Mystical Medleys Tarot by Gary Hall is a quirky homage to vintage cartooning. If the characters in the classic RWS tarot deck got time-warped into a 1930s Silent Era Rubber Hose comic strip, here’s what you’d get.
I love that this deck project began with The Devil card, inspired by Baphomet, which you can see in the above photo, top left corner. The two bonuses, Happy Squirrel and Sad Squirrel, shown below, are cheeky and delightful. The oppositional mirroring of the trees in the background is adorable, along with the sun and the cloud.
Blessings of an acorn in hand result in a Happy Squirrel, while having to fight for your bare minimum needs results in Sad Squirrel. Aww…
Key 0: The Fool card, which you can spot below, takes inspiration from Pinocchio; many of the Majors are inspired by Fleischer’s Bimbo’s Initiation and Warner’s Merrie Melodies. Hall himself is a former animator for Disney. In Mystical Medleys, he blends his occult and gothic cartoon style with the 1920s to 1930s animation aesthetic.
The guidebook is wonderful, by the way. It describes the Major Arcana cards as themes taking center stage– life’s big moments. These are the thresholds that we must pass, the misfortunes and the triumphs that mark the pivotal points of our narrative arc.
The Minor Arcana show the in-between scenes– the everyday lessons we learn, the people we encounter, and the decisions we have to make on the daily. And the way those everyday lessons are depicted in Mystical Medleys– the Day of the Dead inspired skull figures in the Three of Cups, the way buildings and objects have faces, expressions, are emotive, even the little details like the sun and moon shaking their fists at each other in the Eight of Cups where the ladybug has two gloved hands on the walking stick– every viewing of these cards will put a smile of nostalgia on your face.
The deck comes with a full-colored hardcover guidebook of card meanings that tucks conveniently into the box. For the Seven of Cups, you see “a cabinet of curiosities, a world of whims and wondrous wealth. All of this stands before you and it can all be yours. Take your time and choose wisely. Use your imagination and creativity to the fullest, but don’t get caught with your head in the clouds!”
In that top bar of blank caption space on the Minor Arcana, I might write in keywords. That would both fill in the blank space up there and also up the deck’s functionality. I do like the very subtle ink smudges around the white margins, which help to pull off that convincing vintage look.
Hall is such a talented illustrator with a whimsical sense of humor. Also, wouldn’t any number of these tarot card illustrations make really cool t-shirts and merch?? Hall’s illustration style, especially here in Mystical Medleys, lends itself perfectly to t-shirts, notebook and journal cover designs, and phone cases.
Psst… I did see on the @mysticalmedleys Instagram feed that there are throw pillows with this artwork! I LOVE that! I’m trying to figure out if there’s a room in my house with an aesthetic that will lend itself well to vintage cartoon inspired tarot art throw pillows.
How adorable is that pyramid-head character that had starred in Key 0: The Fool card and is now in the Three of Pentacles and Eight of Pentacles!
I also think this is a great beginner’s deck, or as a learning tool for studying the RWS, especially if you use the top blank bars of the cards to write in keywords.
Don’t the card backs kinda remind of you of the card backs from Tarot Pink? I love the Illuminati pyramid with the vintage cartoon eye. By the way, this is one of those great decks to read reversals with. It’s not just a cute and quirky deck– there’s a lot of substance here, and when I read through the guidebook, that was made apparent. There’s a depth to the compositions of these cards that I appreciate.
Gary Hall’s Mystical Medleys is published by Liminal 11, so you know the production value is exemplary. By the way, Liminal has done such a magnificent job in such a short amount of time to establish itself as a leading publisher in the tarot and oracle deck market. We just say “Liminal 11” and immediately you know the level of quality you can expect. It’s truly amazing.
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received this deck from the publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck and book set.