Housewives Tarot - A Domestic Divination Kit by Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum
Review by K. Frank Jensen

If you would like to order this deck, click here.

It is a relief when a quite different and unusual tarot deck shows up in the endless flood of self-important tarot products. The Housewives Tarot - A Domestic Divination Kit is such a deck. The package alone is promising, looking like the packing for a typical household product of the 1940ís or 50ís. It could be a pack of tea or coffee, a special soap product or even a pack of margarine. The relatively big box (5 inches by 3.5 inches by 3 inches) is made of heavy cardboard and covered with a check-patterned paper carrying the necessary information about the product, along with a portrait of the happy housewife who hold a card in her hand. One part of the box reads: "WITHIN THIS BOX LIE THE SECRETS OF DOMESTIC EMPOWERMENT."

So, what is that secret? Opening up the box, the happy housewife will find that the inside reveals a filing box with file cards and index cards, held in a tilted position. The index cards keep the tarot Majors from the Minors and an instruction book is also stored behind one. The frames around the cards are colored differently for each suit and the suitmarks are dinnerware (Pentacles), martini glasses (Cups), mops/brooms (Wands). The Swords are edged or pointed instruments, like pairs of scissors or knives.

All cards consist of collage art based upon advertising illustrations as they were used in ladies weekly magazines in the mid-20th century. Now these illustrations all appear very funny, but in those days, it was the way household products were promoted and sold. One can wonder if nowadays advertising styles will appear just as ridiculous in 50 years? In a way, they already do now.

Anyway, the nostalgic art is quite entertaining, and, as the box states, "Shuffle the deck to create the recipe of your future." The 96 page booklet tells how to do just that. The description of each of the cards is just as funny as the rest of this household product.

This is not the first time we have seen a tarot deck disguised as a box of recipe cards. US Games Systemís "Epicurean Tarot" was a box of recipe cards to use for cooking. How much more would I have appreciated that deck had it been illustrated in this way, instead of the manufacturerís endless use of inferior Waite-Smith remakes.

Luckily, The Housewives Tarot - A Domestic Divination Kit  is a much more interesting product and, amazingly, it costs less than $15.

You can see more cards from the deck here.

If you would like to order this deck, click here.

K. Frank Jensen is the founder and editor of Manteia, a now-defunct tarot magazine. For his significant contributions to the tarot community, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Tarot Society at this year's World Tarot Congress. He has one of the greatest tarot collections in the world.

Review © 2004 K. Frank Jensen
Page © 2005 Diane Wilkes