Name: The Ghost Tarot
Creator: Davide Corsi. Instructions by Pierluca Zizzi.
Number of Cards: 78 Major Arcana: 22 Minor Arcana: 56
Card Size: 2.7 x 4.9
Publisher: Lo Scarbeo
Year Published: 2014
Deck Tradition: Rider-Waite-Smith
Suits: Chalices, Swords, Pentacles, Wands
Court Cards: Knave, Knight, Queen, King Major Titles: – The Fool, 1 – The Magician, 2 – The High Priestess, 3 – The Empress, 4- The Emperor, 5- The Hierophant, 6 – The Lovers, 7 – The Chariot, 8 – Strength, 9 – The Hermit, 10 – The Wheel of Fortune, 11 – Justice, 12 – The Hanged Man, 13 – Death, 14 – Temperance, 15 – The Devil, 16 – The Tower, 17 – The Stars, 18 – The Moon, 19 – The Sun, 20 – Judgement, 21 – The World The Fool is 0 Strength is 11 Justice is 8
Card Back: Reversible
Back Design: Intricate golden patterned design with a blue background. The design forms into an eye shape in the center of the card.
Companion Material: 64-page multi-language little white book Languages: Spanish, Italian, German, French, and English
Most folks who know me are aware that I love things that go bump in the night so I was immediately drawn to the recently released Ghost Tarot by artist David Corsi (artist of several other tarot decks: Pictorial Key Tarot, Tarot of the Elves, Tarot Draconis, Tarot 3D, The Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night). Given that Halloween/Samhain draws near, I figured this would be a opportune time to add a ghostly-themed deck to my collection.
I will say right off that I’m typically not a fan of many Lo Scarabeo decks, mainly because I’ve never liked that the cards were slathered with titles in multiple languages. With The Ghost Tarot however, they have gone in the complete opposite direction, taking a much more minimalist approach. In fact, you won’t find one card title or suit title on any of the cards, which might make learning this deck a tad more challenging for absolute beginners. The Major Arcana displays only the roman numeral associated with that card, both in the top center and bottom center of the card.
The Minor Arcana displays the card number on the top center of the card and then the symbol for the suit on the bottom center. For example, the 4 of Wands displays the number 4 on the top of the card and a diagonally-situated wand on the bottom of the card.
The court cards take on a slightly different approach, with each royal level displaying a different symbol in the center of the card: The Queens display a crown on the top center of the card, The Kings, a crown with an equal-armed cross in the center, the Knights, a horsehead in the center of the card and the Knaves (Pages) display the headpiece from a suit of armor in the center. As with the Minors, the symbol of the card’s suit is painted in the bottom center of the card.
Each image is surrounded by a thin black boarder which blends in well with the images and the overall tone of the deck. The cards themselves come with a smooth, matte finish and the card stock is a bit thin (similar to that of The Steampunk Tarot), so some care should be taken when shuffling the cards.
The deck uses wands-fire, swords-air symbology with the suits of the minors being Wands, Chalices (instead of cups), Swords and Pentacles. As mentioned however, none of the suit names or card names are displayed on the cards themselves.
The dreamy artwork is stunning, with etheral depictions of transparent ghosts in a variety of situations. The cards don’t come across as creepy or grotesque and you won’t find any gore. Rather the artwork is gentle and some of the depictions are bound to give your heart a little tug. I didn’t find any of the cards particularly frightening (though some may be a tad “unsettling”) so I would in no way classify this deck in the horror genre. You won’t see vampires, ghouls, zombies, murderers, mummies, or creepy castles. Rather, the cards depict such themes as life ending before it’s time, reluctancy to let go, regret, saying goodbye, pain & loss, personal power, nostalgia and being strongly tied to past events that took place on the physical plane . While there are several themes that are on the “sad” side, I feel that there is a good balance between the darker themes and the lighter themes.
The depiction of the ghosts in the Major Arcana are pretty much what you’d expect and stick pretty closely to the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition. For instance, The Hermit depicts a ghost, porting a long white beard holding out his lantern to guide travelers.
In The Chariot, a wraithlike driver snaps his whip as he steers a chariot drawn by two ghostly white horses. This card has a “heading to Castle Dracula” kind of feel to it but definitely gives you the idea of moving forward with a mission.
The Justice card is another on of the Majors that I really liked. It has a sleepy, dreamy quality to it – almost romantic.
At this point, it might be worth mentioning the LWB (Little White Book) that comes with the deck. Rather than provide a list of card meanings like we so often see, the book provides a few sentences for each of the cards, summing up the image’s essence. An additional title is added to each card’s name in the Major Arcana section. For instance, The Hanged Man is “Perception Upside-down” and Death is “The Door that is always Open”. The sentences given are not merely meanings however, but delve much deeper.
An excellent example is The Strength card, which depicts a young woman clad in armor, speaking with a little girl. The ghost of an enormous lion stands besides her. The LWB description read:
“True courage cannot be seen. Strength lies not in appearance or its use, but in the awareness of one’s own value. Stelf-esteem and silent courage are more useful than one thousand battle cries”
Once we get to the Minor Arcana, many images tend to deviate sharply from RWS symbology requiring the reader to rely on his or her intuition – and the card’s image – to determine the appropriate meaning. An excellent example is the 6 of Pentacles. Here we have a man embracing a tombstone with a ghostly depiction behind him of a man and a woman in a lovers embrace. I really got the feeling from this card of someone unwilling or unable to accept the loss of a loved one leading to a difficulty in letting go. This meaning differs vastly from the standard meanings assigned to this card: charity, generosity, giving/receiving assistance. The book describes the card as follows:
“Patience and waiting lead to small moments of eternity. But there is no eternity is solitude”
In the 5 of Cups, we see the opposite situation. In this card a young man stands on a precipice and waves goodbye, as his loved one sails into the light. The LWB gives us a powerful message:
“There are moments when it is necessary to let things go. Set them free, abandon them, to be able to free ourselves and start anew.”
Another card that I love is the 10 of Swords, a card whose appearance is usually not welcome in a reading. This card depicts a ghost looking down at his own corpse. The man has apparently been murdered as a sword is stuck in his chest. The book explains:
“True wisdom is letting things go. Sometimes, it is necessary to let yourself go”
Each of the cards in the Wands suit portrays a flaming ghost in a particular situation, capturing well the fundamental quality of the suit. In the 6 of Wands, a fiery ghost stands on a cliff, his wand raised in a salute of victory. I really get the feeling of willpower and strength from this image.
Another one of the 6’s that struck my fancy was the 6 of Swords. This card depicts the familiar image of a young woman with her child leaving in a boat – but this time, it is a ghostly figure who steers the vessel.
Then there are times that the cards show us what “not” to do. For intance, the Knight of Cups elegantly depicts a ghost on a horseback, staring at an abandoned, turned-over cup in the water. The book tells us:
“Never retreat and never think of defeat: these create the nature of the warrior”
Many of the cards in the deck are minimalist, providing an atmosphere of silent contemplation. The Star is one of those such cards – simple, yet powerful.
The 7 of Swords is another card that says so much in its simplicity. The ghostly figure in this card is in the process of stealing swords, a familiar depiction of this card. But given that the figure is a ghost, we can’t help but wonder: did he/she get caught and killed in the process? Or is this ghost reliving the theft over and over because he/she cannot move past the guilt? The possibilities for interpreting this card are endless.
But all is not silent contemplation. Many of the images depict action, where the ghost is moving toward something, moving away from something or charging in at full speed. We’ve already seen this with The Chariot. Another one of these cards is the Knight of Swords. While a simple image, you can feel a surge of action as the ghostly horse and his rider appear out of nowhere.
On a more subdued level, the 8 of Swords depicts a ghostly woman walking away from 8 golden chalices. Sometimes, we need to leave behind even that which is valuable.
I’ve worked with this deck for several weeks now and have found it to give amazingly accurate readings – and I absolutely love the artwork! Those interested in fantasy, ghosts, occult study or those interested in exploring new worlds, may especially find this deck attractive. I find that this is also an excellent deck for generating story ideas (especially if you like to write ghost stories, as I do)and sparking your creativity. However, I would not recommend it to brand new Tarot students given that some of the cards deviate quite a bit from the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition. But for intermediate or advanced readers, this deck would be a welcome addition to your collection, especially if you’re interested in spooks. Recommended!!
You can check out the deck HERE.