Reading with the Livre du Destin (or Book of Fate)

A while back I shared zip file downloads of the above deck here. I called it the Petit Etteilla, because that’s what it was called on the British Museum page that I got the images from. And then much smarter cartomancy community members pointed out that it’s actually a deck called the Livre du Destin, or Book of Fate.

Edit: Changed Card 30 to “Gossip” in the downloadable zip file. Made more sense than “To Admonish.”

My physical copy of the Book of Fate printed via makeplayingcards.com arrived and I thought it’d be fun to update you on how I read with this 33-card deck (supposed to be 32-card but I added that 33rd “Etteilla querent” card back when I thought it was a Petit Etteilla deck…oops).

I made my own English version of the deck but I didn’t share it publicly because I took some sweeping liberties with the “translations,” if one can even call it that. =)

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The Lost Tarot by Hans Bauer (Guidebook by Carly Fischer)

Back in 2018 I had the great privilege of reviewing the Majors Only version of Hans Bauer’s The Lost Tarot. The deck is premised on a fictionalized back story of an English merchant, William Bradford, who purchases from Leonardo da Vinci an optical device and early prototype of the modern camera.

Two bonus cards in the deck

This certain Mr. Bradford takes a series of photographs with da Vinci’s device, which was then lost in time, and only rediscovered in 1994. After some restoration efforts of those medieval photographs, The Lost Tarot is born.

Finally in 2022, the full deck is realized, accompanied by a fantastic full-color guidebook written by Carly Fischer. The guidebook is absolutely amazing. Not only does it make for a great primer on the tarot, following popular RWS card meanings, but it supports Bauer’s deck beautifully.

I do love the parchment design for the card backs. It works well with the premise of the deck. Love that Ace of Cups!

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Jean Dodal Tarot (a hand-crafted masterpiece by Justin Michael and Shell David)

This masterpiece reproduction of the Jean Dodal Tarot by Justin Michael and Shell David (of East Tarot) is everything to me right now. It’s a fixture on the corner of my personal reading desk and when I’m catching up with old friends via zoom video calls, I’ll reach for this particular deck, sling some cards while we virtual-klink wine glasses, and read about Life.

I wish I could tell you that they’re selling these and you can buy one for yourself, but I’m not sure. You’ll need to reach out to either Justin Michael or Shell David directly to find out. Whatever the cost, having just one of such decks is worth your investment.

It becomes that prized tool. You’re not paying for just another tarot deck for your collection. Something like this is special. It’s the artisan craftsmanship and the personal touch that you’re investing in, which I truly believe is converted into energy and gets infused throughout the deck.

Dating back to around 1701, the Jean Dodal deck, one of the early iterations of the Tarot de Marseille tradition of tarots, were printed from woodcut engravings and hand-colored by stencil, produced primarily for export. Shell David’s restoration project is top notch, and Justin Michael’s printing and production– just, wow.

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Cirque du Tarot by Leeza Robertson and Josh Tufts

The Cirque du Tarot is a Llewellyn deck by acclaimed author Leeza Robertson and illustrated by Josh Tufts. I am a really big fan of Tufts’ art. It’s got this Neo-Impressionistic flavor with a little Georges Seurat inspiration. Tufts is a master at character design, which is why this tarot circus cast springs to life.

I love the way Tufts works with contrast and lighting. The colors are just absolutely exquisite. There’s almost a Moulin Rouge aesthetic in low saturation where the colors are pale, giving the art a misty, dream-like atmosphere.

If you can, click onto the photographs so you can view the layout of cards on a large monitor. Zoom in and take a look at the detailing. Don’t know if you’ve read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, but I’m getting those vibes as well.

For the court cards, the same digital image is used for each rank/title, with different coloring. In the above photo, the last four cards in the bottom row, which all look alike, are the four Pages. The coloring of the smoke around the mirrors is what lets you know which suit the Page is from. Some of the minor detailing in the backdrop also differ.

Above you see the four Knights and the four Queens. “The court of this troupe is not quite as you would expect, for it is not as vast as you are accustomed,” writes Robertson, anticipating how the court cards might be perceived. “Instead of sixteen members, you will find only four sharing the stage of the sixteen court cards.”

The subdivisions of the tarot deck are described as five acts, an intermission, and an encore. Act I introduces you to the main characters– the Major Arcana. A brief intermission takes you into the court cards, which represent the backstage where the actors are preparing for the next four acts of the show. Thus, the Pages are in a quiet dressing room. The Knights are non-binary, without specified gender roles. In all four Knights, the figure is preparing their dress.

Act II is the world of Swords, “where you will travel through space and time to see worlds within worlds.” Above you’ll see the cards Ace through Ten of Swords. I love the interpretation of this airy suit through the Cirque du Tarot– here is a “land of dreams and nightmares.” This Act is one of mentalism, delving into the workings of your mind. “They will explore your dreams, your fears, your nightmares, your points of inspiration, and your decision-making.”

Act III starts with a bang as the ringmaster lights up the stage with the fiery Wands. “It’s all fire and smoke,” is the tagline introducing the chapter on the Wands. This is the stage of the fire dancers. The Wands and the Pentacles suits in this deck stay the most consistent in terms of a limited color set following the elemental. There’s more color variety in the Swords and Cups.

Act IV moves us from fire to water and we flow through the world of Cups. And finally, Act V takes us to the land of Pentacles, where time, work, and gears grind together. These are the four worlds– the wonders of balancing blades, blazing fire dancers, water acrobatics, and clockwork machines. The Pentacles suit has a steampunk vibe to it, doesn’t it?

I love how Robertson stays “in character” throughout the guidebook. It’s written as if the tarot deck is a circus show extravaganza.

Yet it’s practical and will serve a tarot beginner well. For each card you get a full-page spread. You’ll get the Ally aspect of the card and the Challenger aspect.

Whimsical yet mystical, charismatic with its humor and yet with Robertson’s masterfully written card meanings, a very readable deck, Cirque du Tarot is kitsch with substance. Tufts artwork plus Robertson as the ringmaster, with her mischievous-magical written text create a delightful chemistry. If you like the creepy-cute aesthetic or want to add a tarot deck to your collection that’s an homage to entertainers, then you’re going to love Cirque du Tarot.

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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 and guidebook set from its publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.

The Deep Place Oracle by Rae Serafina Barker

The Deep Place Oracle by Rae Serafina Barker is a 60-card oracle deck created to help you process the depths of your emotions, to work through grief, to be there as a companion and guide when you navigate the dark night of your soul, and to be the light when you explore your shadows.

It is a hug deck in the best possible way, creating an expansive space for you to work through difficult times and complex feelings. As the deck description notes, this deck is to help you when you’re “journeying through the deep place” and need a guiding light to “illuminate truth, expand your sense of what’s possible, and bless your unfolding.”

There are three subdivisions in this deck’s architecture: The Above, The Below, and The Liminal. The Above is the daylight world–that which is visible and clear; that which you can  already see, that you already know, and experience in full light of consciousness. This is about validating and reinforcing your awareness. Cards like Emergence, North Star, Aliveness, Embrace, Melody, and Beauty are from The Above.

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The Archeo Personal Archetype Cards by Nick Bantock

Nick Bantock is the author of 30 books, with about a dozen of them making bestseller lists, including the New York Times. He’s also an artist. His latest publication is a deck of personal archetype cards, The Archeo.

This deck of 40 cards represents 40 inner facets, or characters of you that make up your identity, though some– or most– of these facets remain latent. Archetypes are flexible, not fixed, stereotypes, and meditations on our inner archetypes help us to grow and shape our individual needs.

The term “archeo” is coined by Bantock to represent the concept of multiple archetypes in one. The word also calls to mind “archiac,” to signify that these archetypes are primordial, and are psyches we’ve inherited from our ancestors. The purpose Bantock set out to achieve with The Archeo cards is to produce a tool that will help you to cultivate a healthy, functional personal mythology.

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Secrets of the Rose Tarot by Nigel Jackson

Upon my first walkthrough of this deck, Nigel Jackson’s Secrets of the Rose Tarot skyrocketed immediately up to my top faves. This deck is beautiful. Steeped in Christian mysticism, Cabala, hermetic theosophy, and alchemy, the Rose Tarot is a seamless tapestry of Western esotericism. Not to mention the artwork is just beautiful.

There’s a Paul Huson Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot vibe, meets an echo of the card layout design from the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg in the pips, with the color palette of a William Blake painting, all rendered in a reconstructed medieval illuminated manuscript art style. The Rose Tarot is totally my aesthetic.

Click on image for enlarged view.

In the Preface of the guidebook, Jackson opens by describing the tarot as “a language of symbols, an emblematic poem, an oracular device, a game of chance.” Surviving from the European Middle Ages, this deck has truly evolved over the centuries into a diversity of refractions. The Rose Tarot takes it back to the cards’ medieval paradigm as revelations of eschatological mysteries.

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The Incidental Tarot by Holly DeFount — A Must-Have

I’m completely flummoxed at myself for not having posted a deck review or walk-through of Holly DeFount’s Incidental Tarot before. I’m still fairly sure I have, somewhere, and it’s simply a matter of me unable to find where I’ve posted it. =P

This is going to be a walk-through of the card images and sadly, at the time of this posting, I believe the deck is out of print. My main purpose for posting this is for you to discover how amazing this deck is and reach out to the deck creator with pleas requests for a reprint!

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Shades of Gold Tarot by F. Nathan

The Shades of Gold Tarot (or Oracle– we’ll talk about that–) is a 59-card gold and black deck that reads intuitively and with precision accuracy. When I say “intuitively,” I mean that you don’t really need to bring all that much prior knowledge to operate this deck. On its own, it’s got a way of inspiring the messages to download straight into your thoughts and feelings.

If you want to bring in a more psychology-based, case in point Jungian approach to the tarot, or you like to use the tarot in free association exercises, then you’re going to love Shades of Gold Tarot. It’s perfect for that.

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The Life Line Lenormand by Thomas of Hermit’s Mirror

I’ve reviewed the Life Line Tarot by Thomas of Hermit’s Mirror before here, and I’m loving that there’s a companion or sequel Life Line Lenormand! Actually, it’s the Life Line Lenoracle because this is three deck packs in one.

You can work with these cards as a:

  1. 36-card Petit Lenormand deck,
  2. 54-card oracle deck, or a
  3. 52-card set of regular playing cards.

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