This gift-giving season, get the Wizard’s Pets Tarot to teach a tot tarot or heck, gift it to a grown-up tarot reader. The deck came about when Pamela Steels’ granddaughter asked her to create a tarot deck for her. The Wizard’s Pets Tarot became just that deck, a Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck that’s bite-sized for smaller hands, bright and colorful to captivate attention, and all around an incredible teaching tool.
In fact, forget the kids. I’m keeping this deck for myself. It handles beautifully, shuffles beautifully, and I’ll talk about how much I appreciate the cardstock later. The vibrancy of the deck’s color palette lends well to keeping me awake and focused. There’s a lot of energy in this deck, much of it characterized as youthful, yet there’s something here for the grown-up tarot reader, too. If you’re currently working with your inner child or trying to tap in to that inner child, the Wizard’s Pets Tarot would be perfect for that.
I love the diversity and inclusion that Steele showcases in this deck, and done so in this subtle, unaffected way that you don’t even really notice it unless you’re looking for it. That’s a very difficult feat to accomplish, as many deck artists can tell you. With all the #tarotsowhite commentaries that have been going around as of late, it’s impressive to me how “ahead of the game” Steele was with this deck, as the Wizard’s Pets Tarot came out in 2014, years before #tarotsowhite took hold.
Oh hey look. I’m the High Priestess. Kidding. I also love the seamless weaving of human characters with fantastical creatures. Steele has spun to life this magical world within a tarot deck. When reading with Wizard’s Pets, I do feel like I’ve been transported to a fantastical realm (where I am a High Priestess…hehe…) and yet within this realm, extraordinarily productive insights come through. I found this deck to work quite well for divinatory readings.
I love how the cards are packaged. It’s in a study box with a magnetic flap and you can color in the interior of the box to make it your own. The cards themselves are about 6 cm x 8.5 cm in dimension, so significantly smaller than standard size tarot decks. For reference, they’re about the size of standard playing cards or Lenormand.
This is an incredibly high quality deck for its price. The box itself is a great keepsake. Each deck comes with a guidebook and a complimentary coloring book, which is adorable. I love how the coloring book adds value as a teaching tool for children to help them learn the tarot card meanings and become more acclimated with the card imagery for Wizard’s Pets.
The companion guidebook features a Foreword by Kim Huggens. I share in her feelings for the Wizard’s Pets–“Pamela has created an immersive world in the Wizard’s Pets Tarot, in which we find ourselves immediately caught up in an adventure story of great charm, pomp, action, magic, wisdom, and whatever else awaits us just around the corner.”
The only thing I would say about the guidebook is I was confused as to who it was written for. For example, the text does get technical, ascribing the deck as Rider-Waite-Smith based, mentions the Golden Dawn, and then Greater Magic versus Smaller Magic, which would be noteworthy and instructive as a guidebook addressing, well, “grown-ups,” and to be even more specific, adult readers with some background in Western esotericism. I wonder how much a 9-year-old can absorb from the text?
So I love the guidebook and as a reviewer, I would say this guidebook is chock full of insights, new material, and substantive educational content, but it’s written for someone who has some rudimentary understanding of Western esotericism already. It doesn’t necessarily have a “children’s book” feel to it. I don’t think the guidebook needs to, but I will say I would have been thoroughly amused and impressed if the guidebook was also written like a children’s book.
I will say this, however: the guidebook is comprehensive. This deck set is complete for teaching someone about tarot and how to read the cards. The guidebook covers myths, ethics, what tarot is, tarot symbolism, deck structure, and of course, the card meanings. It’s got everything and it’s easy to read, no pretense, and it’s even got question prompts to help you start your tarot journal. End to end, this box will teach you tarot and get you reading a tarot deck competently.
And then when you’re feeling playful, dive into the coloring book! I just love that the deck set comes with a coloring book. As I noted before, it’s an effective teaching tool and while you color, if you read along with the guidebook, you’ll also learn the symbolism in each card.
The deck art is evocative of children’s video games. It reminds me of those computer games I played as a child, with vibrant, whimsical animated characters and boppy background music. I love the dominant feature of dragons. I also love the remarkably balanced depictions in the card imagery, noting that there isn’t a coat of sugar and message dilution in, say, Death, The Devil, or Tower.
Whether you’re gifting a child his or her first tarot deck or you’re looking for a deck that helps you connect to your own inner child, the Wizard’s Pets Tarot is one of the best for either purpose. There’s also this impressive balance of masculinity and femininity in the deck that I find a lot of tarot decks intended for children miss out on. Typically, the easiest way to “soften” a tarot deck is to literally soften the colors and go pastel. Steele does not do that here. These colors are bold, gender neutral, and universally appealing.
There is a bit of Celtic and pagan influence throughout the designs, albeit subtle. You can see it more distinctly here in the card back design, which is reversible. Here, I love the nod to the Tree of Life. There’s also something calming about the blue-green hues.
While the Majors featured a cast of fantastical creatures and mythical folk, the imagery in the Minors are more human, with the exception of the Aces and courts. All the courts feature dragons, and color-coded dragons at that, while the Aces feature a dragon’s hand (paw?).
I love the details and the deck creator’s personal touch on top of the classical RWS imagery. See the face in the tree of the Four of Cups, or the precise interaction in the Six of Cups, or how the fellow in the Nine of Cups seems to have lost some weight.
Card imagery here is rich, detailed, and makes for a great RWS starter deck. Reading tarot at a children’s birthday party? This would be a great deck to bring. Aww, look at that Queen of Swords dragon!
What I really appreciate about The Wizard’s Pets Tarot is it isn’t just for those interested in delving into divinatory practices. As a learning tool, this card deck is great for helping young children stimulate their creativity, develop that creativity through story-telling. Have them pull cards at random and then narrate a story based on the symbolism and imagery on the cards.
Such exercises, when done frequently, strengthen the child’s ability to express ideas and concepts in narratives, as narratives are the best tool for communication. The deck can help strengthen a child’s communication skills.
It can also be used to get a child to talk to you about a problem he or she is experiencing. Perhaps let them pick out the cards from the deck that the child says represents how he or she is feeling. Then the child doesn’t need to get into the unsavory details, especially the ones he or she doesn’t want to share with you, an adult. But as a tarot reader, with that card the child has pulled, or even cards, now you have a place to start in terms of figuring out what is wrong with the child.
Working with the deck also helps me get a better sense of the child’s personality and how that child’s mind works. Pick a card and show it to him or her. Ask the child what the card means. What is the story there? How the child expresses the meaning and interpretation of the card will reveal so much about that child.
Okay, back to reviewing the deck. I love the art here. It’s so happy and yet seriously detailed. Look at the scales on the dragons, or the lines for the water ripples in the Queen of Cups.
In the above close-up, you can see the quality of the cardstock and canvas. These cards are sturdy, will stand up to wear and tear, and you can tell were produced with so much care, attention to details, and love.
After shuffling the deck and going in for my first reading with a one-card draw, I pulled the Three of Cups. I love this imagery here, the seashells in the women’s hair to remind the reader of the elemental Water in this card, and look at the detailing in the bottom right corner, the eyes looking out from the carved pumpkin.
Per the guidebook, the Three of Cups depicts true friendships, joy, and celebration. The guidebook, by the way, also teaches you how to read with reversals. For the Three of Cups, four questions are presented for thought:
- What brings you joy?
- What are you celebrating?
- What talent and abilities are you not using?
- Are you doing anything to excess?
So, dear reader and seeker, I present those four questions to you today. What perfect inquiries for self-reflection this holiday season!
Steele’s approach to tarot resonates with my own, almost in full parallel and alignment. In the guidebook, for example, she writes that “Tarot is not exactly for fortune telling, although there are some readers who use it to tell fortunes. It was designed to help you study life, know yourself and give you insights and understandings of the social and spiritual aspects of society and the world we live in.”
I have both of her decks, the Steele Wizard Tarot and this one, Wizard’s Pets. Considering both, I would say Steele has a first wave classic-old-school video game aesthetic. One of her fortes is caricature and you can see that in the Wizard’s Pets.
As for the deck creator’s background, Steele was born in Oklahoma, daughter to an oilfield worker, and dedicated much of her life to the visual arts. She’s lived all across the different regions of North America and has currently settled in Canada.
The Wizard’s Pets Tarot is an easy favorite for inner child reflection, for reliving or gaining deeper insights into memories of your own childhood or past, and would be my pick for a child’s first tarot deck.
Get a free digital tarot reading with the Wizard’s Pets Tarot on Annikin Divination Systems, linked here. You can also join the Facebook group to connect with other fans of the deck and learn more about it direct from the deck creator herself.