If you have a penchant for Princesses, both real and literary, you’ll quickly bond with this unusual and lovely deck. Princesses, being, after all, human women, allow us to connect on a personal level with the power captured in each arcana.
Viewing all seventy-eight cards of the Tarot through a single lens (as in the Fire Tarot) is always interesting. For those who know the Tarot, using its structure as a template for learning sometimes enhances the understanding both ways and sometimes in only one direction. In the case of this deck, The Tarot of the Princesses, the expansion of understanding, for the most part, goes one way.
The deck incorporates so many princesses from so many cultures (and sometimes from literature) that it is not likely that most readers would know them all well enough to recognize them by sight.
My test for whether a deck is a true RWS-style deck is this: if the images are viewed without text, titles, or numbers, would a RWS reader be able to tell what cards they are? Using that yardstick, then this deck is only a RWS deck to a point. While it is true that once the princess and her story are understood, then one can see the connection to the traditional meaning, it is most often not possible to tell what the card is without the title or card name.
For example, the 6 of Cups shows a single child playing with a golden ball in a garden (as opposed to the pair of children exchanging cups of flowers in a garden, which is the RWS image). The image is close, but a novice reader might not immediately make the connection. The meaning in the Little White Booklet is:
Guendalina, daughter of Malatesta, the albino girl. Her mother, in an attempt to hide her condition and protect her from the cruelty of others, dyed her hair blue, thus explaining her nickname of Azzurrina (little blue girl). But her life was too short; while chasing after a ball she was playing with, she fell in to a well and died, haunting her home ever since. The six teaches us to live in childlike happiness and purity.
One might be concerned that a deck of princesses might be too feminine. However, the balance and type of princesses selected do provide a nice balance of masculine and feminine energies. Besides, part of the goal of the deck is to explore the archetypal meanings and power through a feminine eye.
Generally, in these reviews, I do not mention the borders unless they are extremely good or extremely bad. That is, do they add to or detract from the experience? In this case, I cannot make up my mind. They are rather thick, taking up valuable real estate on the card that could be devoted to the image. They are either quite good in that they create a frame that makes me feel like I’m peeking through a window in to a magical other world. Or they are quite bad in that they utterly distract me. I’ve had both experiences equally as I’ve worked with this deck.
With study and as one becomes familiar with the princesses used in this deck, I imagine it can become a good reading deck for some. As for me, I simply wasn’t interested enough in the theme to learn all of the various stories. However, if you have a penchant for princesses, you will undoubtedly enjoy this deck.
Name of deck: The Tarot of Princesses
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Creator's name: Floreana Nativo
Artist's name: Severino Baraldi
Brief biography of artist: Baraldi worked for Fleetway publishers in the 1960s where he created historical pieces for Look and Learn books, indicating mastery of the style. In 1996 he was working for Baraldi on the Italian comic Il Mistro. Today he uses his training and experience to illustrate both books and Tarot cards.
Name of accompanying booklet: Tarot of Princesses
Number of pages of booklet: 63 (14 in English)
Author of booklet: Floreana Nativo
Available in a boxed kit?: No
Reading Uses: Romance, General
Artistic Style: Illustration
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Yes, but not perfectly
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 view the Tarot through a single lens: the history of princesses.