A Tarot de Marseille Two-Deck Comparison Reading

For quite some time I’ve been intending to use my “Friend or Foe” deck comparison spread with my two Fournier TdM decks, Le Tarot de Marseille and the Spanish Tarot. I finally got around to doing it. First, here is a link to the spread, followed by the reading layout. I prefer not to anthropomorphize my divination tools (that is, assume they have human-like personalities), but it’s fun to do it for this exercise.


All images copyright Naipes Heraclio Fournier, S.A.

The top row of the spread –  assigned to Batons –  signifies the level of creative synergy that I can expect from these decks when brought together in a reading. Both the Fournier TdM in the left-hand column and the Spanish Tarot on the far right delivered a Cups card in the draw, implying strong sympathy between the decks. The  Tarot de Marseille 3 of Cups seems to be quite compatible with the Spanish Tarot’s Knight of Cups; for its part, the Knight as the twelfth card of the suit is a numerological counterpart to the Three (1+2=3), so the two are very much on the same page.

The numerical “midpoint” card was the 7 of Cups, suggesting that a great deal of imaginative inspiration will come from their interaction. With Le Diable as the “quint” card, I’m using the less-common meaning of extreme creative potency as the keynote for their cooperation. The Knight of Cups seems to be offering his intuitive sensitivity and enthusiasm to the Tarot de Marseille Devil, which the Devil will boil up with its flaming torch. The torch-and-chalice juxtaposition has a sexual feel to it, promising great stimulation when the two decks meet, with most of the excitement coming from the Spanish Tarot. As an Earth card, the Devil is on very friendly terms with the Water of the Cups, and the three Water cards should serve to mellow its inherent churlishness to a considerable degree.

The second row is the Cups tier and symbolizes the emotional empathy  between the decks. Once again, both decks yielded a Cups card in the draw. This time the Tarot de Marseille produced the Knight of Cups and the Spanish Tarot presented the 6 of Cups; from a “heart-to-heart” standpoint this is an even more satisfactory pairing than the two cards in the Batons row, although the outward-facing Knight seems to be withholding some of his support. The “midpoint” card was the 9 of Cups, the “perfection” of the suit. I expect convincing assertions of great emotional depth as a result of joining these decks in a reading as long as the Tarot de Marseille will engage with gusto. La Luna (another expression of the number “9”) as the “quint” card tells me that there will be a strong mystical streak in the narrative.

The third row represents their intellectual connection via the suit of Swords, and here things get a bit shakier. With Le Pape, the Tarot de Marseille wants to pontificate on the “old ways,” while the Spanish Tarot’s Ace of Swords brings bright new ideas to the table; the Ace facing away from Le Pape suggests an unwillingness to compromise. Although the two cards are elementally at odds, the 6 of Batons as “midpoint” card – with which both are on good terms – suggests that they can be successfully reconciled. This is reinforced by the internal consistency among these four cards: 5 (Le Pape) + 1 (Ace of Swords) = 6, the number of both L’Amoureux and the 6 of Batons. Since it is favored by element, my sentiments lie with the Ace of Swords. L’Amoureux as “quint” card (its assigned Hebrew letter means “sword,” so it’s well-placed here) indicates that there could be an amicable “tug-of-war” between the decks when they’re used together. It also implies that every reading could require a judgment call. I find it interesting that, of all the cards in the spread, Le Pape is the only one that isn’t well-integrated elementally with the rest of the cards in its row. It’s already obvious from their color palette that these aren’t “historical” TdM decks, so this could be further encouragement for a more imaginative than conventional approach to reading with them.

The fourth row reflects their practical collaboration under the suit of Coins. Swords and Batons together like to “get things done” with little deliberation (one dares and the other ups the ante), and the two Fives aren’t about to sit still; in tandem they once again remind me strongly of Crowley’s “lust for result.”  I don’t expect any vague or wishy-washy testimony from this marriage of decks. The Knight of Batons as “midpoint” card is certainly right in the thick of it, and his posture favors a more penetrating approach than an erratic and impulsive one. However, his gaze and that of his horse suggest that he’d like to rein in change, but he’s on the wrong side of the Wheel and hitting it with his club will only succeed in driving it into the waiting arms of the 6 of Batons, where it will be put to good use! Fortuna as “quint” card seems to be saying that “the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts” since it dwarfs the incremental changes inherent in the Fives; these decks should form something of a juggernaut  (I’m thinking “steamroller”) when it comes to practical readings. They should perform well together when important changes in a querent’s “local environment” are on the horizon.

The quintessence “chain” of Le Diable, La Luna, L’Amoureux and Fortuna describes an obsession with emotionally fraught decisions that promise significant change. This is borne out by the “grand quint” roll-up of those four into a single trump-card expression: Trump XIII, the “Nameless Arcanum” (aka “Death”), the “big kahuna” of transformative shock. I don’t think I’ll be using these decks for trivial questions like “What does Joe at the office ‘think or feel’ about Mary?” But of course I try to steer clear of those  anyway!

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