Review: Marseille Tarot – Towards the art of reading by Camelia Elias


A few weeks back there was a discussion about this book on TABI’s facebook page. People were devided between loving and hating it. I wanted to find out what is all the fuss about so I have asked a person who didn’t like it to send it over to me, so I can decide for myself.

Well, I’m usually not very fond of prewords and introductions, and I often skip that part to jump into the real thing. It happened with this book too. The “A question for a story” chapter was just going on and on, without offering any real information – or rather, repeating the same info again and again.

The real thing starts to happen in “The Trumps”. Elias gives a short description of each card, then a sample reading with it in a spread, and finally her associations: keywords, functions, health indicators and public life. I really enjoyed the latter two, they were very creative and imaginative, quite inspiring. Much the same with the readings: very enjoyable, not the nowadays trending search for higher meanings and one’s soul. Good old traditional readings. Looks like we Eastern Europeans have a soft corner for this type (Elias was born in Romania and I’m Hungarian).

As much as I liked her take on the Majors, there were things I just couldn’t wrap my head around. One example that’s still stuck in my mind is that according to her, the Popess (High Priestess) is supposed to confirm pregnancy. Each to their own, but I just can’t see this. Another strange thing was the image of the Emperor. If you look at him on page 15 he’s facing right. On page 52 and onwards he’s facing left. So how did this happen?



In “The Trumps” each card got an own segment in the book. The Minors are not as fortunate, they only get a quite rushed description. Although she explains why she sees the Suits representing the Elements she associates them with, I don’t pair eg. the Swords with Earth. Neither am I agreed with the cardinal points, to be honest. But, as I said it before, each to their own. Her system goes like this:

Coins: Spring, fire, East

Cups: Summer, water, South

Batons: Autumn, air, West

Swords: Winter, earth, North

Also, you have to keep in mind that she is using a different, less known Marseille deck made by Carlous Zoya. She is absolutely in love with it – aren’t we all with our own decks – and can’t praise it enough. She reminds me of myself with my Egyptian Tarot – see, here I go again. What I wanted to say is that the Minors’ chapter was a bit of a mess.


But, let’s forget about the chapters introducing the cards because The Real Thing starts now. “The Reading” is what we were getting ready for all along.


Elias shows how to do a ‘Council of 13’ spread as she calles it, where everyone can talk to anyone, so to speak, and you could make just about anything of it. There are 13 cards and no meanings to their positions, so you can see whatever you want into them. She does a reading with them and that is it for the chapter we were looking forward to. Meh.


Next chapter tells us how a reader should be. The 15 pages could be summarized in a word: detached.


Finally there is a poem written for Zoya. It could be a journeying into the three cards that are pasted next to it, or maybe those cards prompted the poem. Either way it’s nice, even if I am not a big fan of ‘spoken word’. It shows her tremendous love for this deck, and that is what I appreciate and can identify with.


Bibliography, end of book.


I’m not entirely sure who is the target audience here. Absolute beginners can’t be, because they wouldn’t understand much. Experienced readers should not be because they know all this already. My guess would be intermediate readers who know the cards well enough to read with them, but maybe are stuck with repeating the ‘official-traditional’ meanings without any insight. I liked it anyway for Elias’ creativity when looking at the cards and for her strong voice as a tarot reader and writer.


The single most important sentence in the book is this:


“If the question is good the answer will kill us.”


Thank you for reading! I appreciate any feedbacks and thoughts! 🙂




4 thoughts on “Review: Marseille Tarot – Towards the art of reading by Camelia Elias

  1. The Popess is called Le Pances in the Jean Dodal Marseille deck. This translates as belly. It may be linked to the Pope Joan myth that surrounds the Popess card 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The Pope Joan story is fun: saying she was given her pope procession when they realised she was giving birth and a woman, hence the connection. Still, I’m with you on this one, Kati, I’d see pregnancy in the Empress!
        Thanks for an interesting take on this book. It made me feel less inclined to read it, to be honest. Still, I think the people who raved about it are all seasoned readers, and they appreciated it precisely for Elias’ strong voice, rather than her associations… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can send it over to you, if you like. It is a fun read, she really has a very strong voice. (Some might find her annoying/arrogant. I was thinking about it and I think it’s just the Eastern European mentality. We can appear very rude even if we don’t intend to.

    The Pope Joan story is exciting, the card has a new nuance to it now! 😀


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