November/December 2016 / Gift Guide Issue
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Review of The Heart Tarot
This article was written by Barbara Moore on November 30, -0001
Just like the dizzy, head-over-heels feeling of falling in love, The Heart Tarot turns your eyes and mind topsy-turvy as you delve into the beautiful, mysterious, confusing, and enchanting world of human relationships. Bright colors and subdued hues evoke the many shades and nuances of our feelings and interactions with our loved ones. Turn the cards over, one-by-one, and see the picture of your dearest relationship in all its complex loveliness and find the simple truth amidst the colorful confusion.
Like any relationship worth its salt, these cards are charming and beguiling. They are unimaginably satisfying and endlessly frustrating. They are difficult to handle and confusing. They are almost impossible to leave alone. The cards are indeed heart-shaped, which makes them unusual and enchanting and you just want to pick them up. Once you do, your hands won’t know what to do with them. They don’t behave like rectangular cards or even like round cards. You have to get to know these cards on their own terms.
Not only are the cards themselves hard to handle (I never did master the art of shuffling them! Rather, I just spread them out mud-pie style and draw my cards from the mess), but they are also visually disorienting. The images are all done by the same artist (In fact, the very one who did the Circle of Life Tarot. This artist is very skilled at creating topsy-turvy worlds.) yet somehow seem to not go together—but in a pleasing, delightful way. That is, the heart leaps, the eyes are enchanted…but the mind, oh, the mind just cries out “give me something sturdy to hold on to, please!” Elves and Dutch matrons and Greek oracles and faeries and gluttons and children prance through your reading until your head spins with possibilities.
In the book and movie Practical Magic, one of the girls asks her aunt, “what does it feel like to fall in love?” Her aunt answers by asking if she knows the feeling of putting your arms out and spinning around really fast. “Well, that\'s what love is like. It makes your heart race. It turns the world upside down.”
Precisely. And so it is with The Heart Tarot.
The deck is not RWS-based and there seems to be no apparent underlying structure to help us out. As I said, Maria Distefano is a master at what she does. If you want to delve into the beauty, strangeness, and complexities of human relationships, this is what you can expect. Fortunately, it is a beautiful ride.
Don’t assume that romantic relationships are the only ones explored here. On the contrary, you can also enjoy gaining insight and wisdom about all sorts of relationships: filial, paternal, maternal, fraternal, passionate, destructive, platonic, timid, aggressive, unrequited, selfless, fleeting, or eternal. One card shows a young boy lying on his stomach on a piece of paper so large it covers the floor. He has a box of crayons and is drawing a huge heart with an arrow through it suggesting simple, hopeful, trusting love or perhaps naivety. Another card shows an intense and elegant couple dancing a tango across a floor with knives embedded in it. In another, a childish pair of eyes peer over a tabletop seeing eight fantastically decorated cupcakes just begging to be eaten.
This may not be the wisest choice for a beginner, unless they are very confident and have a whimsical and eclectic personality. However, it is an excellent choice for more seasoned readers, particularly those who read for public events and want to add a novel touch.
For some, using these cards in a large spread may prove too much (it certainly was for me). If too much stimulation makes you woozy, try these ideas. Use only small spreads, no more than four cards, and maybe work your way up. But because I am quite weak when it comes to complex and intense human relationships, I prefer to do my main reading with another deck and use this one to draw one card to compliment the reading, either at the beginning to provide an overview or at the end to find a final piece of advice. For you intrepid readers, you brave and active souls, pick as many cards as you wish and find your wisdom as you can.
Name of deck: The Heart Tarot
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Artist’s name: Maria Distefano
Brief biography of artist: Maria is also the artist for the Circle of Life Tarot.
Name of accompanying booklet: The Heart Tarot
Number of pages of booklet: 63 (14 in English)
Author of booklet: Isa Donelli
Available in a boxed kit?: No
Reading Uses: General; Romance
Artistic Style: Surreal
Original Medium: Watercolor
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: No
Does it have extra cards?: No
Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards?: No
Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits?: No
Does it have alternate names for the Court Cards?: No
Why was deck created?: To explore the varieties and complexities of human relationships via the Tarot archetypes.
Alternative decks you might like:
Circle of Life Tarot
The Eros Oracle
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