WORLD

The World card signifies the
integration of elements, the
coming together of parts to
form a whole. This card shows
a galactic nebula; the stars
coalesce to form the tradi-
tionally depicted shape of the
Yoni, which along with a golden earthly sphere
serendipitously depicts an eye when the card is

-25-

viewed on its side. The four evangelist figures
(lion, bull, cherub and eagle) depicted in each
corner correspond to the four fixed signs of the
zodiac: Leo, Taurus, Aquarius and Scorpio.

-26-

Minor Arcana

A general treatment has been applied to
all the aces and court cards, namely in
each case there is an overall scene of their
elements, which in this deck are Cups/
Water, Wands/Fire, Coins (Pentacles)/
Earth, Swords/Air. The composition
of each court card consists of the main
character, King, Queen, Knight or Page
along with a variety of creatures that
share the corresponding environment.
The symbolism in the cards was intended
to complement the traits, gender and
general role of the main characters.

-27-

✦ SUIT of SWORDS ✦

ACE of SWORDS

The Ace of Swords leads us
into the suit of the intellect
and mental forces. The Ace
of Swords brings clarity and
truth. Swords are associated
with the element air, so here
and throughout the court
cards we are visited by magnificent birds of
the air.

TWO of SWORDS

My rendition of this card
is not the usual crossing of
swords but certainly illus-
trates a duality; a balancing
and influence of two alter-
native or complimentary
aspects. To be considered
from various aspects and
senses as by vision alone the circumstances
are veiled and limited.

-28-

THREE of SWORDS

The pierced heart in the
traditional RWS Three of
Swords may work in a strictly
symbolic way, but more by
recognition and learned
association than by por-
traying any actual emotion.
The pose of the figure I have used is based on
a Victorian statue called “the grieving angel,”
which has often been used as a cemetery tomb
headstone. I feel that this pose poignantly
portrays the essence of the card’s meaning,
namely loss, pain and heartache.

FOUR of SWORDS

Opinions vary as to whether
the knight in this card is
merely resting or dead. To
me it’s the latter. But I’ve
created an image that can be
interpreted either way. The
additional faded figure in
the top right might be interpreted as a dream,
where our “sleeping” knight once again relives
his battles and glories of the day. Or, one could

-29-

see it as his spirit or soul leaving his earthly
body. The PX monogram in the stained glass
window connects tarot with Christianity, as
the monogram is made of the first two letters
of Christ’s name in the Greek alphabet. The
symbol is called a Chiroh, which is the origin
of my name and also how it’s pronounced.

FIVE of SWORDS

The battle was hard fought,
but is finally over. To the
victor belong the spoils. He
holds three swords, using
one to gesture a confirma-
tion of his victory over his
defeated opponents. The
remaining two swords are there for the tak-
ing...when he’s ready. This card is about acting
in one’s self-interest, without taking honor or
integrity into account.

-30-

SIX of SWORDS

In the RWS this scene is
shown from the reverse view;
we see the backs of the figures
as the boatman steers the boat
away from the shore. Pamela
Colman Smith’s illustration
suggests troubled waters on
one side of the boat and calmer water on the
other. I chose to show the scene with the boat
coming toward us. This allows us to see the
characters, including the smaller of the two
passengers, who often goes unnoticed. The
troubled waters are shown here in the back-
ground as waves breaking over rocks, suggest-
ing that the more perilous part of the journey is
over and the dangers avoided. But even though
our travelers are now in calmer waters, they are
not necessarily in the clear yet. Swords rising
from the water’s surface symbolize that further
obstacles may await and will also have to be
carefully navigated.

-31-

SEVEN of SWORDS

It has been suggested that the
figure in the RWS Seven of
Swords might be a thief or spy.
His posture suggests a stealthy
escape with his stolen swords.
A hint of a military encamp-
ment in the background (in
the RWS card) provides some rationale for this
scenario. My version is perhaps less theatrical
but still vague. We don’t know who or what the
man is hiding from and why. But we do get a
sense that the man appears to be doing some-
thing underhanded.

EIGHT of SWORDS

Generally considered a nega-
tive card, the Eight of Swords
shows a woman imprisoned
within a cage-like circle of
swords. A glow of light from
her hands suggests a resistance
to the forces that bind her.
So far, her efforts to release
herself are futile. Her powerless predicament is
made worse by her blindfold. If there is a way
out, she cannot yet see it.

-32-

NINE of SWORDS

Nine hanging swords
transform a chandelier into
an oppressive fixture above
the anxious figure. This
shadowy bedroom becomes
a theatrical stage set befitting
a Grimm’s fairy tale or a
scene from Phantom of the Opera. In the dark
of night our imagination amplifies our fears
and worries. Even the devil seems to make an
appearance, adding to the distress.

TEN of SWORDS

The figure in the RWS is
clearly not having a good day
as he seems to be literally
impaled by ten swords. Here,
the scene with its emphasis
on the man’s back acknowl-
edges the traditional RWS
image. But I attempt to portray the negativity
of this card in a more nuanced manner, via
melancholy lighting and mood. The man is not
being physically injured, it’s more his feeling
like a victim.

-33-

PAGE of SWORDS

The young Page looks mentally
focused and ready to deal with
whatever challenges may be
on the way. The blue jay on his
shoulder reminds him to act
ethically. The parrot swoops in
bringing renewed energy.

KNIGHT of SWORDS

The Knight of Swords can be
overbearing and heavy-handed
in his approach but this kind
of commanding presence,
directness and powerful energy
can accomplish a great deal.
The eagle itself can be seen as
aggressive or as courageous.

QUEEN of SWORDS

The Queen of Swords has a
sharp mind but also a playful
sense of humor, evident in her
half smile. She is committed to
seeing and speaking the truth
but is not judgmental. Along

-34-

with her beautiful peacock, she radiates positive
energy.

KING of SWORDS

The King of Swords masters
any problem with his gifts
of knowledge and insightful
analysis. He has trained his
falcon with the same kind
of discipline he applies to
everything.

✦ SUIT of CUPS ✦

ACE of CUPS

The Ace of Cups is a symbol
of deeply experienced feel-
ings and emotional aware-
ness, especially love, affection
and compassion. The under-
water scenery shown here
is repeated throughout the
Cups court cards.

-35-

TWO of CUPS

Coming together. Joining
forces. Reaching an agree-
ment. Personal relationships,
but not necessarily romantic
ties. It could also be a business
partnership. Or simply a
shared understanding, having
something in common. A coming together of
previously opposing factors in whatever form,
racial, political, religious or social. The world
needs this card now.

THREE of CUPS

This card represents a joyous
gathering, a special occasion,
a party with friends, family,
neighbors, community. Let’s
clink those glasses, make a
toast and celebrate.

-36-

FOUR of CUPS

Shown here are three tangible
cups in the foreground, with
one ethereal vision of a fourth.
There are various possible
takes on this image. These are
mine. You are satisfied with
what you have but are imag-
ining potential future needs and possibilities.
Alternatively, you are so busy daydreaming for
more that you are unaware or unappreciative of
what you already have.

FIVE of CUPS

I have chosen to tone down
the emotion of this card from
that of previous decks. In the
Grand Luxe Tarot this card is
not one of despair, but rather
of somber and quiet reflection.
The lone figure, without dis-
traction, takes the opportunity of her isolation
to consider and evaluate. Different perspectives,
consequences, opportunities, course of action.
My daughter is the model here, and that choice
was quite deliberate and appropriate.

-37-

SIX of CUPS

Some of the cups before us
are seen clearly. Others fade
into the background like
sweet childhood memories of
simpler times and soft furry
friends. A captured idealistic
moment silhouetted against a
warm evening sun.

SEVEN of CUPS

I didn’t attempt to reproduce
the various items depicted in
each cup of the RWS imagery
of this card. Here, that assort-
ment of dream-like contents
are represented simply as col-
ored glows, the combination
of which forms the rainbow that illuminates
the one main image, the quintessential fantasy
dream castle in the clouds.

-38-

EIGHT of CUPS

For good or for bad a
decision has been made.
The conclusion is a need of
a fresh start, and one that
will require leaving the past
behind. Emotional or phys-
ical ties are all severed. The
past is over and the future
beckons.

NINE of CUPS

The figure invites us to
join him in celebrating
and expressing gratitude.
Together, let’s toast to
“...............” You fill in the
blanks. A job well done, an
endeavor fulfilled, or gen-
eral good news. Cheers!

-39-

TEN of CUPS

A couple relaxes in the warm
glow of the fireplace, along
with their snoozing cat. This
card emanates contentment,
security, family bonds, peace
and harmony. This scene is
not just the house where they
live, this is home, where all are welcome.

PAGE of CUPS

The young Page in his watery
element allows himself to be
emotionally moved by the
beauty that surrounds him.
The orange stripes of his tunic
mirror the stripes of the play-
ful angelfish that swim nearby.

KNIGHT of CUPS

The romantic Knight gazes
out through piercing blue
eyes. He is dreamy, sensitive
and refined yet can also be
rash at times. The pair of
inward facing seahorses on
his helmet indicates that he

-40-

is more likely to act from his inner emotions
rather than from practical external factors.

QUEEN of CUPS

The Queen of Cups is
adorned with shells and
strings of pearls. Her hair
flows out like seaweed
and her iridescent shawl
connects her to her goldfish
companions. Her wise face
and all-knowing smile give
hints of her intuitive gifts.

KING of CUPS

The King of Cups reigns
over the watery realm with
diplomacy and compassion.
He leaves no doubt that he
is in charge but all who visit
his realm are made to feel
welcome and accepted.

-41-

✦ SUIT of WANDS ✦

ACE of WANDS

The Ace of Wands ignites
creative potential with the
qualities of self-expression,
enthusiasm, and complete
confidence in one’s abilities.
The dragon represents passion
and feeling fired-up about
opportunities or projects.

TWO of WANDS

A fork in the road represents
a choice that has to be made.
The gate is open, the future
awaits, but which path, which
direction, which color? Will
it be a random choice leaving
our fate to chance, or one
based on being informed and
evaluating the options?

-42-

THREE of WANDS

A choice was made, a risk was
taken, an effort was made.
Now we can only wait and
hope the results are worth-
while. In the distant horizon
we see (or dream we see) our
ship come in.

FOUR of WANDS

The natural canopy of four
wands and a decorative pavil-
ion provide a perfect setting
for a celebration. A marriage
possibly, or some announce-
ment of positive news.

FIVE of WANDS

Five hands thrust five wands,
each in a different direction,
all at cross-purposes. This
card represents internal
conflict, fighting among our-
selves, competition and a lack
of common ground.

-43-

SIX of WANDS

Past conflicts are now over,
there is a victor and he is now
recognized as such, both by
his followers and by defeated
foes, who are represented by
the row of wands in the fore-
ground. Their rigid alignment
forms a symbolic formal
guard of honor.

SEVEN of WANDS

This card shows a struggle for
dominance. You are fighting
off competitors and enemies,
defending what you have
achieved thus far and consider
to be yours. But you have not
yet solidified your position,
which is still clearly being
challenged.

-44-

EIGHT of WANDS

The Eight of Wands rep-
resents putting ideas into
action. This involves con-
solidated initiative, activity
and effort.

As compared to the lateral
perspective in the RWS, I
have used a more dramatic front view of the
wands to indicate their flight and to empha-
size the idea of motion.

NINE of WANDS

The soldier rests, but is the
battle really over, or is this
merely a pause? He looks
behind him, certainly aware
of the wands surrounding
him. Are they now merely
remnants of what has been
overcome, silent monoliths that no longer
present danger? Or are they potential obsta-
cles that may still need to be confronted? Is
the scene one of calm or is there a remaining
air of cautious tension?

-45-

TEN of WANDS

The elderly figure is shown
carrying a heavy load, a
burden for sure, but the pose
is deliberately ambiguous.
Has the weight of those wands
finally brought him to his
knees? Or having taken a
respite, is he now rising to
continue forward?

PAGE of WANDS

The charming young Page of
Wands with his pet dragons
exudes confidence and a sense
of excitement and adventure.
His red feather conveys good
luck. He is a seeker who is
eager to try new things and
who dares to take risks.

-46-

KNIGHT of WANDS

This imposing Knight is always
quite sure of himself yet the
pair of dragons near his heart
adds fire to the flames of his
inner passion and intensifies
his bravado even more.

QUEEN of WANDS

The self-assured Queen radi-
ates with energy and warmth.
Her dragons serve not only as
ornamentation but they reflect
her enthusiasm and vibrancy.
She can handle any situation
with grace.

KING of WANDS

The charismatic King of Wands
has a commanding pres-
ence and he is a man of great
conviction. He rules his realm
with original ideas and creative
strategies. He knows exactly
how to direct his power to get
the desired results.

-47-

✦ SUIT of COINS ✦

ACE of COINS

The suit of Coins is about
prosperity, productivity, and
achieving tangible results. The
Ace of Coins brings a great
deal of down-to-earth energy
and potential to creative proj-
ects and enterprises.

TWO of COINS

This card reminds you to
balance work and play. Take
things one step at a time. You
know where you are going and
what needs to be done, but
steady as you go. Some dexter-
ity and careful maneuvering
are called for but you got this!

-48-

THREE of COINS

This card shows a craftsman,
someone who knows and is
proficient at his trade. This
is labor to be sure, but also a
labor of love. There is pride
and satisfaction in both the
process and the end results.

FOUR of COINS

In this seaport we see a mer-
chant and his valuable goods
on display, presumably col-
lected from his latest voyage.
He is holding one coin close
to his chest, but more out of
caution than hoarding. Rather
than personal possessions, these items represent
his inventory, his business, commodities to be
sold or traded...at the right price.

-49-

FIVE of COINS

The traditional church scene
is maintained and represented
here by the stained glass
window. But the impoverished
figures of the RWS are substi-
tuted by the receiving hand
symbolizing the act of charity.
It can be seen as helping those less fortunate, or
receiving help from others.

SIX of COINS

This card is about resources,
such as money or power. The
scales are currently tilted to
one side, showing there is
an inequality. One person
or group has more than the
other. But a sixth coin is being
added in order to address the issue and provide
balance. Life isn’t always completely fair, but
this card urges you to acknowledge and redress
those discrepancies.

-50-


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