Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Advanced Search

A Thing of Beauty

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on December 22, 2009 | Comments (17)

Tarot is visual; the art is such an important part of the experience. And sometimes it seems that the art needs no words. The Tarot of Durer is, I think, one of those decks. However, since I really cannot keep quiet, I will add a few comments. Today we’ll look at the three cards and on Thursday I’ll share another three.

Before looking at the images, here’s a bit about this deck. Giacinto Gaudenzi, the artist, used animals as allegorical symbols. They show up in the major arcana cards and shape the minor arcana suits in this way:

Cups feature doves, representing feelings, spiritual abundance, and white magic.

Pentacles feature eagles, representing economic situations, well-being, and earthly power.

Wands feature lions, representing courage, daily struggles, and rule.

Swords feature foxes, representing initiative, sharpness of mind, and defense.

The 8 of Cups creates such a physical reaction; I can feel the cold, pelting rain, the precariousness of the setting, and the helpless sense of loss as things that were once valued flow away.


Each of the major arcana cards has a Latin motto on them. The Hermit translates as “Only by doubting can truth be reached.” I love this image and the saying. When we go into hermit mode to identify our truth, we must question everything we bring with us and only keep that which stands up to examination.


Justice proclaims, “There is a right way to do things.” I think the artist did the right thing by adding the red apple and the blue ribbon. Those little shots of color make this image perfectly intriguing, and, like Justice herself, perfectly balanced.


Reader Comments

Written By lada
on December 22nd, 2009 @ 9:57 am

well…there went my New Years’ resolve about not getting any more toys until I play with the ones I have…

Written By Ty Bevington
on December 22nd, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

That 8 of Cups really resonated with me. It brings forth a weird deja vu- almost enough to being forth tears.I’ve been moved by tarot images and readings before, of course, but there was something about those images that was just visceral and emotional all at once.

I’m not sure if that means I should get the deck…

Written By Barbara Moore
on December 22nd, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

Ty, I know what you mean. It had the same effect on me.

Written By Leigh
on December 22nd, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

I see what you mean about the 8 of Cups. These images have intrigued me. And the Hermit-is that a rabbit in his lap-as in tortoise and the hare?

I think the High Priestess would be an interesting card to examine. *hinthint* 🙂

*runs off to adjust wish-list*

Written By Irmata
on December 22nd, 2009 @ 11:58 pm

I adore the art for this deck (as I adore the original work of Durer)! It is so sad that it’s OOP, but I _will_ coax it into my collection someday, somehow 🙂

Written By Ty Bevington
on December 23rd, 2009 @ 6:57 am

I went and pulled the 8 of Cups from a number of my decks to see if any of them evoked a similar response, and none really hit me the same way. Without boring you with the details, the Thoth seemed the most desolate of landscapes, reminding me of a saltmarsh with a breaking dawn. The most unusual was the Ship of Fools tarot, where the Fool is not leaving, but rather sit and stirs the pot (Cup).
So while they did direct me to a feeling of losss and time to move on, none of them struck me the same way as the Durer tarot. I may need to break down and buy it.

Written By helen
on December 27th, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

I have loved the Durer since the first time I saw it, and yet I still do not possess it – I wonder why that is hmmm… no no I just got the Magic Forest and The Christmas Tarot the Durer will have to wait – but for how long is the question………:)

Written By Mary Collin
on January 12th, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

oh Barbara this is great. I have this Tarot and haven’t looked at it in ages so this is a great reminder of just how good it is.

Now . . . is there a companion book for it I wonder. I want the details of all the Latin messages 🙂

Thank you again,


Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address

Verification Code:
Please enter the words that you see, below, into the box provided.

Previous Post: