Truth to be told, I am one of the very few individuals from the Western civilisation who was not infected by the Game of Thrones virus. It is not a good thing, nor a bad thing, it is just a fact.
Game of Thrones is probably one of the most popular TV series. The seventh season of Game of Thrones has been illegally downloaded or streamed more than one billion times. It is also the most popular choice for hackers to use as a shield to spread malware.
The misuse of the internet causes considerable losses to the producers. Therefore, it is not surprising that producers try to capitalise with all sort of merchandise, from underwear to Tarot deck. Once again, it is not a good thing or a bad thing, but the mere consequence of the law of cause and effect. We should stop blaming the system for our own weaknesses and corruption or corruptibility.
I am an occultist and tarotolog. Some may consider me oldfashioned; others label me conservative. I believe that the Tarot is a “vehicle of ancestral wisdom” , respectively “a picture bible of ancestral Wisdom”, as Frederic Lionel noted. It is a mean to preserve and transmit – the esoteric – knowledge, and an advanced instrument of self-development and foreseeing the future. Therefore, any alteration or deviation from these principles compromises the very notion of the Tarot.
In the last fifty years, publishing Tarot decks became an industry by itself. Hundreds of so-called Tarot decks are published on a daily basis. However, not all of them are quite Tarot decks. Most of them are Tarot-like or Tarot-based Oracles. Such decks only borrow the visual appearance and to some extent the structure of the Tarot deck, but not its esoteric content. It is nothing wrong with an Oracle. Some of these decks are well-designed, functional fortune-telling instruments.
The Game of Thrones Tarot deck is one of these Tarot-based Oracles. One of the good ones, I would like to add. The Game of Thrones Tarot deck was conceived for the targeted audience of one billion fans of the TV show. If one is a fan of the show, it is probable to purchase a Game of Thrones coffee mug, t-shirt, the action figure of her/his favourite character and ultimately, a deck of cards. It is a fancy collectable item. For that matter, the price of the deck is very attractive: about 25 USD. However, some people have complained regarding the quality of the card stock.
Traditionally, Tarot cards are printed on 350-400 gsm card stock. If I am not mistaking, this is a 310gsm line finish card stock, generally used for playing cards. It is a quality card stock, and just for the record, playing cards are designed for heavy usage. Printing in China one single deck of 78 cards cost about 21-22 USD. However, printing above 5000 copies already brings the cost down to 5-6 USD, and above 25.000 copies one can negotiate a considerably lower price. The same applies to the custom box and the printed booklet. Considering the fan base of the TV show, they probably printed a large edition. It means this is a quite advantageous business venture with a consistent margin of profit. Maybe the quality is not top-notch, but it is fair considering the price.
The bottom line is, the Game of Thrones Tarot is a well-designed package at an excellent price. The custom box is beautiful; the cards are all right, and the hardcover guidebook – aka the LWB (little white book), has 105 pages and offer a great introduction to the art of cartomancy built upon the Tarot tradition.
Although it is a dedicated product specially designed for GoT fans, it can be a good starting deck for anybody interested in cartomancy and fortune-telling.
As I mentioned, I am not a fan of the TV show, so, I can not evaluate how the characters and events from the show are integrated into the Tarot heritage.
The Minor Arcana cards, especially the so-called Numerals holds the marks of the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition. It is a good thing for those who are familiar with that classic deck and also will make it easy for a newbie to make the transition to the original Rider-Waite-Smith deck or to any other Tarot deck inspired by that deck.
There is only one thing I could not figure it out, and that is the different background colour under the name (title) of each card. It would make sense to have five colours, one for the Major Arcana and four distinctive colours for the four Suites, but it seems the colours are arbitrarily distributed among the cards. The unitary colouring would have facilitated the reading.
I like the guidebook. For all the cards there are key meanings and both, upright and reversed interpretations, but also references to the characters of the series or specific situations.
Most of the Major Arcana cards have attributed one of the leading characters of the TV show. Exceptions are The Wheel of Fortune, The Hanged Man, The Tower, The Moon, The Sun and The World.
The Minor Arcana cards beside the meaning and interpretation, include references to scenes from the show. For instance, the Seven of Swords indicates that “Samwell Tarly steals Heartbane from his father Randyll, defying his claim that Sam would never possess it”.
The interpretation of the cards is pretty much in line with the Waite – and Golden Dawn – tradition; however, it is less archaic, and it is presented in a modern re-rendering.
The guidebook also contains a short introduction to the Tarot tradition and six Tarot spreads to exercise and work. Five of these spreads are adapted to the GoT story.
I made a quick test reading, and I was quite satisfied with the result. Blunt, straightforward answers, I think right on spot.
Both GoT fans and Tarot enthusiast must have it. Recommend!