The Afro-Brazilian Tarot is dedicated to the deities of the African Yoruban and Brazilian Candomble religions, and combines these and Santeria with the archetypes of tarot cards.
The images of Giuseppe Palumbo’s Major Arcana are the most successful element of Alice Santana’s Afro-Brazilian Tarots, a new deck from the Italian publisher Lo Scarabeo. Palumbo’s watercolors reflect his background in cartoon illustration and tell their stories with bold simplicity and vigorous angularity. A muscular-looking Fool runs across sloping ground that crumbles beneath him. In Temperance, a white-clad figure leaps across dry gray land as a rainbow leaps from her head into a stormy sky. As the kneeling supplicant of the Sun raises his palms towards our huge star, I can almost feel its warmth on my own skin. In these images, everything lifts, sways, whirls, twists, skins, lunges and waves. This movement aptly represents a culture that respects, channels and dances the fundamental forces of nature.
Santana envisions her deck as a synthesis of classic Tarot archetypes and Yoruban traditions of reverence for the primary spiritual beings known as orixas that West African slaves brought to the Western Hemisphere. Its deck contains the standard Tarot subdivision of twenty-two Major Arcana cards and fifty-six Minor Arcana. The image is Afro-Brazilian but the cards bear traditional Tarot names such as The Lovers, The Hermit, the Ace of Coins and the King of Swords. According to the standard format of Lo Scarabeo, these names are printed in English and in several European languages in the margins of the cards. The corresponding orixa names do not appear on the cards but are listed in the short section of the White Book on the Major Arcana.