WRITTEN BY: PYRONIK
Pyronik is an active TABI member who recently shared the journey into the tarot world. Today, Nik has written up on the deck that has been a huge influence in that journey.
Let me tell you about my panda deck! I love this deck; it was my first one and got me through more than the first year of my tarot journey all on its own. If you’re interested in how I got started, I recently wrote a post on that too, right here.
A panda deck? It’s the Lo Scarabeo “Panda Tarot” with artwork by Severino Baraldi. It’s a relatively new (2017) deck, so it wasn’t out that long before I got mine. There’s a little bit of creation premise at the start of the accompanying guide. The cards are really cute and gentle. The minor arcana are illustrated with some really neat touches, like the coins having panda faces on. Where there are multiple swords on a card they’re all different too. The moon and sun have panda faces in. Pandas everywhere. I’m slightly amused by most of the pandas being dressed and then some aren’t. There are some really playful pandas in there, I’d swear the panda in the ace of swords is playing peek-a-boo with us.
One of the first things to be aware of (and I only figured it out when I counted the cards) is that the deck contains two versions of The Magician so you can choose the one you prefer. Took me way longer than it should have to realise that! Which suggests when they arrived they either weren’t in order or I didn’t look at them before shuffling them for the first time. Cards are standard size (65 x 118mm), and nice quality. The backs have a top and a bottom, easy to keep them all the same way and avoid reversals. There’s a good range of colours in the images too; pastel sunrise/sunsets, through to bold bright reds and midnight blue skies. There isn’t a suit – colour theme. I ended up writing the card names on the Major arcana. All the cards have a top and bottom border. For the minor arcana the number’s at the top and the suit (pictorial representation) is at the bottom. Great. For the Major the number is given at the top and the bottom. That’s my only slight nark with the deck which I solved by writing on them. The court cards are identifiable by a symbol with a key in the booklet, another issue resolved by writing on the card.
This deck is based on the traditional Rider Waite imagery with some notable exceptions. The 8 of wands isn’t just in-coming wand missiles, more on that card later. The 10 of swords isn’t the stabbed to death body, instead a blanket is pinned to the ground by swords, as a shocked panda runs away from a storm. Pandas feature in all the cards. The angel in the lovers is quite malevolent looking, this is probably the scariest image in the deck. The 7 and 8 of wands are very similar and I struggle to read them. I enjoy the rest of the cards, I love this deck and it’s given me some fantastic answers. It tends to give positive, uplifting answers.
The little book that accompanies the deck is the size of the cards & fits in the box. Something that’s important to me & I didn’t appreciate with this deck til recently is that there’s a flat bottom to the box, it’s not a flap that tucks in as the top does. It wasn’t til I borrowed other decks that I discovered how frustrating it is trying to get cards into a box that has a tuck flap at the bottom. The box is destroyed because I had it under the pillow and crushed it.
Back to the multilingual booklet – there are only 11 pages in English. The entries for the Major arcana cards are the same size as those for the minor arcana. A few lines each. They’re a useful beginner’s guide but no advice of how the images fit the descriptions given.
Overall I’d say it’s a lovely non-threatening deck, good for beginners. Enough of the RWS imagery for most books to be relevant and plenty of detail in the pictures for people who don’t read books about the cards. I really enjoy working with them, they tend to be accurate. Even after more than a year I’m still discovering new information hidden within them.