Patrick Valenza, creator of the immensely popular Deviant Moon Tarot, has ‘released’ his very specific style on another project: a Majors Only tarot, inspired by the old Italian decks and with a wink towards Tarot de Marseille. Trionfi della Luna Tarot comes in different variaties and I was lucky enough to obtain one of the last limited edition Italian ones.
The Trionfi della Luna came in a package that looked like a gold-wrapped chocolate bar. Next to a deck-addiction I am rather fond of the brown stuff so this was a good beginning. Before I could even open the paper wrapping – signed by Patrick Valenza – I was already treated to a few extra cards of the purple edition. Those extra cards immediately gave me a very artsy vibe. Picasso came to mind and I knew: this is no ordinary deck I am going to unpack.
Extra tarot cards
As the golden wrapper is made of paper, even when you’re very careful it is doubtful it can function as some form of case for the formerly shrink wrapped 29 cards. The Majors Only comes with the normal 22-set and then 6 extra cards and another Devil. So I currently use the wrapping to hold my extra cards since throwing away an autographed packaging would be rather stupid. But I use a purple organza Tarot bag to hold the rest of the deck *and* this little extra.
The Trionfi della Luna in its current form it does not come with a guide, but Valenza hopes to finish the booklets by the summer of 2016 so everyone that purchased a deck can download the guide for his personal meanings and inspiration. For the time being he advises to read it like any other older Italian Tarocchi or how you would read the trumps of a Marseille.
Look and feel
The Trionfi della Luna has the size of a regular tarot deck (think US Games size) with rounded corners. The stock has a matte finish and they shuffle great. Good card-stock, but not too thick. And no stickiness or slippery finish at all. The card back is dark purple and has a pattern of little half moons. A wink to Luna and Moon obviously. I could do without the little brownish borders – sigh – but luckily they aren’t too obvious or inconvenient, because they have a color that fits and they aren’t very large. What is very cool is that the coloring used on and in all the cards immediately gives you the feeling of an older deck.
Trionfi della Luna (in my case the Arcani Maggiori, but the English version is exactly the same except for the language of the titles) is definitely the medieval styled cousin of the Deviant Moon Tarot. Meaning that it is both inspired by Renaissance decks as well as showcasing the ‘bizzarish’ art-style of Valenza. So yes, not everyone will jump up and down with joy while pressing “add to cart”. But despite the eccentricities of the art it is pretty close to well-known portrayals of older Italian decks or some earlier versions of Marseille type decks and that’s what makes this one quite popular still, probably.
Why the name Trionfi della Luna
Della Luna means ‘of the Moon’, an obvious wink towards Patrick Valenza’s earlier work Deviant Moon. The earliest known use of the name “Trionfi” can be dated back to the records of a Florentine merchant, Giusto Giusti, who recorded a sale on 16 September 1440 for two expensive personalized Trionfi decks.
True to Tarocchi
Being a deck inspired by Tarocchi and Marseille the majors only show the titles of the trumps in capitals and Roman numerals. The Lovers will be VI and GLI AMANTI, the Devil is XV IL DIAVOLO. True to its nature Death is unnamed and to show Patrick Valenza was really inspired by the very first decks a couple of hundred years ago the Devil in Trionfi della Luna has a face for a stomach and eyes on his knees as well. Symbolism and portrayals might be close to originals, this deck would not be a true cousin of the Deviant Moon if the cards didn’t have weirdness and humor in them. Le Mat (Il Matto/The Fool) has a face and fire coming out of his rear-end, the Magicians table has legs and teeth on its surface, The Papesse looks to be praying in the fires of hell, the Empress has an eye in her pregnant belly and looks like an evil stepmother with a royal title…and I can guarantee you the freakiness continues.
Trionfi della Luna has 6 alternative cards, numbered I to VI and an extra Devil for you to use. Those really deviate from the images of any Italian decks or Marseille remakes and were also painted horizontally instead of vertically. I have not used them for that reason, but it is definitely a very nice extra. The second Devil is the same dude. The poor bastard is still hideous, but he has different attributes. The first has snakes and a club in his hands, the alternative holds his tail as a torch and in the other hand a a short sword. This makes the symbolism rather different, so you can pick which one suits your own perception of the Devil or perhaps the reading you’re going to do. The same could be the case for the extra cards.
In my humble opinion every piece of art is a clever finding. For those of you being annoyed by the amount of beautiful perfect women with perky round breasts in many tarot decks…that annoyance won’t bother you here. Simply everyone is ugly. Beautiful ugly though. Sure, it is definitely not a standard deck and I can imagine some people not liking it at all. But for collectors and art-lovers this could be one of those little gems you get out of the cupboard once in a while. Of course it is still useful to know if you can actually do readings with this deck.
I can tell you: the Trionfi della Luna does not pull any punches. Reading with a Majors Only deck requires some adaption and I would not advise to use it for simple every day worries. For insight into your psyche, important choices or life’s lessons it is excellent. In order to test it I re-did some older readings from a few years ago about my character and lessons I need to learn when on this earth. Lo and behold: I got *exactly* the same cards as with the Majors of the Waite-Smith I was using at the time. It attests the awesomeness of tarot and of this deck. If you were worrying that the type of art would make this deck’s usefulness null and void that just shows you that worry is not necessary.
I would have loved to see Valenza’s take on the cards and what difference the possible changes in art would make on a reading, but for that I need to wait a few months. But I can assure you, a LWB is not really necessary. Beginners, advanced readers: I think everyone can read with this. And it also does not matter if you prefer Waite-Smith (RWS), Thoth or Tarot de Marseille. The Majors are so recognizable they click in your brain. It then only becomes a matter of taste whether this is a purchase you’d like to make.
I for one am happy I have my Trionfi della Luna Arcani Maggiori. It’s cool, it’s different, it’s readable for everyone. I say: if it appeals to you as a reader, art-lover or collector, you won’t regret buying it.
NB. Like I said, the LWB is not ready yet due to many projects coming his way, but keep an eye on www.deviantmoon.com/trionfi around on the summer. And if we are really lucky this Majors Only deck will become a full deck one day. Valenza told me he is getting that request over and over and told me ‘Hopefully, one day’. That is not a yes, but it is definitely not a no either, so we can keep hoping.
|Author or artist||Publisher||Publication|
|Patrick Valenza||Patrick Valenza/Deviant Moon Inc||2014|