Friday, 28 February 2014

Marseille Cat Overview

The more I use the Marseille Cat Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2014), the better I like it!  As cross-pollinations go, I think this is a very successful one.  It has all the traditional Marseille colouring and imagery, yet adds in cute thematic touches that make it more intuitively readable.

The traditional side shows up clearly with the High Priestess and King of Pentacles who, other than being cats, demonstrate purely Marseille-style colouring and symbolism.  Lo Scarabeo also chose to remove their usual multi-lingual titles and just go for the traditional French and more international English (sorry, France, c'est la vie!)

Art by Severino Baraldi
On the Ace of Swords we once again have absolutely standard Marseille fare, from the crown and sword to the two different branches draping to the sides.  However, a themed RWS element is added with the cat's paw lofting the sword.  Then, on the Eight of Cups, we have the added vignette of a cat at the centre of the card, looking back over his shoulder.  A wink to the RWS idea of leaving behind an emotional situation, unsure of what lies ahead, though without the suggestion of determination and seeking a higher truth.

Marseille Cat Tarot
However, not all the Majors are purely traditional.  Death takes quite a leap away from the Marseille version, with a skeletal figure laying down his scythe to tickle a ginger cat's white tummy.  Behind them is an atmospheric sea and skyscape, with churning waves and a dark horizon torn by lightning.

The Minors, too, add variety to the RWS vignettes.  For example, on Monday we saw three trepidatious kitties in a boat for the Six of Swords, and here in the Eight of Swords we have a male cat suspended by his arms, rather than a female hemmed in by swords in the ground.  So, the deck honours tradition while also opening up new possibilities.


  1. I like these cards. Especially the minors - but that Death card does put me off a bit. It just feels too different to the others. Are there many departures in the deck like that?

    1. Hi PLN, the Death card is the only one to really depart a lot from tradition. There are variations, like the Devil isn't as grotesque as the Marseille one, and the Wheel of Fortune has a cat watching a bunch of mice run around a wheel, but they are basically pretty standard other than Death :)

  2. At first glance II thought the Death card was doing something terrible to the kitten :)

    1. I know what you mean, Ellen, I thought the same and had to look again! :)