Tarot has become increasingly mainstream over the last decade as people embrace their inner witch. Some folks see tarot as a fun novelty, while others find that it offers surprising insight and guidance. I fall into the second camp—and, like many tarot practitioners, I have way too many decks. I’m also a major nerd, so the idea of mashing up tarot with pop culture is very tempting.
Warning: You will want to buy some of these decks for yourself!
The Starman Tarot
Davide De Angelis collaborated with legendary rock star David Bowie on several projects. In 2018, De Angelis debuted the Starman Tarot, an unofficial tribute to the late rocker. This is a challenging deck, with chaotic post-modern symbolism that can be visually overwhelming. You’ll either love it or hate it! The cards are printed without borders, so the images are extra-large. The book is also unlike any other tarot kit, and the box is die-cut with a lightning bolt in honor of Bowie’s Aladdin Sane persona.
How about another Bowie-inspired tarot deck? I recently picked up the Labyrinth Tarot by Minerva Siegel and Tomás Hijo. I really like the way that they interpreted the Major Arcana using characters from Labyrinth. They also reimagined the four suits of the Minor Arcana as Feathers, Junk, Poles, and Pots. The woodcut-style art is interesting, and the matte cardstock feels heavy and high-quality. The downside is that this is a “pip deck,” meaning that the Minor Arcana look more like playing cards than fully illustrated tarot cards.
If you’ve ever played Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, then you know that the world of Tamriel is breathtakingly beautiful and steeped in lore. Tori Schafer and Erika Hollice created a tarot deck inspired by Skyrim, and the result is… well, to be honest, it’s a little underwhelming. Like the Labyrinth deck, this tarot deck let me down with the Minor Arcana. I also found the artwork to be a little basic, but it’s certainly not bad. As long as you know that this is a “pip deck,” then you won’t be disappointed.
Dungeons and Dragons
Dungeons and Dragons is officially having a renaissance, and I couldn’t be more excited. This tarot deck—which was released just a couple of months ago—features stunning artwork printed on extremely high-quality cardstock. However, many reviewers were disappointed with the way that the deck fails to line up with traditional tarot iconography in the Minor Arcana. That seems to be a theme with these pop culture decks. Here, the illustrations feel random and the use of D&D stats instead of suits is confusing. To be frank, I’d rather use this Deck of Many Things as an oracle deck than try to figure out a workable system for doing a reading with the D&D deck.
Read More: Every ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ Class, Ranked
Being bad is more fun—and this Disney Villains Tarot deck is a hoot. This one comes from Minerva Siegel (author of the Labyrinth deck) and Ellie Goldwine. This is a fully illustrated deck with vibrant colors and that classic Disney vibe. The representations of the Major Arcana and each suit seem like they have been given some thought. For example, Captain Hook and Ursula dominate the suit of Cups, which is linked to the element of water. Overall, this is one of the strongest pop culture decks I’ve seen!
The Stranger Things deck has not yet been released at the time of this writing, but I had to include it on the list. Casey Gilly and Sándor Szalay mine the world of Hawkins, Indiana, for tarot inspiration. This deck is fully illustrated in a style that reminds me of old-school 1980s movie posters. If you’re a Stranger Things superfan, then you’ll probably love it. So far, the only cards available for preview are promising:
- The Fool is an image of Will wandering into a dark forest
- The High Priestess is Eleven with a blanket draped around her shoulders, her hand raised toward the viewer
- The Emperor is Hopper, enjoying a cup of coffee on his porch at sunrise
- Finally, we find the IX of Strands is represented as the Mindflayer.
Based on these images, it looks like this deck will be transforming the Minor Arcana suits into something more thematically appropriate for the show. I’m not sure what “Strands” is supposed to map onto; it looks most similar to the vibe of the Nine of Swords, though.
Magic of Marvel
There have been a handful of Marvel Comics tarot decks before now, but I wanted to highlight this oracle deck. Magic of Marvel imagines your favorite heroes and villains from Marvel as guides for your journey through life. Oracle decks are different from tarot decks in several ways. They’re usually smaller; this one is 44 cards compared to a traditional tarot deck’s 78 cards. They also use their own system of iconography. You typically draw just one card at a time for insight or inspiration. Although this deck has not yet been released at the time of this writing, I’m impressed with both the artwork and the choices made by author Casey Gilly.
Here’s a little “inside baseball” insight: many of these decks are written by the same handful of people. Casey Gilly is responsible for the Stranger Things tarot, the Magic of Marvel oracle deck, and the DC Tarot! This deck isn’t out yet—it’ll be released in November 2022—but there are quite a few preview images already available. DC has struggled at the box office compared to Marvel, and that’s a real shame since there are so many terrific characters to explore. I’m on the fence about this deck, which seems to be trying a little too hard to find parallels between traditional Rider-Waite-Smith tarot iconography and the most popular DC heroes and villains.
If you love Old Hollywood, then this tarot deck might be what you’ve been looking for. The Tinseltown Tarot borrows images from iconic movies and performers, illustrated by 50s Vintage Dame. Some of the cards might feel like a little bit of a stretch, but the deck is so unique and charming that I still think it’s a great choice for tarot readers and movie fans alike. Unfortunately, Tinseltown Tarot doesn’t come with a unique book, so you’ll need to look up the meanings of each card elsewhere. It’s an RWS deck, so you won’t have too much trouble, but this deck definitely feels more like a novelty gift than anything used for serious divination.
This is another deck by Minerva Siegel. It helps that Supernatural has fifteen seasons of lore to draw on. Speaking of drawing, though, I do wish the art was a little more creative—and more representative of the actors. I love having Baby as The Chariot, but the Minor Arcana are a letdown here. The consensus among fans of the show is that the Supernatural Tarot is something of a missed opportunity. This fan-created deck is, I think, a much better effort.
Game of Thrones
It feels like Game of Thrones and tarot should be a perfect match, doesn’t it? This deck by Liz Dean and Craig Cross hews closer to the classic RWS tarot. I particularly like the choice to have Arya Stark as Death. The descriptions make it clear that the creators have really thought about the connections between GoT and traditional tarot, which I appreciate. I also really like the way the guidebook is presented; it has an antique feel that makes this high-quality deck feel even more special.
I feel like I shouldn’t like this deck as much as I do. Hocus Pocus was—I’m sorry—not that great! The nostalgia factor has turned it into a cult classic, and I’m sure that there are tons of folks my age who are going to be really excited about a Sanderson Sisters deck. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the movie, I have to admit that Hocus Pocus: The Official Tarot Deck and Guidebook is really charming. The art style reminds me of the Beetlejuice cartoon (remember that?), and the explanations of each card manage to be both helpful and true to the film. The suits are reskinned as Pumpkins, Lightning, Potions, and Candles, and the deck is fully illustrated.
Britney Spears Oracle
I’ve saved the most unique deck for last. This 40-card oracle deck by Kara Nesvig features iconography of the one and only Britney Spears. The deck feels especially timely since Britney has finally won her independence. The only bummer is that the deck was created before her freedom from the conservatorship; the images only go up to 2020. The kit comes with a full-color illustrated guidebook, and the box is exceptionally well-made. I was really surprised at the quality of this deck.