Artwork by Anna Lazzarini
Deck by Ricardo Minetti
Lo Scarabeo 2006
Wow what a refreshing deck the Manga Tarot is. With its gender reversal, Japanese symbols of the seasons and beautiful oriental imagery this deck entices the reader to investigate. Even though some of its changes are avenues to explore it reads closely to the Waite Rider so it can be picked up and read without having to study print. You can immediately start engaging Anna Lazzarini’s soulful images and with prior knowledge of tarot structure the Manga journey may begin.
Firstly it has a great gender balance, with some interesting swops of archetype. Our magician, and fool are feminine and the high priestess is masculine as the priest, whilst the often maligned heirophant is now the Priestess.. There is a number reversal in the positioning of the emperor and the empress. The hanged one is female and temperance is male, also a gender switch with the tower and the star. This opens up a whole new energy to the major arcana. The total approach to the major cards is in gender/role reversal. Love it.
In this reversal the new challenges begin. Time to meditate again on the majors to view them in the opposite gender. What is the feminine of the Magician and the masculine of Temperence? This in itself is a lengthy study.
The beautiful oriental characters, are all very approachable and a joy to meet throughout the entire deck. The court cards also have a change of hierarchy, the princes begin followed by the princess riding on their familiars of the whale, tiger, dragon and horse. Next in hierarchy are the Kings and finally the Queens top the court. I love the approach of Ricardo Minetti to the process of the court cards. The princes’ birth, the princesses’ explore, the kings’ bring to other and the queen harmonisers. As with the whole deck a gentle approach to wisdom is portrayed.
The journey through the minor arcana is also gentle and clear. Each image is striking to be held on its own and the message is very direct to the reader. It is a wonderful deck for visualising a meeting of the characters in readings, the characters being representative of aspects of self. Card ten at the end of each suit is really approachable and endearing. There is a beautiful, emotive conclusion to each suit. I have never responded so warmly to the tens, in this deck the ending is joyous and workable but ready to begin again. I can imagine those endings being a part of my process.
Finally an added touch is the Japanese letters for the seasons on all the cards except the Fool. The tens have three of the seasons on each one and the aces and the wheel have all four letters whilst all the others have one season. This adds to the learning; season, number, element and colour. These letters do not run in progression of the season through the suit for example both the nine and ten of swords are summer. As a regular user of this deck, much thought may go into the seasonal concepts.
I am so impressed by this deck. The artwork is beautiful created by an Italian comic illustrator, Anna Lazzarini.; affable humane characters, a gently vibrant colouring and so far reaching into the psyche. The way of working with this deck outlined in the Little White book that comes with it by Riccardo Minetti, who has done decks before is insightful and process orientated. Don’t be put off by our own limitations of what Manga may mean, if this represents the Manga world then we want more of it.