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 judgement intended to help readers determine if they want to own the deck.
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 book or booklet, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review the Mystical Medleys Tarot by Gary Hall.
From the back of the box:
A tarot deck inspired by the iconic vintage cartoons of the 1930s. If you love Betty Boop, Steamboat Willie, and rubber-hose animation, this is the deck for you!
A delightful take on an ancient tradition, Mystical Medleys brings a bit of lighthearted fun and playful energy to the tarot. It’s ideal for occultists of all varieties, animation and cinema buffs, and lovers of all things vintage!
About the Author:
Gary Hall (Nemons) is a pop-culture occultist with a lifelong obsession with animation, video games, heavy metal, and anything else a geeky nerd would love! After 15 long years, he escaped the clutches of video game design and set off to create his own pop-culture empire! (Editorial Review, Amazon)
Card Stock and Shuffling
Printed on heavy duty card stock, these cards have a matte finish with curved edges. They are more challenging to shuffle because they are slightly thicker and less flexible than standard tarot cards. It will take practice to shuffle them smoothly.
Artwork and the Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The artwork is perfectly in line with style of the 1930s cartoon animation, and will certainly take you back if are old enough to remember watching these cartoons as a child, as late as the 1970s, when they were run in syndication. For the younger generations who may be seeing this art style for the first time, it does reflect a bygone era. Also, as you can see from the images, the “dirty” look of the cards is part of the design, and attempt to make them appear “vintage” right out of the box.
Like most decks, this one “riffs” of the Rider-Waite tarot deck created by occultist Arthur Edward Waite and artist Pamela Colman Smith, and does an excellent job re-framing the images and themes using the rubber hose art style. One benefit of the art style is how “clear” and “clean” the images happen to be, making the meanings of the cards visually accessible at a high level.
About this card:
From the Booklet: All adventures begin with a single step; don’t be afraid to know you know nothing. There are choices to be made and every choice is valid. Muster your strength, listen to your heart, and let the story begin.
Nine of Cups
About this card:
From the Booklet: Let’s dance! Throw a party; you deserve to have some fun. Let your daydreams become fruitful and let yourself go. Take a good look at your feelings and beliefs. Get to know them all; they are here to support you.
King of Pentacles
About this card:
From the Booklet: This king has got everything he’s ever dreamed of – a powerhouse of fulfilled potential. The king of the castle is generous to a fault. As he dispenses wisdom or donates wealth, his success becomes yours. Pay it forward ‘til the end of time.
Explanation of the Cards
This deck does have a hardback companion booklet that is fancier that what you normally get with decks in packaging that contains just the cards and a paper booklet. The booklet contains colorful artwork on the outside and inside. Each Major Arcana card gets its own page, with the image and text. The Minor Arcana explanations are grouped together without the images of the individual cards.
The Fool (full content)
The morning is full of joy as the carefree Fool sets off on his journey, all potential and endless possibilities. His hopes and dreams packed for the trip with only one eye on the road. Does he see where this path is leading him? Is he listening to the calls, warning of danger ahead? Or is he confident that his feet will take him exactly where he wants to go, blind faith leading the way?
All adventures begin with a single step; don’t be afraid to know you know nothing. There are choices to be made and every choice is valid. Muster your strength, listen to your heart, and let the story begin.
The explanations of the cards are simple, choosing a descriptive style that matches the art’s original target audience, children. The interpretations are good, but not great.
As a professional reader, I can say that this deck is a very good one for reading in public where people who have never had a tarot or oracle reading might want to get one. The art style takes the edge off some of the more difficult cards, like the Tower and Death. However, the art does not fundamentally change the meaning of any of the cards, as you might get with other modern decks.
I would recommend the deck for personal use, collecting, and public professional use. This deck is eye-catching; people will likely consider getting a reading from the deck as something fun to do because of the art style, which means a difficult or challenging reading could “sneak up” on them if the answer contains some of the more negative cards.
The deck is clever, fun, and insightful, visually-speaking. The art conveys the meanings effectively. The booklet is very nice, from a design standpoint, but not great in terms of the meanings of the cards. Also, it does not contain upright and reversed interpretations. The stiff card stock makes shuffling more challenging when you first use the cards, but they will hold up with frequent repeated use over a long time. I give this deck four out of five stars.
Where to Buy this Deck
If you like this deck and wish to purchase a copy; you can do so at: https://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Medleys-Vintage-Cartoon-Library/dp/1454944269/