The Halloween Tarot
deck review by Lady Lorelei, CTR
What a funky (fun and key) set of tarot cards.
At first glance The Halloween Tarot is an entertaining Waite clone,
fun to bring out and look at for Halloween. The Emperor and Empress
are Frankenstein and his Bride. It’s full of bats, and pumpkins
and scary goblins. All the scenes take place at night. But after
some study I found it to be a key deck that stands on its own merits.
I’ve always thought of the Hierophant as having Big Brother
connotations. Here, the Mummy is so bound up in rules, wrapped up
tight in meaningless ritual. He is the letter of religion without
its spirit, which I find a delightful nuance.
The pip, court, and major arcana are standard
and familiar. Simply substitute Imps for Wands, Ghosts for Cups,
Bats for Swords, and Pumpkins for Pentacles. The King of Pumpkins
looks surprisingly like the Waite King of Pentacles. I was disappointed
in the lack of Witches and Skeletons. The little booklet that comes
with the deck (written by Karin Lee) quotes West, “ . . .Halloween
archetypes are fairly limited . . .” When I think of Halloween,
I think of witches and skeletons yet we have only 3 in the entire
deck. Death is a happy skeleton watering the pumpkin patch instead
of the black-clad Grim Reaper I’ve come to know and love.
(Any Terry Pratchett fans out there?) One witch is found handing
out candy to trick-or-treaters in the 6 of Pumpkins. At least she
has green hair, but no warts. Another witch is found in Temperance
pouring ingredients from a beaker into a bowl by a bubbling cauldron.
She looks rather young and fresh, not at all like the Margaret Hamilton
archetype from the Wizard of Oz.
truly unique and powerful aspect of the Halloween Tarot is the black
cat that appears in each and every card image. ‘What is the
cat doing?’ adds a further dimension to every card’s
interpretation. Especially striking to me was the cat in the 9 of
Bats (9 of Swords). As usual we see a woman awake late at night
with her head in her hands in despair. 9 bats hover overhead, instead
of swords. But at her feet the black cat looks up at her with concern.
How many times have I reached over to my own little black and white
Sylvester for comfort? This reminds one that even in the depths
of despair, there is comfort and support, if even from an unlikely
The cat may be watching the main actors of the
card, bristling with anger or fear, sitting indifferently, or distracted
completely from the action and playing with a stray pumpkin. What
is the cat doing? How does this relate to the question? To the rest
of the spread? To the client?
All the cards occur at night. The background is
always black or purple and may have twinkling 5 pointed stars. The
one clever exception to this is, of course, the Sun. We see a huge
bright sun burning over sunflowers, and then notice it is outlined
by the mouth of a cave. The characters and action take place within
the darkness of the cave. A green two-headed ogre lies contentedly
munching a thigh bone while yawning bats prepare for sleep overhead.
The cat playfully knocks around grinning skulls.
My plan is to reserve this deck for the month
of October, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it sneaking
out and saying Boo! at other times of the year.
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