I know this will come as a shock to many, but I’m a huge geek. Now that you’ve recovered from the surprise I’ll continue with my review.
As soon as I found out there was a Legend of Zelda Tarot I had to buy it, I didn’t care it if was good, if it was true to the historical tarot system, I just knew I needed to possess it, and I haven’t been disappointed.
The Legend of Zelda Tarot is a fan made project, not an officially licensed Nintendo product. It is based off the Coleman-Smith tarot, but illustrated with characters and themes from the Legend of Zelda.
Each Suit, and the Majors, draws their imagery from another game in the Legend of Zelda series. The Major Arcana draws from Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask, Rupees (Pentacles) are based on A Link Between Worlds, Swords are based on Skyward Sword, Bottles (Cups) are based on Wind Waker, and Wands are based on Twilight Princess. These suits match the games fairly well, and artistically it is very interesting to see the variation in styles, the more cartoonish Bottles compared to the more realistic Majors, or the styling of the Swords. It is especially interesting when the same character (Zelda or Link) is illustrated on several cards to match the styles of the games.
The art is amazing, it’s not just a matter of matching images, Hoyer has done an excellent job of illustrating the characters into new roles. She has also done a great job of “translating” the images and symbols. In a few cases I feel a detail was missed in favour of the Zelda themes, but over all these can be overlooked, and require some shifts in how a card is read. For instance the Lovers card has the two lovers looking at each other, which changes the dynamic and meaning of the card. Or for a symbolic miss on the Wheel of Fortune the four elemental creatures have been replaced with creatures that don’t match elementally. I can’t tell if I’m bothered by the loss of the Elemental/Zodiacal symbolism, or if I should take it as the fact that Hyrule (and the related worlds) are another place, so need their own symbols. Many of her interpretations were brilliant, I’m especially fond of Batreaux as the Nine of Swords, and despite the complaint about the creatures on the Wheel, the card itself is delightfully geeky having both the Four Great Fairies, and TARO-TORA-ROTA written in Hylian (as it appears during the era of Ocarina of Time) around the Wheel.
There is not an accompanying book, which is understandable, though unfortunate. Though the deck does come with a few cards containing keywords, so those unfamiliar with reading the tarot can at least get a rudimentary sense of the readings until they learn more. The cards themselves are a good card stock, they feel just slightly thinner than standard tarot, but it is hard to say. Also while most tarot decks are printed on flat stock, these cards are printed on card stock with air cushions. (Air cushion is when a card has very slight indents on the surface, when you look at it up close it appears to have almost a canvas/woven appearance.) This makes the deck a lot better for shuffling than most decks, something I actually really appreciate. In terms of production values the only place the deck falls short is the box. The box is made of a thinner stock than the cards, my top flap had been ripped off by the time it reached me (a fluke of packaging, but shows the strength of the material). While this is a point against the deck, to be honest most tarot boxes never last, so the fact this one is more flimsy than most, really isn’t a problem in the long run.
While this deck is a bit niche in the appeal, both to myself and my clients, it is a great deck, and I do plan on working with it. If you’re a tarot reader and a Legend of Zelda fan, then you seriously cannot go wrong with this deck.
I perform a reading whenever I get a new deck, asking it about itself, which I’m going to share now, so you can get a sense of the deck.
What will this deck teach me: Ace of Swords: On a general level, this means the deck will teach me to read with clarity. The deck will teach me to separate what is important from what is not to better understand the situations. Now here we see where the Zelda theme adds another layer. This card is Fi, so for a card about teaching, we’re already off to a humourous start. Fi is one of the many babysitting characters of the series, who teaches you how to do things, and in general guides you through the game. You probably ignore Fi, but call on them when you’re stuck or confused, meaning this deck will teach me to look a bit deeper, to think differently and problem solve.
What is the strength of this deck: Hanged Man: This deck is open, it’s receptive, and it’s easy to work with. By accepting it as it is, it allows me to view things from another perspective. From a Zelda perspective, this card is Sheik, which makes me think the strength of the deck lies in its ability to deceive, not in a malicious sense, but in the sense of being what it needs to be at the time.
What is the weakness of this deck: The Hermit: The meanings of the deck are a bit insular, without knowledge of the series you can’t really get the full depth of the reading. (Though in defense, I’d argue the same goes for the Christian/Golden Dawn imagery in most tarot decks which even many readers are ignorant of.) Zelda-wise the card is Dampé, specifically after he is dead. This strikes me as saying a weakness of the deck is that is isn’t too active, that it will only show you what you’re looking at, meaning you really have to be clear on the questions you’re asking. (Which could relate back to the deck teaching me to look deeper and read with clarity)
Finally I’d like to share a simple spread I created for this deck. Unsurprisingly it is based on the Triforce.
This spread is a problem solving spread. It doesn’t give you a sense of the future, which is a good thing because if you’re actively following the advice of the cards and trying to do something, any future it shows you’d be trying to change anyways. You can either use this spread for a specific problem, or for more general advice on where you should direct yourself in your life.
The cards are dealt facing to the centre of the Triforce, so the top of the card is closest to the centre, for the sake of reading reversed cards. The Triforce cards are where you need to apply a trait in your life. The quest of the Hero isn’t about letting things happen, it’s about applying, about doing. So these cards are always about action you need to take. The Goddess cards are gifts you will receive, things that will work in your favour, opportunities to look for, what will help you. The caveat is these will tend to be things that won’t really come along until you’re applying yourself. You have to prove you’re worthy of the gifts.
1: The Centre: The centre of the Triforce represents you, your problem, your situation. It may explain the root of the problem, or why you’re having trouble with it, why you can’t see it clearly.
2: Power: This is where you need to apply Power in your life. This is where you are weak, and you need to apply strength to solve the issues you’re facing. This could be externally, or internally, something you need to confront in the world, or deal with in your self.
3. Wisdom: This is where you need to apply Wisdom in your life. What aren’t you seeing clearly? This is where you’re turning a blind eye, where you aren’t seeing the full picture, where you need to look deeper. This can show where you’re not thinking clearly, or show how you should reframe and rethink about the issue.
4. Courage: This is where you need to apply Courage in your life. This is where you’re holding back, this is where you need to let go and do what needs to be done. What aren’t you facing, what aren’t you addressing? This is not the area where you need to think and plan, this is where you need to go forth and conquer.
5. Din: The gift of Din is the blessing of Power. What support is there for you? What reserves do you have, how will this situation turn to your favour? Is this an opportunity that opens for you, or a treasure you have to grab and use? Where will you find the Power you need to continue?
6. Nayru: The gift of Nayru is the blessing of Wisdom. What will be revealed to you? What knowledge do you have that you can use now? Is this revelation internal, or is the insight brought from elsewhere? What clarity is brought to you, and how does that change your situation?
7. Farore: The gift of Farore is the blessing of Courage. What pushes you forward? What will help you push forward in the tough spots, what keeps you going? Is this a breakthrough in the problem, or support from someone? Is this a never say die attitude, or the renewed courage when you see the armor of your foe crack?
So geeks of the tarot realm, go out, and get The Legend of Zelda Tarot, it’s awesome, fun, and useful.