Cross My Palm with Silver and I’ll Tell You Your Future
I’m not a psychic but I play one on TV – just kidding. I’m not on television.
For the last fifteen years or so, I’ve spent a good amount of time in the tarot world. Am I any good at it? Meh. I know a few easy patterns that will test the water and a couple of standard go to deals. However, if you’re looking for me to tell you if you have a life threatening ailment, go with a qualified physician.
After fifteen years of casually reading tarot cards, I’m no adept. My wife is, though. She can read the hell out of tarot and has been doing some serious reading for the last thirty-five years of her life. She’s worked as a professional reader and people like her readings.
Just don’t ask her if your spouse or significant other is cheating on you. She’ll get violent – not because it’s a bad question, it’s because it’s the one she’s plagued with most of the time.
People ask her how they can read their own cards. You can read your own cards, too. A lot of people don’t read them for psychic reasons, but more as a tool for meditation and self-reflection. What they want to know is ‘what deck is the best one’.
The standard deck most people use is the Rider-Waite Deck. It’s the most common and popular. Almost all tarot decks tell “The Fool’s Journey”. It’s a story of a young man who encounters many people on his journey toward enlightenment. That story is part of “The Major Arcana” which consists of twenty-two cards of the deck. The other cards are “The Minor Arcana” which is divided into four suits (like playing cards) – coins, cups, swords, and wands. Each of the minor arcana has “court cards” – a page, a knight, a queen, and a king, as well as ten cards that represent stories that are about the material world (coins), the world of the mind (swords), the world of the heart (cups), and the world of passion (wands).
A skilled reader interprets these cards to what’s going on in a person’s life. It is up to the individual to evaluate how good the reader is.
There are many types of Tarot cards. I’m here to tell you which ones I think are really cool for the Halloween season.
The following are five desks that I like. I have not ranked them in any particular order. I’m just going to tell you why I like them or why I think they’re good for this season – while the veil is thin.
The Vertigo Tarot
Fans of the Vertigo comic book line from DC Comics will love this deck. This was inspired by the DC work of Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series. This deck is really cool, but it’s very abstract.
The art was done by Dave McKean, who worked with Gaiman when he wrote his graphic novel, The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch. He also did the artwork for Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass. McKean’s work is very abstract but wonderfully so. He breaks a character down to its essential elements and allows the observer to absorb it.
This deck does a wonderful job putting many of the darker DC characters on display and matching them with the tarot’s major arcana. For example, The Fool – the first card in the major arcana – is represented by John Constantine, the Hellblazer. Constantine, a minor adept, con man, and trickster has a lot to learn about the universe. Meanwhile, he lives his life with a carefree attitude, many times getting burned by the experience.
The Death card is represented by the personification of Death – who is rarely about physical death, more that she represents the death of a way of living which leads to transformation. The Devil card is Lucifer – the angel who left Hell to the Sandman. Other characters like the Black Orchid, the Swamp Thing, and Wesley Dodd’s Sandman are represented as well.
It’s a beautiful deck and has a deep wonderful feeling to it. If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman or a fan of the Vertigo comic book line, I highly recommend this deck.
The Lovecraft Tarot by Daryl Hutchinson
This next deck scares the living hell out of me. Seriously, it does.
I am always hesitant to offer or recommend anything having to do with H.P. Lovecraft. His writings are dark and are just the thing to keep any sane person from ever sleeping soundly again. He was the author of “The Necronomicon” and the “Call of Cthulhu” short story (as well as the other stories that link back to it).
But this is Halloween. The veils are thin this time of year. So, if you’re looking to open a passageway to Hell, don’t come crying to me when you can’t close it and tentacles are wrapped around your legs dragging you there.
Other than that, it’s a really elegant deck.
It features many of the characters famous in his short stories. The Old Ones are featured prominently as well as the Deep Ones. The artwork is excellent and is the perfect tool to venture forth into madness with.
The minor arcana have been divided into “man” (cups), “sites” (pentacles), “artifacts” (wands), and “tomes” (swords). Avid fans will love this deck. Newbies might want to start with a different one as to get the full meaning of the deck, you should be versed in Lovecraft’s works beyond his Call of Cthulhu and Shadows Over Innsmouth. A careful reading of the Necronomicon would be recommended as well… if you dare.
Another caveat about this deck is that it’s REALLY expensive. The cheapest I’ve seen this deck for was $600 on Amazon. So I don’t recommend it. If you’re still looking to scratch your Lovecraft Tarot itch, you can purchase the Necronomicon Tarot for $22 on Amazon. It should give you pretty much the same experience. This deck is also very handsome and brings Lovecraft’s stories to life with vibrant colors and vivid drawings. All the main players are represented in this deck as well including the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred.
The Penny Dreadful Tarot Deck
One of the main plot points of the show came from Vanessa Ives’s masterful psychic readings from her special deck. It is a simply drawn deck. It is one you would imagine on the table of any psychic reader in Victorian London. You can practically feel the velvet on the cards.
If you were brave enough to withstand the doll room in Penny Dreadful’s season two or any of the Nosferatu apocalypse flesh carvings, you’ll certainly love to add this tarot deck to your collection. This deck is elegant in its purple backing and crudely drawn figures. It is a bare bones tarot that is not for beginners.
Much that can be intuited within these cards comes from an intimate study of the major and minor arcana in traditional decks. That said, there are certainly some of the cards that give a fine feeling on what they’re about. The interpretation can vary heavily. This deck is bent on darker themes which, of course, are the flavor of the show. The one thing for certain is this is definitely the deck Vanessa Ives would use in a reading.
The Penny Dreadful tarot deck can be found on the Amazon site and goes for about $50.
The Zombie Tarot
I personally use this deck all the time. It’s one of my favorite practical decks outside of Rider-Waite.
This deck is all about the 1960s kind of zombies. The origin of these undead is up in the air. They could be “voodoo” zombies or they could be modern age “atomic” zombies. In either case, the dead are now among us and are eating nearby.
The thing that I absolutely love about this, outside of the box – which has an Armageddon bullet design, is its kitschy 1960s feel to it. This deck looks like it was populated by Middle American families who just got back from the sock hop as the dead began rising from their sleep. The dead are on roller skates, fighting dogs for a bone, and even doing simple household tasks.
This deck is just a lot of fun to play with.
My wife gave me this deck for my birthday, and there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t use it. It’s a very clever deck and it makes reading just a hoot.
It’ll cost you $15 bucks on Amazon and it’s highly worth it.
The Vampire Tarot of the Eternal Night
Then there’s this. There is a market for this. Some people like this stuff – Twilight fans.
I’m only mentioning this deck because there’s a whole contingent of young millennials that read Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey and find something in the Goth-pale-faced-vampire genre. Somewhere there’s a young person chugging along to Evanescence and has the next Cradle of Filth CD on queue.
This deck is for them. They will just love it. It’s the Vampire Tarot full of all the creatures of the night looking longingly out upon the moon and playing with their canine teeth. If you like vampires, this deck has them by the dozen. It ranges from Dracula to Anne Rice’s brood. From an artistic view, it doesn’t suck.
You see what I did there?
The Vampire Tarot was just made for vampire fans. It’s full of chalices of blood. It’s got vampire boys with pale six pack abs ready to have a roll in the coffin with some unsuspecting victim. With tarot added to the mix, they’ll find some new meaning to their lives through whatever sparkly skinned savior courts them.
The Vampire Tarot goes for just over $20 on Amazon.
A Word on Divination
Tarot is a tool.
Some people see meaning in it. Others do not. It depends on who you are.
It’s like what Lex Luthor said in Superman: The Movie, “Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s just an adventure story. Others can read a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.” It’s like that.
A good reader can tell you a lot about yourself. A bad one won’t. I believe that some people have learned to use their minds and opened certain doors that aren’t available to some of us. That’s what I believe. I believe in the mind. I believe it can be a powerful thing. When it’s turned inward in self-meditation, people can learn a lot about themselves.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” or “ignorance is bliss”, pick your poison.
The use of a tarot deck can bring comfort or condemnation to some. Where you are in your life when that happens depends entirely on your situation. A good word, something to give you a bit of faith, can be the difference between seeing the rest of today into tomorrow.
Some people need encouragement.
Tarot mixed with a kind word, a smile, and some good news can sometimes make miracles happen.