The Book of Shadows

The Original Art

Illustrations: Andrea Aste

Author: Andrea Aste

Design: Andrea Aste

Publisher: Lo Scarabeo, Italy, 2015

The Book of Shadows is a multimedia project I have created as an artistic answer to the question "who invented the Tarot?” I imagined a visionary parallel world revolving around a mysterious manuscript and a deck of Tarot cards, obscure works of a fictional Alchemist. It is an adventure in a land of dangers, mysteries and untold truths, where alchemy, magic and science are intertwined in secret ciphers and cunning plots, all on a background of ancient struggles between occult powers.

The project consists of a hybrid novel, an original deck of tarot, a full length mockumentary and immersive social media experiences and games. After a successful crowd funding campaign, The Book of Shadows was picked up and distributed internationally by the publishing house Lo Scarabeo.

Click here to discover more about the Mockumentary
Click here to discover more about the project

The Art

To realise the the manuscript and a deck of Tarot cards, I drew inspiration from suggestive old tomes: Leonardo da Vinci’s codes, the Voynich Manuscript and  XV century geometry tomes of the Islamic civilization, alongside with the oldest surviving decks of tarot cards. By using symbols, allegorical images and esoteric languages derived from these works, I have wanted to echo a sense of magic and mystery typical of a time where ancient myth and new ideas were fused.


The manuscript and tarot were realised with red and black inks on aged paper, a technique I devised after many experiments and tests. For the success of the project I had to act like a forger: everything had to look genuinely antique, with marks left by the passing of time, stains and missing bits here and there… and it worked; when I presented The Book of Shadows many believed it was an authentic archaeological discovery!

The Manuscript of the Alchemist tells the story of his researches and inventions, the history of a lost city with his inhabitants, customs and curiosities. The illustrations  are surreal and surrounded by bizarre symbols to let the viewer’s fantasy run free.

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