Wow. You want to talk about a handsome deck with high impact, let’s take a little walk-through of Ciro Marchetti’s Tarot Decoratif. The deck was first an exclusive special edition deck, but it’s now available via U.S. Games, and it’s worth your while to snag your own copy. This is just a quick walk-through of the cards.
In my photos you’ll see that the King of Cups snuck in front of The Fool. Marchetti’s deck piqued the Hubby’s interest and he took a look through the cards before I had a chance to see them, and so the cards got a little bit out of order.
You often hear from members of the tarot community how Ciro Marchetti decks seem to appeal more to men. So it’s funny to see it play out and fact-checked by the Hubby.
Premised on a theory that the early tarot features the Mysteries of the Cathars hidden in plain sight (intentionally ambiguous so as to avoid persecution by Roman Catholic authorities), this Marseille-inspired deck modernizes the pictorial stories of Christian Gnosticism in a magical realist style that combines color blocking iconic of TdM and the glamorous, ornamental, refined craftsmanship of Marchetti’s work.
Here we find how RWS meets the TdM in a vivid Art Deco style of illustrating Renaissance Faire figures, especially in Marchetti’s signature contemporary magical realism. The colors are vibrant, as if illuminated by a light source from behind the card, evocative of stained glass window panes inside a cathedral.
The pips in this deck are Marseille in composition, with the addition of beautiful vignettes based on the RWS. The stained glass backgrounds on the pip cards are colored to match their corresponding numbered Key from the Majors.
For example, the Two cards in the four Minor Arcana suits feature a stained glass background that connects them to Key 2: La Papesse (The Priestess). Imagery in the backdrop of the four Sevens connect these four cards to Key 7: The Chariot, and so on.
The companion guidebook by Lee Bursten on reading with Marseille decks is wonderful. In working with Tarot Decoratif, the four Pages personify The Fool, where the Page of Swords is one who thinks foolishly, and therefore perhaps a daydreamer; the Page of Batons is one who acts foolishly, running off recklessly in search of adventure; the Page of Coins is foolish with money matters; and the Page of Cups is foolish in social interactions, or spiritually immature.
The Knights represent four aspects of The Chariot, or more precisely, the charioteer, and thus warrior archetypes, while the four Queens represent aspects of The Empress and the four Kings, The Emperor.
I love that clear, concise approach to the courts. Thus, the King of Swords is one who takes charge through intellect and strategy; the King of Wands through action and charisma; the King of Coins is a financial leader; and the King of Cups is a kindly paternal presence, perhaps a polymath of many different arts and humanities.
The banner here on the Two of Deniers with Marchetti’s name is a nod to the design of this card you often find on TdM decks– bearing the name of the artist or publisher.
The approach to reading Marseille pips espoused in the guidebook is to connect the correspondences of the suit with the numerological associations of the number. The Two of Deniers (Coins), then, is going to signify something related to money, your value system, finances, and the material world, because of its suit correspondence. Two indicates a relationship between two entities, resulting in a give-and-take. So the Two of Coins might suggest a balanced barter, or as the guidebook notes, “getting paid what you think you’re worth.”
Both the suit + numerology keywords combo approach to reading TdM and the hints of the RWS Ciro Marchetti has included in the pips align rather well. For example, per Bursten’s book, the suit of Wands is action. Twos are about some sort of exchange or dialogue. Two of Wands means you’re at a crossroads of action/inaction.
Threes are activated movement, so the Three of Wands is about focused drive. Fours relate to security, so the Four of Wands (Wands being action) is progress. Fives are change, making the Five of Wands a card of challenges.
Decks like The Encore Tarot, which I’ve previously covered here and Tarot Decoratif are the reason why Ciro Marchetti is iconic. He has developed such a well-defined style that you can see any card from any one of his decks and know immediately that it was by Ciro Marchetti. Artists aspire for that level of distinction.
And Bursten’s companion guidebook on how to read with the TdM? One of the best. It’s a short easy read that will bring you immediate understanding of the system, and it’s better than many of the TdM-based tarot books you’ll find.
If you’re an RWS tarot reader looking to learn the TdM, then get this deck and book set. You’re going to love the RWS-inspired vignettes on these pips. They almost serve as training wheels.
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received this deck as a gift from U.S. Games. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion.