Review Fin de siècle Kipper from Ciro Marchetti

Name : Fin de siècle Kipper
Author : Ciro Marchetti
Publisher : Königsfurt-Urania Verlag
Tradition : Oracle
Packaging : Hard cardboard box / 10.6 x 7.6 x 3.2 cm
Deck : 39 cards / laminated, glossy cards / 10.2 cm x 7.4 cm
Size : normal
Handbook : Book of 83 pages en B&W
Reverse side : No, the backs of the cards are not reversible.
Switch of 8/11 : No
Universe : Steampunk
Use : Prediction , Voyance

The equipment

The equipment

The cards are delivered in a sturdy cardboard box. They are of the correct thickness, plasticized and glossy. My review is based on the English version, but a French version is also available. The cards are smaller than the classic tarot card size, which ensures a very good grip.

The history of the game

The history of the game

Kipper is a Bavarian game created in the 1890s. We know little about the genesis of this game. We can nevertheless think that the creators may have been inspired by Lenormand, itself inspired by another game called "Game of Hope" created by a German entrepreneur around 1800. The game has 36 cards like the Lenormand, however Ciro Marchetti added 3 new cards which are "Poverty", "Toil and Labour" and "Community" in its "Fin de siècle Kipper" version.

The game is mainly used in Germany. But it has gained popularity in recent years beyond the German borders, probably thanks to the publication of games for the English-speaking market such as Regula Elizabeth Fiechter's game called "Mystical Kipper" or Ciro Marchetti's game "Fin de Siecle Kipper" (subject of this review) or perhaps also "The Card Geek's Kipper Deck".

The game was created at a time when the industrial era was in full swing and the bourgeoisie was getting richer. Ciro Marchetti's choice to project the atmosphere of the game in Victorian England highlights this impression of a game intended for a certain elite, very focused on wealth, trouble with justice, or family and love. The game differs from Lenormand because it is based more on people, with 9 characters for example, whereas Lenormand is more focused on objects and events. However both games have a very similar symbolic structure, as we find common cards such as "House", "Coffin", "Child", "Garden", "Letter", "Man", "Woman".

The book

1st part: Genesis of the game

The book

The booklet contains a long introductory chapter, in which the author tells of his meeting with Johannes Fienig in Berlin, who gave him a Kipper in the original version. Then he talks about the conception of his own version of the Kipper. Marchetti describes this period when the bourgeoisie had its heyday, and how he wanted to give a more realistic and humane approach to the game by creating the 3 cards "Poverty", "Toil and Labour" and "Community". Indeed, the author evokes that in those times, Christian charity offered a dual vision of poverty, a "bad" and a "good" one.

Part 2: Meaning of the cards

Part 2: Meaning of the cards

The second part of the book deals with the meaning of the cards. Ciro Marchetti has surrounded himself with 3 experienced Kipper readers to write the texts. Each card is the subject of 3 or 4 paragraphs which are written by each of Marchetti's 3 collaborators: Fortune Buchholtz, Stella Waldvogel, Suzanne Zitzi. Note that in the 4th paragraph, when it exists, Marchetti gives his own interpretation of the card. The interpretations of the 3 fortune-tellers sometimes complement each other so much so that one wonders why make 3 paragraphs. Ciro's texts contain information about his own vision and focus on the details that are not part of the original version.

It is regrettable that the texts do not provide a list of key words, making it quick and easy to consult the book during consultation.

Part 3: Spreads

Part 3: Spreads

This is certainly the part that interested me the most during my study. Even more than the cards themselves. It must be understood that the symbolism of the Kipper cards (like the Lenormand cards) is simple, not to say raw, and in any case much more refined than the rich symbolism of the Tarot cards. Also, in order to arrive at a richness and finesse of interpretation that is appropriate, the reader must deal more cards than for a classic Tarot deck. Where we draw one Tarot card, we deal at least 2 or 3 cards in the Kipper (or Lenormand). It is usual with a Kipper that a spread uses half of the cards in the deck ! Also the methods and strategies of Kipper spreading, which are very different from a tarot, were of particular interest to me.

The book describes the 2 following spreads :

  • The triple pyramid spread proposes to create three pyramids of 6 cards. Each pyramid has a specific sphere of meaning: "Obstacles", "The best possible course of action", "Result". To these 18 cards are added 3 additional cards "Surprises" which will only be revealed at the end of the spread.
  • The Suzanne's SOS spread : proposes to draw 8 cards arranged in a circle, with 1: The starting situation, 2: It's a fact, 3: It's an illusion, 4: The opportunity you have, 5: What you must forget, 6: What's useful now, 7: What's not useful now, 8: Final result.

Note that you will also find other resources on the Web where Internet users propose original strategies. For example, use the entire game in 4 rows of 9 cards, find the significator card that represents the consultant ("Man" or "Woman") and from there, read the surrounding cards, horizontally, vertically and diagonally.

What I think of the cards

I confess that I am not a Kipper fan, nor even a Lenormand fan. It has nothing to do with the graphics of the cards or even with the printing quality. Simply the pure symbolism, raw form of the cards, do not inspire me or not very much. The polarization of the game on a particular atmosphere (the Victorian era) or on specific subjects (fortune, justice, family) doesn't help me to immerse myself in the game either. However, here are the remarks I can make:

The game contains many characters, 9 in all, representing the archetypes of the family, with grandparents, adults, child and more. Of course the existence of such cards can be particularly indicated for a draw that concerns family or love. But I'm not sure that such cards can't adapt to all situations without a fertile imagination of the reader.

I find that the 3 cards "Thoughts", "Concern", "Expectation" propose an attempt to project on what the other may think (his boss, his wife, his friend, etc.), which is downright clairvoyant and no longer has anything to do with psychological interpretation.

Finally, I think that there are cards with roles or meanings that are too close together, that duplicate, for example:

  • Message of Concern, Message
  • Thoughts, Concern, Expectation
  • Community, House, Family room
  • Marriage, Lovers, Courtship
  • Unexpected income, Great wealth, Gift, Sudden wealth
  • Pathway, Distant Horizons

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My opinion on Fin de siècle Kipper

As a tarologist, practicing psychological tarot, I spontaneously take some distance from oracles of pure divination or even clairvoyance, of which the Kipper is clearly a part. Even with the quality work of Ciro Marchetti, I find it difficult to enter this game. The Victorian era with the values it brought, seems to me distant, especially since this game seems to be made for the ladies of the salon of the bourgeoisie, concerned about their marriage, or the wealth or legal troubles of their family. In the current context of our time, this totally renovated game has a retro but also obsolete charm. On the side, I prefer the Lenormand which contains more timeless objects with a broader symbolism.

This kind of oracles (Kipper, Lenormand, etc.) having a simple content, can be addressed to beginners who have difficulty in getting used to the density and richness of the tarot. The assimilation of a deck of about forty cards with simple meaning is fast, much faster than the time needed to learn the Tarot which includes 78 cards. The practitioner can compensate for the lack of nuance and finesse of the Kipper cards by dealing many cards during a reading.This is a way to base our interpretation on a suitable wealth of information, a diverted way of course, but still an acceptable way

Also the novice, can start to draw cards with a Lenormand or Kipper before moving on to heavier and deeper games. Especially since there is a real variety of Lenormand or Kipper games on the market, the beginner can find the game that suits his taste.

Update october 2022 :

I was recently trained on the Lenormand and saw it in action during an entire seminar. I have to admit that a Kipper or Lenormand is much more "cash" than a tarot. And even though a reading often needs to be formulated with nuance, some consultants need a clear-cut answer, which a Lenormand or Kipper can provide more easily than a tarot. Faced with a "soft" reading (it happens) or a consultant disappointed with a mixed answer from the tarot, a very suitable solution may be to draw a Kipper or Lenormand card or another oracle, as an advice card to conclude the reading.

I recently bought a modern Lenormand self-published by clear_the_deck on the theme of piracy. I must admit I was really convinced by this Lenormand version, very grounded and adapted to our world "at war" and where we live in a jungle, each one a little for himself (the world of piracy is the perfect metaphor). I'm seriously considering a parallel use of my tarot. So there are modern Lenormand and Kipper versions that can be very good decks.

"When Tarot is too difficult" Tweet
  • Prediction
  • Voyance
  • Easy-to-understand cards to get started with fortune-telling
  • Cards too simple to deepen the learning of cartomancy
  • Themes less varied and more specific than the Lenormand system
of symbolism
of cards
of use
to children
in the study
2.9 / 5

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