Newly published tarot and oracle decks arrive on Amazon, Etsy, crowd-funding platforms, and in bookstores every month. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks as well as published ones. Reviewing a deck is a subjective judgment intended to help readers determine if they want to own the deck reviewed.
The critical review of a deck for askAstrology involves looking at the quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion text of the deck, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review the Zombie Tarot by Paul Kepple and Stacey Graham.
The Zombie Tarot Cards
From the side of the box:
In the event of a zombie attack: Get to a secure location, open this box, and consult the Zombie Tarot. This fully functional 78-card tart deck offers valuable advice on life, love, family, friendship, automatic firearms, premature burials, cannibalistic children, and more. The enclosed instruction book shows how to interpret all 78 cards and provides helpful tips on giving a reading.
The deck has striking images that perfectly capture the world of the zombie apocalypse.
The card stock of the deck is high quality and will hold up with regular, even heavy use. The cards are larger than standard playing cards, but not so large that they are hard to hold in your hands. Because the card stock is some of the thickest available, the cards can be a little stiff and hard to shuffle when you first get them out of the box. Over time and with regular use, shuffling will get easier.
Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The deck artwork is visually accessible if you accept the narrative and see how the artist cleverly adapted the art to convey the meanings of the cards. Some cards are more visually accessible, like The Sun (Major Arcana number 19), but others are not, like the Queen of Cups, which will require you to read the booklet definition and memorize it.
As you can see from the sample cards, the artist’s imagination is something to appreciate. The deck does an excellent job of “world-building”, fantastically imagining how the archetypes of the tarot would play out in a “zombie normal” world.
Major Arcana 19 – The Sun
From the companion book:
Sweet success! The morning sun has risen and the rescue teams have arrived. After foiling a hostile takeover by the undead, you’ve earned a one-way ticket to a safer place. Now it’s time to make plans for the future; consider traveling to warmer climes or getting a new job. There’s money in corpse disposal nowadays … (35)
2 of Cups
From the companion book:
Representing the union of two people, the Two of Cups speaks of a happy balance between two parties who can finally sit down at the dinner table without fighting. After all, what’s a minor zombie infection among friends? This could be the beginning of a budding romance. (40)
King of Wands
From the companion book:
The King of Wands has an independent streak that allows him to see old problems from new perspectives; when his leg was blown off by a land mine, he fashioned a new one out of wood. Something of a loner, the King of Wands may not be the cuddliest person in your life, but there’s no better source for inventive, practical advice. (He’s especially good with business and construction.) (66)
Explanation of the Cards
The booklet is simple. It has an introduction – The Zombie Tarot: Your Weapon of Choice, and a section on Conducting a Reading, which has five examples – The Beginner, The Broken Heart, The Gravestone, The Eyeball, and The Severed Head. These two sections precede the sections on the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana.
Each card gets a paragraph of text, which makes up each page, as the booklet is the width and length of the cards.
As a professional reader who started reading cards for pay in 1992, I can say that this deck is above average when it comes to reading for clients. You will not have to memorize too many of the cards because you can readily or easily rely on the images to make the meanings very clear. However, this theme is not for everyone, so I would not make it your go-to deck if you are reading professionally. That said, it is the perfect deck for Halloween readings.
I would recommend the deck for personal use, collecting, admiring the artwork, and limited professional use. Other oracle and tarot decks have much more generally acceptable designs for public and professional work. The guidebook that comes with the deck offers reading spreads and suggestions on how to best use the cards.
The deck is a visually “eye-grabbing” set of cards and one that I will give a high rating, four out of five stars. I have used the deck in a public setting, readings at Halloween, and with groups with the particular sense of humor this deck fits. Since the deck mostly follows the classical meanings of the cards, mimicking the Rider-Waite Tarot, it is easy to use with clients or for yourself. I do think it is possible for the deck to be a good personal deck, especially if the images really speak to you.