Sola Busca - Ancient Enlightened Tarot
Published by Lo Scarabeo
78 cards – Classic Tarot
Of the 450+ tarot decks I own only three actually “speak” to me, and of those three the Sola Busca speaks the loudest. The Sola Busca deck being published today originates from a 19th century reproduction created in the style of the original 16th century deck. The Sola Busca strays from what is generally considered classic Tarot iconography. The Trump cards are images of famous people, mythical creatures and angels who were historically significant at the time the deck was originally created. Today there is much conjecture as to who these figures are, it’s likely that the passing of so much time has made it impossible for us to ever ascertain their identities beyond doubt. The pip cards in the deck also rely on human related images to convey there symbolism.
Due to the nature of the Trump card’s imagery, the deck is often referred to as the “Warrior’s Deck.” I believe the “People’s Deck” would be a far more accurate nickname, because the cards’ imagery conveys the human condition and mindset of people from all stations of 16th Century Italian life. While the imagery is never offensive it can be blunt and does capture the concomitant joys, pains, passions, and struggles of life.
The deck serves as measure of social change over the past 500 years as well. A good example of this can be found by comparing the Rider-Waite Magician to its Sola Busca counterpart Panfilio. Panfilio lacks any overt tools of the Magician’s or Alchemist’s art. Nor do we get a very good look at his face. Of course the card does represent a character who by nature is secretive, but Panfilio may be depicted as he is because in the time the card was created The Church would have considered him a heretic and put him to death. Today most of us enjoy a religious freedom that was inconceivable in the 16th century. In our time the Rider-Waite Magician--robed and surrounded by tools and symbols that 500 years ago would have been interpreted as the devices of the Devil--stands openly before us practicing his craft free from concerns of persecution.
While comparing the Rider-Waite to the Sola Busca, it is also worth mentioning that it is commonly accepted that some of the symbolism in the Rider-Waite minors was influenced by the Sola Busca deck. When one compares the Three of Swords from the two decks it is apparent the Sola Busca did have some sway in the design of Modern Tarot’s most influential deck.
Technically, the Lo Scarabeo edition is very well made. It is printed on sturdy card stock and the cards are vividly reproduced. The deck is easy to shuffle and work with. Each card is bordered in black and identified in English, French, Italian and Spanish. Although the cards are physically easy to work with, some might initially find the symbolism to be challenging. However, I feel anyone who gives the deck an opportunity to open up to them will be rewarded with a potent addition to their Tarot collection.
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