Ever since I first ran across a copy several years ago, I’ve loved El Grand Tarot Esoterico (The Great Esoteric Tarot), a Spanish deck with particularly enigmatic Minor cards. The illustrations on the pip cards — rife with butterflies, sprouting seeds, and astrological coinage — are clearly based on some system … but what system?
Distracted by other things, I eventually set the deck aside. And then, last week, while prowling around in Atlanta’s Plaza Fiesta, I came across a tiny booth selling Spanish-language Tarot decks … and spotted El Grand Tarot Esoterico again. This copy was packaged differently, so I bargained a bit and snagged it.
To my great pleasure, I found this boxed set included both the Spanish and English “little white booklets” — but to my great displeasure, the English version revealed little or nothing about the origins of the illustrations used on the Minor cards.
And then, quite by coincidence, I picked up a copy of the Lo Scarabeo Universal Wirth, with its (controversial and decidedly non-Wirthian) pips. When I saw those pip illustrations, my heart skipped a beat — because there, once again, were those puzzling, alluring images from the Grand Esoteric Tarot!