Deck Impression: Zombie Tarot

Deck Information: Zombie Tarot by Stacey Graham and Paul Kepple as published by Quirk Books, 2012.

The Zombie Tarot is the brainchild (yup, I kinda punned) of Stacey Graham (writer and professional tarot reader), illustrator Paul Kepple and publisher Quirk Books. I decided I needed this deck after having it continually pop-up for me during my regular course of online activity. The images immediately appealed to my senses and I quickly sought out a more complete view of the deck so I could make my final decision. With all my planned purchases, I like to do research, and part of that research includes getting my eyes on a good sample of images including majors, minors and the courts.

Even though I knew I wanted the deck, I didn’t know if it would be a standard reading deck for myself. I was sure I wanted it for my collection, as a piece to leaf through, shuffle and admire; but the reading bit was TBD.

If there is something you will come to know about me, it’s that I don’t generally believe in “accidents”, so when something feels synchronistic or fated, I like to embrace the circumstances surrounding it. It was on the drive up to the First Star Psychic Fair this fall that I was going over my wishlist with my husband. I had a handful of decks that I’d been ogling online and I felt inclined to showcase the Zombie Tarot to him, flashing him an image here and an image there. He agreed they looked very cool and I remember making the heavy-hearted assertion that I wouldn’t find the deck today. “I think I’m more likely to find any number of these others on my list before I find this one, so I won’t get my hopes up.”
Well, needless to say, it took no time before I spotted a stand that had it clearly on display. And not only was I incorrect about my assertion that they’d likely not have it at all, but I was also wrong thinking that any of my other selections would have a better chance. The fact is, there was nothing else on my list that I could find, so it made purchasing this deck, that day, a no-brainer.

My initial assumptions about the deck, before I busted it open and spent any time with it, were as follows:
a) Novelty deck.
b) Gorgeous art but probably won’t be my go-to reading deck.
c) “Too cool” to connect with.

The good news is, none of these assumptions held any weight. After opening the deck, browsing through each card and laying some down in a couple general readings, my thoughts began to shift as follows:
a) This is a “real-deal” deck meant to be approached as such.
b) Gorgeous and readable.
c) Cheeky if not downright charming!

This deck has a markedly male energy to it, at least that is my impression of it. I won’t do the honours of describing its characteristics in great detail, but rather, I’ll have the deck speak for itself.

Below is an interview I conducted with the Zombie Tarot and following that is my take on the reading along with an explanation of the actual spread.

If you’re following along, please note that card 1 starts in the top left corner and card 4 in the bottom left corner. Read from left to right.

Card #1: Who are you, what are your overriding characteristics? Judgement. You are the call to action. You are the urge to step out, reach up and get on the launching pad to the next great adventure. You are the catalyst for change. Your advice cannot be ignored. It comes soaring like a bullet through the sky, steadfast and certain of its path. This deck is an entity with a sure and clear image of how things should be and it’s not afraid to show you!

Card #2: What are your strengths as a deck? 2 of Wands. This deck possesses the ability to help you plot your course. From point A to point B, this deck can show you the safest and surest route and help light the fire to spur you into action.

Card #3: What are your limitations? 10 of Swords. This deck does not like to be held down or stay stuck in any way. This deck doesn’t want to focus on the nitty gritty details of the “now”; it wants the seeker to move forward and quickly! This deck is far more interested in your next move than dissecting all the things in life that are eating at you now (and yes, that’s another zombie pun).

Card #4: What are your favourite topics/inquiries for readings? 5 of Pentacles. I am really sensing a theme here. Once again, the Zombie Tarot reminds us that it’s interested in guiding us beyond the ruin…figuratively or literally. It wants to tell the seeker how to move on from whatever shitty experience is holding them back. Whether it be a bad job, stale relationship or an actual zombie apocalypse, this decks wants to show you the way out of that mess!

Card #5: How can we best work together? The Star. Here again, we get a real feeling of service. This deck wants to help, it wants to play the hero and it thinks the best way we can work together is by staying in the space of “how can we best serve this seeker?” I also get a nice splash of altruism and charity and that does give me some ideas on how I can use this deck in some more practical ways.

Card #6: What is the potential for our working relationship? The Magician. Magick, baby! What more can I say!?

All-in-all I was very pleased with the outcome of this interview and I felt the themes were consistent and gave me an excellent sense of who this deck truly is in relationship to myself.

The structure of the deck is built upon 78 cards and it follows closely in line with traditional Waite-Smith interpretations. There is plenty re-imagining on the designs but they still generally mean the same thing. The minor arcana are comprised of Wands, Swords, Cups and Hazards to replace the standard Pentacle.

The next thing I want to discuss are a few example cards from the deck. I’ll showcase the ones I feel are standouts as well as ones I’m so far on the fence about. Let’s start out on a high note and check out the Justice card below.

Now, the Zombie Tarot opted to place Justice in the 8 spot which I’m not as fond of since I think Justice and Judgement are karmically linked and numerologically speaking, both add down to 2. I’m also just used to this structure since I am, by-in-large, a Waite-Smith student and enthusiast. It’s not a deal breaker though so I can digress and turn our attention instead to the sheer beauty of this card. I really love the representation of Justice here. I adore the simplicity and the darkness of it but I also really appreciate that the scales are being weighed down with a heart and a brain. It’s almost as if we’re deciding between our head or our heart and this card is advising that we place the focus on logic especially if dealing with any actual legal or contractual issues. Good advice!

Another two cards that speak to me are the Page of Hazards and the 10 of Hazards. I just love the representation of the page here as a paperboy. When I did my court charecters exercise (which I will feature on here soon) awhile back, I relied heavily on associations to cement their meaning and I could never come up with an actual person for this Page. Rather, I would always scribble down “paperboy” and that’s all I needed to prompt me. The other Hazard here that I much enjoy is one of those cards that you look at and it’s just so easy to digest its meaning. It is a cheeky retake but speaks with the superb clarity.

On the flip side, there are a couple cards that I’m grappling with. I have certain expectations of the 8 of Pentacles and while they are Hazards here, I still expect to get the same vibe since the rest of the deck follows Waite so closely. But when I look at it, while I like the image, it doesn’t do much to invoke the qualities that I’ve come to know of the 8 of this suit. Similar with the 5 of swords, I really need to readjust my view of the landscape. I almost get 5 of Wands feels from this card. Conflict is conflict but there are lots of different types of conflict and I wish this were a bit more distinct.

Last but not least, the overall packaging and presentation. The backs are brilliant. I love the look of them and the fact that they aren’t conducive to reversals doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The box it comes in is sturdy, durable and looks awesome. Attention to detail from the box to the little “white” book are A+. The contents of the book are OK but if you are a new student and relying on it to further your studies, you’re going to need much more. It only scratches the surface of definition which is fine if you’re seasoned. The cards themselves are quite thick; much different than what I normally see. I have no problem shuffling them but if you had very small hands it might be tricky. Despite its durability, and this is my one real pet peeve, the stock has frayed on many of my cards with not much use. Not the whole stock, but the paper layer part of it and generally along the right side. It’s a bit disappointing because I hate to have that kind of distraction to take away from the beautiful images.

All-in-all I very much enjoy this deck. It turned itself from novelty to serious-business in no for me. Anyone who has even a passing interest in zombie culture will appreciate this masterfully packaged deck. It’s a wonderful addition for the collector or professional reader alike and I look forward to working with these Zombies much more in my daily practices. Braaaiiinnnssss!!

Julia Eve