The Carnival at the End of the World Tarot is “an oracle for uncertain times.” It’s an art deck exhibiting the beautiful macabre, with a haunting melody and flow to the cards, that have just a tinge of an old horror film set with circus clowns and supernatural happenings.
The deck is a tarot byproduct of an art collection by Nicolas Kahn and Richard Selesnick, who are based out of upstate New York, a region very close to my heart. The country of origin noted on the tuck box for the deck notes Taiwan, which again is close to my heart so already I’m adoring Carnival.
The above photo shows the extra card in the tarot deck. They’re based on the main characters in the Carnival at the End of the World: Doctor Falke, Count Orlofsky, and Madame Lulu. The premise of the deck is based on the cast of characters from Truppe Fledermaus, a photographic fable and art collection by the deck creators, which preceded the tarot deck. Heck, you can read a review of the art exhibition in the New York Times, here.
The Majors aren’t numbered, but you do get recognizable titles, i.e., The Fool, The Magician, High Priestess, The Empress, etc. The correspondences that the artists chose to work with for assigning characters from their work to the tarot keys is what I’d consider unconventional. For example, the elephant for The Emperor, actually based on some of Crowley’s writings I might have corresponded with The Hierophant, though I certainly see why they went with the hand forming the sign of the cross for their Key 5. The High Priestess with the antlers and veil of stars can trip up a more conventional tradition-based tarot reader if it weren’t for the card title.