What I Know About Tarot I Learned from Cats
For my most recent birthday, a friend gave me the best gift: a cat-themed tarot deck called the Tarot of Pagan Cats ($21 on eBay). Because I’m an idiot, I didn’t crack open the deck until recently -- and holy crap is it awesome. Part of its radness is the intricate, lovely illustrations. Another part is that the artist incorporated symbols you’d find in a non-catified tarot deck. For instance, I know embarrassingly little about tarot, but I’m pretty sure this cat with its paw on a lobster means ... well, means something:
Seriously, these cards are gorgeous! This is what happened when I tried to pick “a few” favorites to show y’all:
So I was already pretty keen on them when I realized the cat on The Fool card looked crazy-similar to my kitty Cleo, which only got me more jazzed:
I don’t know what that means, although on second thought, Cleo is pretty foolish. I mean, sometimes she paws at the glass on my fireplace as if she wants to get inside. How many times have I disassembled my electric fireplace so she can play inside my fireplace? ZERO. (She does this with mirrors, too. Maybe she’s just vain?)
She also looks like the cat on The World:
Although I didn’t give Cleo a reading (I’m not as brave as Cat Dandy Keith Bowers and his cat, Thomas), I think we can all agree she was not a fan of the super-creepy Death card:
Shudder. Quick, cheer yourself up with this 4 of Wands card, which has a bunch of happy cats frolicking outside and eating a picnic (!):
There’s just something about cats and tarot that seems like a good fit. I mean, I have this Crazy Cat Lady stereotype in my head, invented who knows when: Crazy Cat Lady has wild long hair and wears a flowing purple caftan and some crystals around her neck. She’s into mysticism -- maybe she’s a even a Wiccan or prays to “the goddess.” She has a couple of cats -- one is purring and rubbing itself on her ankle while she waters the plants above her sink, and another is asleep in a pool of sunlight next to one of several bookcases. (Apparently I’ve put a lot of thought into this stereotype?)
I can totally see this lady getting behind the Tarot of Pagan Cats.
Apparently I’m about the millionth person to think “Gee, cats and tarot seem like an OK combination.” Because once I started doing web searches for “tarot” and “cats,” I found a lot more decks. Clearly I’m biased and think the one I received is the best, but JUST IN CASE you’re curious, I did a little recon on the others as well.
This deck is described as “aristocratic” and “humorous.” The artwork isn’t quite my style, so my deck is safe for now.
The next one I found was Baroque Bohemian Cats Tarot by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov. If you like your cats “dressed to the whiskers in lace, silk, and satin,” this deck might strike your fancy. Unfortunately, it’s sold out from the publisher, Magic Realist Press, and a hefty $175 on Amazon.com.
Then I found tarot decks specifically for black cats and white cats (why they omit the most beautiful cat of all, the calico, is beyond me). Let’s start with Black Cats Tarot ($17) by Lo Scarabeo and Maria Kuara. Tarot deck preference is highly personal, so it makes sense that some reviewers call this deck “beautiful” while someone else commented, “The cats look deformed and creepy.”
After all those, the Cat’s Eye Tarot deck by Debra Givin ($20) seems refreshingly unstilted. It was drawn by a feline veterinarian, Aeclectic Tarot says, which might explain its realistic, natural vibe (compared to all those cat costumes). Even The Hanged Man, er, The Hanged Kitty, is endearing:
Last is the Cat's World Tarot Cards Deck by Helen Miu from Japan. A copy of this out-of-print collectors’ deck (it only has the 22 major cards, not the minor arcana) recently sold for $95 on eBay. But I had to include it -- look at these whimsical anime-influenced cats:
There are more cat tarot decks out there -- I found these with a single search. What do you think? Do you have a cat-themed tarot deck, or would you buy one? (And does anyone know what that paw-on-lobster thing is about?!)
About the author: Holly is a freelance writer who loves cats, words, and glitter. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her cat, Cleocatra, and writes at hollyrichmond.com. Find her on Twitter: @hrichmofo.