Category Archives: Sibyl of the Heart

The Impact of Pirated Decks

I’m featuring a little of Ciro Marchetti’s work* in the photo above because there won’t be any more new decks. Ciro has announced publicly that he won’t be doing any more. Shoddy pirated copies of his decks have been turning up for a long time now. It’s everywhere, and he’s tired of the constant effort of fighting it. I think he means it. He’s out. This is what he had to say:

“As I have already indicated, I will probably not design any more decks, and certainly not license the remaining ones I’ve self published. Because I simply can’t deal or compete with the pirates. Who are pretty much just sitting there waiting for whatever my next deck might be so they can get to work and steal it. I’m not even going to discuss anymore the absurd justifications that people have for buying them, for example that it’s the only way they can afford a new deck…and quite frankly I’m becoming increasingly cynical that anyone can be that gullible as to think that a new deck going for about $7 is anything but a rip off. So it is what it is. All I ask now, is please at least don’t add insult to injury by contacting me directly and asking if I can provide the companion book or meanings of the cards, because that “bargain” copy you bought didn’t come with a book…I’m simply not that nice a person…”

I’m sure there will be much more piracy to follow. Virtually everyone who’s been creating popular, well-received decks for awhile has had their work ripped off this way, and it keeps getting worse.

The biggest offenders seem to be the printers in China, Russia, and the Ukraine. This is what Mr. Marchetti has to say on the difference between Russia/Ukraine and Chinese piracy:

“Russia and the Ukraine as a source of piracy was, based on my experience, more one of opportunistic individuals. From what I could tell they were small scale and basically producing their rip offs by scanning a legit deck. Not nice, still theft but the scale wasn’t a great threat. China was also of course dabbling. But I sensed a ramping up of the quantity and sophistication of the operation in China over the last year. It seemed to me that this had gone from individuals such as those in Russia and the Ukraine who I had had some success in shutting down to a more ominous operation. More titles and more savvy. The number of decks being offered on platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Wish etc, were too many and it was obvious they were connected. Despite the variety of price range and product description, they often used the same product photos. This approach serves a very practical purpose, by scattering their presence via supposedly appearing to be different sellers, they are in fact one and the same, as such they are somewhat invulnerable to any cease and desist letters that might cause one of their many tentacles to be taken down, the others remain actively wriggling away. This to me suggests a more organized infrastructure that knows what its doing, along with access to duplicates of the original files…not simple crude scans. This is far more ominous, and despite my sharing my fears, the publishers seemed to be reluctant to even consider this possibility. They were sure their suppliers were legit. And so they might be, but doesn’t mean that everyone in the art department who has access to those files isn’t a potential source of the duplication…it would be naive to dismiss that possibility. Based on more recent communications with them, I sense the publisher now seem to be acknowledging the seriousness of the threat and are beginning to take more active steps in their attempts to combat it.”

This site is currently offering more than 200 different counterfeited decks and many examples of stolen art on spreadcloths, bags etc.:

A closer look:

If people were free to speak openly about this, the offenders would be known and noted. One deck creator who was badly burned by a printing company in China, and advised by their legal counsel not to send files there, was recently accused of racism simply for quoting that advice.

But it’s not racism – pirating IS a major problem in China. The copyright laws have no teeth over there, and it’s very difficult to sue if shoddy $5 copies of your deck end up on Wish. With few or no consequences for deck pirating, people take advantage. If it were the same here in the US, you’d see people of all races doing the same thing. It has nothing to do with race, it just happens to be taking place in China on a large scale because of issues with the legal system. We have issues with our legal system, too, just different ones. We’re not “better”, we just have different issues.

Warning people not to send files there after being badly burned that way, having files leaked, having to shut down unauthorized sales, and seeing it happen to many others, is not equal to calling on people to “boycott China”, which was another accusation. It would be impossible to “boycott China”, since most of the things people use are made there. Those words were never used. This whole thing is being twisted. People are starting to open their eyes and acknowledge that a lot of what goes on in the world is racist. That’s a good thing. But it’s disingenuous, to put it mildly, to exploit these good intentions in order to gaslight and attempt to destroy a business rival, deflect attention from the real problem, defend one’s own connections with printers, or whatever might be at play behind the scenes.

I’ve gone to the mat with people who disparage the Chinese – and other races – both IRL and online. People who know me know that I do this. But if one is not familiar with every printing office in China, which factories are affiliated with or contracted by them, and the full history of all of these, then it’s a huge risk to send files there due to the difficulty of suing in the event that the files are leaked. NOT because Chinese people live there.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop them from obtaining a deck and scanning it. But those scans would not have the quality and resolution of files from the artist. And when you hire them to print your deck, there’s nothing to stop them from running extra copies without your permission, and selling them. That’s happened, too.

Piracy is rampant, and should not be tolerated. Every printing company that leaks files SHOULD be called out, named and shamed, even if they happen to be in China. All this gaslighting is going to accomplish is to make people hesitant to speak up. It’s toxic.

We have a choice: Call them out, or lose our artists.

*The top photo features the Mini Tarot of Dreams and spreadcloth. This deck and more are available here https://www.ciromarchetti.com/

Holiday card pull, 2015

Giordano Berti's Sibyl of the Heart

Giordano Berti’s Sibyl of the Heart

Greetings, and happy whatever-you-may-or-may-not-be-celebrating! LOL. I pulled a few cards for the coming week, and I wanted to share it here, as it looks pretty universal.

I used Giordano Berti’s The Sibyl of the Heart. I mentioned it in my last post – it’s taken from an old Rosicrucian text, and it uses emblems. Emblem books are one of the roots of Lenormand, Sibilla, and “Gypsy” type decks. Many have symbols in common with the Tarot as well. The interpretations vary, but they’re well worth any cartomancer’s perusal since they give you a sense of the old european mindset that these cards came out of.

The first card is No. 8, Balance. The heart is balanced precariously on the point of a pyramid-like structure. There is a rod through it, with a bell on each end. The slightest movement will set those bells to ringing.

The next card is No. 15, Temptation. A winged heart this time, with a demon in hot pursuit. Pretty self-explanatory.

And the last card is No. 1, Preparation. Hands emerge from a cloud and slide the heart into a brick oven.

Now, if Balance wasn’t there, I would say that these cards were a caution to walk a chalk line and be very careful. But with Balance there, I think they are simply saying not to overdo. Spend, but not too much. Eat, drink, but not too much. The Temptation will be there, but I should keep some money and energy in Preparation for the next phase. Something important may be coming up afterwards. Listen for those bells (Balance), don’t ignore them.

This deck is always reads very clearly. It tends to advise rather than just give a straight prediction, but the advice is in the cards, not just imagination telling you what you want to hear. I would like to know more about them (the background images, the buildings and landscapes, all of these surely have a lot of weight as well. I’d like to learn about them in the historical and alchemical context.)

It’s an heirloom quality deck and it comes with a booklet by our own Odete Lopes (Madame Sheyla). The cards come in a sparkly red bag, smelling faintly of aromatic resin incense, and the whole thing is done up in a box made to look like a very old-fashioned book, that ties with a red ribbon. Just superb. You can see a bit more on this video, there is a study group here, and it’s available for purchase here (clicking the “Buy It” button opens a page that gives you the appropriate email contact to use according to the country you live in.)