My children are being raised by a witch mother. The type who has them pull tarot cards for the first day of school, hides crystals under their mattress, talks to spirits with them & yells at the monsters to go the fuck away when one silly enough to bother them comes to creep. It was only a matter of time until I found a tarot deck for them to explore & play with. The Wizard’s Pets Tarot by Pamela Steele is a fantastical take on the Rider Waite Smith deck with a guidebook by Bonnie Cehovet. The cards are poker sized, in other words, easy for small human hands to hold. The set comes with a sturdy treasure box with a magnetic closure & a coloring book with each card. The quality of the cards, treasure box & books is top notch.

The art of this deck pulls from what I think of as High Fantasy – the type of fantasy heralded by Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, Peter Beagle, Gary Gygax. Ya know, Grey bearded Wizards & clever small folk & the prophesied hero with their magical sword battling against monstrous malign forces. These cards remind me of the animation of Ralph Bakshi as well, who made one of the first movie adaptations of the Lord of the Rings in the late 1970s. Fantasy stories like those were my favorite as a kid, as well as the miscellaneous Dungeons & Dragons books my dad kept around. I spent thousands of hours pouring over Monster Manuals. “Deities & Demigods,” the handbook outlining pantheons & mythological forces from our world and those beyond, was my first introduction to the world of myth. I was born a nerd; my parents met as teenagers playing Dungeons & Dragons in the early 80s.

I find comfort in that style of art. The illustrations of Steele’s deck hit that nostalgic part of my heart. The round friendly faces, the bright colors, the smiling suns & trees & flowers all feel like the good parts of childhood.

But this deck explicitly is a Rider Waite Smith  deck; the symbols are the same, the layout of the cards is the same, the color choices & designs of the cards. I think that’s a wonderful choice. If you know RWS, you know Wizard’s Pets. If you don’t like RWS, or if you are a curmudgeonly type, this might not be the deck for you. The Wizard’s Pets Tarot is ideal for children interested in tarot, especially this set with its treasure box & coloring book. This deck is also for big kids like me, who grew up with Frodo & Gandalf.

You can Purchase the Wizard’s Pets Tarot at