Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot By Paul Huson
Lo Scarabeo’s Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot was designed by Paul Huson, author and illustrator of Mystical Roots of the Tarot – From Ancient Roots to Modern Use. Pietro Alligo edited and curated the artwork.
The card comes in a simple tuckbox and the back of the card is reversible. This deck’s aesthetic is also influenced by the geometric design of the back.
The Significator has an additional 79th card. It features what seems to be a familiar illustration. This is one that I have seen in one of the old medieval medical astrology books. It looks like ink or art markers, although I’m not sure what the medium is. It could be the printing. However, sometimes colors can become muddy. This is what happened to the seat and robes on The Emperor card.
The Major Arcana is based primarily on the French and Italian tarot decks. Key 8 stands for Justice, and Key 11 stands for Strength. The illustration Huson and Alligo used for XI is beautiful. Fortitude. Although I don’t know the historical deck it’s from, I remember liking that version of Strength. I also felt that it was underrated. This is a classic, symbolic representation of Fortitude.
Also, I find it amusing when a modern TdM-based deck matches that historical imagery of The Devil card – the one with a face on its stomach. TdM readers will know what I mean.
We are here. It was there. The Jean Dodal deck of Lyon from the early 1700s. The Key 15 Devil, with a face on its stomach.
Many of the images used in this deck were taken from Le tarot dit de Charles VI, circa 1442 Bologna. Like The Hermit, The Justice card, The Hanged man, or The World card to name a few, I instantly spot.
These court cards depict characters that are well-known to medieval romance. Below you will see that Lancelot is the Knave of Coins. Alexander the Great is the King of Coins. You’ll notice that Ogier, the Dane is the Knave Of Swords. Pallas is the Queen of Swords.
The Knights on the deck do not have a mythological or historical name. Although I don’t have any basis to make this assumption, my guess is that the same figure is depicted on the Knight and Knave of each suit. However, the images of the same figure are slightly different. Both the Knight of Swords and Knave are Ogier the Dane. Hector is featured on both the Knight of Batons and Knave.
LWB notes Huson has combined traditional tarot cards designs with French playing-card patterns (known as The Standard Pattern of Paris), and that you can see this inspiration in the way that faces are depicted. The close-up above of The Female Pope, based on the legend of Pope Joan, shows the familiar European style of drawing faces.
The Minor Arcana depict everyday situations with the artwork closely inspired by illustrations and paintings in medieval and early Renaissance illustrated manuscripts.
These four suits represent the four cardinal virtues. The suit of Coins or Mirrors is emblematic for Prudence. Prudentia is the allegorical female representation of the virtue. She is often seen holding a mirror or with a snake. Coins cards are used to address money issues in divination.
The marketing copy states that the deck was also inspired by Etteilla’s tarot. The Grand Etteilla deck has a distinct numbering system. While you won’t find it here in Dame Fortune (e.g. Etteilla’s key 2 is The Sun, Key 3 the Moon, Key 4 the Stars and Key 5 the World with Octava Spera, The enigmatic Angel the Eighth Sphere, and the fixed signs), you can definitely pick up points of influence.
For example, the design of Dame Fortune for the coins in her suit of Coins is identical to what you see in Etteilla. Another obvious similarity is the emphasis on the four cardinal virtues. Dame Fortune doesn’t have upright or reverse keywords. However, I do think of “Etteilla-inspired decks”. Also, I assume that an Etteilla-inspired deck will have a split-landscape to allow for upright and reversed readings within the Minor keys.
Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot’s main attraction is its 18th-century illustrations of the Middle Ages. This is a way to show life from the 5th to 15th centuries. Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot, in reality, is a 21st-century replica of 18th-century illustrations of 5th to 15th century Europe. Brilliant!
The suit of Cups (Chalices and Amphora) corresponds to the cardinal virtue Temperance. Cards from this suit can be used to divinate emotions, love, and pleasure-seeking.
This is where I am intrigued by the association of Judith and the Queen of Cups/Queen of Hearts. I have always associated Judith and the Queen of Swords. Crowley’s Queen Of Swords in The Thoth depicts Judith holding the head Holofernes.
Click on any photo to zoom in and see the deck close up. You can see the amazing details in the Paris clothing in the Knave of Cups.
These cards are stunning and a joy to look at. The Middle Ages style is my favorite. The scenic pips provide a lot of information and are a great way to tell stories. While the Ten of Swords version is slightly more stabby-stabby, the sword that pierced Mary’s heart works perfectly for me.
The suit of Swords corresponds to the cardinal virtue Justice and, in divination, it will be related to authority figures. The LWB notes that the suit Swords is traditionally associated with misfortunes, divisions, and disappointments. All things are unhappy. Modern readers understand the suit to refer to decision-making and discernment.
Batons (Wands, Rods, Pillars, etc.) Batons (Wands, Rods, Pillars, etc.) represent Fortitude. (Hence, the pillar on Key XI: Fortitude among the Majors. Batons in divination symbolizes enterprise.
One of my favorite features in a deck is the color blocking that corresponds to each suit. This is where Coins was green for Earth and Cups for Water. Swords had scarlet and black to represent the medieval alchemical associations. Batons, although not as color-blocked as the other suits, are the focal point of the yellow-gold batons.
I love the fact that Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot is essentially a Marseilles deck, with illustrated scenic pips. This tarot deck by Paul Huson is easily one of my most favorite decks.