While waiting for The Hayworth Tarot to review, I did some research and quickly discovered that the deck is based on the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale http://www.welcometonightvale.com/ (WTNV). With 168 bi-monthly episodes, the podcast has been running for eights years strong and looks like it has become a full universe unto itself (with merch too!). I must have been living under a rock for the last eight years because somehow I managed to completely miss this amazing gem. Being based on a very specific fictional universe, I was very curious to review this deck cold. I have to say this deck does not disappoint.
Clearly a fan deck, my standard fear is that the imagery would be lost on someone who didn’t have any reference points. I had a whole different experience entirely. This deck reads wonderfully completely on it’s own. The more I stare at the cards, the deeper the images and meanings get. I could seriously write a full page review on each card. I know that familiarity with WTNV will just enhance the cards and add even more meaning to the artist’s choices in imagery. I am super curious to figure out what the holes in the Pentacles suit are all about!
Okay, so let’s be real. The creep factor is strong with this deck. It’s certainly not a deck for everyone, but I LOVE it. For me it hits that very real part of the dark shadows we keep deep down inside. Most of us, well actually all of us, are afraid of our inner dark and usually don’t like to confront it. This deck is a wonderful challenge to do just that. Flipping through this deck, your first reaction to many of the cards is to throw them down and go hide under the covers.
But if you actually sit with the cards for a minute you see that part of that initial fear is because they resonate so deeply with your shadows. Whenever I do summon up the courage to face my inner dark I’m often surprised to find that it’s more like a hurt little child than anything else. It’s been neglected, shunned, and locked away because it is other and somewhere along the lines we decided that being other was bad. This deck gives your shadows a voice and a platform to start working through some of that pain and start healing.
I love decks that add to my knowledge of each card as a whole and this deck delivers nuances that I’ve never seen before:
Knight of Pentacles – You’re connected and completely give from your core, but you also know what that costs you. This is the card that really drew me to this deck. I’m a big empath and a huge plant person. I’ve certainly felt this way many times before. Connecting and giving to others so deeply can be as exhilarating as growing vines from your core, but it also does have a cost. We usually like to look at the pretty side and not acknowledge when we’re being eaten alive by what we’re giving. This is not to say that giving so deeply is always bad, but be smart about it and take care of yourself too. It’s all about balance.
6 of Cups – Not all childhood nostalgia is happy and nice. A lot of us have sludge that we try to hold onto and reshape into something good rather than just letting it go.
2 of Swords – Sometimes that willful indecision is good and you need a break to rest and think. Sometimes you’re just being stubbornly blind which serves you about as well as stabbing your own eyes out.
Justice – For most of us our darkest nightmares are actually bringing all our actions and thoughts to light and being vulnerable to others.
Death – This is surprisingly one of my new favorite Death cards of all time – completely blank. There are many beautiful cards that I love with roses growing out of skulls, animals decaying and returning to the earth to give nutrients to something new. Yes, Death is about the cycle and rebirth, but it’s also about Death and change and that’s scary for a lot of us. What’s scarier, utterly unnerving, and more thrilling than the unknown?
Real World Representation
This deck does a good job with diversity. While most of the people in this deck are distorted, disfigured, burnt, melting, or zombified; the imagery draws from the wide array of the human kaleidoscope. There will never be the perfect deck that every person sees themselves in, but there is no clear gravitation or focus on any one spectrum of humanity. This deck proves that nightmares come in all shapes and sizes and we all have dark parts of ourselves we’re afraid of.
Cards are the standard 2.75” x 4.75”. They come packaged in a velvet bag with an embroidered Welcome to Night Vale insignia. No book or pamphlet is included.
My only critique of this deck is the cardstock. It’s on the thinner side and makes the deck feel a little cheap, but they shuffle well. I’m a bit concerned with durability as I will definitely be using this deck often. I also wish there was a book. It has been a fun journey to get to know this deck without influence, but I would love to hear the author’s interpretation and take on each card.
One thing I know for sure though, I’m listening to episode 1 of WTNV tonight! If this deck holds true, then I know I’m going to be a HUGE fan.