This is a rather unusual review, in that I am not personally a fan of the grossly bastardised mainstream version of the pagan Samhain celebration, and all the kitsch, consumerist junk that gets peddled out every year to compliment its faux sense of tradition. I’d happily go on a soapbox rant about the adopted Australian version and all the annoying door knockers, but hey, I’ve moved away from town and that’s no longer an irritation I have to endure 🙂
And yet, despite all the above, I am happily in love with the Halloween Tarot. I simply adore this deck, and the cartoon style artwork is beautifully done, in my humble non-artist opinion. I guess it reminds me of childhood books which were a great source of comfort to me, and brings in that youthful, playful and innocent energy of childhood.
The deck is the creation on artist Kipling West and is published by US Games. It was released in 1996 and 2012, so it’s been around for a while.
This deck is strongly fashioned in the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) tradition, and most of the cards are very similar to their RWS precedents, with a few notable exceptions. A main difference is the re-naming of the minor suits, so that Wands become Imps, Cups become Ghosts, Swords become Bats, and Pentacles are represented by Pumpkins.
Some of the Major Arcana cards feature scenes from popular gothic or horror movies – see for example The Lovers (Dracula), or The Empress (bride of Frankenstein), below.
The colours are well chosen to invoke the Halloween atmosphere, with a predominance of orange and black throughout. A black cat makes her appearance in every card, and it’s fun to see how the artist has blended her in every scene.
Those familiar with the RWS tradition will instantly recognise the setting, expressions and postures of the characters in the cards – see the 9 of Bats above and the King of Cups below, and compare their likeness to the corresponding RWS cards; however, I must say that despite this, the deck holds its own individual and rather quirky energy.
Personally, my experience with this deck is similar to that of RWS – it works brilliantly and can be used to ask all sorts of questions; I find it especially good with the day-to-day, often mundane issues pertaining to work, money, and the like. I do not mind the “cartoonish” feel of the deck, as noted above this is something I find enjoyable and it gives the deck a more relaxed feel (which says something for a Halloween deck!). Far from being a dark or macabre oracle, this is one that usually cheers me up and lifts my mood (well, I am rather fond of black cats and orange pumpkins).
For these reasons, this is a deck I would recommend to beginners, unless they strongly dislike the artwork or have a negative feeling towards Halloween. I’d think younger Tarot enthusiasts might also enjoy this deck, since it does not feature gruesome images or overly explicit imagery.
You can purchase this deck as part of a deck and book set, the book being written by Karin Lee. The book is well written and includes a history of Halloween, an explanation of the symbols and traditions of the celebration, and clear, succinct explanations of the cards that are fairly straight forward.
The cards feature a reversible back (orange and black) showing our main protagonist (the black cat) surrounded by Halloween symbols.
I’ll be shuffling this deck over the coming couple of months and trialling some new spreads for the pure fun of it.
Wishing everyone a blessed weekend ahead.