Calling Ariana Osborne’s “The Daemon Tarot” a tarot is giving it far too little credit. Osborne based the set of 69 cards on Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy’s “Dictionnaire Infernal”. As you would suspect, that’s French for “Infernal Dictionary”. The book itself, we learn from Osborne’s introduction, has a bit of history itself. The Dictionary was originally published in France in the 1818 when Collin de Plancy was a demonologist. The book at that time was filled with magic and the idea of using skepticism instead of superstition when making decisions. Then in the 1830’s Collin de Plancy converted to Catholicism and in 1863 a sixth edition of the Dictionary was published that reflected his new beliefs. Essentially, demons became demonic.
Enter Osborne who gets her hands on a copy of this late edition of the Dictionary. She comments that the art, done by Luis Breton, really speaks to her because although the creatures portrayed “are clearly inhuman, their strangeness does not make them appear terrible.” And Osborne sharing that really struck me, and that’s when I was ready to look at these cards with fresh, unbiased eyes.
Like all tarot sets, each card has its own entry in the companion book. The entry is broken into three sections: Annotation provides information on the subject and includes research from the Dictionary and more, Inspiration shows Osborne’s interpretations and insights into the subject of each card, and Divination, since the cards don’t follow a traditional tarot deck format this section gives focused meanings that can be used in spreads. Osborne suggests using a one card draw or a six-card spread that she describes with this deck.
With all the information contained in the 142 page book, and the classic artwork on the 69 card set, “The Daemon Tarot” is an excellent reference tool, not just a divination tool. At a suggested retail price of $19.95 everyone should own it. Seriously.