Pentimento Tarot: A Major Arcana Art Deck


The Pentimento Tarot by Joanna Powell ColbertCalling all lovers of tarot history and art decks!

I’m very pleased to announce the release of my new majors-only tarot deck, the Pentimento Tarot.

What is Pentimento?

Pentimento means: “An  underlying  image  in  a  painting,  especially  one  that  has  become  visible  when  the  top  layer  of  paint  has  turned  transparent  with  age,  providing  evidence  of  revision  by  the  artist.”
(American  Heritage  Dictionary)

In the Pentimento Tarot we see layers of tarot lineage
partially obscured by time and beeswax,
showing through the visions of the present.

When I first came across the medium of beeswax collage — encaustic — I was captivated not only by the scent and feel of beeswax, oil paint, and gold leaf on my fingers, but also by the idea of living in the layers. As I created my first encaustic pieces, I found myself envisioning antique tarot cards partially obscured by time and wax, with old interpretations of the cards illuminated by newer ones, and new concepts enhanced by older ones.

pentimento emperor and empressI chose three decks to “live in the layers” of the Pentimento Tarot: the 15th century Visconti-Sforza deck, the 18th century Marseilles deck, and the 1909 edition of the beloved Rider-Waite-Smith deck.

History is encoded in these cards, as each subsequent culture overlaid its own worldview onto them.

There is something about the tarot archetypes that strike a chord deep in the human psyche. We recognize parts of ourselves in these images of queens, kings, fools, and priestesses.

As I searched for vintage photographs to use in the collages, I found face after face, figure after figure, that moved me deeply. Some of the people in the photographs are well-known, like Walt Whitman on the Hermit card and and Sojourner Truth on the Justice card. Other people are anonymous, but each embody the tarot archetype in her or his own unique way.

In each card of the Pentimento Tarot, we see layers of tarot lineage stretching back to the 15th century, then forward into the present day.

As I gaze at these cards, I see our ancestors looking back at us.

strength150“As an historian and psychologist I find your connecting the tarot with people who lived in the past and their stories to be extraordinary. Using art to integrate history, psychology, and spirituality as a means of interfacing with the transpersonal is remarkable and very much in line with my own work. Fantastic! Very exciting indeed!”
— KJB, Tennesee

star150(On seeing the original encaustic pieces): “Congratulations on a truly gorgeous new creative work birthed into the world. I have been absolutely blown away by how you have crafted a majors deck that calls the ancestors into circle with us.

Everything about the cards, from the personalities that have emerged for you out of the flow of time to anchor each card to the interplay of the real with the metaphorical to the organic and yet ethereal nature of the encaustic technique and gold, combines to make pure magic.

I cannot wait to hold this deck in my hands and see what remarkable transformative change it fosters in those who use it as a channel. You have rocked this one!  Brava!!”
— Lisa B., Houston, Texas

Here’s what you’ll find in the Pentimento Tarot set:

  • 22 Major Arcana cards + 2 extra cards.
  • Cards are 4×6 inches, printed on sturdy stock .
  • Booklet with quotations, card themes, journal prompts, and suggestions for ways to use the cards.
  • Organza bag that holds cards and booklet.


Click the gold button to order the Pentimento Tarot.

Price: $35.00 US.


• Shipping charge of $8.00 will be added for those who live in the U.S.
• Shipping charge of $26.00 will be added for those who live in Canada.
• Shipping charge of $35.00 will be added for those who live outside the U.S. or Canada.
(Please note: the cost of shipping to Canada and internationally is the price the US Postal Service
charges me. I agree, it is more expensive than I would like it to be!)

• If you want to pick up a Pentimento Tarot in person from me at an event
and avoid shipping charges, choose the “no shipping” option in the shopping cart,
and make a note on the order form as to what event you will be attending.


I hope these cards delight you,
and help you to see familiar tarot archetypes
in fresh and illuminated ways. Blessings!

Joanna pentimento900-3

Most of the vintage photos in the Pentimento Tarot are of people who are anonymous. Their names may be lost, but their images still speak to us.

I used vintage photos of the following well-known people in some of the cards:

High Priestess – Mary K. Greer, beloved tarot author and teacher, who advocates using the cards for personal insight and creativity.

Empress – Queen Liliuokalani (1838-1917) was the last sovereign of the Kamehameha dynasty of Hawaii.

Emperor – George V, grandson of Queen Victoria, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth, King of England from 1910-1936. Cousin to Tsar Nicholas of Russia.

Hierophant – Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) brought Vedanta and yoga teachings to the west in the 1890s. He is credited with rising interfaith awareness.

Lovers – Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) and Mexican singer Chavela Vargas.

Chariot – Rene Thomas (1886-1975) French motor racing car champion.

Justice – Sojourner Truth (1826-1883), African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

Hermit – Walt Whitman (1819-1892), American poet, often called the father of free verse.

You can download a PDF with this same information here.