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Tarot of the Dead



First off, the packaging for this deck is very nice. It comes in a nice clamshell box with a smaller box for the deck and a black mesh bag. I personally am very glad that Llewellyn has started including bags with their tarot decks, but I do wish that they would have colors other than black. Still, I can't complain since it comes with the deck, and in this case, black is rather appropriate. The deck has a little white booklet instead of a full-sized companion book.

As for the cards, I found them to be quite charming. All the figures in the cards, including the animals, are skeletons. The artwork reminds me of a tattoo or comic book drawings although the colors are a little more watercolor in nature. This deck has a great sense of humor and the cards will make you smile without losing depth of meaning. A great example of this is the Hanged Man, who, because he is a skeleton, is forced to hold his head on. It's cute but it also emphasizes that Hanged Man periods are those times in your life when you're getting your head back on straight. The Emperor is a suited skeleton in an office, looking up expectantly at the clock. Hey, sometimes the office can make you feel like the walking dead. The Death card is very clever. It features a heavily pregnant woman, and she is the only figure in the whole deck that is not a skeleton. Think about that one for a bit. Insightful, but with a spicy bit of fun.

The court cards are equally interesting. Like playing cards, there are 2 figures on the card facing different directions. The really great part is that the 2 pictures are different and express the various aspects of that particular court. If you read with reversals, this helps you narrow in on a particular personality nuance. If you don't use reversals, you still get to see the whole range of meanings, positive and negative, for that court card. It's a neat idea and Knighton executes (pun not intended, but it is pretty good, eh?) it with charm and artistry.

The only problem that I have with this deck is that the minors are not fully illustrated. The 9 of Pens (Wands) has 9 pens on it, which makes it hard to read. However, these cards are wonderfully drawn even though they don't have scenes on them. And, heck, I was going to start trying to read with non-illustrated minors anyway. Still, because the minors are pips, I cannot recommend this deck for tarot beginners.

For collectors and those who read with Marseille-style decks, this will be a lovely addition to your tarot collection. It's charming and fun and still packs a lot of meaning.

Copyright K. Mayberry. Not to be used without permission.

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