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Death Art and Meaning

Visconti A Tarot Deck Fragment

About the Deck

(aka Cary-Yale Tarot Deck or Visconti di Madrone Tarot Deck) One of the earliest Tarot Decks, the Cary Yale Visconti Deck is entirely gilded, with fine paintings upon it. Like the other Visconti decks, it features numerous heraldic devices. Unlike the other Visconti decks, it features a maid and a lady among the court cards.

Traditionally said to have been commissioned by Fillipo Maria Visconti for the 1441 marriage of Bianca Maria Visconti to Francesco Sforza I.

Provenance

Italy, c. 1441.

According to Many Schools of Thought

A. E. Waite's Secondary Meanings

Death. The method of presentation is almost invariable, and embodies a bourgeois form of symbolism. The scene is the field of life, and amidst ordinary rank vegetation there are living arms and heads protruding from the ground. One of the heads is crowned, and a skeleton with a great scythe is in the act of mowing it. The transparent and unescapable meaning is death, but the alternatives allocated to the symbol are change and transformation. Other heads have been swept from their place previously, but it is, in its current and patent meaning, more especially a card of the death of Kings. In the exotic sense it has been said to signify the ascent of the spirit in the divine spheres, creation and destruction, perpetual movement, and so forth.

S. L. MacGregor Mathers's Divinatory Meanings

Upright

Death, Change, Transformation, Alteration for the worse

Reversed

Death just escaped, Partial change, Alteration for the better.

Papus's Divinatory Meanings

Death.

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