Tag Archives: halloween tarot

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.

Ace of Bats

From The Halloween Tarot by Kipling West

From The Halloween Tarot by Kipling West

Today’s card is the Ace of Bats. In the Halloween Tarot deck, Bats correspond to the traditional suit of Swords. Swords is customarily associated with the element of air, and is seen as representing the mysterious realms of the mind. Bats are obviously creatures of the air, and the erratic appearance of their flight strongly resembles the way in which our minds flutter from one thought to the next.

Aces are beginning cards, representing abstract principles on which their suits are based. Truth is the fundamental principle on which activities in the realm of thought and the mind are based. Truth is both the goal of reasoning and its starting place.

Look at the card: a single bat hangs suspended from a purple hand, which emerges from a cloud. The bat is at rest, but alert—its eyes and ears are trained on the viewer. One wing is open: the bat is showing us something, inviting us to look closer.

This card is about truth. Like the bat, truth is not always pretty or pleasant, and there is usually more to it than meets the eye. Facing the truth requires a certain amount of courage, and we can sometimes find courage by arming ourselves with the truth. The dark side, or reversed meaning, of this card, therefore, would be cowardice. This shadow meaning is always present, no matter what the orientation of the card; many find that the shadow meaning is more heavily emphasized when the card appears upside down.

(The Halloween Tarot by Kipling West, U.S. Games Systems, 1996.)