The Santa Muerte Tarot is an amazing deck filled with images of Our Lady of the Holy Dead herself and other skeletal icons from the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition. Mexican folklore celebrates death as part of life and this deck works with that philosophy. The story behind this folk saint really enhances the mistique of the cards but I have to say that I've found using the deck hard going. It’s a deck that I think can be used all year round but clearly fits so well at this time of the year with Halloween and the Day of the Dead festival. From a personal perspective though I think I would need to work with this deck for a much longer period to really understand and connect with its messages. It is RWS influenced but with enough variation to challenge the reader to spend time studying and using their intuition rather than trotting out the same old cloned images and repetitive meanings.
Stand Out/Favourite Cards
The bright red of the mexican hats stands out as a joyful and celebratory scene in the 6 of Wands, even thought the heads they sit atop are skulls. The restrictive and stagnating nature of the 4 of Pentacles is depicted in an original manner with the superior being a decaying bride. Turn the Tower card around and at each angle you will see another part of the image, someone else lost in the chaos and confusion of the maze. The Chariot looks like a parade of the Day of the Dead bringing the souls that have passed on back for one more visit.
The 4 of Cups shows the waters of emotion literally pouring out and pooling around the heart that's fallen on the floor. The Judgement card looks like the kind of scary assessment that can only be done by a family that you wouldn't want to be involved with. The 8 of Swords looks like a defensive message and when you look closely, they're fending off a skull shaped haze. The 2 of Cups shows just how well this artist has done with the deck, showing two skeletons in an embrace and managing to evoke a feeling of love.
The four 10's from the suits are all depicted as butterflies. It gives a different take on the traditional RWS meanings. What's really clever is the lower wings of each butterfly is represented by different skeletal parts. The Swords have skulls perhaps referring to the head chakra, feet for the grounding in the Pentacles, the rib cage for the Cups, where the heart would be protected and the pelvis for the root chakra.
The folklore and legends that this deck shows are worth looking into further, La Santa Muerte is a folk saint, not ordained by the Catholic church. She is known to support those on the outskirts of society who may not feel welcomed by the traditional religions. She is a little bit like St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. However, where St Jude will only petition God to assist you in prayers for the greater good, Santa Muerte will help with any call for assistance, such as protection during a drug deal or other criminal or amoral activities. Success afforded by La Santa Muerte could clearly lead to a darker path. Be careful what you pray for or whom you pray to.
This is the best deck for…anyone who is keen to dive into the history and folklore that surrounds the subject of this decks images. If you like colour and lots of symbology, this would be a great deck for you.
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