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Dame Fortune's Wheel Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $14.47

ProductID: alt824

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About this item
  • Dame Fortune's Wheel Tarot is a deck of 79 cards - 22 majors, 56 minors and one significator from author, Paul Huson. The cards are based on the Huson's research presented in ystical Origins of the Tarot, and have Marseilles-inspired majors and Etteilla-inspired, fully illustrated minors. The deck is complete with an instructional booklet and now published by Lo Scarabeo.

Name Dame Fortune's Wheel Tarot
Publisher Lo Scarabeo 2009
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 79
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Marseilles
The Fool is 0
Strength is 8
Justice is 11
Card Size 2.60 x 4.72 in. = 6.60cm x 12.00cm
Card Language English
Extra Info Read more about this deck at the rtist's website.


Essentially the deck is arranged in the familiar manner, it has 79 cards, which comprise the usual pack plus the addition of an optional significator card that can be used or ignored according to the readers taste and desire. The 78 cards of the standard deck are structured along traditional lines; Justice is VIII and Fortitude is XI; The Fool is unnumbered and Death unnamed. The trumps are easily distinguished from the suits, and the suits from each other, by a simple but effective system of colour coding where each is given a predominant colouration, particularly in the titles and the backgrounds. The backs are reversible, the minors fully illustrated and the court uses the traditional nomenclature and poses. Kings and Queens are enthroned, Knights on horseback and Knaves are standing; all hold the symbols of their suits. In addition, for all but the knights, the court cards are given names as well as titles. These names, drawn from history and legend, are historically associated with the corresponding f igures on French playing cards packs.

The deck is illustrated throughout in a brightly coloured, quasi-medieval style that harks back to the historic inspiration for the cards and which is both enchanting and delightful. The faces of the people depicted portray a sensitivity and grace that is reminiscent of the faces in stained glass windows. The richly coloured clothes and lush surroundings are only enhanced by the deliberate naivety of the images; the disproportionate figures and peculiar perspectives add to the feeling of truth and authenticity that is so clearly a part of these cards.

The 22 trumps have a yellow green background and the images chosen for them conform to the traditional images found upon old and antique decks and medieval images. These range from hand painted cards and wood block prints of the 15th century up to the well-known 18th century Conver designs and include the figure of Dame Fortune herself on trump X, turning the wheel of fate upon which we all ride. In keeping with the origin of these images and the ancient inspiration for this deck there is no cabbalistic and few astrological associations on these cards. Instead Huson relates them to medieval mystery plays such as the Dance of Death and to historical and allegorical figures such as pope Joan and Judas Iscariot who would have been familiar to the people of that time. Huson also relates the images to the four cardinal virtues, three of which are clearly named and the fourth, Prudence, which has been variously identified by other tarot scholars, is here linked to trump XXI, The World where it is illustrated wit h an image based upon the 15th century Este design in which the figure of Prudence stands upon the material world holding her symbolic accoutrements of mirror and snake.

The virtues are also associated with the minors, one being given to each suit, as are the French playing card symbols of Clubs, Hearts, Spades and Diamonds. In his extended booklet Huson mentions the elemental associations of the suits and these appear to be acknowledged in the colour coding. Coins are a deep verdant green, Cups are a dark indigo, Swords are in fiery orange and Batons a pale sky blue. However, other than these thematic colours the elements seem to play little part in the design of the cards; instead the meaning and symbology is given over almost entirely to Etteilla’s neglected and derided interpretations of the minors first published in the late 18th century. Huson has fully illustrated these minors and as with the majors the designs are taken from, or drawn to imitate, medieval illustrations and the suit symbols are clearly shown, generally above or below the illustrative picture.

Just as Pamela Colman Smith famously illustrated A E Waite’s deck and gave the world of tarot the first truly pictorial minors, so has Huson done for Etteilla’s meanings, giving form, substance and readability to these cards. It will not go unnoticed that a few of these designs bear distinct correspondences to the symbols in the RWS images. Most notable amongst these would be the tombs in the 4 of Swords and other examples would include the family with in the gates of their walled home in the 10 of Coins and the man, lost in ennui on the 4 of cups, unable to see the wonder before him. These similarities do not, however, illustrate Huson’s reliance upon the Waite/Smith designs, instead they serve to draw attention to the fact that while Waite had nothing good to say about Etteilla and his works he never the less used his meanings as a basis for his own interpretation of the minors, as had Mathers before him. Because of this lineal descent the modern reader, familiar with the RWS will, in most instances, fin d it relatively easy to accommodate the images on Huson’s cards within the range of meanings given by Waite, though not necessarily with Colman Smiths drawings.

The majority of these images on these cards bear no relationship to any other deck and appear to be entirely original portrayals of the ideas contained therein. To create them Huson has used an illustrative technique that not only used the scene portrayed to convey the meaning but which also incorporates symbolic allusions which would have been familiar to the medieval mind; symbols such as flowers, objects and allegorical figures that made up the lexicon of the common person in the days before reading and writing became wide spread. That there are more symbols, nuances and subtleties than are apparent at first glance or that are explained in the extended booklet seems to be a likely proposition and whether these are mentioned in Huson’s recent book ‘Mystical Origins of the Tarot’ or whether the reader must discover them for themselves, they make the deck more than worthy of further study and exploration.

Both the symbolism and the use of Etteilla’s meanings may be thought to detract from the readability of these cards, as though they might only be used successfully by someone with a deep grounding in medieval iconography or a knowledge of Etteilla. This is not so, the pictures, the poses, the faces alone speak volumes and intuitive readers should find much in these cards to spark their imagination, while a reader who prefers to work from the interpretations given in books will soon find that the charming and attractive images serve as an aide memoire to the meanings.

It can be said that a review would not be a review if it did not attempt to give a balanced view of it’s subject; it is therefore necessary to mention whatever flaws may be present in this deck. This is not an easy matter; Huson has created a deck where the majors perfectly capture the chosen iconography of the image, from the crude and clumsy Devil to the enigmatic androgen on the Star; where the courts are filled with people full of character and expression, from the serene confidence of the Queen of Coins to the saturnine Knight of Batons and where the minors are filled with perfect vignettes of life ranging from the doomed lovers in the 5 of Coins to the knight winning honour and acclaim in the 9 of cups. If a flaw can be found in this deck it is that the dark indigo used for the background of the suit of cups makes the names of the King, Queen and Knave difficult to read in certain lights. But it could also be said that the colour is beautiful enough to make it worth such a small inconvenience.

Produced to the high standard enjoyed by all LS Tarots, Dame Fortune’s Wheel is a rare example of a deck that throws light upon a much ignored part of tarot history whilst being exquisitely attractive and easily readable. Indeed it could be said that this is a significantly important tarot deck, it is a bold illustration of serious tarot scholarship. One is given the impression while using it that this could have been the pattern for all modern tarot decks had the Golden Dawn and Waite never stepped forward to exercise their current strangle hold over the Anglo American tarot world. Every tarot reader, especially those who are exclusively familiar with the RWS, should at least look at these cards; both to see where tarot has come from and where it might have gone had things been different. In a sense it is an illustration of the fragility of that which we call tradition. The Etteilla minors, once the corner stone of tarot divination and still popular in Europe, have become almost forgotten in the English-s peaking world. Huson and Lo Scarabeo are to be commended for bringing them back to current attention in such an accessible way.

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