Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Discussions of the arcane symbols of Tarot and other decks
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Symbols appear on each and every tarot card - visual signs that convey meaning. Some of them are highly individual and personal, others time-honored and traditional. Some are easy to understand, others difficult and multivalent. In this forum, we want to study symbols from different decks, traditions and cultures together using books, websites, lwbs and our own intuition.
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Nemia
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Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by Nemia » 04 Oct 2017, 08:50

I have an old and battered copy of Oswald Wirth's Tarot of the Magician (relic from a library), and read it some years ago. I'm happy to call Lo Scarabeo's Universal Wirth deck my very newest own; it's a re-interpretation of the classical Wirth deck, which was again based on Wirth's own artwork. (A comparison of different Wirth decks - thanks to Albi Deuter!)

The deck I have is the result of a team effort by Giordano Berti, Stefano Palumbo and Pietro Alligo. I have the Russian version (so no multi-lingual titles here).

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Albi Deuter is enthusiastic about the deck, I like it, too (except for the typical Lo Scarabeo comic artist fascination with boobs... I wish they'd really stop treating every nude female in a tarot deck as Miss Fitness Body competition appearance...).

The water colour illustrations are competent and done in beautiful colours. The minors in this deck are based on a book by Eudes Picard, contemporary of Wirth. Wirth is said to have agreed with Picard on many things; he didn't think the minors necessary for a tarot deck but they were included nevertheless, but inspired by Picard, not Wirth. (I have no lwb and rely here on the well-researched Tarotwelten).

Berti and Palumbo leave Wirth's pip cards behind and added symbols, animals and sigils to make the pips more expressive. Most reviewers have problems with the elementary assignation: Swords are Water and Cups air. I'll see how that works out when I read with the deck; the elements are painted so clearly and expressively that I think it's possible to focus on them and less on the chalices or swords in the picture.

Btw, the cardstock of this deck is very pleasant - it's more paper-y than I know from other decks, a bit stiff, and it feels like real cards. This paper feeling suits the water colour technique very well, and I'm glad it's not sticky plasticky.

Does anyone here have experience with Wirth cards? I really don't. I guess the Swiss fraction knows more about Wirth - and can recommend a good book or other way of studying this deck. Although I feel it's possible to read with it from the box.

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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by Nemia » 04 Oct 2017, 12:40

I looked at the book again, and oh, it's so interesting!

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First of all, look at this charming list. It warms my heart. The Hebrew letters and card titles are, at least until י and the Wheel of Fortune, in harmony - continental system :clap:

Even better - the astronomical assignations. Obviously, the author thought only about the Northern part of the Northern hemisphere - anything farther South than Scorpio is not included. But the inclusion of the Northern circumpolar constellations (that don't drop beneath the horizon, well at least not in Europe - in Indonesia or Chile, of course, they do) is a great addition. If Taurus influences us and plays a role in our fate, then why not Orion or Perseus? And if you say, only constellations on the ecliptic path of Sun and Moon, well, then what about Ophicus? It's the 13th constellation on the ecliptic. Okay, let's keep that can of worms in the fridge for next time!

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This skymap shows the large constellations visible from most places in the Northern hemisphere. The assignations are for GD-followers (which I think we all are, more or less) off and weird and wonky. But some of them are inspired - Andromeda for the Star, Gemini for the Sun - at least from a mythological-artistic point of view.

It's always nice to brush our certainties against the grain and fluff them up a bit.

I think I'll have some fun with this deck. I don't regret that I don't have a booklet, the book is better. Now I have to see where I can find a copy of Picard's book :-) and find out more about the minors.

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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by Barleywine » 04 Oct 2017, 13:16

Nemia wrote:
04 Oct 2017, 08:50
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Albi Deuter is enthusiastic about the deck, I like it, too (except for the typical Lo Scarabeo comic artist fascination with boobs... I wish they'd really stop treating every nude female in a tarot deck as Miss Fitness Body competition appearance...).
The World Spirit deck is a perfect antidote for that. Lots of unflattering body types there. Back on topic, this deck has been on my wish list for a while, just not near the top. I do want the book, though.

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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by Nemia » 04 Oct 2017, 13:25

I like the World Spirit deck ;-) and I like decks where I don't even NOTICE the body shapes of the people around even more.

The book is great. It's available as pdf online. http://askthecards.info/free_ebooks/Tar ... _Wirth.pdf

Seems to me the same as my print edition.

I trimmed the deck already and rounded the corners. I added the card names in gold and will also add the Hebrew letters and astrological correspondences. And then I'll see how the deck works in a reading :-)

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I wouldn't have trimmed it if not for the Russian subtitles. I'd love to know Russian, and trying to decipher the words was too distracting.

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In a non-narrative deck, borders don't bother me.

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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by spyder » 11 Oct 2017, 10:32

Wirth made two 22 Major Arcana decks, one in 1889 that he produced under the direction of Stanislas de Guaita who was to become Wirth's teacher. The more lavishly illustrated second deck was finished in 1926. Interestingly Wirth's book that was translated by Samuel Weiser Inc. in 1985 was illustrated with re-drawn Wirth images and not by Wirth himself. Ref: here.

While there are 2 older so-called Wirth decks produced by US Games and LoScarabeo , neither is an original Oswald Wirth creation. However, there is a current one made by Lo Scarabeo that is gilded with gold foil and incorrectly identified as the 1889 version.

There are currently facsimile reproductions of both the 1889 version and the 1926 version. available here


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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by Nemia » 11 Oct 2017, 11:50

Oh, what beautiful decks. And the Etsy shop is great,thank you for the link!

Do you use the cards for majors-only readings?

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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by spyder » 11 Oct 2017, 14:23

I only read with the majors. I like to keep it simple. ;)

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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by Michael Sternbach » 11 Oct 2017, 20:29

In the Wirth deck - in spite of its apparent simplicity - there are esoteric secrets hidden that I did not find in any other deck among the many I studied. Most likely, Wirth had learned them from his mentor, the great occultist Stanislav de Guita.

Other than that, the Wirth is indispensable for anybody seeking a deeper understanding of the French school of Tarot, that was built around occult masters like Levy and Papus and is still the most viable alternative to the Golden Dawn system, which underlies most more modern decks.

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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by Michael Sternbach » 11 Oct 2017, 20:31

Oh, BTW, it's important to study the original Wirth deck first, before perhaps looking at some of the derivatives. :icon_e_wink:

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Re: Oswald Wirth, Tarot of the Magician and Universal Wirth

Post by spyder » 21 Oct 2017, 11:30

Michael Sternbach wrote:
11 Oct 2017, 20:29
In the Wirth deck - in spite of its apparent simplicity - there are esoteric secrets hidden that I did not find in any other deck among the many I studied. Most likely, Wirth had learned them from his mentor, the great occultist Stanislav de Guita.

Other than that, the Wirth is indispensable for anybody seeking a deeper understanding of the French school of Tarot, that was built around occult masters like Levy and Papus and is still the most viable alternative to the Golden Dawn system, which underlies most more modern decks.
Would you mind talking about the things you noticed that were unique to Wirth's decks? And how they have proved useful to you as a reader?

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