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The Da Vinci Enigma Tarot

by Caitlin Matthews

The Da Vinci Enigma Tarot
Price: $24.95

Number of cards in deck: 78

Measurements: 3 x 4.75 inches, or 76 x 120 mm.

Back of card: What looks like parts of silver snowflakes of various sizes, set on a maroon background. One of the two extra cards packed with this deck give the key. Tarot cards are printed in one large sheet, measuring 8 cards across by 10 cards down, which are then cut to size. One single pattern was printed on the back of this sheet and it is shown on one of the extra cards. It is a regular pattern, similar to one seen on rolls of flooring material. On the back of the uncut sheet of cards, there are four large silver "snowflakes" across, and eight down. In between the snowflakes, where the "corners" would be, are smaller "snowflakes". Inscribed in each of these are one of five Platonic polyhedra, eg, cube, icosahedron, tetrahedron, octahedron & dodecahedron. Using the extra card as a guide, you might while away an hour piecing the orignal sheet back together. This is the first deck I have seen where the back of the cards are more interesting than the fronts.

Book included: Yes, 144 pages, 6.7 x 8.15 inches, or 17 x 20.7 cm. Illustrated. Printed with pink ink on pink paper.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press. Printed in China.

Comments: Inspired by Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, which I've read. (Wasn't much impressed.) This deck appears to be random drawings with an arbitrary message laid over them. While this much is true of numerous other decks (such as Klimt, Bosch, Angel Blessing Cards, Bruegel, etc.), the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot is the first to claim that Da Vinci himself had some sort of secret life, which he encoded casually in his sketches, and formally in his art, and which we have now deciphered & put in a tarot deck.

Regrettably, I find this hypothesis overblown. That Da Vinci had a secret life I can well accept: There are too many things missing from his many sketchbooks. That he encoded secrets in his paintings, such as the Mona Lisa, seems obvious to me. That his surviving paintings make a single coherent statement: No. That we know what Da Vinci's secrets may have been: Again, no.

In this deck, the major arcana are known as the Macrocosm. The minor arcana cards are the Microcosm. Suits are Air, Fire, Water & Earth. Court cards are Page, Knight, Lady and Lord. The major arcana are titled (in order), Fool, Magician, Enigma, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Twins, Imagination, Strength, Hermit, Time, Experience, Passover, Temperance, Pain & Pleasure, Deluge, Way-Shower, Conception, Birth, Renewal, World.

In the book, for each of the cards, major & minor, are Background, an essay about the origin of the image on the card & what it might have signified to Leonardo; Soul-Code, which is what study of this card will do for your soul growth (pompous); Upright, which is the meaning of the card when it appears upright in a reading; Reversed, for which Ms Matthews means, "inverted". ("Reversed" properly refers to the back of the cards, and for this deck, there are interesting things you can do with them.) Finally, for each of the cards is Disconnected, which you can use when nothing else helps. Of course, you can always look at the cards & invent your own meanings.

In addition, there is a key question, entitled, Dimmi, which is the Italian for "tell me". This is what Leonardo is said to have written whenever trying out a new nib for his pen. And there is the name of the sketch itself. For the Lady of Earth, above, the Dimmi is What is enough or not enough?. It is a study for an angel.

To students of Leonardo, many of these images are well-known. I have seen them better reproduced. Do they work as a tarot deck? In my opinion, no, not so much.

A production note: Many of the images on the cards appear to be crooked. You can see it in the cards in the top row, above. Given the way computers & printing machines work, this can only have been deliberate. You can decide if off-kilter cards add some additional mystery to the deck, and, if so, what it might be.

The Astrology Center of America

207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Fax:410-638-5154; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

Tarot Home Tarot Decks Tarot Books Join our tarot mailing list Astrology Home E-Mail: Dave

Established 1993, The Astrology Center of America is owned & operated by David Roell. Except where noted, this entire site (AstroAmerica.com) & its contents are Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by William R. Roell. All rights reserved. Tarot card images are Copyright © by the copyright holder (generally the publisher).