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Review Tarot de Marseille Edition Millennium from Wildried Houdouin

DATASHEET
Name : Tarot de Marseille Edition Millennium
Author : Wildried Houdouin
Publisher : Edition Trajectoire
Tradition : Tarot de Marseille
Packaging : Rigid Case / 14,5 x 10,5 x 4,3 cm / 5.51 x 3.93 x 1.57 in
Deck : 78 cards / Satin, glossy / 12.4 cm / 4.88 in x 6.5 cm / 2.36 in
Size : normal
Handbook : French booklet of 65 pages in color
Reverse side : Yes, the backs of the cards are reversible.
Switch of 8/11 : No
Universe : Medieval / Renaissance
Use : Prediction , Personal development
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The Material

The Material

When you open the box of the Tarot of Marseille Millennium edition by Wilfried Houdouin, you discover a complete and well-thought-out set. The sturdy box, true to Trajectoire editions, contains the 78 cards accompanied by a 65-page explanatory booklet, rich in colors. A storage pouch is also included, not in classic fabric, but in durable nylon, and the blue bottom of the box adds a pleasant aesthetic touch.

The cards, of standard size, pleasantly surprise with their satin finish, offering a feeling of quality and durability. The production, although made in China, does not seem to compromise the quality of this tarot.

As a fan of cartomancy and a regular user of oracles, especially the Petit Lenormand, I am used to smaller-sized cards. I have a preference for mini-tarots, practical for quick and spontaneous readings, whether to introduce them to close friends or during impromptu meetings. Even in consultations, I favor my personal tarot, the Jean Noblet Tarot, which is more manageable in size. However, I must admit that using standard-sized cards, measuring 6.5 x 13 cm, is becoming increasingly cumbersome for me. Their handling and shuffling prove difficult, especially for those who, like me, are accustomed to more compact formats. This raises a question for tarot publishers: isn't it time to offer games whose cards do not exceed 10 cm in height, to combine comfort and tradition?

The Author

Wilfried Houdouin is a professional graphic designer born in 1971 in Gouvieux, living in Marseille since 2001. Passionate about Tarot since his teenage years, he says he acquired his first Tarot of Marseille at the age of 19 (I'm a bit tired of these tarologists or experts who claim to have fallen into it when they were children or teenagers, it doesn't make them more legitimate!). Trained in graphic arts in Paris and certified in stone cutting for historical monuments in Angers, he then specialized in computer graphics. His research in philosophy, art, history, sacred geometry, and cosmology led him to rediscover the original structure of the Tarot of Marseille (according to him), which he considers as a symbolic model of the world. These discoveries led him to create the "Tarot of Marseille Millennium Edition" and to write "The Sacred Code of the Tarot", the first in a series of books on the metaphysics and symbolism of the Tarot of Marseille.

Furthermore, he co-created with Yves Reynaud the "Tarot de Marseille Heritage" project, aiming to preserve the traditional heritage of the tarot. His website www.tarot-de-marseille-millennium.com offers a gallery of historical tarots, interesting to browse.

The Booklet

The Booklet
The Booklet

The Tarot of Marseille Millennium edition by Wilfried Houdouin opens with a booklet divided into several sections. The first part immerses the reader in what the author calls the "sacred geometry" of the Tarot of Marseille. Houdouin presents his theories on the secret structure and original iconography that guided him in the creation of his tarot. He suggests that this structure is based on the matrix of Metatron's cube, influencing all aspects of the tarot, from the structure to the graphics, thus justifying the size of the cards, the grandeur of the designs, the frames, the letters, the colors, and even the overall organization and metaphysics of the game. Although I can conceive that Renaissance master card makers might have been inspired by a graphic structure for the scenes of the 22 Triumphs (major arcana), the idea that this same structure could have determined the codification of colors, their use, and the order of the cards seems exaggerated to me.

The second part of the booklet, dedicated to the symbolic language of the Tarot of Marseille, does not bring much new, while the 14 pages dedicated to the history of cards and tarot repeat information already known and sourced by recognized historians such as Thierry Depaulis and Isabelle Nadolny.

Houdouin traces the history of card games back to antiquity, a relevant approach given the rediscovery of ancient philosophy during the Renaissance, which influenced the art of the time and, by extension, some tarot cards. He then discusses the well-established history of the 56 minor arcana in the East, their arrival in Italy or Spain, and the creation of the 22 major arcana in Italy before their introduction in France. This part, well-documented, stands out for its rigor, avoiding the persistent legends and myths about the Egyptian origin of the tarot or stories about the gypsies.

However, the author questions certain historical interpretations, suggesting that historians, although methodical, may have misunderstood the traditional codes and original aspects of the tarot, related to sacred art. If I understand the author's point: He proposes a vision where the canonical type II form would have been produced several centuries before the type I form, including the Parisian tarot of 1615, or the Vieiville tarot of 1650, which would actually be a degeneration of the original model (type II), which would be more faithful to traditions. He relies on the spelling of a card, the star (here spelled E-S-T-O-I-L-L-E instead E-T-O-I-L-E), to justify this anteriority, a fragile proof given that French spelling was not standardized before the creation of the French Academy in 1634. Suffice it to say that I am not at all convinced by the author. In fact, I get the impression that Houdouin wants to legitimize his work on the type II form and make his creation "superior" to others, by making the type II form earlier than all other forms. Another tarologist who shines with his humility 😕

The author concludes that, although the exact origin of the Tarot of Marseille remains uncertain, he leans in favor of a birth in France, perhaps in Provence. This theory is supported by certain historical elements but remains to be confirmed by further research.

On the other hand, on this point, I totally agree with him. The so-called "Marseille" tarot type I and II was born in the southeast of France and not in Northern Italy. The synthesis and aggregation work leading to the type I and then type II form is characteristic of a "French touch".

The booklet continues with an interpretation of the 22 major arcana, offering reading keys for each card. Houdouin also revisits the meaning of the four suits, assigning to the baton the role of the creative principle and to the sword that of the spiritual, psychic, and mental principle. He associates the coin with the physical and bodily principle, while the cup embodies the spiritual and religious principle. These interpretations, more or less divergent from traditional meanings, invite reflection on the multiple symbolic dimensions of the tarot.

Regarding the meaning of numbers, the author seems to be inspired by the Pythagorean school for the meaning of numbers from 1 to 10, an approach that I also share.

As for the figures of the jack, knight, queen, and king, Houdouin remains faithful to their historical and medieval representation, without anchoring them in a modern or psychological context. This classic interpretation may be reassuring for purists, but it could also benefit from an update to reflect contemporary dynamics on the use of tarot.

The booklet ends with instructions on the practice of tarot drawing. Houdouin proposes two methods: the dynamic or living drawing and the cross drawing. The dynamic drawing, which uses three cards representing the past, present, and future, is flexible and allows the addition of extra cards to refine the reading. This method is particularly relevant because, through dialogue with the consultant, it allows additional cards depending on emerging questions. The cross drawing, on the other hand, is a timeless classic, with a fifth card obtained by arithmological reduction, offering a synthesis of the other four cards.

The Uniqueness of the Deck

Regarding the uniqueness of the deck, the Tarot of Marseille Millennium edition respects the canonical form of type II tarot. However, it stands out for three notable elements:

  • Firstly, the coloring of the characters' faces, predominantly white except for a few, is an intriguing artistic choice that deserves an explanation from the author to understand his symbolic vision.
  • Secondly, the use of colors in the deck has distinctive features, such as the green of the dragons on the shields of the Empress and Emperor, or the Hermit's blue beard, which add a unique touch to this tarot.
  • A third peculiarity catches my attention: the choice of names for the 22 major arcana. The author has opted for a spelling that seems archaic at first glance, with the use of 'V' instead of 'U', 'ImpératriSe' with an 'S', 'CharioR' with an extra 'R', 'TeNpérance' with an 'N', and 'Étoile' spelled 'E-S-T-O-I-L-L-E'. Similarly, 'Jugement' is written with an 'I', and the name 'Mat' is preferred over 'Fool'. Houdouin's approach can be interpreted in several ways. On one hand, it pays tribute to the historical roots of the tarot, preserving the authenticity of the names as they might have appeared in the earliest versions of the game. On the other hand, it may seem confusing for novices who are more familiar with modern spelling.
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A free PDF to print, cut out, and fold!

Key words for the 78 cards for the Tarot of Marseille, to slip into your favorite deck. Your leaflet always with you, at hand, to guide you in your readings. Thanks to it, your interpretations gain in richness and subtlety.

The Cards I Like

VIIII - L'ERMITE

The Cards I Like

The Hermit's forehead, marked by deep wrinkles, seems to reveal a third eye, a symbol of wisdom and inner vision. This representation, although present in other tarots like Jodorowsky's, is executed here with finesse. Secondly, the Hermit's blue beard, unlike that of the Emperor and the Pope, seems to me a judicious choice. The blue, the color of water, evokes spirituality and introspection, which perfectly corresponds to the archetype of the Hermit, a figure of the inner quest. The beard, a sign of experience, combined with its blue color, reinforces the idea of spiritual depth.

XII - LE PENDU

XII - LE PENDU

The card of The Hanged Man also draws my interest. Although the green color of the beams may remind one of nature and hope, it is The Hanged Man's protruding tongue that catches my attention. Usually visible in type I tarots and absent from type II, this feature is adopted by Houdouin, which seems contradictory with his claim that type II is the original 🤔. The Hanged Man sticking out his tongue suggests that he is comfortable with his situation, or even that he is amused by it, thus accepting his inverted position. Moreover, the partial nudity of one foot of The Hanged Man is a peculiarity of this tarot that may symbolize the need to bare one's ties to become aware of them.

XVIIII - LE SOLEIL

XVIIII - LE SOLEIL

I also appreciate the Sun card for its green face (instead of the traditional yellow), a color that symbolizes hope and spirituality. This choice gives the Sun a message of hope and spiritual renewal, a choice that I find just as relevant as the usual yellow color. I also find it very fair that he feminized one of the two children, thereby approaching the vision of Jean Noblet, who in 1650, put a man and a woman in his card of the Sun.

XXI - LE MONDE

XXI - LE MONDE

Finally, the World card retains the presence of the bull (used in type I form) rather than the horse (often present in type II tarots). The halo given to the bull (as well as to the other three figures of the card) elevates the Earth element to a sacred and divine nature, aligned with the other three elements (usually the horse in type II is not haloed).

The Cards I Like Less

VI - L'AMOUREUX

The Cards I Like Less
Houdouin
The Cards I Like Less
Madenié 1709

Traditionally, the Lover card represents a crucial choice, often between two people or life paths. In this edition, the author has taken the liberty of attributing the hand at the lower abdomen of the woman on the right as her left hand; an interpretation that differs from the canonical form of the Tarot of Marseille where it is generally accepted that it is the man's hand pointing towards the woman's groin.

This inversion is all the more surprising because Houdouin, who boasts of having studied the type II tarots in depth, should have recognized that the hand at the level of the woman's sex, is that of the man symbolizing his desire and physical attraction for the first woman. While he looks at the second woman indicating his more spiritual and intellectual attraction to her. Moreover, the inversion of the positions of the two women, with the wise woman on the right and the seductive woman on the left, goes against the traditional arrangement observed in type I and II tarots.

In conclusion, although the Tarot of Marseille Millennium edition presents undeniable qualities and a thoughtful approach to cartomancy, it is essential to remain vigilant against artistic interpretations that may stray from traditional meanings. This does not diminish the merit of the entire work but invites a critical and enlightened reading of the cards, keeping in mind the historical and symbolic foundations of the tarot.

GALLERY
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My opinion on Tarot de Marseille Edition Millennium

It's important to highlight that the author's historical approach, while interesting, raises debates or let's say my perplexity. The claim that the type II form is older than the type I form (according to Thierry Depaulis' classification) and dates back to the 14th century is a theory that deserves a more substantial demonstration. Indeed, this is probably more detailed in his works "The Sacred Code of the Tarot of Marseille" and "The Fundamentals of the History of Symbolism and the Science of Philosophical Tarot". But the price of these books is high and his argument should be more public and transparent and not subject to the purchase of his writings.

The execution of the tarot as a whole is successful, with an originality in the choice of colors that sets it apart from the Camoin-Jodorowsky tarot, often seen as more esoteric. Houdouin seems to stay true to the type II form of the Tarot of Marseille, with the notable exception of the Lover's card, where I find a blatant error in understanding the canonical form.

If I compare this tarot with that of Yoav Bendov, the CBD tarot, my choice would be delicate. The CBD tarot also respects the type II form without reproducing the error on the Lover's card. However, Bendov's style, more modern and with slightly smiling characters, contrasts with Houdouin's choice of white faces for his characters (a decision that deserves to be explained nonetheless).

Between these two visions of the Tarot of Marseille, my heart is torn. I invite you to share in the comments your personal preference between these different versions of the Tarot of Marseille.

"A colored tarot" Tweet
TYPE OF USE
  • Prediction
  • Personal development
PROS
  • Modern colors for a Tarot of Marseille
CONS
  • A mistake in the canonical form of the Marseille (well, just one! ^_^)
MATERIAL QUALITY RATINGS
3
/5
Quality
Packaging
4
/5
Quality
cards
3
/5
Rating
Artistic
EASE OF INTERPRETATION RATINGS
4
/5
Richness
of symbolism
5
/5
Legibility
of cards
5
/5
Structure
level
EASY-TO-USE RATINGS
2
/5
Ease
of use
2
/5
Accessible
to children
4
/5
Interest
in the study
OVERALL RATING
3.6 / 5
SURVEY

What would you like to find on this website?

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A personal development 🌈 book based on Tarot teaching 🃏
An easy learning 🏆 book on the Marseille Tarot 🇫🇷
A learning book 🤹 on all tarots 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 (Marseille + RWS)

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