New Orleans Voodoo Tarot                     Review by Michele Jackson

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This is a "theme" deck, and the theme is New Orleans Voodoo. The deck consists of 79 cards: 22 majors, a "wild" card and 56 Minors. The trumps are called "Roads," the 40 pips are called "Spirits," and the 16 court cards are called "Temples." The four suits are are based on what the author calls the "four nations." Per the author, these "nations" are different types of Voodoo traditions and they roughly correspond to the four elements. The four nations are:

Although Santeria is an entirely different religion, this disparity is explained away by saying that it would be disrespectful not to include the names and some information on the orishas or spirits of Santeria. How thoughtful. The Major Arcana have all been renamed. They are:

0 The World Egg VIII (or XI) Possession XVI Deluge
I Dr. John IX Couche XVII Z'Etoile
II Marie Laveau X The Market XVIII Magick Mirror
III Ayizana XI (or VIII) Secret Societies XIX Gros Bon Ange
IV Loco XII Zombies XX Ancestors
V Master of the Head XIII Les Morts XXI Carnival
VI Marassa XIV Ti Bon Ange Wild Card/Les Barons
VII Dance Courur Le Mardi Gras  

The court cards are also different:

The Ace through ten of each suit have scenes and a symbol for the suit in the upper left border.

Glassman's art style is unique. Her figures are willowy in body and feature triangular faces with prominent cheekbones and deep set eyes, which range from single line slits to feathery boas. The colors used are intense and appear to be from paintings. The images are powerful and rather haunting. I like Glassman's style, but I doubt that it will appeal to everyone.

The book that accompanies this deck gets off to a bad start with the following opening sentence: "The procession of images which is the Tarot wound through Europe under the stewardship of the Gypsies, who carried with them the arcane knowledge of the great mystery schools of the Egyptians." Somehow, I make it past this point without throwing the book into the fireplace, but this initiated a nagging doubt about the veracity of anything else I read in this book. That said, the book provides some background information on Voodoo as practiced in New Orleans. The author is careful to note that this book provides "one" understanding of Voodoo, vice "the" understanding. This deck incorporates the Qabalistic Tree of Life into its structure and a chapter is devoted to "Voodoo and the Western Mystery Tradition." It provides some brief background information on the Tree of Life and the Golden Dawn. I found them two strange bedfellows, but I leave the reader to come to his or her own conclusions. A chapter describing each card follows. A black and white picture of the card is provided along with some background information on the loa, saint, person or scene depicted. A sentence for contemplation and a short paragraph with the divinatory interpretation are also provided. I do not know enough about Voodoo to comment on his assignments, but the author sometimes finds himself apologizing , and telling us that he has to emphasize certain characteristics of the loa and minimize others in order to make them fit.

I could recommend this deck for those interested in Voodoo, but I am not comfortable with the veracity of the information provided in this book. The artist has written a book of her own for the deck, but has not yet found a publisher. I think her book may provide a better picture of the religion and the deck. This deck takes a lot of liberties with the tarot in an effort to make Voodoo fit. While the box trumpets "...strong parallels between the Waite and Thoth Tarots, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the Voodoo tradition as it is practiced in New Orleans," I do not share this viewpoint. I do not think one can take their knowledge of the Golden Dawn based decks and apply it to this deck out of the box, despite the author's claims to the contrary. I would recommend this deck primarily for collectors. There are better sources for information on both Voodoo and Tarot.

See more cards from the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot

You can get an on-line reading from this deck here.

You can visit the artist's botanica here.

If you would like to purchase this book/deck set, click here.

This page is Copyright 1997 by Michele Jackson