|Name :||Le Grand Tarot Universel|
|Author :||Bruno de Nys|
|Publisher :||Les Éditions Bruno de Nys|
|Tradition :||Tarot de Marseille type II|
|Packaging :||Soft cardboard box / 12.5 x 6.7 x 3.7 cm|
|Deck :||78 cards / matte, satin cards / 12 cm x 6.4 cm|
|Handbook :||Leaflet of 31 pages en B&W|
|Reverse side :||Yes, the backs of the cards are reversible.|
|Switch of 8/11 :||No|
|Use :||Prediction , Personal development|
The 78 cards and the small booklet are delivered in a soft cardboard game box. This is rather usual for a Tarot de Marseille. Users of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot are more accustomed to strong, thick cardboard boxes. It is important to understand that the vast majority of Anglo-Saxon tarot cards are printed in China, while self-published Tarot de Marseille tarot cards (like this one) are printed in France. The production costs are therefore not the same. In addition, purchasers of Tarot de Marseille tarot cards are used to finding a leaflet in the box and not a book as is often the case with Rider-Waite-Smith tarot cards. In many cases, this does not be a problem for a Tarot de Marseille. The size of the leaflet can be detrimental here (see paragraph on the leaflet).
The cards of the deck follow the standard size of a Tarot de Marseille which is about 12x6 cm. Shuffling the cards is therefore easy even for people with small hands. The cards are printed on a thick matte cardboard and are of good quality.
Bruno de Nys has been practicing clairvoyance for more than 30 years. He is a tarot specialist, but also seems to have some talents in direct clairvoyance and palm reading. For several years now, in addition to the consultations he gives, he has been teaching tarot, through self-edited books, courses, but also through conferences and initiation workshops. He has created his own tarot called "Le Grand Tarot Universel" (The Great Universal Tarot), which is the subject of this review.
The author begins by delivering his vision of the tarot instead of addressing the history of the tarot. In truth I prefer this, because it seems illusory to me to evoke the origin of the tarot in a few lines. We just give a few truths without explaining the facts. And the tarot is so much the object of prejudices and false beliefs about its origin, if we want to talk about its history, it is good to take the time to demystify it.
It is therefore more appropriate that the authors take the time to explain their vision of the tarot, in order to understand their motivations for creating their own tarot and how they conceived it. In his booklet, Bruno de Nys regrets "the mystifiers, the power seekers, or the so-called masters [...] they consider to be *the best* [...] they sacralize the Tarot to the point of worshipping it, sometimes disturbingly". Of course, I can only agree with him. However, without malice, I must remind you that Bruno de Nys called his own deck "Le Grand Tarot Universel" (The Great Universal Tarot). Here we have the use of two superlatives "Great" and "Universal" which do not demonstrate the humility of the author. This name could rather denote a certain "sacralization" of the Tarot, which Bruno de Nys himself condemns...
Finally, the author speaks of his game as a "very easy to use tool". I would tend to argue that it is for others to judge and tell. The Tarot de Marseille does not have the reputation of being a divinatory tool as simple as the Rider-Waite-Smith which has been widely distributed in France for several years. And although I am trying to popularize the Tarot de Marseille, I must admit that it is not necessarily simple to use.So I wouldn't dare to call Bruno de Nys' tarot as simple to read, because it is not. Especially since the author has added abundant references in his tarot, making the images richer and more complex. An effort is therefore required to understand and interpret the cards.
The booklet continues with a succinct interpretation of each of the cards with both positive and negative meanings. My great regret is that all the symbolic additions made by the author are not explained in the booklet. As for a modern Rider, for example the Light Seer's Tarot, we have in our hands original and unconventional images. Unfortunately, the booklet is too short to spend much time on the explanation and symbolic justification of each card. Certainly in his store, Bruno de Nys sells books on how to learn tarot. But the author does not indicate whether any of his books accurately describes the cards of his own deck. We can naturally think that his main book "LE TAROT- Méthode complète" includes these explanations, but I would have liked to be sure.
At the end of the booklet are two spreads. The first is the "cutting draw" of two cards, where the consultant cuts the deck of cards and holds the card below and above at the cut location. Finally, the booklet ends with a description of a simplified 5-card cross print. Both spreads are accompanied by several examples. The whole is pedagogical, but the explanation of the theosophical reduction is missing since the author proposes 2 additional places for the simplified cross drawing. Bruno talks about adding two cards drawn to know the additional card. Advanced practitioners will imagine that this is a theosophical reduction.
The game does not quite respect the canon of Marseille. This will not bother the beginner practitioner, but the advanced reader may not be convinced by this tarot. Below are some of the differences I noticed :
For example, the creator adds reins in the hands of the prince of LE CHARIOT, whereas the idea of this card is to show that man has absolutely no control over his mounts. In the standard, the scepter in the right hand (the hand of action) of the prince shows that he has an intellectual understanding and mastery of the situation, the man understands and acts with reason. But the left hand (hand of the heart) is placed casually on the hip, showing that the prince has no control over his emotions and impulses, here represented by the horses. How could he hold the reins ?
Another example, in the Minor Arcana, Bruno de Nys, removes the vegetable sheaf of the REINE DE COUPES and the denarius in the ground of the VALET OF DENIERS. Now these two symbols are indications of a vegetal process that runs through all the court cards of the Minor Arcana. At the end of this process, in the REINE DE COUPES, the vegetal sheaf above the queen's head evokes of course the stem of a plant with a seed at the end, here represented by the full cup in the queen's hand. This seed is found to be the denarius planted in the ground in the VALET OF DENIERS.
Looking at and reading reviews of this game, one often reads or hears that the background colors used for the Minor Arcana are rather flashy. I must admit that I myself find these colors quite bright. By way of comparison, I much prefer the color palette used in Fournier's tarot (my review here) in the same style but with pastel tones.
At the bottom of the cards appear the astrological symbols of the zodiac signs and planets. Of course, Bruno de Nys is not the first or even the last to associate the symbolism of astrology (and other philosophical currents such as Kabbalah or Alchemy) with the Tarot cards. Unfortunately, the booklet does not provide any explanation of these associations, which are sometimes curious, because some cards have 1, 2, or even 3 astrological symbols and other cards have no symbol at all.
The faces in this tarot are rather expressive, ranging from anguish in LE DIABLE card to joy in LE SOLEIL card. Some practitioners prefer to have characters with serious or even closed faces. Personally, I have nothing against the expressiveness of the faces, on the contrary, it makes the characters more human. However, it is true that it is necessary to nourish a certain neutrality with regard to the cards, and to avoid preferring certain cards and hating others. In this sense, having characters who are in pain with LE DIABLE and others in joy with LE SOLEIL, tends to break this neutrality. For me, there is no positive or negative card in tarot. LE SOLEIL can evoke problems just like LE DIABLE.
Finally a copyright has been put on all the cards (as shown opposite). This copyright is more discrete than those present on the Grimaud and Jodorowsky-Camoin tarot cards, which are much more invasive. But the result is the same, namely that I am not at all convinced that it can be useful. On the contrary, I find it detracts from the beauty of the tarot, which is a cultural product, and even a divinatory tool. It is counterproductive to remind us that it is a commercial product while the cards are being read.
I appreciate the symbols that the author has added to this card. We can of course talk about the presence of the library in the background of the image, evoking knowledge. However, the book in the hands of the woman is already enough to evoke knowledge. The Latin inscriptions on the book are a good idea, but do they really have an added value ? The keys are an interesting addition, no doubt borrowed from THE HERIOPHANT of the RWS tarot which has these same attributes. The keys speak of an understanding of phenomena and situations that can open doors and remove blockages. The presence of the Moon can be justified in the sense that LA PAPESSE refers to intellectual knowledge but also to the connection to the unconscious. The Moon has this same symbolism. Finally, the Papess seems to be enclosed between the two pillars and the library, sunrays pass through the two windows and come to light her head. This aspect is rather successful because LA PAPESSE also speaks of gestation and even isolation and retreat.
TEMPERANCE by Bruno de Nys, uses the same colors as Paul Marteau's Tarot of 1930. He is not the first to do it, the Tarot de Fournier is a copy of the colors of the Tarot de Grimaud. Here the author has accentuated the red-blue opposition by inverting the colors on the top and sleeves. Finally, the water flowing from one pitcher to the other strongly resembles the DNA molecule. It is rather well seen to evoke the fusion and marriage of opposites.
The Bruno de Nys BATELEUR contains 3 remarkable differences from the standard. The man has an ouroboros acting as a belt. I am not convinced that this symbol is in the right place on the 1st card of the Major Arcana. Indeed the ouroboros is a symbol that has existed since antiquity. It was perceived as a symbol of rejuvenation and resurrection. Because the snake eats its tail, it was also seen as a symbol of self-destruction and annihilation. However, it is generally seen as a symbol of continuity and cycle of evolution. And probably in the sense that it is used here. However, at the first stage of the initiatory journey, there is still a long way to go to LE MONDE. It is therefore premature to speak already of continuity and cycle, so much remains to be done and to walk. In my opinion, the ouroboros would have much more its place on the last card LE MONDE, in order to call for a new cycle, a new beginning.
Similarly, the yin and yang symbol does not seem appropriate in this first card. Of course there will be a need to find balance and harmony sooner or later, but it seems to me that it is more the role of TEMPERANCE. And by the time this 14th card arrives, LE BATELEUR must first decide his path, experience it, succeed, suffer and fail. And it is only when he has gone through all these trials that the time has come to find a balance.
The lunar crescent on the two pillars is undoubtedly there to recall the symbol of fecundity and fertility conveyed by the Moon. That the pommel of the scepter is illuminated is rather particular, I imagine that the author wanted to signify that the empress directs her action in a concrete and material way, in everyday life. But the presence of the cat at the foot of the throne really challenges me. Did the author wish to evoke the strength and agility of the feline? How does this concern the empress? Is it rather the figure of an autonomous and independent companion that is generally the cat that we must understand ?
I like both characters to have their feet stuck in the ground. Indeed, the card of LE DIABLE can evoke a situation of hold from which it is difficult to get out. I also like the Devil to stand on planet Earth, suggesting that his influence or even dominance extends to anyone.
On the other hand, I like much less the human silhouettes raising their arms at the bottom of the card, no longer the Devil's trident and even less the opening behind it, with the flaming threshold, undoubtedly evoking the door of hell. These symbols make the card very negative. And as expressed above, I am one of those tarologists who believe that no card is negative or positive. All stages of life are necessary, success makes us love life while hardships make us move forward in life.
The designer added a door and steps to the tower. Jodorowsky and Camoin did the same thing in their own tarot (which I review here), in relation to the symbolism of Freemasonry. I don't know if Bruno de Nys draws this addition from the same reference. In any case, this reference to Freemasonry displeases me, because I consider the Tarot de Marseille to be self-sufficient. The Tarot does not need to be explained through other systems of thought. The archetypes of the Tarot are sufficiently powerful and precise in themselves. It is counterproductive to associate them with the archetypes and symbolism of other spiritual currents. This only makes the message of the Tarot more complex, yet many beginners already find it difficult to understand. It is therefore useless to add more. This door and these 3 steps do not add anything to the essence of the card.
But what really strikes me in this card is the original jet of flames replaced by a fire.The jet of flames (or lightning in the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition) evokes a significant event, a sudden awareness, a clear break in evolution. In Bruno de Nys' LA MAISON-DIEU, the flames at the top of the tower do not seem short-lived. On the contrary, the fire is well installed, since the flames are visible through the 3 windows of the tower. The meaning loses the brief and unexpected, but incredibly intense and luminous character of the lightning phenomenon. In the same way the cracked walls support a situation of crisis and danger, but refer to a material, concrete situation. Whereas LA MAISON-DIEU speaks above all of an ego decapitated by a jet of flames, a dazzling flash of lightning. The rupture is highly spiritual. It does not touch in any way the materiality of life. Yet these walls on either side of the tower carry this earthly message. Unfortunately, I find that the deep and original meaning of the card is modified.
I follow a process of democratization of the Tarot de Marseille, where the very medieval imagery of the deck is a real obstacle to its acquisition, in the face of unequal competition from RWS tarot derivatives with modern and superb graphics. I therefore salute the initiative of Bruno de Nys to modernize the appearance of the Tarot de Marseille. I intend that he took advantage of this opportunity to integrate personal additions to the canonical form. Who wouldn't have done so ?
However, for the move the Marseille's standard is no longer fully respected in his creation. And the author did not make in the half measure on his personalization of the cards.
The result is a Tarot de Marseille with very modern designs compared to the original medieval images. We can appreciate this new form. On the other hand, on the level of symbolism, the purists of the Tarot de Marseille will clearly regret the divergences from the standard and will be able to turn to the Fournier tarot (my review here). As for the beginners, there is in this game an abundance of symbols that can slow them down in learning how to read cards divinatory.
On the French card game market, most beginners clearly turn to a Rider-Waite-Smith tarot for their first deck. And more advanced practitioners will look for authentic Tarot de Marseille tarot cards by selecting historical facsimile or restored decks. We can therefore ask ourselves the question to whom tarot cards such as Bruno de Nys' "Le Grand tarot Universel" are really addressed. There is clearly a place for renovated and modernized Marseilles tarot cards. But such decks must shine by their excellence if they are to make a breakthrough in a market dominated by RWS tarot cards.
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