Elizza and her Soprafino Deck:

Well, Elizza got the deck as a gift from a lady in Milan, for whom she read and did some “other services”

Aside from doing readings she was the shuhvani (traditional Gypsy healer)and it was her job to take care of the sick people and animals in the large circuses she and her family clan traveled with throughout Central Europe at the time.

But on days that all was well, she would open her bender wagon and would read “the Cards” for the public. Her clients were mostly women and their problems were mostly “men”

What they did when they were not home,

Did they have another lover?

How can I make him fall in love with me…

That kind of reading….

But Elizza also had other clients with – more delicate problems:

An unwanted pregnancy….

Gran had the herbs and pain killers and there was “an Angel maker” practicing in the next bender over…..

A lost virginity ?? 😉

That problem could be “fixed” with some fresh Chicken liver inserted…

You know where, you know when…

And no man was the wiser….

An amulet was needed:

– to get pregnant?

OK, Gran always had a nice selection and a niece would sow it into the nighty or christening gown or – you decide….

She would also take care of sick people from the general public. Describing that alone would need yet another blog…

But this one is about Tarot, the Soprafino to be precise:
It was not a new deck, and the lady, that gave it to her was a rich Tarot client….. ..so the story went…..
There were no notes with it, no “lwb” or anything.

Gran spoke several languages well enough to read cards in, but reading and writing was minimal…
Most other readers (of cards) used just regular playing cards for their readings,
so Elizza always could ask a little more for reading with this more elaborate deck.
All the Mayor Arcana cards and the Court cards had little stories that explained who the person on the card was, what they did and how that translates into divination.

These allegories were quite removed from what the original deck creator had the images intended to be and what one finds nowadays as “standard meanings” for the cards. But these meanings and stories were known among several people of our clan and a cousin of my mother told them to me, when I was small. The “numbers” (pips) all had meaning according to the suit and according to the secret meanings of the Gypsy numbers and number combinations.
I just wish I could remember them all 😦
However, I promised, that I would one day write down the few things I do remember.

Here is the right place to do that. :)Have a quick look at the cards of the magnificent repro of the deck by Il Meneghello:

Tarot Soprafino picture from the web

Tarot Soprafino picture from the web


2 thoughts on “Elizza and her Soprafino Deck:

  1. Hi Mi-Shell, I have been using Soprafino for the last three years, and I simply love it. Besides its gorgeous look as mini paintings, I feel a great affinity towards it. It was like love at first sight when I first saw it. But I think that a lot of the meanings that people give to Tarot de Marseilles in general do not quite fit with Soprafino, specially in the courts and majors. I am not sure about the numbered, or minor cards. I also have Grimaud, which I use for my daily readings, and sometimes the meanings do not gel.

    For example, il Diavolo and le Diable seem to speak of a completely different ideas. Il Diavolo seems to be fighting lesser evils, and it seems to be a man wearing an evil mask in order to fight evil, while le Diable seems to dominate lesser beings, those who are not fully developed, and who easily fall prey of evil doers, excesses of the body, and indulgences. Also il Sole speak of a dance of happiness, a couple who are enjoying themselves, while the girl is looking at the reader, as if the reader is invading in their private and loving moment, while le Soleil seems to show two kids, one of which seem to be dazed by the sun or have been in the sun way too long, and the other is helping him out of harm. Le Soleil in Grimaud has not always shown the positive happiness as so many speak of; in fact it has often meant being in the spotlight, or burned by someone or some circumstance, in its negative sense. However il Sole clearly shows a happy couple dancing in a prelude to sex, clearly pointing towards happiness.

    But the numbered cards I cannot clearly discern if their meaning are the same as Grimaud or speak of other issues. For example, the swords set, with those ribbons tied, seems to speak of something different from Grimaud. I read them by intuition, by what they seem to speak of, as for example 2, 3, and 4 of swords speaking of having something inside that is about to surface, in 3 this is the action to make it happen, however in 4 this idea is protected, or something is kept inside with two layers of protection or blockage. But those ribbons… I cannot make heads or tails of them. Also in swords I seem them as pairs 2 and 3, the idea inside, project, plan, and 3 is getting this idea or plan out there, putting them into practice, 4 is the protected or blocked idea, and 5 is the attempt to bring it out. Then in 6 there isn’t anything inside, as in Grimaud, it is just those swords with those ribbons, but with a string showing that if you pull them it will unravel those swords; then in 8 there isn’t a string or anything, those swords are pretty tight and hard to unravel – good or bad? Balance or inflexibility? In 10 we have those two swords blocking those 8 swords, and they are probably cutting those strings to unravel the entire set so we can begin again.

    What do you think?

    • Hi Ariane! thank you for your in depth take on the Soprafino cards. I am not sure, the deck creator meant for them to be read just like the Marseilles. They are different. I personally read the pips largely intuitively and ad the magical meanings of the numbers according to Gypsy lore when using this deck. In general however I personally do prefer illustrated minors. Not necessarily RWS style ones, but images that differ more from one another than pips do and into which I can sink my intuitive teeth.

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