A Review of Four Decks Created by Robert Place

By Lalia Wilson

Robert M. Place is the creator of a number of decks of Tarot and Lenormand Cards. The four decks discussed below, as well as others, are available at https://robertmplacetarot.com/

First, let me say that all four of these decks are superbly created with lovely art work and cards that are durable and attractive. There are different numbers of cards in each deck, due to artistic reasons. The decks available from Place are as shown on his website. 

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The Marzano Tarot purports to be a recreation of the very first true tarot deck, containing both Arcana. It’s Robert Place’s artwork and is recreated from a written description of the deck. This deck differs most from the modern tarot most of us are familiar with. The deck has a total of 64 cards. There are four suits, each a species of fowl: eagles, phoenixes, turtledoves, and doves. Each suit has 10 pips, showing the number of birds, but not an interpretive picture, and a Queen and King. There are 16 Major Arcana Cards which correspond to the Roman Gods, whose names are listed as the Italian names, thus Bacco is what most of us know as Bacchus. Four Gods are connected with each suit. Doves are connected with Cupido, Ceres, Bacco, and Venus. Though not explicit, I will consider Doves are the water element, thus associated with Cups. Turtledoves (which I will associate with earth/pentacles) are coupled with Daphne, Vesta, Diana, and Pallas. Phoenixes (perhaps Fire/Wands) are linked to Eolo/Aeolus, Marte/Mars, Nettuno/Neptune, and Giuone/Juno. Finally, eagles are most akin to Air/Swords. The Major Arcana connected to Eagles are Ercole/Hercules, Mercurio/Mercury, Apollo, and Giove/Jupiter. Notice that the elemental suggestions I made above are disputable. For example, we have Eolo, the God of the Wind, with Fire, but Mercury and Jupiter (who uses thunderbolts as his weapon) with Air. Should you adopt this deck, you will have a lot of relearning from any of the three major tarot traditions. That said, you can use and find significance in this deck, even though it has far more of a learning curve. You may also end up not using elemental attributions at all, or changing them from my suggestions above. 

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The Alchemical Tarot: Renewed, Fourth Edition, is Place’s fourth tweak on Alchemy and the Tarot. Anyone interested in tarot symbols should study this deck. You will likely find, as I did, new associations with each card in the traditional tarot of 78 cards. The four suits are Coins (Pentacles/Earth), Vessels (Water or Cups), Swords (Air), and Staffs (Fire/Wands). Each suit’s cards are also identified by the elemental symbol for that suit. The deck has 79 cards, each suit is Ace through Ten with Lady (Page), Knight, Queen, and King. The Trumps are the standard 22, but there are two Lovers cards, one more chaste (though both without clothing) and the alternate shows them copulating (tastefully). Justice is number VIII and Strength is number XI. 

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The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery has many resemblances to The Alchemical Tarot. Both use the same four suits with the same elemental associations: Coins/Pentacles/Earth, Vessels/Cups/Water, Swords/Air, and Staffs/Wands/Fire. Since all four decks are created by Robert M. Place, the artwork is similar. The closed vessels in the Seven of Vessels card suggest more of the mystery behind the choices than is indicated in the standard Seven of Cups. The Three of Swords shows a heart with blood vessels that hints at the alternate meaning of heart surgery, in addition to heartbreak. The twenty-two trumps have many unusual features. The Fool is Stultitia. The Magician is Hermes. The High Priestess is Sibyl. The Empress is “Regina.” The Emperor is Imperator. The Lovers is called Cupid and depicts the choices between will and appetite, with the dog symbolizing fidelity. The Chariot is called Psyche, and shows Reason at the reins, with the two drawing the chariot as Appetite and Will. Card VIII is Justice; here Reason hands her sword to a knight. Card IX, usually The Hermit, has no name, but the figure carries a seven-pointed star. Card X is Fortuna, more commonly called The Wheel of Fortune. Card XI is Strength. Card XII, usually The Hanging or The Hanged Man, is called Traitor. Card XIII, usually Death, is Morta. Card XV, usually The Devil, is Satan. Card XVI, usually The Tower, is Fire. Card XVII, usually The Star, is Stella. The Moon is Luna. The Sun is Apollo. Judgment is Gabriel. The World is Prudence. The Sevenfold Mystery is a beautiful deck that will be easy to use for most people accustomed to the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition in tarot. This deck is available as an app directly at iTunes and is only in a format suitable for iPhone and iPad. The other three decks do not seem to have related apps.

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The Fourth deck we are looking at in this article is The Raziel Tarot: the Secret Teachings of Adam & Eve. It was developed in a collaborative project between Rachel Pollack and Robert M. Place. This is a majors only deck. The cards are larger than standard, measuring 3½ by 6 inches. There are the standard 22 trumps, with Strength as #8 and Justice as #11, and then two added cards: The Tree of Knowledge and The Tree of Life. This deck comes in a handsome magnetic closing box, with a small bound 186-page book by Rachel Pollack. There are about six pages devoted to each Major Arcana card. In this deck, we explore Jewish mysticism, which will be of interest to many who are not Jewish as much of the mysticism is present in the Christian Bible's Old Testament. The Fool is Joseph in his Coat of Many Colors. The Emperor shows Moses confronting the Pharaoh. The Tower is the destruction by Roman troops of the Second Temple in the year 70 C.E. 

Any of these four decks will bring new insight into your tarot practice. 

All submissions remain the property of their respective authors. All images are used with permission. Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - 2017  Questions? Comments? Contact us at ATAsTarotReflections@gmail.com