Today, I'm showing off the Zombie Tarot, created by the same fine people that make the Housewives Tarot (one of my favorite decks). Both decks come in lovely recipe box style boxes and have a wonderful humorous sensibility. Like the Housewives Tarot, the Zombie Tarot is set in the fantasy version of the 1950s created by Hollywood. But if Housewives depicts the world of Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best, the Zombie Tarot harks to every B-movie directly and indirectly about Cold War fears and anxiety about The Bomb.
A quick look through the Major Arcana shows a story old horror movie fans will find familiar - opening scene, The Fool - a man walks to a graveyard with flowers for a loved ones grave - not noticing the disturbed remains and the walking dead following behind him. Uh oh! The Magician shows the scientist creating the disease that starts all this.... the Hierophant is a TV showing emergency broadcast instructions, and on we go until Judgment is finally delivered with a dropped nuke, and the World depicts a happy 50s family living 'normal life' - in an underground bunker on the Moon, while the Earth explodes in the distance.
The Minor Arcana of the Zombie Tarot most uses the usual names - Cups (pictured as neatly sliced skulls cradling tasty, tasty brains), Wands (bones and limbs which tend to get yanked off in Zombie World), Swords (shown as knives and other weapons for fighting the brain-munching horde), and Hazards (Pentacles - depicted as a 'hazard' symbol, and showing some interesting attempts to use the Zombies rather than being eaten by them. The practicality of living in a world overrun with animated corpses).
Zombie stories are, I think, about how things fall apart - they hook into our fear that unseen things are happening that are going to shred the facade of normalcy and civilization we take for granted. There are two horrors in the zombie genre - the first is that Death itself has stopped working (how is that for turning a fear of death on its head?) but not in the sense of eternal life. Rather, zombies are animated meat with a chronic hunger for flesh - our dead loved ones don't rest in peace. Instead, what's physically left of them shambles around, dropping rotting flesh all along the way, and try to mindlessly eat us.
The other horror is the ruin of civilization itself - you might get eaten, sure - but you might also just as easily wind up killed by a living person because all the social structure has disappeared and everyone's creating their own rules as they go.
Little wonder the Tower is one of those cards in Tarot that makes people nervous! In the Zombie Tarot, the lightning has struck.... Tower moments are always sudden mayhem. There you minding your own business and ZAP, it all falls apart. In this depiction of the Tower, the walls hold, but these folks, securely thinking they are sheltered away from the Zombie Apocalypse, suddenly find their fortress breached - the zombies are here, they're hungry, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Things fall apart, and your security measure are useless against the forces of chaos. Scarrrry, eh? I don't think it's a coincidence that zombie tales are popular right now - they feed into current fears that things are, indeed, falling apart and our old fortresses are more fragile than they seem.
The book I'm sharing today is The Tarot Activity Book, by Andy Matzner who is a clinical social worker and psychotherapist as well as tarot reader. This book uses Tarot in concert with various journaling ideas, 'conversation starters' and ideas for therapeutic art projects. The result is a treasure house of ways to use Tarot in a different way than divination for self exploration, growth and healing. Fair warning - while this book does not require any previous knowledge of Tarot, neither will it directly teach a beginner anything specifically about Tarot. Most exercises involve going through a deck and choosing a card or cards as a part of the activity, by using visual cues rather than 'standard' meanings. I honestly think that's a pretty great way to learn Tarot - but don't look for key words or even any explanation about what a particular card 'means'.
The activity I chose to try with the Zombie Tarot was Poetry Time. Very simply, pull a card at random, and use it as inspiration for a poem. An alternative suggestion is to use the title of a Major Arcana card, spelled out vertically, so that the letters become the first line of the poem about the card.
I'm no poet, so excuse the raw (brainns!!!!!) effort here. The card I pulled is No. 6: The Lovers.
Til Death, we vowed,
Hardly believing such limits truly exist
Even as the world faltered around us.
Look at us now.
Our love perfumed with roses and rot,
Visions of the one I once adored
Even as you decay in my arms.
Relish the taste of my beating heart,
Sweet gift I gave you long ago.
~ Lynda H
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