Tarot of the Imagination (2 decks)

12 November 2015

The majors only Tarocchi and the full deck of Tarot of the imaginationAs a tarot collector it’s always a pleasure when you’re able to buy a deck that is out-of-print. Especially if you haven’t been reading since the 70s or live in an environment where non-mainstream decks aren’t easy to obtain, chances are there are a lot of Tarots that later on catch your fancy but that are simply no longer available. Unless you are willing to pay a handsome sum of course. Quite recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Tarocchi dell’ Immaginario – also called Tarot of the Imagination -by Ferenc Pinter. So lucky, I got the Italian Majors only edition and the full 78 Tarot of the Imagination cards from the English edition. And OOP or not, this deck is worth a review.


Meditative
The Majors only version (1991) of Tarot of the Imagination was created in a period that publisher Lo Scarabeo focused a lot on art and therefore made 22 cards as part of the Tarocchi d’Arte series instead of a proper full deck. It made this set a real collectors item indeed. But the full deck also has a lot to offer; more of Pinters interesting work and of course the Minors/Courts. In an interview with Tarot Garden Richard Minetti, an editor of Lo Scarabeo, said about the deck: “It is not a traditional Tarot, but that just adds to the importance and beauty of the deck. I would call it a meditative deck, and I would suggest that people employ it for personal use, rather than using it to perform readings for a querent.”

And there he has a point. It definitely is not a traditional pack of cards meant to divine. However, I don’t completely agree with the assessment that this deck can only be used for meditation. A Major’s only deck narrows the field for the type of readings you can do with it for sure. But lately there are loads of people who use only Majors in order to get decent answers from the Tarot. Especially when you are focusing on life lessons instead of, for example, a relationship reading. The full deck doesn’t have the Majors-only limitation, but is besides meditation still useful for actual self empowering readings.

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The Strength, Judgement, Chariot and Wheel card

Disturbingly fantastic
I think the title of the deck is chosen well. If you are familiar with the RWS you’ll recognize most of the Majors, however expect a very imaginative version of them. I think one could even call them weird in some cases. If I would need to describe the art for both Major and Minor arcana in a few words I would say truly beautiful, absurd, fantastic, fascinating, and a little disturbing all at the same time. Some Majors are comical (0), others almost romantic and dreamlike (VI).

The full deck really pushes the limits at some points. With these cards it definitely comes to your own imagination and feelings when you’re doing a reading. The suits lack any standard suit symbols too, but are rather interesting ‘making-you-think-scenics’. So throw out that Waite-Smith vocab if you dare. When the Hanged Man is portrayed as a trickle of snot dripping from someone’s nose and the Six of Cups has arms coming out of a big screaming head I think, in a way, you must. Sure, there are also just really beautiful pictures, less focused on absurdism, but overall you can count on bizarre.

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A few examples of the different symbology in the minors.

Quality
When it comes to the quality of the cards the Tarocchi dell’ Immaginario is excellent. Pinters work is printed on pretty thick textured-looking large cards. No glossy finish, but more that ‘posh invitation stock’. The Majors only pack has a small white border with the name and number on top (which my scan machine for some reason did not ‘catch’, but they have like a heading in capitals: GU AMANTI VI). The great thing about big cards is that the art really gets the opportunity to shine and work on your subconscious. I have a few personal favorites, like Strength (11th in this deck by the way) and Judgment. I also love the Lovers card which is fairly ‘normal’, with a little bit of nudity, but could hang in a museum anywhere. The box is more of a sleeve with the artist’s signature on the back. Decent enough but some wearing is to be expected.

That quality card stock and ‘in your face art’ diminishes when you look at the full English Tarot of the Imagination deck unfortunately -although that does not take away from the awesome and sometimes humorous symbology (see the King of Cups for example). Yes, it is still the same deck, but it comes in the standard thinner Lo Scarabeo card stock and packaging (foil, sturdy but deck-sized box with print). The Majors deck doesn’t have a LWB and with the full deck it is really small. Personally with this style I think both the thinner cards on the full deck and the lack of a LWB is a missed opportunity, but most likely it would not have been cost-effective for such an acquired taste.

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The lovers, Henry VIII as the King of Cups, and the comical Fool 

Conclusion
So all in all, if you are able to work with art that deviates ‘slightly’ from regular symbology I would definitely recommend using either one if these decks for self-discovery and for tarot readings if you don’t mind a little weirdness. Ferenc Pinter created his own standard work, but that standard isn’t for everyone. If you are a collector or art-lover I would definitely say ‘be on the lookout to buy a set’. I for one have not regretted the decision to obtain this deck for one second, even though I use it only once or twice a year.

Author or artist Publisher Publication
Ferenc Pinter Lo Scarabeo 1991/2000
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Wrap Up

Tarot of the Imagination

  • 9/10
    Artwork
  • 8/10
    Card Stock
  • 9/10
    Symbolism
  • 7/10
    Readability
  • 6.5/10
    Added materials (box/lwb)

Pros

  • Majors excellent stock
  • Interesting symbology
  • Inspires to rethink
  • Great for self-discovery
  • No annoying big borders

Cons

  • Full deck lacks quality
  • Might be too bizarre for some
  • Not really suitable for regular readings
  • No decent LWB