To say I was unprepared for The Money Tarot, by Eugene Vinitski, is a gross misrepresentation of how I feel. This deck is powerful and has the magical ability to transform how we look at something so mundane into a divination tool. I’d never looked at my money before, not really. I’d seen dollar amounts, and basic info. I’d like to think that I looked closely enough to make sure it isn’t counterfeit but that’s a lie. I rarely carry cash, like most of us, because of how much easier it is to carry my debit or credit card. After receiving this deck I’ve begun to dig out old two-dollar bills, or those dollars I’ve saved in birthday cards. Little money spells I’ve done since childhood. I’ve spent time staring down at the mysticism engraved into each press and stamped onto this specially woven paper. This deck has prompted an intense curiosity for how money is made, what materials are used, why are the symbols used in those places, what magic can I dig out of this crumpled bill? What magic am I carelessly wadding up and shoving in my bag? What magic am I leaving unused in an old birthday card?
As I’ve familiarized myself a little with this deck I have found a deep desire to collect currencies of other countries. To somehow amass all the world’s magic in a handful of paper notes. Luckily, I can start with this deck and go from there. Eugene has managed to find an impressive number of corresponding images for each of the seventy-eight cards in the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Many of the images look like they came right out of a RWS clone deck. However, this is not a clone deck. This is a story style deck, and a deck full of secret symbols.
I had to google every one of these cards so that I could see the full banknote. You don’t have to do that, but I needed to. I wanted to see the work, experience part of the journey Eugene went on to create this limited edition deck. Created with the same eye for detail and quality as his previous decks, The Money Tarot is smooth in your hands. The box is sturdy and well fitting, the cards are gilded and glossy. Shuffling has a difficult start, the cards ready to fly out at a moments notice but loosens up after several shuffles. It will get easier with use.
I looked for a pattern to the notes used, wondering if higher value notes were included in the Majors or Court cards, but it seems that only the images on the notes themselves were considered. I quite like that. The Fool it the card I’ve spent the most time with. Horace-Bénédict de Saussure is featured on the front of the franc used to depict the Fool. Horace-Bénédict was called the founder of modern meteorology (and alpinism) and was considered the first person to create a successful solar oven. He was a Swiss geologist, mountaineer, Alpine explorer, and physicist. There seems to be quite a bit of the Fool’s energy in this man. The image of the explorers on the Fool is a testament to Horace-Bénédict and wildly appropriate. The Hierophant features an image from the Spanish 500 Pesetas from 1940. John of Austria is featured on the front of this banknote, while the image on the back of the banknote is the Battle of Lepanto. John was the illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Upon his death, the Emperor wanted John to enter the church and become a member of the clergy. John did that for a time, but found himself appointed commander-in-chief of the Holy League Armada. They lost the Battle of Lepanto but liberated 10,000 Christian slaves. (A survivor of the battle went on to write Don Quixote.) John’s entire life was in service to some sort of faith based space. As clergy, half brother to the King, and as commander of the naval forces, this man’s legacy was saving those lives. After reading a bit about him, I found that he was a philanderer and a bit of a know-it-all.
The more I dig into this deck, and research those banknotes, the more I feel that I need to write an entire study guide. Each banknote featured has a story that ties into the meaning of each card. On a personal level, the geek in me will be spending her spare time searching through 78 different banknotes. I may write that guide. I’ll let you know. You can find this deck, and begin your own journey through vintage banknotes, at Eugene’s Etsy site.