Thinking about tarot

I haven’t always liked tarot. For a time, I viewed it as a terrifying incarnation of evil. My understanding of many things changed as I aged, and I eventually reached a point where I stopped avoiding tarot with superstitious fervor. I was no longer philosophically opposed to it, but I wasn’t much interested in it either.

From the Halloween Tarot by Kipling West

I’ve long been a fan of classic monster movies, so when I came across Kipling West’s Halloween Tarot, with its cartoon clarity, bright colors, and iconic monsters, I was smitten. Anything that so lovingly featured my old friends Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, the Bride, and the Mummy was worth a second look. The images are populated with costumed trick-or-treaters, jack-o-lanterns, friendly ghosts, and black cats. I couldn’t resist! The Halloween Tarot became my first deck and remains one of my favorites.

Now that I realized tarot didn’t have to be mystical or sinister or take itself so seriously, I was intrigued. I found all sorts of fun and fanciful decks, from baseball to Harry Potter to Alice in Wonderland. I found decks whose images could be hanging in a museum and decks whose art could be featured on Saturday morning cartoons. Who knew there was so much beauty and variety in a bunch of cards?

I have come to enjoy tarot like I do art, film, literature, music, dreams. I appreciate the layers of meaning such things have, the way they reflect life back to me, the way my soul sometimes resonates with them. I don’t believe tarot has mystical powers, but I know it sometimes makes me smile or gives me pause. And that, to me, is reason enough to like it.

4 responses to “Thinking about tarot

  1. I love the artwork! And you’re right, it’s fun to look at them, even if you don’t “believe”. I have a set of medicine cards with beautiful artwork of animals on them, and every now and again, I’ll draw one to see what it says and it always gives me something to think about, to dwell on. I don’t regard it as something that’s telling my fortune or cosmically signalling me but something, as you say, to me pause and a scaffold to hang some thoughts on. 🙂

    • There are some really neat photographed decks out there, too. The Tarot de Paris is made with photographs of Parisian art and architecture. It’s an oversized deck (large even by tarot standards) so the images are wonderful to look at. If I ever go to Paris, it might be fun to see I can locate all the things pictured in that deck.

  2. I hate that I can’t go back and edit these comments when I re-read and find a horrific mistake. “To me pause” should be “to give me pause.” Sheesh.

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