Lo Scarabeo Tarot by Mark McElroy and Anna Lazzarini, the Eight of Swords raised its pretty head.
The blindfolded woman who seems unable to move forward is the major element in the RWS, here depicted kneeling and wringing her hair, rather than hemmed in by swords. Instead, the swords are depicted in a ladder-like shape, taken from the Thoth. The only nod to the Marseille might be seen in the flowers on the ground - there are a few extraneous flowers on the Marseille Eight of Swords, too, though not yellow ones in the version I have.
The woman is not bound, and yet she seems to be holding herself back, by the hair, unable to connect with the world, locked into her own worries. The swords here, though, make me think that if she removed her blindfold, she might find that she could use some of those ideas as stepping stones to a more productive frame of mind - it is her unwillingness to face the truth that holds her back.
Writing the posts about this deck, I dug out my copy of the Thoth, and of the Comparative Tarot (one of the four comparison decks is a Marseille, and the only version of that tradition that I own). When I looked at this card, the question in the title sprang to my mind. And, with the Thoth staring me in the face at the same time, barely ever read with, I asked myself: "What holds me back from reading with the Thoth?" It's not that I can't, I have even used the deck for a couple of phone readings, but I don't much like to - I did so to prove to myself that I could. The largest part of it is that I just don't feel very intuitively inspired by semi-illustrated pips.
Vision Quest Tarot. And in the Wildwood, there are several semi-illustrated pips, though others are fully illustrated. The Eight and Ten of Vessels and the Six and Seven of Bows all spring to mind. I won't count the Six of Vessels, as there are animals in it.
So, what is it about the Thoth that doesn't chime for me when reading? Some of the cards are very beautiful, and even the dark and difficult cards have movement and charm. Somehow, though, they feel too distant, too separate from real life in a way that the Vision Quest and the Wildwood are not. They show objects which, for the most part, I wouldn't use, on backgrounds of geometrical shapes or colours. The other two decks I mention, on the other hand, show objects I might use or have used (I even used to have a pretend bow and arrow) in natural settings, and for me that makes all the difference.
In July (the 23rd and 24th to be precise) I am attending the TABI Conference, where Emma Sunerton-Burl will be doing a workshop on reading the Thoth. Perhaps she'll change my mind about this iconic deck but, no disrespect to her teaching skills and passion, I doubt it. There are so many beautiful decks in the world, why would I stick with one that just doesn't speak to me?
I am grateful that I can take a clear look at things that don't work for me, and choose where to go from there.