Tarot of Marseilles

I dusted off this 1963 printing of the Tarot of Marseilles today. I found this little beauty almost perfectly preserved in the bottom drawer of a cabinet in an junk shop a few years ago. The owner of the shop didn't even know it was there and sold it to me for R8 - that's about a dollar I think. And wow does it sing for me today! They don't make cards like this anymore. The card stock is almost like wood and the colours are basic litho of red, yellow, black and blue.

I did a quick relationship reading to see how the Tarot of Marseilles and I will get along...

The cards on the bottom left are to describe me. The cards on the right are to describe the ToM and the two at the top, our relationship.

As you can see I am only satisfied by perfect accuracy and objectivity (Justice+10C). It's true - I have an unreachable ideal for this and nothing less satisfies me. As you know tarot is hardly an exercise in objectivity!

The Tarot of Marseilles' side is interesting! The ToM is devastating in it's harsh honesty Tower+5P. No sugar coating anything from this deck. Barebones reality, like it or not.

Our relationship looks promising; successful revelations brought by the High Priestess + 6W. It looks like working with this deck will help advance visionary capacity.

I must say I find the combination of shocking honesty and visionary expansion promised by this spread rather appealing. This stays on the reading table for a while then.

With the endless proliferation of these ugly photoshop/digitally painted decks you see everywhere - the raw simplicity of these woodcuts are just what I want right now.


  1. Wow, that deck is beautiful! The colors just pop! I've always felt drawn to it, but as you point out, the decks printed today don't compare. They seem incredibly cheap. I have a very nice collection of decks which I use for different types of readings, and a couple I use for ritual/spell work only. But discovering a vintage deck like that is incredible.

    While I was in Italy I did find two very interesting and quite different decks which stood out, not only for their originality, but also for their print stock, colors, and quality. I pick them up every now and then to see if we are ready to work together, but the time is not yet right. However, I have a feeling that may change soon.

    I like your reading layout, by the way. I was wondering, however... I thought the card on the top right was 6S, not 6W. Either way, it is a good read. I interpreted it as traveling quite a lot with the deck.

  2. The colours do indeed pop, Rose. You can see this was printed in the sixties because its so bright. I know what you mean about the time not being right. I never did a single spread with this deck until today. I picked it up because it was just such a wonderful vintage find at the time, but it seems that I am ready to let go of the illustrated minors... And right you are! That IS a swords card and not a wands card. The wands and swords look almost identical except the swords curve. Thus we have a different reading of voyage of revelation. Or travelling into the mysteries etc. Also good.

    1. You know, I have always felt so drawn to this deck that in spite of some of the flaws one occasionally finds with the newer printings, I may still look for this one and and see if we're up to working together. It has always "felt" right, if you know what I mean.

      And yes; next to The High Priestess, perhaps traveling into higher realms to reveal the mysteries and/or information is a better, or more accurate interpretation. In addition, if you carry a deck with you, this may end up being your primary deck for that. In conjunction with the other cards, Justice, 10C, The Tower, and 5P... this deck will be brutally honest. In my opinion, what it also seems to suggest is not using this one to read for profit, which may seem counter to what you do on occasion, but it will still assist you in many good ways.

      This deck means business... that's the feeling I get from the reading you show. I think it's excellent!

    2. THAT is a very good point you make Rose. About the profit aspect. Considering that I read cards for a living that is another perspective to keep in mind. Perhaps this deck is meant for reading for myself only? Also, RE the 5 of Coins - this could be talking about the fact that the deck itself is humble offering - lacking illustrated minors. Compared to its ostentatiously illustrated RWS cousin the TdM is pretty ragged/raw in presentation.

      As you say - this deck means business.

    3. As an interesting aside Rose - I asked my eggun by divining with the obi whether I am allowed to read with this deck for clients and got a clear NO. So my hat is off to you for pointing that out! Also, upon further questioning of the spirits with the obi - it seems a specific ancestor works through this deck. A much beloved aunt who used to read with the Marseilles. When I was a teenager I asked her to teach me and she refused - fearing reprisal from my father. Interestingly, she predicted her own death using the cards. Informing my mother of her prediction (who tried to dissuade her from the idea) she organised a Christmas party in the middle of July - complete with Christmas tree and gifts for us all. It was a very peculiar thing. She died a month or two later from an aneurism. She was always very good to me, and dreamed of breeding irish wolf hounds in retirement.

    4. Wow, that IS an interesting clarification you received, Balthazar. Yes, seems to me you have your answer and this deck is meant only for you, or for readings dedicated for altruistic matters; as an example, for friends, family, etc with serious issues to consider. I'm looking at that Justice card with the 10C next to it. This is an honest deck, but you'd have to dig more deeply to discover if it is only just for you. It fell into your hands for a reason, and I'm curious if it might be for occasional, more altruistic reasons, as well as readings for yourself.

  3. I really LOVE the TdM – and it´s wonderful that you found such a great old deck!
    The minors are as well illustrated as those of other decks in my view ;-). Even though the presentation not scenic…

    Wands and Swords can be easily distinguished when you bear in mind, that Swords are expressing polarity whereas Wands are concentrating, they focus to the center ;-) .

    Have fun with your deck!

  4. Thanks for pointing out that iconological difference between the swords and wands Phine. Very interesting.

  5. If you are looking for some good exercises, I highly recommend the free class that Enrique Eniquez gave on ATF (http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=102599) some years ago. He opened up a whole new world for me ;-).

  6. Thanks for that tip Phine. I will be sure to go check it out. Much appreciated - as I was searching for something like that yesterday after posting this! :-)