January/February 2015 Issue
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Review of the Voices of SaintsTarot deck
This article was written by Donald Michael Kraig, Certified Tarot Grandmaster on November 30, -0001
A delightful deck with medieval-style illustrations of 78 famous Saints. The Little White Book gives one or two of their major feats along with brief divinatory meanings. For divination you must use the LWB as the images do not have the rich symbolism found on Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot decks. This makes the deck cumbersome for doing divinations. However, it’s a great introduction to the Saints and a guide to further research. The images are also good for meditation and for invoking their qualities.
According to St. Paul, any person who accepted Jesus as the Christ was considered a Saint. However, in cultures that had been filled with deities and semi-divine beings, simply having God and the angels wasn’t enough. As a result, people who were considered especially spiritual were called "Saints." Eventually, in Catholicism, this became formalized requiring certain characteristics such as performing a miracle. In Europe, the local people were loathe to abandon their Pagan gods and goddesses. In a two-fold attack for domination, Christian authorities denounced the Pagan deities, but when the people wouldn’t desert them, Christians recreated them as Saints. As a result, Saints are composed of people who performed legendary feats, transformed Pagan deities, and others deemed worthy of public veneration, as they are believed to be capable of interceding with God for people on Earth.
Over the ages, various Saints became associated with certain intercessory powers. One of the best known was St. Christopher, the one-time Patron Saint of safe travel. I say "one time" because his veneration was demoted in the last century. St. Christopher is sometimes shown as having the head of a dog, possibly associated St. Christopher with the ancient Egyptian deity Anubis. Anubis was said to escort the spirits of the dead to the afterlife. This "trip" may be the source of associating St. Christopher with safe travel.
There are long lists of Saints and their associations. With this deck, medieval illustrations of 78 Saints (and more recent illustrations and paintings of Saints that imitate medieval artistic styles) are given, one per card. Unless you are very familiar with the associations of the Saints, the Little White Book is a necessity to determine their qualities and divination meanings. For example, card 39 is St. Franciscus de Paula. The LWB claims that St. Franciscus walked on water and protects sailors. In divination, this card means "Achievement of skill. Innovative ideas." The card itself shows a robed, bearded man gazing to the skies with spiritual light shining on him. Behind him is a low wall and beyond that is a body of water. Without the LWB I’d have no idea about the divinatory meanings.
Card 50 shows a woman in armor before a cross, identified as S. Joanna D’Arc (Joan of Arc). One of the "crimes" she was charged with was cutting her hair and dressing like a man. This image shows her with long, wavy hair. The LWB says, "Guided by divine ‘voices,’ she fought for the independence of France, of which she is the Patron Saint." The divinatory meanings are "Inexhaustible energy. Rule and magnetism."
The LWB also gives two spreads: a four-card spread to show the evolution of an event with a prediction for its outcome, and a five-card spread for answering questions.
One of the great features of Tarot decks is that they have a logical structure behind their various parts (the suits, the court cards, the Major Arcana) which helps to show such things as time (higher numbers can represent later events, for example) and energies (the Suits are associated with one of the four elements and the qualities associated with those elements: cups are associated with elemental Water, for example). This makes working with a Tarot easier to grasp and master. Voices of Saints, however, has no discernable structure. It’s just images of Saints with a brief explanation of their history and associations. This makes working with this deck difficult and requires a dependency on the LWB.
That’s not necessarily "bad." It’s just a bit cumbersome. The archaic illustrations would be very good as sources for meditation on the various Saints or bringing their associated qualities into you. This deck could also be used as a way of directing more in-depth research on the Saints. It’s also a delightful art deck. It’s not one I’ll be keeping with my set of decks I frequently use for divination.
Reviewer’s Byline: Donald Michael Kraig, Certified Tarot Grandmaster
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Creator’s name: Isa Donelli
Artists’ names: Various
Name of accompanying book/booklet: Voices of Saints
Number of pages of book/booklet: 64 (14 in English)
Author of booklet: Isa Donelli
Available in a boxed kit?: No
Magical Uses: Meditation, Invocation of the Saint’s qualities
Reading Uses: General
Ethnic Focus: European
Artistic Style: Medieval and medieval reconstruction
Theme: Christian Saints
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other (if other, describe): Other: Images of 78 Christian saints, numbered from 1–78.
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: No.
Why was deck created?: To present images of 78 figures of Christian history, according to popular tradition, that can be used to help with meditation, making the right decisions, and provide advice for everyday life.
Book suggestions: The Magical Power of the Saints
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