Tarot of Marseille Deck

The Marseille Tarot is a deck with simple illustrations, but a very rich meaning. It is a kind of cipher that only experienced practitioners can interpret. That is why so many books have been written about this mantic system. Each author tried to find the key to this ancient chest full of revelations. But here’s the real answer for everyone will be different. It is only important to discern an exciting prediction behind the seeming simplicity.

History of creation of the Marseille Tarot Deck

This Tarot got its name in honor of the city of France – Marseille. It was there that in the 17th century the deck was actively printed by publications. This suggests that there were many soothsayers in the country, as well as lovers of mysticism. Jean Noble and Jean Dodal are believed to be the first artists to paint magical images. Their version of the Marseille Tarot cards was produced between 1650 and 1701. However, images of the 15th century became the prototypes of the Arcana. Then, in 1760, Nicolas Conver improved the deck by slightly modifying its visualization. This version is called "Marseille 2" and is still the most common.

Further, all the new illustrators worked on creating their own vision of the divination system in question. To date, there are many author’s versions of the Marseille Tarot – Spailinger, Marto, Camoin, Jodorowsky. But in all of them, the motives of Nicolas Conver can be traced. Thus, the name of the deck is a household name. Authors change, but the essence remains the same. And although the mantic system was originally created in France, nevertheless, the motives came from Italy. Thus, it is impossible to trace the full history of creation. The soothsayer is given a ready-made tool, but it will be necessary to reveal its secrets in practice.

Key features of the Marseille Tarot

The Marseille Tarot is considered a classic of the genre. Most subsequent decks were based on it. Justice here comes at number 8, Strength – 11. The court Arcana are the same – Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings. Roman numerals are used throughout. The Minor Arcana of the Marseille Tarot are numbered on the side or do not have a numerical designation at all. Therefore, when interacting with them, you should always pay attention to the number of symbols depicted.

The Major Arcana of the Marseille Tarot are more elaborate. Actions and characters are already shown here. The Death card is often unnumbered due to superstitious beliefs. However, some authors ignore the concerns and leave the number. The Fool is considered the zero Arcana. As usual, there was no place for him in the system. The suits of the Marseille Tarot are classic – Clubs, Cups, Swords and Coins. In general, the deck is the progenitor of future mantic systems. Therefore, all cards carry the original traditional meaning.

Style and symbolism of the deck

The Marseille Tarot deck is distinguished by its simplicity of images. The visualization of the Arcana is made in just a few "pure" colors – red, blue, green, beige, yellow, white and black. This style is reminiscent of illustrations in medieval books. In fact, the deck is a collection of these same images. On the Minor Arcana, symbols act as a guiding star – blades, wands, bowls and coins. Minor cards are decorated with drawings of flowers, leaves, and curls. Although the deck is made in a minimalist style, there are still elements that catch the eye.

The Marseille Tarot system itself is built around the era in which the cards were created. For example, the character of the Jester is shown here as an ordinary tramp, typical for that time. A homeless man could even swear at the king himself and go unpunished. The Hero of the Magician is a wandering juggler, not a true prophet. The skeleton on the Death card is shown in a dance – this is a reference to the dance of fatality, reflecting the time of serious illness and short life. The Devil remains the same, and the Tower illustrates the biblical tales of the end of the world.

Aces deserve special attention. They seem to give clues for the correct interpretation of subsequent cards. The One of Cups shows the sacred cup; Swords – a blade raised up; Pentacles – a gold coin; Wands – sprouted branch. Marseille Tarot is simple and complex at the same time. As they say, brevity is the sister of talent. All cards also have a stylized frame. The background somewhere remains just white, in other versions – beige or gray. The shirt can be any – depending on the publisher and the author.

Interpretation of the Marseille Tarot cards

The interpretation of the Marseille Tarot deck can be done in the traditional manner. However, due to the fact that there are no characters and actions on the Minor Arcana, like Rider-Waite, divination will only be possible for experienced fortune-tellers. Here it is worth paying attention to the suit and the number of symbols. Although the Arcana do not have any correspondences, nevertheless, to facilitate the work, the questioner should focus on numbers. Also, the more symbols there are on the card, the more stable they suggest. The dynamics here are classic – from Ace to Ten.

Court cards, as usual, will show real people, as well as their gender and age, character. The Major Arcana will imply key events, decisive factors. It is important to fully immerse yourself in the aesthetics of the Marseille Tarot deck in order to feel the medieval atmosphere. Then it is necessary to transfer the received answer to modern realities. For example, an unfriendly character on the Knight of Swords may show ups and downs with enemies, rather than actual military operations. It all depends on the accompanying cards. Whether to use reversed meanings – each master decides for himself.

What questions is the deck suitable for?

The Marseille Tarot presents any spreads in the form of a universal answer. In this regard, the cards are very similar to Waite-Ryder. Therefore, the deck can be asked any questions – from the sphere of relationships to spirituality. The universe of this tool gives diverse predictions, despite the simplicity of the drawings. The fortuneteller will have enough of the depicted symbols and numbers in order to outline the exact answer. The Arcana read both the inner world of a person, his feelings, and external circumstances, events. However, divination on the Marseille Tarot is best done using several positions. One card is not as informative as several.

Also, to start working with the Marseille Tarot, it is better to ask questions about any manifested events. Gradually, the deck will begin to reveal its secrets, immerse you in your own world. It is full of secrets that should be revealed through living examples. After all, the same six golden cups on the corresponding card at first do not say anything to the querent. However, after checking in practice, the questioner will come to the conclusion that the Minor Arcana shows the past or children. Here it is either worth learning the classical interpretations or correlating the positions that have fallen out with subsequent events in reality.

Who are the Marseille Tarot cards for?

Of course, the Marseille Tarot deck is more suitable for experienced practitioners. A person with baggage of applied knowledge will not think for a long time about the meaning of the same Eight of Pentacles. Any card can confuse a beginner. Beginners at first can do spreads only on the major group. 22 Major Arcana is enough to get a short but capacious answer. Gradually it will be necessary to add the court group, and then all the others. But after all, this “cipher” is the charm of the deck. The client simply will not understand the meaning of the cards, which means that trust will be added to the fortuneteller himself.

Also, the Marseille Tarot will appeal to fans of medieval culture. Orders of chivalry, beautiful ladies and a love of art can charm anyone. But do not forget about too simple visualization. That is why the adherents of minimalism will appreciate the deck. These are the practices that primarily focus on their own flow of correspondences that arise when working with the deck. Too elaborated drawings are more likely to distract, take away from the essence. We can say that the Marseille Tarot will appeal to intuitive fortunetellers. These are the practitioners who are looking for a hidden meaning in everything, they do not like ready-made answers. Only with this approach, the “Mona Lisa smile” will be deciphered.

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