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Grail Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $15.53

ProductID: alt0071

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About this item
  • The Grail Tarot: A Templar Vision brings together the search for the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar, and Tarot in 78 cards of Renaissance-style art. John Matthews and Giovanni Caselli have created the book and 78-card deck respectively.

Name Grail Tarot
Creators John Matthews, Giovanni Caselli
Publisher Connections 2007
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 78
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Mixed
Minor Arcana Style Unique Scenes With Suit Symbols
Suits Stones, Swords, Lances, Vessels
Court Cards Brother, Preceptor, Lady, Master
The Fool is 0
Strength is 8
Justice is 11
Card Size 2.95 x 4.72 in. = 7.50cm x 12.00cm
Card Language English
Card Back Works as though reversible
Back Design Plain burgundy background with a lighter wax seal image in the centre, and copyright text in a small font at the base.
Companion Material 192-page quality softcover companion book.


The Renaissance-style imagery feels authentic and the majors have an unusual feature – when laid out side-by-side in a row, they form a continuous frieze, an echo of artworks of the Middle Ages, almost like a comic strip of the Tarot journey. The Magdalene (High Priestess) gazes in awe at The Gnostic Christ (Magician), offering him the chalice with her right hand. Sheba and Solomon (Empress and Emperor) sit under a pillared portico. It’s quite cleverly done – it’s not apparent from each individual major that they are part of a joined image, but joined together each background flows seamlessly to the next. This can also be incorporated into readings, by selecting certain cards to arrange into the ‘story’.

The suits are represented by the four ‘Grail Hallows’ of stone, sword, lance and vessel. The Stone is the aspect of the Grail described as a green stone, the Sword of John the Baptist, the Lance of Longinus, and the Vessel is of course the Holy Grail. Together they form a ‘quaternary’ representing different aspects of the Grail, stages of the quest and the four elements. The minor arcana can also be used in the same story-telling way, placed in sequence in each suit.

Where the majors are the archetypal path of the Seeker, the minors also represent the tale of the young Novice of the Templar Order who progresses from Neophyte to Master, and finally becomes a Guardian of the Grail. The Court cards by Brother, Preceptor, Master and Lady. The four Lady cards represent the four aspects of the Virgin Mary; Masters are the four Grand Masters of the Templar Order; Preceptors represent the initiator aspects of the Templar hierarchy; and the Brothers are the Seekers and Neophytes of the Templar Order.

The feel of these cards reminds me of the decks from Magic Realist Press, though it’s published by Connections and St Martins Press. The cards are borderless and the image fills the whole card, save for a small piece at the bottom with the card number and title. The cardstock is a touch thicker than is usual for a mass-produced, and has a matte feel rather then an overly laminated one. The backs of the cards are simple: a plain burgundy background, and in the centre is a wax seal of the Templars, representing brotherhood and the quest. The base of the back has a small text copyrighting the images to Giovanni Caselli.

The 192-page companion book is one of the nice quality types from Connections or St Martin’s Press. It has very white pages (they tend to stay that way too) and all of the text and images are printed in a brownish sepia tone. The bulk of the book is the card meanings, but the book begins with a six page introduction to the Grail myth and the connection with the Knights Templar. For each of the 78 cards, the companion book shows a sepia image of the card, a description of the image and the historical background of the character or scene. There is a grail question, a few keywords, and the meaning of the card’s message. At the back of the book is a chapter on working with the Grail Tarot, readings and initiations.

With such detailed, rich Renaissance style art and a unique artistic framework, the Grail Tarot has great potential as a story-telling device and for use in interactive reading, as well as for more conventional readings. While the number of Grail decks on the market is getting rather high, this is a quality set that should wear well into the future.

Combine shipping is possible.

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