East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

An unexpected gift in a tin box

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This morning I was waiting for a packet, and I was quite surprised when the delivery man brought me two.
Now I am usually scared as hell of postmen and delivery men in general – they usually bring bills and notices of payments overdue. It’s turning into a sort of Pavlovian obsession: the neighbor’s small nasty dog starts barking like mad, I hear the postman’s Panda car drive to the gate, and start worrying.
But a second package?
Bills and payment injunction don’t come in packets.
And indeed, the unexpected package contained a gift from a friend.
Yes, sometimes I get gifts from my friends.
Which is quite pleasing.

So now I am the proud owner of a Smith-Waite Tarot Deck, Centennial Edition, a beautiful deck of cards that comes in a nifty tin box and is perfect for carrying around.

I do collect tarot decks – but that’s basically because I have this habit of calling “a collection” any set of three or more objects falling in the same category.
Based on this principle, I also collect socks.

344574But Tarot Decks are different.
I bought my first set when I was in university, as I explained a while back in a “lame article” – a comment suggested I studied psychology before I wrote on the subject.
I did not.
But I do heed my readers’ suggestions, and I did read Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack (great book, incidentally), and since that old post I found my old deck again, and I have used tarot cards as tools for writing and for teaching writing, and I have even written a small booklet on the subject.
I am unrepentant.

Incidentally, my father did collect tarot decks, but he collected playing tarot decks, not the divination ones. I was quite saddened and surprised when I found out that shortly before his death he gave his cards away to a neighbor. We only have two of his decks left, now.

But on to this beautiful deck I just received.
This is the seminal tarot deck, as researched and imagined by A.E. Waite of the Golden Dawn, and as designed by artist Pamela Colman Smith, aka Pixie. The deck was published in 1910 by William Rider & Sons – hence the confused bit about the deck being called Waite, Rider-Waite, Waite-Smith, Smith-Waite or Rider-Waite-Smith.
The Centennial Edition restores the original artwork – that through the years had been “enhanced” by various publishers by tampering with the colors.
It is indeed a work of art, and beautiful to behold.


The cards are smaller than the usual tarot decks used for divination, but coupled with the tin box this makes for a great traveling deck: it’s pocket-sized, bulletproof and the box is tight enough to keep humidity at bay.
I like it a lot.
As it is usual, the deck comes with a little booklet about the meaning of each card, and in this case with the added bonus of two extra cards, featuring Pixie Smith’s non-tarot artwork.

I have not yet completely shelved the idea of finding me a friendly pub and offer tarot readings during the Halloween season. It might be a way to make a buck in a desperate situation.


Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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