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The Cards of Nostradamus

Art by Cesare Ripa, idea & graphics by Pietro Alligo, colors by Donatella Baraldi, concept & instructions by Isa Donelli

The Cards of Nostradamus
Price: $19.95

Number of cards in deck: 78

Measurements: 2.6 x 4.7 inches, or 66 x 120 mm.

Back of card: Derived from card no. 5 (presumably Nostradamus himself). Printed in a dark blue on white & repeated top & bottom, so may be inverted, though there are no definitions for them.

Booklet included: Yes, 64 pages, 2.63 x 4.73 inches, or 67 x 120 mm. In English, Italian, German, French, Spanish.

Publisher: Lo Scarabeo. Printed in Italy.

Comments: We all know about Nostradamus (1503-1566), so I won't bore you with a history lesson. Notes with the deck says he wrote his forecasts on small scrolls, which somehow the booklet says was a form of cartomancy (eg, divination with cards). I do not know if Nostradamus used cards (seems unlikely to me), but in any case, whatever cards he may have used, have long been lost. Images in this deck are taken from the Iconologia, a Renaissance symbol treatise by Cesare Ripa, allegorical representations of feelings, moods, habits, virtues, states of mind, etc.

So this is not a tarot deck per se. There is no major arcana, no minor arcana, no suits, no court cards. There are 78 numbered cards, each with a figure and motto. Here are all 78, in order:

Ambition, Maturity, Will, Power, Tradition, Understanding, Progress, Equilibrium, Spirituality, Opportinities, Virtue, Knowledge, Metamorphosis, Rebirth, Materialism, Vanity, Fantasy, Fears, Ostentation, Merits, Notoriety, Truth, Perfection, Ties, Invention, Economy, Friendship, Stagnation, Learning, Completion, Helpfulness, Conversation, Submission, Conquest, Generosity, Reverence, Glory, Exchange, Concreteness, Trust, Sincerity, Wait, Vagueness, Integrity, Humility, Order, Goodness, Independence, Hospitality, Moderation, Superiority, Conflicts, Hard Work, Tenacity, Vigor, Waste, Prudence, Art, Success, Wisdom, Diligence, Constancy, Kindliness, Consideration, Rule, Agreements, Contradictions, Regrets, Obligations, Precaution, Experience, Teaching, Mortification, Yearning, Altruism, Defense, Loyalty, Duties.

As an example, Card 47, Goodness, shown above. Of this card, the text says, The sun shines on the man who annhilates the serpent, the enemy of kindness. J. Outer appearances reflect inner ones.

Myself, I see a man killing a snake, but I don't see a sun. I see a nimbus around his head, the traditional symbol of a Christian saint. There was a saint who killed a serpent: It was St. George & the serpent was a dragon & it was once a well-known allegory for a certain stage in the alchemical process. Here the serpent is green, which represents life. Specifically, a serpent (not a dragon) represents the fertilizing male seed. How this got confused & demonized into a devil is beyond me. Note that he is holding a book, which is closed and has seals around it. The book, like the snake in the Garden of Eden, represents knowledge, presumably of good & evil. If the book were merely closed, we would presume the man knew the contents, so that he would be killing the serpent from knowedge, though because the book is closed, his knowledge is denied to us, the observers. But as the book is both closed & sealed, we may infer the man knows nothing of its contents & kills the serpent in obedience to his god. He bears the book in trust, never to look inside. You will remember in the story of Adam & Eve, and of Pandora's box, in both cases the female was the curious partner. Here the female is lacking, there is no curiosity, the available knowledge is ignored. This is not to make the woman responsible, but to observe that the male/female paring is of considerable power. A very different interpretation from the one given in the notes.

The Nostradamus deck that Lo Scarabeo has given us is not what I was expecting, probably not what you were expecting, either.

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

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Established 1993, The Astrology Center of America is owned & operated by David Roell. Except where noted, this entire site ( & 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).