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Writing your own guidebook for a deck that has none


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I recently came across the Word document for a "LWB" I'd started writing for Tarocchi dei Celti, a majors-only deck with artwork by Antonio Lupatelli published by Lo Scarabeo in 1991 that only came with an Italian LWB (didn't have the benefit of Google Translate back then, although having now done that for a few of the cards it may not have been any great loss). My LWB must have been started at least 20 years ago and been slumbering in the depths of my computer files ever since. It's not so little either - for each card I'd written a detailed description of the card, then started research into the Irish mythology of the character portrayed, then the Celtic symbolism of the various items pictured, and a meaning for reading purposes that explains the character's relevance to the card. I'd never finished it, so of course today finds me with all the Celtic books from my personal library piled up around me as I start filling in the gaps, biting off more than I have time for right now.

 

I was just curious if anyone else has ever done anything similar? And if it ended up being worthwhile - I suspect in this case that, while it's an interesting research exercise, it's just going to prove that the matching of character to card wasn't particularly insightful.

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Natural Mystic Guide
2 hours ago, Luned said:

I was just curious if anyone else has ever done anything similar? And if it ended up being worthwhile

Hello @Luned 

 

I have not tried to do anything similar.  I do have some thoughts on your process.  I think that it is a fascinating project.

 

If this is a deck that you really use a lot and you resonate with, then I think that it is very much worth it.  Is Celtic mythology of particular interest to you in your personal spirituality and your Tarot explorations?  Do you work with other Celtic themed decks?  If not, why bother?

 

Have you compared one of your write ups on an individual card with a Google translated entry from the Italian LWB.  It would be interesting to see how similar or different the two are in terms of content and depth of treatment.

 

Have you tried communicating with the artist Antonio Lupatelli to see how familiar he was with Tarot and if his choices of characters and the various items and symbols he used for the cards were carefully thought out to match the card meanings…  or just random?

 

We have to make hard choices in life about how we choose to use our time and resources.  Look at how and if this project aligns with your important life goals and your work.  Best wishes.

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Thanks for your comments @Natural Mystic Guide.  I think the bottom line is it's not worth my time to get hung up on completing this project - the Celtic symbolism sections would certainly be useful as I do have other Celtic themed decks, but I'd always choose to read with those other decks rather than this one.

 

The Google translate of the few sample cards I looked at from the Italian LWB shows that it's constructed of a couple of paragraphs of high-level solidly-researched information about the character on the card. Some of that might implicitly suggest the scene or individual elements depicted on the card, but there's nothing to explain the meaning of the card for reading purposes or why that character or that scene was considered appropriate for that card. My process is definitely providing additional background info (I've gotten the best part of a full A4 page typed up for the cards I've done) but I can't say there's been any a-ha! moments from doing it.

 

I did a quick check into the artist Antonio Lupatelli, he's no longer alive and was primarily a children's book illustrator, but he did do several decks with Lo Scarabeo. The author of my deck's LWB is Giordano Berti, and he definitely seems to have credibility on the Tarot front. If anyone reading this happens to have Lo Scarabeo's Tarot of Druids (which is still in print), it looks like the images from the majors-only deck I have were reused in that, so I'd be interested to know if that deck's LWB sheds any light on who the driver behind Tarot of Druids was, the artist(s) or the author.

 

 

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DanielJUK

@Luned What direction were you thinking to go in with this? Is the book for publishing professionally for the deck? or for you own use?

There are quite a few books for decks that were not written by the original artist. I think to actually publish it really is about the love of the deck and you want to get your work out there, rather than making huge money from it.

 

On the other hand, as a personal project. I think a lot of us do this in a personal way. Maybe we journal the cards or make notes from a certain deck. Both this site and our previous forum has a space for a study group for each deck, people write their own thoughts and ideas. I do know some people who wrote their own LWB or notes on a deck and share them around. On our old forum, I remember shadowdancer wrote her own document of Zombie Tarot meanings. That is a heavily themed but hilarious deck. It comes with a LWB but she read with it for clients and wanted her own lines for each card. I think if I remember correctly it was from the point of view of the Zombies rather than humans. She kindly sent it to me, still have it saved somewhere but she thought about each card and made a small amount of text for each, in the style of the deck.

 

Even if you don't finish your writing, I think you have explored each card and know it really well. That's the point of it I think.

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Natural Mystic Guide
2 hours ago, Luned said:

If anyone reading this happens to have Lo Scarabeo's Tarot of Druids (which is still in print), it looks like the images from the majors-only deck I have were reused in that, so I'd be interested to know if that deck's LWB sheds any light on who the driver behind Tarot of Druids was, the artist(s) or the author.

Thanks so much for your response @Luned.  Yes, this would be a very interesting line of inquiry and maybe give some nice closure to the project.

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gregory

I have both decks; I'll get to it in time but as all our windows are being replaced, things here are a bit chaotic.

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gregory

I'm back. Yes. Lupatelli was the artist, together with Severino Baraldi, and Lupatelli's Celti deck images do indeed form the Druids major.s

 

And for anyone looking into his stuff, the first versions of his Gnomes were put out under one of his pseudonyms - Antony Moore. He was also responsible for Pingu, under another name: Tony Wolf.

 

Bepi Vigna wrote the handbook for the Druids; Berti (yes, very reputable) is mentioned in the credits, but it doesn't say what, if anything, he was responsible for. Berti has worked with Baraldi on a number of decks, though, so may have been one of the minds behind Baraldi's art for the minors. He isn't mentioned on the LoS website listing, though. And Vigna has written a good few of the LWBs for LoS.

Edited by gregory
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I have started writing my own guide book. I find tarot books difficult to comprehend because i am constantly cross referencing and making sure what the writer writes is validated. I am very obsessive though. I have one book that I really rely on for my deck, becuase the book that came with my deck is too brief.  I also like to look up the hisotrical context to see what the cards meant to the people then ( i prefer tarot de marseille deck for some reasons).  Currently i have completed the trump cards and I am working through the pips.

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Over the years I have written my own personal guide books for several decks:

- The Tarocci Celtici - Laura Tuan - parts of that are to be seen on the ooooold aeclectic site, 

I never had time to finish posting all the mayors before aeclectic closed.....

- the Greenwood Tarot, has a huuuuge and well known tome

- the Native American Tarot - artwork also by Laura Tuan most cards depict scenes from Native American legends

- and very recently the Alchemists Garden Tarot, a deck with all psychoactive healing plants used by shamans and Medicine People from around the world.

 

I do enjoy the research, then adding relevant images and finally my own sense and feelings on the card image.

There is also a section left open for "reading experiences" - in which context a card then came up and how that flowed into a specific reading.

In that sense all these volumes are still receiving additions and new notations when the deck gets used. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Mi-Shell
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I did one on the Tyldwick Tarot years ago (on Aeclectic, but moved here), but posted it under the Study Group Thread. It was nice to get some feedback from others with a different perspective on the cards. As Daniel said, really exploring the cards deeply helps you know them well!

Edited by Bodhiseed
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If anyone wants to, they are welcome to add to or start, a study group for decks. There are details in that section and you can make a thread per card. Other members can add to it and is a way of making your personal meanings public and helpful to others.

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One has to take care not to simply dismiss a deck as having no guidebook just because an English one has not been written yet. Just this year, I found out that quite a number of classic Lo Scarabeo decks have some Russian guidebooks that are not mere translations. I believe the Manara Tarot even has three? 

 

With the continuously improving Google Translate app, actually learning from them has become a rather feasible endeavor. 

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