One or two of the cards in the Night Sun Tarot tripped me up at the walk-through stage, leaving me disoriented and conflicted about my ability to work with the deck. I had the uncomfortable feeling that illustrator Fabio Listrani had wandered into dangerous territory with his “idealised” human form. I must point out that I am not usually an admirer of decks depicting “The Body Beautiful” anyway, and had been attracted to the Night Sun despite rather than because of toned and voluptuous flesh. Physicality clearly has a part to play in the Tarot, but I usually prefer it to be more realistic, inclusive, or less prominent than it is here. The first card to make me wince was The Empress, with large breasts spilling out of her what I will call “Bingo” top (Eyes down, Look in), her strangely ill-proportioned legs spread akimbo as one hand seems to pull up her skirts, her eyes almost popping out of her head as she gazes lustfully (in the direction of The Emperor?). The art is more cartoonish than the other cards; she seems demoted from Major to flippant Manga. Then there is Four of Cups, in which the ubiquitous blonde can be forgiven for her grim expression as she is placed in a torturously unnatural pose which could not be any further removed from her slumped Rider Waite counterpart. She is all toned thigh, pert behind, and tiny waist as she balances on one leg, goblets perched on her back and an upturned foot while holding the others in her hands. My knee-jerk reaction was that she was more titillation than tedium. But I’d actually laid out hard-earned cash for these cards, so I decided to try to see the positives before I talked myself out of them entirely.
To that end I reasoned that, appearing as the wanton, The Empress might amply express anima, mother, fertile soil, nurturer, creative seat, receptor, seductress, incubator. And Ms Four of Cups could be en pointe to catch spiritual pennies from heaven, demonstrating the exquisite ennui of holding a static position, the stasis after the three, the balanced but wearying hiatus before the disruption of the five. Also, I conceded it might be argued these images are not actually gratuitous, but rather an integral part of Listrani’s lexicon: that in incorporating characters of indiscriminate gender, race and even mortality, whose faces and flesh are shrouded, shielded, draped, shaded, masked, even wooden, he had lent the offending pair a poignance and significance they would not otherwise possess.
The fact remained though that they, and a couple of other cards, got on my nerves and distracted me more than they perhaps should. Maybe in that they are achieving exactly what the deck concerns itself with primarily: the business of reflecting our shadow or subconscious selves. Something I need to work with, to work on, perhaps? I would be interested to hear other people’s views.
It is when we see the deck in numerical and suit order that Listrani’s cohesive vision becomes clear, as each of the four suits of the Minor Arcana seems to outline a progressive fantasy tale whose details we may flesh out for ourselves. They have the same dramatis personae from start to finish, the kings and queens being merely older versions of the pages and knights. And the Majors set the stage with a powerful archetypal backdrop against which the elemental players can perform their roles. These cards can read so well, Listrani’s comic-book cum Gigeresque style providing a sensual even visceral quality that I find compelling, despite my misgivings. There is a raw, untrammelled energy that makes it easy to skip from terra firma to other realms, and back. Wood, stone, fur, flesh and horn keep us rooted to earth while symbols drawn from various traditions and backdrops of seals, sigils, and sacred geometry beckon us beyond. The ravishing palette, which we see reflected to some extent in Listrani’s popular Santa Muerte deck, separates out into colour coding using signature tints of yellows, verdant greens, sea greens and smouldering reds on the swords, pentacles, cups and wands respectively.
Trouble is, I miss a lot of the fabulous detail in the cards because it is far too intricate and dark for my ageing eyes and — I would argue — the size of the cards. It’s not a disaster, as I envisage using the Night Sun mainly for solitary, self-development work…to be pored over with a super-strength magnifying glass in the small hours. But oh, that they published Large Print versions of finely-worked tarot decks like this to save squinting! It was a perceived “added value” factor that tipped me into choosing this deck recently from a long wish list: the astrological, elemental and Kabbalist references a factor as I really don’t want to have to deface any more decks in my efforts to internalise these correspondences. Other than the visual difficulties mentioned, I like the size of the cards. Though a standard length, they are slightly slimmer than the average pack, which looks very elegant and is great for smaller hands as it makes shuffling a breeze. The card stock is pretty mediocre: standard Lo Scarabeo, on the light side, but with a nice satin sheen and a pleasant texture. The black and gold backing doesn’t lend the deck to reversals, but it is fairly unobtrusive and can with a little effort be ignored if you use both orientations in your readings.
My interview with the deck had interesting results which I will allow you to interpret for yourselves, if you like, before I give my potted perception below:
Main characteristic of the deck, The Devil. Its greatest strength, Four of Pentacles. Its main limitation, Seven of Pentacles. What the deck can teach me, Three of Wands. How I can best work and collaborate with it, Three of Swords. Potential outcome, Six of Swords.
In a nutshell, the interview reinforced my thoughts that the deck would be great for personal shadow work, allowing me to identify imprisoning beliefs and behaviours in a grounded and balanced way. With patience I may integrate the various esoteric systems featured in the deck into my work, integrate new beliefs into my core values and, as long as I am prepared to let go of worn-out modes of being, move to new phases of self-development