The tarot is a classical tool of mystics, and thus for many religious people it’s a step into the darkness. With the advent of the Rider-Waite deck first published in 1910, tarot card readers throughout the world drifted toward a single common design which made it easier to teach the basics of card interpretation to the curious.
That said, not everyone wanted to use the standard designs. Some people felt more attuned to other artwork. Some people wanted to introduce more positivity or negativity into their spreads. And some people just couldn’t take it seriously, and wanted to demonstrate their amusement.
Here are some of the tarot decks which just lack the “mystical” touch.
First, there’s the Fantod Pack by Edward Gorey. It contains twenty cards containing doom and gloom as portrayed by one of the foremost illustrators of the 20th century. It includes cards like “The Waltzing Mouse”, “The Ancestor” and “The Blue Dog”. They can be mucked about with on their own or tossed into an existing tarot like an expansion pack for a trading card game. As expected, the images are pretty, if sometimes disturbing.
The Vertigo Tarot by Dave McKean also boasts beautiful artwork, but is in keeping with the traditional cards of the deck. It can thus be used as a standard deck… but the images include copyrighted DC Comics characters like Sandman, John Constantine and Swamp Thing. While the artwork may be stunning, it’s hard to imagine that participating in a vaguely supernatural event is enhanced by characters who have teamed up with Batman.
For the comic geek who isn’t a fan of all that mature-rated side of the DC house, though, there’s also the Tarocchi Marvel. With only 22 cards, this deck is ideal for those who want to swap out their traditional “Major Arcana” for such mystic figures as Wolverine, Captain America and, of course, Longshot. Yes, Longshot… no Spider-Man, no Daredevil, no Iron Man, but they included Longshot, Moon Knight and Dazzler. Maybe the publishers were hoping to confuse Marvel long enough to avoid a copyright lawsuit.
There is no official Studio Ghibli tarot deck, but that hasn’t prevented multiple homemade versions, all of which are likely to send Disney – which has the US distribution rights to such movies as My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle – into a bit of a tizzy. There’s something strange about combining incredibly wholesome animated family fare enjoyed throughout the world with the dark arts.
But they aren’t always so dark. After all, the Animal Tarot is produced by vegetarian Christians and the box reminds everyone that “some angels have four legs and fur.” I’ll try to remember that the next time one of our little “angels” poops in our shower. Princess Sasha Tinycat, I’m looking at you.
And when you’re talking about wholesome animated family fare, it’s hard for anything on the American side of the ocean to beat Peanuts. Of course, that means someone had to go and make the Peanuts Tarot. It has been expunged from the creator’s website for nearly two decades, and the reason why can be found in the web-archive snapshot provided in the link. “Please don’t sue me” is a reasonable request, but one that was certainly going to be ignored by Hallmark, who had the rights to all Peanuts-related cards.
Question of the night: If you were represented in the Animal Tarot, what animal would you be?