Book Reviews, Tarot

Tarot del Toro (Deck Review)

If you’re a fan of Guillermo del Toro as well as Tarot, you may like this deck. It illustrates the major arcana and court cards with images from del Toro’s films (or, in the case of The Magician, the man himself!). For example, The High Priestess is Nuala, the elf princess from Hellboy II. The Lovers depicts characters from The Shape of Water.

The booklet that comes with it is small but engaging. It begins with a foreword from Guillermo del Toro, in which he says:

My mother read the Tarot to anyone that would ask her — regardless of the time or setting. She always carried her deck of cards, nestled in a velvet pouch inside her handbag, and treated it with great care and respect. The edges of the cards were worn and stained from the frequency and familiarity of their handling.

Guillermo del Toro

Most of the booklet is written by Tomas Hijo, creator of the deck, and it explains his process of rewatching the films and selecting how to translate the imagery onto the cards. There is a little story about a Don Miguel, blind tarot reader from the town of Salamanca, who helped in the deck’s creation and who teaches some spreads in the back. This may be true but it has a mythical quality to it that may be exaggerated. I found myself flipping to the Hierophant to see if maybe I’d find Don Miguel there (instead I found The Master, the supreme vampire from The Strain).

Tarot del Toro is in the Marseilles style, meaning the numbered cards of the minor arcana are “pips” which do not show scenes of people doing daily life things. If you don’t read with pips and you intend to read with this deck, that might disappoint you. Normally I would say, “Well, there’s no shame in using the guidebook” but in this case the book has longish explanations of the major arcana, brief paragraphs about the court cards, and almost nothing to say about the pips.

Suits are Blades, Wands, Goblets, and Discs.

Courts are Valet, Knight, Queen, King.

Backs show upright or reversed cards.

Though the illustrations and color palette are in the style of older decks, the card stock is slick and plastic. They could take some breaking in before they’ll shuffle smoothly, as they like to stick together. Some tarot readers use fanning powder in cases like this (available at magic shops).

If you’re a fan of del Toro, you’ll probably enjoy the deck. If you’re just looking for a Tarot deck and you’re not familiar with del Toro’s work, this may not be a great place to start. If you’re ambivalent about his films or find them too dark, you’ll probably feel the same way about the deck.

3 out of 5 stars (mostly because the pips were uninspired)

Tarot del Toro

Inspired by Guillermo del Toro, illustrated by Tomas Hijo

Insight Editions

2020

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