Tuesday, 13 December 2011 00:22

The Dollar Tree Tarot

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Onix and I were at the Dollar Tree in Memphis, and we made a most interesting discovery. There, in the back of the kids' section, were two pegs of these funny little Tarot decks in blister packs.  For a buck, how could I resist?

I was quite delighted with what I found. First of all, I love the art. It's a little Carnivale-esque, and I like that. They definitely have a "Gypsy Fortune Teller Deck" kind of feel. The imagery is bold and sharp, all in reds and golds, blacks and whites; With no blue tones in the deck, it's cheaper on printing, to be sure.  Personally, I think the style is lovely.

The deck says it's a 78 card complete set, but in actuality, there are 70 cards and 8 cards to lay out as a map to lay your cards on. They are plain white and have a large number on them, and titles like "Your present," Their past," "Your wish," and "Their future."  It also came with a paper fold-out "Mystical "Spread" Map," which makes those odd cards somewhat redundant, as it shows you again how to do the layout. (They added the quotes around "spread." I do not understand this.) 

The entire set of Major Arcana are in place, each a uniquely interesting piece of art. The court cards - in this deck: pages, knights, kings and queens - are likewise individual and unique in their artwork.  The aces of pentacles, cups, wands and swords have unique drawings as well.  Each of the aforementioned have a small white block on the top with textual interpretations for the past, present and future. The one chosen, no doubt, is meant to go along with its position in the spread.  The interpretations are close, but some are a bit unexpected.  "A long and tiring journey" is the interpretation for the past on the Sun card, and "An important friendship arises," is their given interpretation for the future aspect of the Temperence card. Curious.

The instructions inside likewise baffling.  The second paragraph reads, "To play The Tarot Game, all 78 cards are thoroughly mixed and placed face down in a pile." Thankfully, the last line in the brief instructions (before 3 pages for notes) says, "The Tarot Game is for entertainment purposes only."

The instructions give no indication whatsoever about what to do with the pip cards.  In addition to the ace of each suit, there are seven numbered pip cards, counting up from 1 to 7. The 1's are in addition to the aces, which I again found unusual.  The pip cards are simply images of the number and suit on a starry background. 

With no 8, 9 or 10 and the doubled 1 and ace, I was left with no way to map this tarot to any previously understood tarot decks.  Without the last three numbers in each suit, the first seven traditional interpretations are hard pressed to hold up.  Without the brutal 10 of swords or the sweet success of the 10 of pentacles, the earlier cards lose their weight and meaning. Therefore, I had to come up with a wholly new way to interpret these cards.

At this time, I'm pondering making chakra-based associations to the pip cards. The aces can represent the essence of the element in its entirety, and the pips can represent each of the seven chakras.  The ones can represent the Muladhara (base) chakra, all the way up to the sevens which represent the Sahasrara (crown) chakra. The element of each suit would help hone down the interpretation further.  Therefore, a three of swords would be an airy concern dealing with one's social life, ego, energy, and other solar-plexus chakra matters.  In a reading, it might indicate that one needs to quit smoking, to bring a breath of fresh air into your social life, or possibly to take up some breathing exercises to increase one's energy. 

Another angle I am exploring is to associate the seven pips with the seven classical planets.  The classical associations include the numbers 8 for Mercury and 9 for Luna, so I can't use that.  Instead, I am associating the numbers to the calendar order: 1 = Sol, 2 = Luna, 3 = Mars, 4 = Mercury, 5 = Jupiter, 6 = Venus and 7 = Saturn.  Again, I'll imply an elemental association to the number based on the suit I have chosen.  A 6 of Pentacles, Earth of Venus, might imply that I need to get more grounded in my relationships.  I have more experimenting to do with these systems, but I think I've got a few good approaches to explore on how to best use these pip cards.

There is very little indication as to where these cards came from. The bottom of the deck reads, "Greenbriar International, Inc," with an address in Chesapeake, VA. That's the address for one of Dollar Tree's big distributors, so it hardly gives any information about the deck's origin. What appears to be an inventory number on the bottom likewise turns up nothing on a web search.  On the instruction booklet are the names, "D. John Michael Hilford," and "Jon Stetson."  Hilford has a business as a professional psychic and medium. He offers on his site a "Ladies Party," which is comprised of Lorem Ipsum text.  Jon Stetson is a mentalist, and according to his site, impresses some very impressive people with his mind-reading capabilities.

Despite the odd nature of this deck, it was one of the most fun purchases I've made with a single dollar. I have a new and unusual divination set to explore, and through it I can develop some new ways of working with divination. It's a surprisingly delightful little deck.