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The Halloween Tarot

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Charlie Brown
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The Halloween Tarot

Post by Charlie Brown » 05 Aug 2017, 20:26

These days, it seems that the Halloween season starts earlier and earlier. No sooner has Labor Day weekend come and gone then we begin drowning our taste buds in glorious oceans of pumpkin spice. Even though it's still over 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the season of the witch is just around the corner. As such, I thought it was high time to finally purchase a deck specifically tailored to the spirit of America's favorite fall festivity.

The Halloween Tarot, created by Kipling West and Karin Lee is a fun addition to any tarot library. Published by U.S. Games, The Halloween Tarot presents an inspired re-interpretation of the classic RWS imagery. Swords become bats, cups become ghosts, and the pentacles are now pumpkins. The wands are represented by fiery little Imps not unlike those you find on a can of Underwood deviled ham. Regardless of suit, each of the deck's 78 cards demonstrates a true love of the Halloween spirit.

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Physically, this is an excellent deck of cards. The stock is thin, yet very firm, which makes shuffling a pleasure. The coating is a nice semi-gloss that keeps the cards bright without feeling plasticky. They're simply a joy to hold. The box is standard U.S. Games fare and two presentation cards are included in the deck.

The vision of Halloween embraced by The Halloween Tarot is a fun, family oriented one in which Linus and Snoopy would feel right at home. As such, the deck is a highly appropriate choice to bring to family parties and to use with children. It must be noted, however, that the Death and The Devil cards do retain their names, so it may still be a bit too much for the most sensitive of your acquaintances.

Generally speaking, the imagery tends to favor its Halloween theming over fidelity to the embedded symbolism of the RWS. This can make cards like The Empress (here portrayed as the Bride of Frankenstein) a little difficult for those readers who rely heavily on a card's visual cues within the course of reading. On the other hand, West and Lee occasionally hit on profundities of their own. I find their interpretation of The Chariot to be not only a good card, but an important one as well. In most classic decks, including the RWS and TdM, the male figure dominates the image. We forget that the card is called The Chariot, not The Charioteer. By focusing on the hearse rather than the driver, this card draws our attention back to the vehicle rather than the driver. And it is the vehicle as protective enclosure that, of course, connects The Chariot with The Tower—a connection that is often obscured by decks in the RWS family.

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Another card that I think is important to understanding this deck is the Nine of Imps (wands). I drew it during my standard "new deck interview" reading under the heading of "What makes you different?" I can't think of a more appropriate card for the position. In Pamela Coleman Smith's iconic Nine of Wands image, the battered protagonist has built a protective wall out of his wands. He is alone and has only himself to rely on for defense. In the Nine of Imps, however, the wall is manned by these tiny, fiery little creatures. The protagonist is not alone. The deck's own impish spirits are there to defend him.

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This, to me, is what makes The Halloween Tarot something significant. This is a novelty deck. This is a 'fun' deck. This is decidedly not the Thoth. Ultimately, that spirit of fun and novelty becomes a form of protection for the reader. This is a deck that you can bring places where you might otherwise feel trepidatious of bringing a tarot. It can be played off, after all, as 'just a spooky seasonal prop.' Its warm, cartoony vibe ingratiates itself to curious people who might otherwise be too intimidated to ask a question to the tarot. After all, 'it's just a spooky little holiday game.'

Speaking as a reader, I've found deck's lightness to be liberating. When using it, I'm not so much concerned with being "right" or "deep" or what have you; I'm just throwing down cards and accessing my knowledge of the cards and my feelings about them. Without a second thought, I'll do things that I'd normally be hesitant to do: no-spread reading, big novelty spreads, one card draws, etc. etc. I've even, with success, applied some of Yoav Ben-Dov's TdM-based techniques from The Open Reading/Marseilles Tarot Revealed. When a card like The Lovers pops up, I don't bother to worry about whether Waite's "great winged figure" is Shekinah or the Archangel Gabriel or someone else. It's just a cartoon Dracula wanting to get his freak on! Using The Halloween Tarot is turning out to be a valuable corrective that's helping me to access qualities of joy in my reading. Joy that I have trouble accessing with my more august and reputable decks.

Finally, My favorite thing about this deck would have to be the card backs. The orange and black, fully reversible design is truly exceptional. Really, the internet doesn't do them justice. They especially "pop" on black reading cloth. In fact, I like them so much that, with this deck, I lay out my reading face down, turning the cards over one-by-one as I make my way though the spread. As an avowed face-up reader (I usually register suit preponderances and numerological connections first), this is something I do ONLY with The Halloween Tarot. That's how much I love these card backs.

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The Halloween Tarot is fully recommended and is currently available in both full-size and pocket tin editions.
Charlie Brown
—“I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.”

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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by Charlie Brown » 01 Oct 2017, 16:34

Sunday, Oct. 1st. This deck is getting more relevant by the day
Charlie Brown
—“I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.”

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CharlotteK
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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by CharlotteK » 01 Oct 2017, 19:22

I like it and I must get it out soon or time will have passed by.

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Seldes Katne
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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by Seldes Katne » 01 Oct 2017, 20:59

I was at a local science fiction/fantasy convention this afternoon and just picked up this deck. Can't wait to try it out. :icon_e_smile:

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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by Charlie Brown » 05 Oct 2017, 12:18

I whipped it out last night at a bar. It was very popular and approachable to people but also a little harder to read with three beers in me. It was similar enough to RWS not to be different but different enough that it was hard to pick up my cues.
Charlie Brown
—“I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.”

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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by syntheticmop » 22 Dec 2017, 17:56

I have used this deck for several years, in October or not and it is just cute as can be and gives pretty accurate readings. Never tried reading it in a bar :icon_e_biggrin:

The review was awesome, you nailed it - a RWS-based, light, well-made deck as you say.

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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by Charlie Brown » 22 Dec 2017, 18:01

Thank you for the kind words. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who finds this deck such a pleasure.
Charlie Brown
—“I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.”

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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by Canid » 09 Mar 2018, 17:28

I reallyreally like this deck, it never fails to make me smile. And for me, very accurate. Many years ago, I did a private (only me) reading & I’ve never shared it. A very good friend was in a vehicle accident & was on life support for a week for severe brain trauma. When they finally ‘unplugged’ him, he died quickly, to the dismay of many. I’ll NEVER forget That Ace of Pumpkins...scrambled brain. But I didn’t smile that time.
The eye thru which I see God is the same eye thru which God sees me.

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Belinda2
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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by Belinda2 » 20 Mar 2018, 18:25

My copy of this deck was taken over by my niece who is not really into Tarot but loves Halloween ( like I do) I also Got her a copy of trick or Tarot deck ( which is a much darker deck than the Halloween Tarot that she loves) not that I will tell her that. Looking at the duck soup decks most are on the Darkside which I did not know until I started look thru the decks that were offered there after I got their Halloween one. Not that that is a bad thing, just something that I just noticed.

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Re: The Halloween Tarot

Post by Canid » 23 Mar 2018, 15:57

Belinda2 wrote:
20 Mar 2018, 18:25
My copy of this deck was taken over by my niece who is not really into Tarot but loves Halloween ( like I do) I also Got her a copy of trick or Tarot deck ( which is a much darker deck than the Halloween Tarot that she loves) not that I will tell her that. Looking at the duck soup decks most are on the Darkside which I did not know until I started look thru the decks that were offered there after I got their Halloween one. Not that that is a bad thing, just something that I just noticed.
Love that Death card haHA! I don’t have Trick or Treat, but I may...
The eye thru which I see God is the same eye thru which God sees me.

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