Decks

Decks I Love – Tavaglione’s Tarot of the Stars

Written by Mark McElroy

This post is part of a series called “Decks I Love,” featuring favorite Tarot decks in my collection.

From the oversize cards to the hefty “little white book,” from the comic book artwork to the intriguing symbolic details — Tavaglione’s Tarot of the Stars (I Tarocchi delle Stelle) intrigues me years after buying it in 1991.

Have a look at the Five of Wands:

If you’re used to working with variations on Pixie Smith’s iconic “five men battling with rods” image, you’ll find that Tavaglione’s version gives you a lot more symbolic fuel to work with:

  • a complex diagram at the top of each suit card relating that card to a zodiac symbol (here, Tarus) and a card in a standard poker deck (here, the Five of Clubs)
  • a compelling keyword (in this case, “Ambition”)
  • detailed artwork.

I mean, just look at that gorgeous illustration. What do we have?

  • A strong, virile, victorious warrior, clad in red and gold, pointing out his next target
  • Nude wrestlers, striving with each other
  • Five wands, standing in a squared circle
  • The central wand, flying a banner you’ve seen on other cards
  • Mountain ranges in the background – suggesting what has been overcome, perhaps?
  • Rocky terrain in the foreground – suggesting difficult progress, perhaps?

Don’t get me started. I could go on and on about the symbolism here — and that’s part of the appeal of this magical deck. Thank goodness Dal Negro published it as a pack of oversized cards! (And frankly, even at this size, each card invites careful study, as many touches are simply not apparent at first glance.)

A thick paperback book accompanies the cards, written in an ancient and mysterious language (Italian). Years ago, when Google translate was in its infancy, I started a translation of these notes — more an expression of my passion for this deck than a serious scholarly effort.

I own hundreds of decks, and this one has stood the greatest test of time I know: more than a decade after the purchase, it remains on the shelf by my desk … one of very few decks I keep at arm’s length.

It’s out of print but still around. Several copies are on Amazon.com, but they’re listed between $150 and $200. That’s a steep price, especially since you can still buy new copies from AlidaStore.com for 40 Euro (plus shipping from San Marino).

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