Neko's House Tarot
Review by Diane Wilkes

Even relative strangers know I am a feline fanatic, so I was thrilled to discover this adorable Japanese deck. The packaging is rather unique--the deck comes in a long aluminum box with a lid you open from the top. The length of the box allows the cards and the plump white booklet (which is all in Japanese and therefore of no use to me, despite its relative weightiness) to stand upright (instead of lying flat). This allows for very easy extrication of the cards.

These cat images are cute and clever and will win over any cat-lover, from the cocked furry head of the Fool setting out on the road to the Land of Catnip to the plump longhair who sits at the center of a circle of flowers and leaves. While she seems serene enough, her pose indicates that, though she is resting in (as opposed to on) her laurels, she can leap if the situation demands it.

The Empress is a study in elegance, paw on hip as she lounges in her ruffled dress and crown of flowers. Her mate, The Emperor, reminds me of my own furry ruler, an orange long-hair that clutches a scepter with the air of one who knows how to use it, yet the glint in his eye shows he also likes to have a good time. The Bill Clinton of Cats, perhaps?

The Hierophant is a pure black cat whose green eyes pierce you, even as his furry limbs are outstretched in a welcoming gesture. He has a radar sense of knowing whether you studied your catechism or not. The Lovers shows two identical kittens with their heads together as an angel of love blesses them in the background. This card is so cute it would make a dog yap, "Awwww."

Strength (above) shows the Lion being tamed not by a lamb, but an orange tabby, and the relationship seems one of mutual respect--much like my relationship with my cat. The fire in the background reminds me of the time he bit the wire of my husband's computer and burned out the motherboard...but let's not return to that furnace in time.

The Hermit cat is dressed in a white robe in the darkness, his lantern offering a ray of hope in an uncertain world (though he may just be searching for a mouse). The Hanged Man is the only card that has a human figure in it. He hangs from a tree while the cat perches from the same branch. You get the feeling that this card says something about the relationship between a cat and his subject...

The Sun card depicts two cats of different stripes sleeping together under a bright round orb. They are at their most natural state, naked to the world, feeling completely safe and warm at rest in a green garden. The gentle radiance of this card makes it one of the few versions of the Sun that I can fully embrace.

Sadly, the Minor Arcana are pip cards, and are designed for artistic, not esoteric, impact. They are pretty enough, with the Wands against a background of fire, Cups against a radiant white light, Swords, against a hill of steaming sand, and Coins are placed in front of sheathes of wheat. The Cups are decorated with cats, the hilts of the Swords are cat-shaped, and the Coins are embossed with "The Cat's Tarot: In God we Trust" as well as the image of a crowned cat and the word "Heartbury" at the bottom. In order to make out that last word, I had to bring out my special tarot magnifying glass--it's not that easy to decipher!

The Court Cards are very cute, but don't have the same piquant power of the Major Arcana. I love the imposing figure of the rather large gray cat squeezed into her Queen of Wands robes, though and the Knight of Coins is quite the picture of fashion in his tortoise-shell armor. 

The cards are slightly longer than standard tarot cards, and are reversible. The cards themselves are flexible, made of average cardstock and easy to shuffle. While it is disappointing not to be able to read the companion booklet, the cards are fairly self-explanatory. Another problematic Japanese-English translation problem occurs, though, on the Chariot, which is spelled "Chriot." Also, the numbering is odd, in that both the Majors and Minors are titled with Roman numerals.

I recommend this deck to cat enthusiasts like myself (who can live with the non-illustrated pips because the Majors are so irresistible!). It's not inexpensive or easy to find, but, like Morris, worthwhile because of (not in spite of) his finicky ways.

  Yes No
78 cards X  
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI X  
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana X  
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Rods/Wands, Cups/Chalices, Swords, Pentacles/Disks) X  
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions X  
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Smaller than standard                                             X
Larger than standard
(approx. 5" X 2 3/4")                                             

Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes
On loan from the Brigit Horner Collection