Summary: Ghosts haunt the familiar Rider Waite Smith images, taking the cards and our experience of the cards to a world between worlds. Even though they are, at least in one way, dead, they bring new life to the cards, expanding and deepening our understanding.
Full Review: Ghosts are, as a symbol, every bit as evocative, universal, and personal as any other symbol. We have some shared ideas about ghosts, but nothing definitive. We bring our own experiences and thoughts to the idea of ghosts. For those who believe in the unseen world around us, a population that includes many tarot readers, ghosts hover between worlds, connecting the past with the present. In this deck, they are poignant reminders that our actions in the present will create the memories, as well as the experiences, of the future.
It would be easy to create a purely novelty-type deck, with ghosts standing in for humans in the familiar Rider Waite Smith images. Even such a deck can be a treasure, bringing something new to readings. Even familiar images, when presented in a different artistic style, can reveal new ideas and revelations. And while the Ghost Tarot is certainly easily usable by anyone familiar with the RWS deck, it goes a little further, bringing something new to the images. They are deep and sweet and sad and inspiring.
I was so taken by the images, lost in their stories, that I was a bit surprised when I consulted the booklet with the deck. There seemed to be such an opportunity here, but the text lacks anything close to the beauty of the deck. Trust me, you won't even need it. The images bring their own words to mind. They are quite capable of telling their own stories.
Going through the deck to pick a few to talk about here, the pile got so large that I had to stop. I'll write about some, but there are many more wonderful images in the deck. Sometimes the Minor cards get short shrift in decks or in reviews, so here I will reverse that and leave the Majors for now, which are, don't get me wrong, every bit as powerful.
6 of Pentacles The image shows an old man under a full moon kneeling behind and holding a gravestone with a set of balances carved on it. He looks like his heart is breaking. Behind him two ghosts, a young man and a young woman, embrace and kiss. Who are they? Did he let the love of his life slip away? I fancy that he was a workaholic and neglected her, so she left to be with someone else. She is gone now, and here he is in old age, alone. The 6 of Pentacles is about making choices about how to divvy up your resources. Who gets what and when? He made a choice to give his time and his heart to work, and clearly not enough to love. Well, that's the way I see it. I can't wait to hear what stories others see in it.
3 of Pentacles A woman is blind-folded, bloody bandages around her wrists, kneeling in front of a flower pot with a small plant in it. She is holding something that looks kind of like a loaf of bread over the flower pot, only it is dripping something into it. I have no idea what it is meant to be, but I have the idea of squeezing blood from a stone…trying to nurture this plant but you have nothing left to give. Behind her, a ghostly figure chisels away at the Cathedral, finishing the sculpture. I've always thought that the 3 of Pentacles referred to the three aspects of self that participate to create something beautiful: the creative/intuitive (for the inspiration, the idea), the analytical (to plan how to make it), and the physical skills (in order to manifest it). This card in the Ghost Tarot brings to mind someone who has lost her focus, who feels she has nothing left to give her work. But if she just stop fussing about what she cannot do, she can see what glorious work that she can do.
6 of Cups Here we have the familiar image of a young boy giving a young girl a cup of flowers, only here, the boy is a ghost. Doesn't that work in nicely for the idea of this card as "nostalgia?" I hear so many readers speak of this card in that way. While lovely memories are a wonderful thing, when they come up in readings, it is usually because they are something more than just a healthy, wonderful memory, but a tie to the past, one that keeps you in the past in some way. This card, this image, reminds us that while memories are nice, we are humans and must live in the present.
9 of Cups A ghostly woman holding a bouquet of flowers sits before the curved, draped table that we've seen in other versions of this card. Before her stands a man, hand extended, slightly bowing, as if to ask her to dance. This card breaks my heart. He is, as the 9 of Cups often indicates, completely satisfied…completely satisfied to keep his heart safe in a past that filled him but that leads to a future that can never be.
I'm sure you don't want to be influenced by all my stories of the cards. You'll want to experience them fresh, for yourself. You won't be sorry.
Deck Attributes Name of deck:Ghost Tarot Reviewer's Byline: Barbara Moore Publisher: Lo Scarabeo ISBN: 9780738743530 Creator's name: Davide Corsi Artist's name: Davide Corsi Name of accompanying book/booklet:Ghost Tarot Number of pages of book/booklet: 61, 16 in English Author of book/booklet: Pierluca Zizzi Reading Uses: General Artistic Style: Computer-generated art Theme: Ghosts Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Yes Does it have extra cards? If yes, what are they?: No
While Llewellyn's Classic Tarot has my name on the cover, I did not so much design this project as direct it. Llewellyn wanted a deck that was designed to be faithful to the traditional tarot images, symbols, and meanings recognizable to most modern tarot readers and students. Creating a faithful yet new expression of timeless tarot imagery is... read this article