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Monday, November 19, 2012

REVIEW: Sacred Sites Tarot


Sacred Sites Tarot
Concept by Massimiliano Filadoro
Artwork by Federico Penco
78 cards
Lo Scarabeo / Llewellyn Publications / 2012
Art Tarot collection edited by Pietro Alligo
ISBN 10: 0738735000
ISBN 13: 978-0738735009

_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I really like the international flavor of this deck, which includes sacred sites, people, and mythical characters from a huge number of cultures. Although the theme is "sites," I appreciate that artist Federico Penco includes people in most of the paintings, helping us relate to the cards personally. Even if I were not going to try to read with this deck, I would enjoy studying the images and "visiting" each site via the descriptions in the instruction booklet.

The fact that the cards do not have titles might be unappealing to some, especially those who are just beginning to learn tarot. I would not recommend this deck for beginners who want to learn the "traditional" Tarot card symbols, imagery, and interpretations. However, the deck could certainly be used by someone who prefers to read through intuition alone.

You can watch a video of an interview with Massimiliano Filadoro (concept) and Federico Penco (artwork) at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daykj5eEy9E&feature=plcp


"From Stonehenge to the Egyptian Pyramids to the Taj Mahal, the world is filled with holy structures and ancient places shimmering with mystical energy. Recognized over the centuries for their mysterious connection to the Divine, the power of these revered sites is still felt today. This utterly unique tarot offers a rare opportunity to connect with the age-old wisdom of temples, shrines, and sacred places across five continents."

  • Theme: Sacred Sites ranging from "the most remote past to modern times"
  • Number of Cards: 78
  • Major Arcana: 0 (The Fool / Mount Graham) - 21 (The World / Shambhala)
  • Justice is 8; Strength is 11
  • Majors are numbered in the upper left and lower right corner, using Roman numerals, but do not bear titles
  • Court Cards: Knave, Knight, Queen, King
  • Courts have a suit symbol top and center and a title-related symbol bottom center (helmet for Knave, horse for Knight, different types of crowns for Queen and King)
  • Suits: Chalices (Places of Water), Pentacles (Places of Earth), Wands (Places of Fire), Swords (Places of Air)
  • Pips have a suit symbol top and center and a number bottom center in XXXX style; the Aces bear the number "1" instead of the word "Ace"
  • Little White Book (LWB) contains Introduction and 10 pages in English, with translations of those pages into Italian, Spanish, French, and German


Although the deck is structured traditionally, it is not a Rider-Waite "clone." The imagery is culture-specific, but those familiar with the RWS deck will understand why a few of the sites and characters were chosen for specific cards.

For example, the idea of sacrifice connected with The Hanged Man, works well with the choice of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for Trump 12. Krakatoa, which erupted violently in 1883, seems an appropriate choice for Trump 16, The Tower. On the Judgement card, a huge angel literally blows down the walls of Jericho with her horn. On Strength, a woman poses next to a sculpture of a lion. The Chariot depicts a man sitting on a wagon at a sanctuary.

The card faces have light blue borders. You will not be able to trim these borders without losing the card numbers, suit symbols, and Court Card symbols. However, I find the borders to be unobtrusive.

On the faces of the Majors an image of the world peeks up from behind the upper right corner and lower left corner of the main image. Card backs are light blue with a slightly darker blue design and an image of the world in the center.

The cards measure 2.7 (w) x 4.9 inches, and are printed on average weight stock.


Federico Penco chose watercolors for the artwork in this deck. He felt this allowed him to show real places with actual details, while conveying the mystical or exotic nature of many of these sites. The cards have a high level of detail, which makes them fascinating to study.

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.


  1. I think reading what you have to say about this deck and from the images, I would probably only use it as a study deck rather than a reading deck.

    1. I think many people will agree with you, Helen. I am thinking that it might be interesting to use this deck in a Past Life Reading, as it could give the Seeker an idea of where (and possibly when) a past life occurred.

    2. what a cool idea! i love that...

    3. Hi Violet! I think I'll have to give it a try...

    4. This is my deck, and all comments regarding it being one for the advanced reader are accurate. Working with it, I’ve come to understand that it is very good for past life readings as well as discovering underlying motivations and subconscious influences. It is a deck for empaths to be sure.

  2. What a great review! I love to draw single cards from this deck, but I am intimidated by the idea of doing a full reading with it. Thanks for the thorough, thoughtful review, Zanna!

    1. You're most welcome, Manda! At some point perhaps I will get my courage up and try a small reading with these cards. I'm always up for an adventure! Thank you for stopping by.

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~ Zanna