Lo Scarabeo Tarot deck
by Mark McElroy
artwork by Anna Lazzarini
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
card size: 12cm x 6.6cm
This deck was commisssioned by Lo Scarabeo to commemorate their 20th year in business. As described by Mark McElroy in the booklet that comes with the deck:
"Lo Scarabeo wanted the Lo Scarabeo Tarot to be both a tribute to the company's achievements and a powerful tool for divination, reflection and metaphysical study......
Many ideas for the theme of the deck were considered and discarded, but one concept recurred again and again. With literally thousands of Tarot decks on the market, three decks - the venerable Tarot de Marseilles, the dramatic Waite-Smith, and the scholarly Thoth - command an unparalleled level of authority and recognition. What if the Lo Scarabeo Tarot were to unify the disctinctive symbolic vocabulary of the decks? What if each card in the Lo Scarabeo Tarot could draw inspiration from all three tradtions?"
And so it was that Lo Scarabeo approach Mark McElroy to script the deck, and Anna Lazzarini to create the images. How Mark McElroy approached integrating the three Tarot traditions is fasccinating. He began by looking at The Fool in each of those decks:
"How were these cards alike? How were they different? And how could our version of The Fool, while faithful to the correspondences assigned to the card over time, help 21st century tarot readers experience this card in a new and axciting way?
The Lo Scarabeo Tarot is not a collage deck, so the goal here was not to pick out bits and pieces that could be pasted together. Instead, I wanted to select distinctive elements from each of the cards that I could use to express (and expand upon) traditional meanings.
As a result, the Lo Scarabeo Fool carries the pack common to all three Fools. His outfit, though still unusual, is now green (a nod to the Thoth Fool), and the hem of his garment is studded with the bells from the TdM Fool's jester's outfit. Like the TdM Fool, he is accompanied by a single animal companion. the Fool's associations with Bacchus and the transformative symbol of the butterfly, referenced on the Thoth card, are preserved in the grape vines that climb the butterfly arch; the carefree attitude of the Waite-Smith Fool is reflected in our Fool's optimistic (and comically meditative) expression."
This is just part of the the process he describes in the booklet, to give you an idea of the care and thought behind the design of this deck. I find it fascinating, and it also inspires respect for the enormous amount of work that goes into this, and the design of other new decks too.
Though the booklet is 63 pages, it is written in several languages, so there is not a lot of space given to card interpreatation. You get two words for each card (light and shadow); The Fool, for example has the words: 'Innocence' and 'Folly'. You are also given a Lo Scarabeo 9-card spread, and a sample reading using it. As with most Tarot decks, unless you are already a Tarot reader, you might want to refer to other sources of card interpretations aswell.