The Lovecraft Tarot

This deck is a theme deck. The cards are all based on characters, places and monsters from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, the horror writer extraordinaire. He never achieved great literary fame in his lifetime; most of his work was published in pulp horror magazines like "Weird Tales." Lovecraft's stories are somewhat difficult to describe. Things start off looking normal on the surface, but there is a sense of foreboding in the air. Terrible things - monsters, evil plans, wizardry, magick, and evil gods - are lurking beneath the normal veneer, and before the story is over, they will be unleashed on an unsuspecting or sometimes knowing populace. I had never read Lovecraft before, but the images intrigued me so much that I bought an anthology of Lovecraft stories shortly after receiving the deck.

The images in this deck will be familiar to Lovecraft fans. Cthulhu, The Necronomicon, and Wilbur Whatley, among others, are represented in this deck. The artist took great liberties with the tarot deck structure, rearranging the Major Arcana and basically eliminating the court cards as a separate grouping, although he did maintain four suits of fourteen cards each. The Major Arcana are as follows:

0 - Nodens (The Sun) 9 - Shoggoth (The Lovers) 18 - Tsathoggua (The Devil)
1 - Cthulhu (The Emperor) 10 - Cthulhu Awakens (Judgment) 19 - Night-Gaunt (The Moon)
2 Nyarlathotep (The Magician) 11 - Yig, The Serpent God(Justice) 20 - Mi-Go (The Chariot)
3 - Shub-Niggurath (The Empress) 12 - Old One (Tower) 21 - Servitors of the Outer Gods (The Wheel of Fortune)
4 - Yog-Sothoth (The High Priestess) 13 - Hounds of Tindalos (Strength)  
5 - The Deep One (The Hanged Man) 14 - Spawn of Cthulhu (The World)  
6 - Great Race of Yith (Temperance) 15 - Byakhee (The Star)  
7 - Hastuir - (The Hermit) 16 - Azathoth (The Fool)  
8 - Ithaqua (The Hierophant) 17 - Ghoul (Death)  

The suits are:

The suits are designed to be specific in divination.

The art in this deck is done in "ebony and cyan blue." While the scenes are clear and easy to see, the borders of the cards are so dark that the titles of the cards are very difficult to decipher. The art is good, and the creatures depicted put one in mind of H. R. Geiger's work, though they do not make use of mechanical parts as Geiger is wont to do. The cards are larger than average, measuring 4 1/4" X 5 1/2". Each card has a central figure surrounded by a border. The upper left corner of the border has a symbol which indicates the suit or whether the card is a Major or Minor. The card's title is in the bottom border. The title identifies the character, thing or place depicted in the scene. The card number is in the upper right hand border. As previously mentioned, the entire border is very dark and it is difficult to make out anything in it, whether symbol, number or title. The card backs feature a picture of Lovecraft.

I have only read a few Lovecraft stories so far. The artist did a good job depicting most of the characters I have read about, though some were not as I had imagined them from my reading. There is a 10 page booklet for this deck which provides brief upright interpretations for each card. The deck was not designed to be used with reversals. Despite the horrific quality of the images, the interpretations are not particularly negative. They are not traditional, however, and some familiarity with Lovecraft's work would make this deck much easier to use. There is a seven card spread designed for this deck in the booklet.

I recommend this deck for Lovecraft fans and for those who like dark , horrific images. This is a theme deck, and as with most theme decks, those unfamiliar with the theme (in this case, Lovecraft's stories), will not find the deck very user friendly. The images alone do not give much clue to the card meaning unless one knows the story the scene is taken from. Even then, one will have to refer to the booklet to get the intended interpretation in many cases. The deck comes in a two piece box which is larger than the cards, and has a cotton pad to prevent the deck moving around too much.

Images copyright 1997, D.L. Hutchinson. Top: Cthulu (Emperor) Bottom: Whately Farmhouse (4 of Sites)

More information on H. P. Lovecraft

The Lovecraft Tarot Deck
ISBN: 0-9659433-0-5
Available from:
Mythos Books
218 Hickory Meadow lane
Poplar Bluff, MO 63901-2160
(573) 785-7710
The Lovecraft Tarot Web Site - you can see more cards from this deck here as well

Images copyright 1997 by D.L. Hutchinson

This page is Copyright 1997 by Michele Jackson