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A full-length study of the Sola Busca tarot, the oldest tarot deck to survive with all seventy-eight cards intact. 


The Sola Busca is an unusual deck with extraordinary imagery, ranging from the obscure to the grotesque, featuring scenes of homoeroticism, wounding, immolation and decapitation. Peter Mark Adams explores the meanings and contexts behind these images, beginning with the history of the deck's creation, set against the background of Ferrarese–Venetian diplomatic intrigue and espionage in late medieval Italy. Additionally – and controversially – Adams proposes a bold theory, namely that the deck shows the existence of a secret pagan ritual tradition active among Italy's elite at the time of the cards' creation. Much of the book is dedicated to showing how this group and its ideas are encoded within the distinctive imagery of the deck, revealing a Plethon-derived secret society who worshipped the Gnostic demiurge in the form of a serpent-dragon, Baal Hammon, also known as Kronos and Saturn. 


Whether or not Adams's theory proves sustainable, his work on bringing the deck to the modern eye is an important one. There is no doubt that the deck's iconography is dark, compelling and raises many questions. This intriguing book is published by Scarlet Imprint to the same high standards as their other offerings, in large quarto-format with full-colour images of the cards throughout.


London: Scarlet Imprint, 2017. Softcover, 320 pages. New.

The Game of Saturn - Peter Mark Adams (PB)