Erotic decks (Manara and others)


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Erotic decks (Manara and others)


Since the topic came up in the thread about unmentioned decks, I'm now opening this thread dedicated to the discussion of (so-called) erotic tarot decks like the Manara, the Erotica, the Casanova, the Decameron, the Tarocco Erotico dei Giardini di Priapo and whatever others might exist (Tarotpedia has this list).

Personally, I only own the Manara and have found that it reads great (I usually ignore the astrological symbols as well as the LWB, so I can't say anything useful about these). I've looked at the other decks I mentioned above and hope to be able to get Lori Walls' Erotica Tarot sometime soon. I'm not that interested in the others, mainly because I simply don't like the style of the drawings much.

I initially got interested in the Manara because I had seen some of the Majors online and spontaneously found them to be intriguing interpretations of the cards (e.g. the Empress). When I finally bought it, I was at first rather sceptical because the Minors seemed so disconnected from the RWS meanings I knew. But when I tried it out, I found that interesting tensions arose between the Manara illustrations and the "standard" RWS meanings which truly enriched my readings. So far, I've read with it for myself, for my partner, for friends, for AT people, for fictional characters of my partner's stories, and for a stranger at a tarot meeting. The range of questions went way beyond the (expected?) realm of relationships, and I found that all kinds of questions were answered equally well. (Of course, I also have some criticism of this deck - but that's something I'd also say about any other deck I own. But I'll stay with the positives for now, if you'll allow.)

It seems as if not many people use the Manara or other erotic decks as regular reading decks (or if they do, they don't post about it here). So this is first of all a call to come out of the erotic deck closet to compare notes about actual reading experiences with erotic decks. We could talk about how we translate erotic illustrations to non-erotic situations/questions, what insights we have gained from erotic decks about specific cards or tarot in general, and/or how we would have illustrated certain tarot concepts in an erotic deck.

Besides that, I'm also interested in taking a closer look at these decks and discussing their respective difficulties as well as their merits. I'm particularly keen to hear some positive views of them, since I simply can't believe they're all just sexist crap that only heterosexual men could like, and that they only ever depict overidealized naked women in vulnerable situations...

Alright, who else is interested in a discussion about the Manara and other erotic decks that goes beyond the above-summarized criticism?
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P.S.
Le Fanu has opened an extra thread to talk about nudity (over here) while I was writing my first post in this thread.

I don't mind some overlap to this thread (it will probably be inevitable anyway), but I'd suggest keeping this thread mainly for the discussion of erotic decks beyond the issue of nudity.
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I have the Lori Walls, and am very fond of it. There is (to me, at least) a balance of vulnerable men and women, a balance of loving sexual situations and more frightening ones, and a balance of the different sexualities portrayed. The cards depict varied situations which IMO gives the reader ample scope to work with the images in a non-erotic way.

It is, however, a dark deck - there are few cards which show real happiness or which don't have an undercurrent of threat, fear, menace or tension in them. There is an emphasis on power over others throughout, and many of the images are truly disturbing (Death, while wonderfully imaginative, is extremely confronting). The Star, Moon and Sun cards throw me - I think they're the most beautiful in a beautiful deck, but how to read them?? The show insectile bodies superimposed on human bodies . . . sounds weird, but it's gorgeous, just hard to make any sense of.

Having said all that, I don't read with it often. There are many reasons for this:

Haven't yet made the effort like so many of my decks
The borders are large but since the cards are small, the backs borderless and WONDERFUL and the titles are in the borders, it's not really a candidate for trimming.
*ahem* I can't stop my thoughts . . . . . . wandering when I use the deck! It's hard to focus!!!

\m/ Kat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorhammer
I have the Lori Walls, and am very fond of it. There is (to me, at least) a balance of vulnerable men and women, a balance of loving sexual situations and more frightening ones, and a balance of the different sexualities portrayed. The cards depict varied situations which IMO gives the reader ample scope to work with the images in a non-erotic way.
Great. Now I even want it more. (To be honest, if I were the owner of a credit card, I would have ordered it already... )

Quote:
It is, however, a dark deck - there are few cards which show real happiness or which don't have an undercurrent of threat, fear, menace or tension in them. There is an emphasis on power over others throughout, and many of the images are truly disturbing
Yes, the Manara is similar: many images that combine eroticism and power, many ambiguous relations between the people in the cards. I find that I can read such images rather well, though. After all, many human relationships involve some element of power, and it's often not equally distributed in a specific situation. I also often come up with very interesting metaphors that have been inspired by the imagery and that suit the reading well.

Quote:
(Death, while wonderfully imaginative, is extremely confronting). The Star, Moon and Sun cards throw me - I think they're the most beautiful in a beautiful deck, but how to read them?? The show insectile bodies superimposed on human bodies . . . sounds weird, but it's gorgeous, just hard to make any sense of.
I've taken a very quick look at these images but feel that I need more time to say anything other than that they're beautiful indeed. (I'm too tired now.)

Quote:
Having said all that, I don't read with it often. There are many reasons for this: [...]
*ahem* I can't stop my thoughts . . . . . . wandering when I use the deck! It's hard to focus!!!
*grin* So you're saying it's a good thing that the women in the Manara aren't actually my type? (The King of Cups makes a nice butch, though.)
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I came rushing over to this thread and realized that I own none of these ....maybe I should look at some. I'm intrigued by the idea of an erotic tarot.
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I own all of them, and the Erotica and the Manara both read very well for me.

In my opinion knowing the stories behind the Decameron, the Casanova and the Kama Sutra make them easier to read with. You don't have to know them, of course, but some familiarity helps make sense of the whole.

The Giardini is NOT for the faint of heart. The imagery goes into fetishes, which are somewhat disturbing to many. I actually found it to be very tongue-in-cheek, but that's just me.
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Fetishes? I'm interested, but this is a specialty item. If it were done right though....

Vampire decks are as much a fetish as anything else. It's all in the staging.
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I own all but the Giardini (hoping, hoping, hoping...), but I haven't read with any of them yet.

FTR, Gay man here, so I'm not turned on (or off) by the proliferation of boobs throughout most erotic decks. I just think the idea of an erotic deck is cool. And just as decks like the Bohemian Gothic and Dark Grimoire can be used for non-dark readings, I don't see why erotic decks couldn't be used for business questions or questions about spirituality....

Rodney
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Cat invited me to join this thread.
A few background information on the Manara. The deck was the first that we produced onto the erotic line, but it was created using existed Manara art, "collaged" into the deck structure. This kind of operation is usually a two edged sword.
I remember I was quite satisfied with the Majors. There are some cards that really strike me as appropriate (the Hermit, Strength, even the Lovers). I have different feelings for the minors.
One can certainly say that Manara art is impressing. He became famous for a certain kind of "elfic" woman, with petite size and perfect shape: and angel open to all kind of perversions.
I think (I should read Eric From again) that sex is a minefield.
When we try to make any kind of order into our sexuality, we fight with words like: *passion*, *excitement*, *lust*, *urges*, *pleasures*. It is a world that crave instant fulfillment, and will never receive it. This conflict necessarely lead to darkness. (Id rules here)
I think that excitment is a strange trip... like being on *high*, and I'm not really sure how that would reflect on readings. I think that you can go in two directions:
- using an erotic deck to address a sexual theme. You work with the images to excape the layer of politeness, of appropriateness we constantly clothe sex with. It's like - metaphorically - we are uneasy to stay naked even when we are alone. And using such a deck may help you look at yourself naked (metaphorically again).
- using an erotic deck to address a not sexual theme. I think such a deck may have the power to break through some barriers of the mind (super-ego) and address directly the Id. It may be useful, and even suprisingly effective, but still a bit of a shock therapy. What I'm sure is that such a deck would most certainly adapt better to a very intuitive way of reading, one that relies a lot of emotions and less on structure (and I may be wrong and being just the opposite, as a structured reading may balance the direction of the deck. mmmhh).
Anyway the Sensual Wicca deck was a (failed) experiement on our part to go into this direction with a more controlled deck. But the end result didn't really discovered anything new.

So... as sex is SUCH an important part of our life, of our identity (who we are!, and who we want to be), it is necessarely a minefield, full of contracdictions, ansiety and conflicts. So maybe an erotic deck may be good to look there. (and one - among many - reasons I don't like some decks is that they try to portray a world were sex is just a far subsidiary. Let's be real: it's NOT!)

ric
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I've been studying the Thoth lately and Crowley definitely saw an erotic current in spirituality that shines through in many parts of his deck (and perhaps even more so in the Liber T).

I have not been successful using erotic decks to read about certain mundane subjects like finances, politics, etc. But I have really enjoyed working with erotic decks (and thus erotic energy) to read about more spiritual topics. Asking some of the "bigger" questions about what the soul wants, and how we evolve has worked well with my Erotic Tarot and Sensual Wicca. For me the Decameron is a lot of fun to read with about sex but it never went further than that for me.

Ric I'm intrigued, you mentioned the Sensual Wicca was a failure... and I admit in many places it feels scattered... but i do enjoy it and I wondered what you thought lead to its not finding a comfortable place in the tarot world. I do think I am in the minority in my enjoyment of it.
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