Created by Juliet Sharman-Burke
Illustrated by Giovanni Caselli
Beginner’s Guide To Tarot deck and book set, 2001 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Deck published 2008 by Connections
78 Cards: 22 Major Arcana, 56 Minor Arcana
Card Size: 120 x 70mm
Tradition: Mixed, predominately influenced by Rider-Waite-Smith
Suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles
Court Cards: Page, Knight, Queen, King
Majors not numbered
The outstanding Sharman-Caselli deck is devised by analytic psychotherapist, astrologer and Tarot expert Juliet Sharman-Burke and illustrated by Giovanni Caselli. This clear and attractive deck is inspired predominately by RWS yet also draws on traditional decks such as the Visconti-Sforza. The deck, although specially designed for the Tarot novice, would equally provide enjoyment and insight for more advanced readers.
The Sharman-Caselli Tarot deck was originally published in 2001 as part of the Beginner’s Guide To Tarot. This deck and book set is an asset to any collection. The book itself is of high quality. It is beautifully presented with the internals printed in a dark blue ink rather than the standard black and is packed full of Juliet’s wisdom. Juliet Sharman-Burke is an excellent Tarot tutor. I know this from first-hand experience as well as reading seven of her books including the Beginner’s Guide To Tarot, which is a fine book for gaining greater knowledge of the Tarot. The deck comes housed within the foldout cover of the book. I separated the two items easily by trimming off the deck component, leaving me with a regular paperback book.
In the book each card is described in detail commencing with the Minor Arcana, which is an excellent approach. At the end of each suit you do a reading with that one suit. Once the Minor Arcana has been learned and a reading has been done combining the four suits you then move to the Majors, finishing up with a Major Arcana reading and then one utilising the entire deck. Sharman-Burke urges the reader to make connections between the cards and their own personal experiences. This enables each card to be viewed more intuitively. In the book Sharman-Burke has numbered the Major Arcana differently from what is considered the norm yet the cards themselves are not numbered and so can be used as desired.
Also now available is a standalone deck with booklet which was released in 2008. The Sharman-Caselli Tarot deck is gorgeous. The content is excellent and Giovanni’s illustrations have been executed beautifully and with great precision. His detailed illustrations enable the cards to really speak to you. The art is attractive with gentle pastel colours that also have depth and vibrancy. Expressions are detailed and the content of each card is conveyed clearly.
Although the deck is greatly influenced by RWS, much of the occult imagery has been removed and other devices have been included to make the cards easier to understand. Influences from the Visconti-Sforza can be seen in cards such as the Lovers where we see the Lover choosing between two women and in the Wheel of Fortune which depicts Fortuna and her wheel. There are also some unique touches throughout.
The Minor Arcana has been presented very effectively with each suit having its own distinct colour scheme. They are also clearly coded symbolically with elemental references such as butterflies and salamanders. The court cards in Tarot are possibly the hardest cards to grasp. In this deck each of the court card personalities are communicated effectively. The Knight of Swords seems to be racing with the wind, the Queen of Cups is ethereal with her dress blending into the water surrounding her, the King of Wands leans forward with a playful grin in obvious contrast to the King of Swords with his piercing gaze.
The cards are printed on a silk card stock with a light laminate which is not as sturdy as cards offered by companies such as US Games but is acceptable and my deck is holding up well.
The Sharman-Caselli is aimed at beginners and I would certainly recommend this as an effective deck and book set for anyone starting out. The content both in the deck and book is clear and to the point. Yet I think it has more to offer than just a beginner’s course. It is to me an excellent acquisition to any Tarot collection. As a deck with a modern twist on historical tradition it will also appeal to RWS enthusiasts and has the potential to provide further insight for even the more experienced reader. A pleasurable deck to work with, I feel it will become a timeless classic.
Stella Luna © The Tarot Reader 2009. All rights reserved.