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Chiriku  Chiriku is offline
Join Date: 21 May 2010
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 2,126


A few people in the Talking Tarot and Decks forums have indicated they've begun their study of the Tarot of Fire by Floreana Nativo and Franco Rivolli.

As you know, the deck is non-traditional in its association of one element--Fire--throughout all the Minors, as well as each card's linkage to a myth or story from various parts around the world. As such, the deck calls for a little bit of extra study than other decks that hew more closely to a Golden Dawn system.

You can find the main thread about the deck here:

I will quote my post from there here so others can chime in.

I will also start us off in a separate thread in this forum with a few thoughts on a specific card; feel free to start your own threads on different cards as well.

This deck has a special attraction to me as a Leo/Wands-type. Although I'm sure many of my fellow fire signs will feel a similar attraction, people of all signs and dispositions are encouraged to give their thoughts. In fact, that is the main challenge the Tarot of Fire sets us, I believe: to interpret all the elements and astrological signs through a fiery filter.

Shall we see how it succeeds?
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Chiriku's Avatar
Chiriku  Chiriku is offline
Join Date: 21 May 2010
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 2,126
My initial review

This was my review from a month or so, when I was first getting to know the deck.

Originally Posted by Chiriku View Post

Here are my thoughts on the deck after going through it card by card, in order, on three different nights over the past week since it arrived.

1. My first big problem: the deck's system, IMO, is not consistently thought-out, or if it is, it is not sufficiently explained. I am a system-based person who values internal consistency, and I like to know which system--Golden Dawn, Etteila, etc--a deck creator has adopted or, if s/he has created a system, a logical explanation of the latter. I do not know how the creator(s) of the Fire Tarot arrived at their meanings for the Minors. Was it some numerological system and if so, what? I also sense a fair bit of RWS sprinkled into the meanings of the Minors printed in the LWB, but these are often dissonant with the corresponding image. And then there are some cards that are just outright RWS-based, like the 3 of Swords, with a picture of a young woman stabbed through the heart, and others with no connection, even in the LWB description, such as the Four of Pentacles, wherein a Germanic giant emerges from a crack in the earth, with the LWB stating, "The line between good and evil is sometimes very thin."

This is all more bothersome than if the creators had just chucked RWS altogether to begin with and come up with a brand new system.

2. My second big problem: it bothers me when Minors have suit names but when the card images do not reflect the suit/symbol. If something is called Pentacles, I like to see something Pentacle-ish on the card---either a coin or a disc or a Frisbee or a china plate, but something! And I don't even require there to be the same number of suit symbol on the card as the number of the card (e.g. 6 china dishes on the 6 of Pents). I just like to see *a* pentacle somewhere. In the Fire Tarot, you will see exactly one card with Chalices in the suit of Chalices, and to me that is somewhat pointless. Why name it Chalices, then? How about the suit of "Blue Fire" or "Emotion" or "Heart" or something?

3. My third big problem which is related to #1: there appears to be little rhyme or reason as to why certain myths/characters ended up in a given suit and others in another suit. We are given one-sentence explanations of the four suits, but to be honest, most of the myths, being fire-related, could have ended up in any of the three other suits besides the one they appear in. The Minors are my favorite part to work with in a tarot deck, and it is discombobulating to not be able to fully differentiate the suits and their constituent cards from a conceptual standpoint.

4. Given the fact that the deck does not hew to a well-known tarot system, I believe it does require some study, even if merely memorizing the LWB meanings, in order to be usable as a reading deck. I understand that some people read solely from image interpretation, and maybe those people will do well with the deck out of the box, but for those of us who like a blended approach of set meaning and image interpretation, we really need the insight, scant as it is, of the LWB.

5. I would prefer for the courts to be consistent across suits. Instead, the Knave of Chalices is a large Star of David symbol, whereas the Knave of Pentacles is an actual knave (young person) with a sword. (Which brings up the other nuisance of why there is a sword but not a pentacle pictured on the Knave of Pents. Oh well).

6. The artist, Franco Rivolli, is extremely adept in some respects like on the painterly Four of Chalices highlighted by LeFanu or on the close-up 3/4-view portrait of the 7 of Swords, and yet, oddly, less skillful in other regards. For instance, I don't at all like the way he renders men's bare chests and abdomens; they look almost arthropod-like. I believe his forte is night skies, landscapes, and portraits of humans from the neck up. And to that end, the cards he does well are some of the best of their kind. e.g. The RWS-ish Two of Chalices is one of the most wonderfully evocative I've seen, with a haunting night sky, moon and deer and tree silhouettes added to the usual image of a pair of lovers.

7. Some of the images are disturbingly rendered to me. The face/expression of the New Guinean woman on the 7 of Wands is frightful; I want to draw eyelids onto her bulging/terrified eyeballs to lessen the terrifying effect the image has on *me!* The face of the figure being carried by the swan on the 5 of Swords recalls that of the doll Chucky from the CHILD's PLAY horror movie franchise. Sorry if that comparison disturbs you, but the card is disturbing to me. There are a few others.

8. I am not a fan of the Strength card, which, as a Leo, is usually one of the cornerstone cards I look to in a deck. In general, I am not wedded to traditional imagery; in fact, to the contrary, I am often impressed and pleased with images that illustrate a common meaning with a fresh depiction. However, Strength is one of the few cards I really like to see include traditional imagery: a human interacting with a large or fearsome animal of some type (my preference is for the female-with-lion version but many variations on this theme are clever without deviating from the basic formula).

In the Fire Tarot, Strength features the young Roman, Mucius Scaevola, thrusting his fingers into the fire. I not only miss the iconic depiction of a wild animal, but I find the image of strength here to be too consonant with the running narrative of Western society: we have a brawny, youthful man wearing a soldier's armor...yes, of course that is strength of a kind, a well-trodden kind, but it's not what I look for in a Strength tarot card.

But, with all of those criticisms aired...I am starting to feel more comfortable with the deck now that I've read the LWB descriptions three times on three separate occasions. I'm starting to recall the LWB myth explanations for some of the cards just by looking at them. And there is no denying that there are some very appealing things about the deck: namely, a consistent pan-globalism that features characters and myths from every corner of the world except the Arctic/far north; a consistent, classic timelessness (all of the figures appear to come from eras past within their respective cultures); and overall high quality artwork without a hint of computer-manipulation.

Do these good points mean I can successfully read with this deck? Well, we shall see.

I suspect this is the sort of deck that lends itself better to self-analysis than to predictive readings for others. I will report back on that score.
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vee  vee is offline
Join Date: 26 Oct 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,499

I'm pretty much only using the LWB to identify the scene/myth the card depicts and then going off the image for meaning, because you are right. It doesn't seem to follow any system consistently and the LWB blurb is often at odds with what it is depicting.
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