Sometimes it can feel like you have heard the same things far too many times and your ears yearn for fresh sounds. At a certain point in our Tarot journey the search to learn more than what we know can feel like the 7 of Cups. So many options, a bit of confusion, indecision... ultimately, procrastination.
Maybe that was the reason I broke Adam Green's land speed record to hit the buy button on Giordano Berti's Sola Busca Level 1 online course. (Take note, Autoweek, it can be done! autoweek.com/racing/more-racing/a35409110/why-the-land-speed-record-might-never-be-broken)
I just wanted something different. I wanted to get away from all the noise. I wanted to go... suddenly... to Italy. I wanted to return, even if only virtually, to the country which had inspired me during visits in the past.
Actually, for quite some time I had wanted to explore the past in the form of the mysterious, just-couldn't-wrap-my-head-around-it Sola Busca Tarot deck. In a stroke of luck, perhaps even destiny, I discovered that the extraordinary tarot historian, teacher, and Sola Busca expert, Giordano Berti, was offering his first online course on this historic and unusual deck. The course is in Italian, but he includes English subtitles which made it perfect for English-speakers like me. Bella!
"I had almost given up hope of being able to read with the Sola Busca Tarot deck. I worried that I just could not relate to these ancient cards no matter how much I tried. But, I took Giordano Berti's Sola Busca Course Level 1, and he taught me how to approach these cards. Finally, I had hope again! On my own, it was like I had been fumbling in the dark with my eyes closed, not even truly looking at them, missing all the clues to the secrets they hold. Thank you, Giordano, for turning on the lights and opening my eyes!"
That is my short review of Giordano's course. I mean every word of it.
After I finished Level 1, I had a few questions which Giordano was gracious enough to answer:
MB: A lot of people would travel to Italy to learn about the Sola Busca from you. Why did you decide to create an online course?
GB: For at least 7 years I have been receiving, from all over the world, requests from people who want to understand not only the history of this splendid deck, but above all how to use it. Since it would be very challenging to come to Italy to follow one of my courses, I decided to use technology, putting it at the service of my teaching experience.
MB: In your course, you don't just teach about the cards themselves. You share your effective techniques for preparIng ourselves before doing a reading. Why is it important for tarot readers to learn how to prepare?
GB: I started teaching Tarot courses in 1985. My students have always been fascinated by the way I prepare them for the study of symbolism, and then tackle both the divination practice and the techniques of spiritual alchemy. After a first phase of study of symbolism, a meditative technique must be followed that allows the student to detach from any form of preconceived idea, before facing divinatory reading or meditation on oneself.
MB: You have the advantage of being an art historian to inform the way you look at artwork in the cards. But, what inspires you about the Sola Busca?
GB: Yes Mary. More precisely I am an historian of esotericism in art. The Sola Busca Tarot fascinated me about 40 years ago for its strange beauty. It was thanks to an exceptional woman, Sofia Di Vincenzo, a teacher of spiritual alchemy, that I understood that these cards are not a simple academic exercise. They are a real hermetic work. These images represent characters and situations that can be found in various Middle Ages alchemical texts. It is also important to underline that this deck appeared about 30 years after the Latin translation of the Corpus Hermeticum, a set of ancient Greek texts which were published by Marsilio Ficino and which inspired Ludovico Lazzarelli, a philosopher who, according to some historians, was the designer of these cards. After Sofia's death, I continued to follow the path she indicated to me, but in alternating phases. But, after some extraordinary coincidences, I decided to deepen the research also from a practical point of view.
MB: It is an historical Italian deck. Some of the cards seem very much tied to Italy and its history. Does the Sola Busca have an extra layer of meaning or a different feel for Italian readers than it may for readers from other countries?
GB: You are right, some cards seem related to Roman history, but others are not, and this is certainly a key to understanding the general meaning of the work. In fact, it has been discovered that the titles of some Triumphs correspond to the names of Ludovico Lazzarelli's friends. This cannot be a coincidence. On the contrary, it should be seen as an indication that the Sola Busca Tarot was produced for an elite of hermeticists. As far as Italian readers are concerned, there is no difference from those of other countries, as there is a general misunderstanding of this deck. Suffice it to say, that many people try to link the figures of the Sola Busca Triumphs to the Major Arcana of the Tarot de Marseille, which is absurd. Others go as far as linking them to the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot ... and this is downright madness!
MB: You are a Maestro, a master at what you do...is there anything at all left to learn for someone at your level?
GB: See Mary, all life is a learning path about what's inside us and what's outside... about what changes inside us and what changes outside. I always place myself on the level of the apprentice, because I know that every person can teach me something, whether he is a bum or a professor of philosophy, a fortune teller or an alchemist. But I also like to teach, and when I teach I try to give my best. I try to emotionally involve my students. I try to get out of curiosity so that they can continue their research in an autonomous and personal way. I only provide the tools and indicate some possibilities for using them ... as a blacksmith does with his apprentices. Then, there are blacksmiths who become great artists and others who remain simple metal smelters.
MB: You have accomplished truly amazing things in your life already. What have you not done yet that you look forward to doing?
GB: Oh look! I believe that this life will not be enough for me to complete all my projects ... and I'm not just talking about the Tarot. I have novels to finish, poetic collections to complete, museums that I am planning and that perhaps will never be realized. And then there is the detachment from all this, I mean, the awareness that everything is ephemeral and that one must dedicate oneself to it well for oneself and for others. I see life as the construction of a higher self and this can be done by following an ideal that combines beauty, usefulness and goodness. This is the true nobility to which I aspire.
MB: You have worked on a lot of decks through your company Rinascimento as well as for other publishers. Do you have a favorite that you have done?
GB: I don't really have a favorite deck. It would be like asking a mother which child she prefers. In every project I put my heart and soul. It is not enough for me to say, I reissued an ancient deck. That deck has dignity because someone, centuries ago, sweated to create it. But who was that someone? Where and how did he live? What was his personal story? This interests me very much, because people also interest me, not just the objects that those people have produced. But when I design a modern deck, I want that deck to have a logical sense, a soul capable of living over time. Many artists make the Tarot a pure aesthetic exercise. I prefer to guide artists to create something that goes beyond the formal aspect.
MB: You put so much care ... not only into the high quality of the decks you produce, but the extra things, the bags and inserts... even the packaging.. It feels like such a special event to me when a deck I ordered from Rinascimento arrives and I open it! Are those added flairs fun for you to come up with?
GB: Since I presume to produce authentic jewels, I also want the container to be perfectly suited to the content. In this sense it is very important to collaborate with an Italian art designer, Letizia Rivetti, who actually designs the graphics of each box, adapting it to the time and place where that deck was produced. There is a fun aspect in some moments of the design, but during the project you have to keep a lot of details under control. The most exciting moment is when all the parts of the work arrive and are assembled: the box, the cards, the booklet. Well, it is at that moment that I feel proud of what I have done. I know it's not easy to understand how much effort it takes to produce the Rinascimento's decks. Months of work that will certainly never pay off, but the satisfaction of having created a real jewel is something that cannot be explained.
MB: When we work with an historical deck created so long ago, a time when it seems the world was so different, should we try to put ourselves in that time ...the timeframe it was produced in... to better understand it?
GB: It is exactly like that. If we don't let our mind fly in the time and place where that deck was born, we will never be able to fully understand it. For this reason I consider it necessary to attach to each deck its specific history and, if possible, also the personal history of the manufacturer.
MB: If you could collaborate with any artist from history...who would it be?
GB: There is a great artist in history with whom I would like to work on the realization of a Tarot ... he is a great artist of the eighteenth century. In fact, I am already working with him, at a temporal distance but extremely close intellectually. But I can't say anything about this project for now. There is also a female artist who inspires me and from whom I hope to "channel" instructions. I hope that all this does not remain just a good dream.
May all your wonderful dreams come true for you, Giordano!
Thank you for taking the time to be with us... Ciao for now!
To find out more:
You can watch the trailer for Giordano's course here:
YouTube Trailer Sola Busca Course
You can find Giordano's online course here:
To see what Rinascimento Italian Style Art has to offer, go here: https://rinascimentoitalianartenglish.wordpress.com/
Also available on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/Shop/rinascimentoItalian