042 tim burton's nightmare before christmas tarot

Friday, December 25, 2020

When Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas Tarot was published, I jumped to purchase it immediately. I have wanted one my entire tarot career, and since it was officially licensed I thought it would be a great opportunity for the mass market to have a new popular deck. With so many people being afraid to explore their shadow selves or deck styles that are darker, this deck can bridge that gap and bring a safe place for the hesitant to explore without feeling threatened. The mood in the illustrations is great, and to my surprise the deck reads really well for witchcraft or a spiritual path. With so many inanimate objects present and the underworld appearance, many of my readings have had symbolism pertaining to the spirit world, subjects of divinatory origin and magic in practice. I think it would be very useful for someone who practices hoodoo/conjure to pick these cards up and see what the cards have to add to their lifestyle. 🔮🌙🔮⚡

The style is very similar although not as faithful to the brand as I would have wanted it to be. I think this is a project that Tim Burton himself should have tackled. Don't come for me. The artist still made a fun deck that reads successfully. I think it feels like a fan deck more so than a licensed project. There is also no explanation about the process of how this deck came to be. No context about how closely they worked with Disney or how they even convinced the company to allow the project to come to fruition. I want to know if they consulted Tim Burton while making it or if it is the visual exploration of the talented artist, Abigail Larson. I would love more information on the behind the scenes journey to publish this. With this being such a beloved film, it would have been great to know more about the decisions behind the illustrations that were published, and what they were really trying to depict with the direction they went in.

Let's look at the card backs. The scrollwork reminds me of the art made for the Haunted Mansion. A real delight to see something reminiscent of my favorite Disneyland ride on the backs of these cards. However, I don't think it makes sense. Appropriately black and purple, the colors reflected out from my soul. The art style is in digital washes rather than the scratchboard tactile feel of the Tim Burton movie. I was pleased they went with mostly black and purple. The cards are a very sturdy, very buttery matte card stock. I was surprised not to see silhouettes of any of the characters or props from the movie in the pattern. It is not immediately representational of the brand, but I'm really happy they didn't mirror the logo of the movie in the back or list it there.

The borders in the front leave lots of negative space and are uneven. The three bottom border spaces are more or less the same size while the top is very thin. The swirls of the borders cut out the corners of the illustrations and frame it. This is probably a challenging deck to trim with a razorblade, so if anybody is going to do it they would have more success with a guillotine. I'd be curious to see what it looks like with the borders trimmed to the scrollwork edges, cutting the scrollwork out completely but keeping the keywords (even if it unbalances some of the illustrations,) and without any keywords or scrollwork.

The deck offers some abstractions of the Rider-Waite Smith system even if the booklet ties it all back together for you in a way that makes sense. If you use your imagination you can read intuitively without limiting yourself by the traditional meanings. The deck lends itself to doing that successfully and to still be able to offer advice that is relevant and deeply insightful.

With such strong character concepts, I was very surprised to find still lives of inanimate subjects that have little to do with the movie in so many of the cards. The more scenic illustrations work well to set a mood, state of mind or sense of place and time. The cards with characters are portraits and not placed within context of a situation. I wish there would have been more thought put into the suit of Swords because some cards are just piles of needles with nothing else but a muted background color. Why, though?

I liked seeing repetition of elements, in some cases a build up of them. It makes this deck less situational, less dependent on the connections between people and the nuances of body language and replaces all of that with a system of pips. And yet not all minor cards are pips. The deck is not perfect by my standards of what a deck based on the film should be, but since it reads well I suppose I will go easy on them for their decision to use abstraction and pips.

Even if the scenes in the cards were not drawn from the scenes in the film, they still could have given us more of the characters we love and want to see present. I was shocked that while Jack and Sally had multiple features, Oogie Boogie, Lock, Shock, Barrel, Zero, and Santa were not as prevalent. I would also have appreciated seeing Vampire Teddy and the duck much more often. Oogie Boogie and his skull chronies deserved much more involvement in my opinion, as a scary deck based on a dark movie demands the presence of its outstanding villains.

♡ What is your most important characteristic?

Six of Wands. Shining a light on the efforts you make that are yielding desired results. Turning the advice given from the deck into motivation and a self-confidence boost. Regardless of circumstance and people involved, when you stick to what works you have a better chance to succeed.

♡ What are your strengths as a tarot deck?
King of Cups. This deck is a loyal, sensitive problem-solver. Reminding you to keep a healthy balance between the head and the heart's desires. Remain logical, compassionate and kind. Able to identify when you are too far in your feelings, brooding on what doesn't suit you to worry about. Helping you deal with your emotional turbulence, and keeping the intensity of your moods from affecting others. An endorsement in working through your issues in healthy ways. As long as you can recognize your feelings do not define you, you can live in harmony with your inner demons and eventually work through your problems.

♡ What are your limits?
Eight of Swords. The traps we set with our thoughts and desires can limit or end up hurting us if we are not careful. By nature we are fallible, delicate and when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable we can fall into feelings of uncertainty. Feeling restricted, allowing other people to control you. Acting polite when it isn't genuine can add to how we feel unhappy. Concealing or burying your feelings is probably not what is best for you to do, perhaps you can think of healthy ways to craft something while you are in a low place. Hopefully it cheers you up while you do it.

Even when we are falling apart, once we get out of our mental trenches and back in a state of mental clarity, we can stitch ourselves back together. And we do so even if the scars remain. Move on from whatever is not good for you. Don't stay in dangerous situations when you know you should get out.

♡ What are you here to teach me?
Justice. View readings as a conversation with an audience or close friend. While you discuss important events and problems you are looking for feedback and solutions. Seek to find clarity of thinking, truth and positive steps to take to fix your problems. Have a conversation with other people and consider the feedback you are given. Keep future repercussions in mind when you act. Learn from your mistakes and try not to be too hard with yourself when you make mistakes. Mistakes don't add up to anything, but efforts lead to success.

♡ How can I best learn to collaborate with you?
Six of Pentacles. Understanding that the path to success is divided in steps. The goal is not to trample or race your way there but rather to measure how your success adds up to your growth. When you carefully asses what you learn along the way you are gaining necessary experience. When it's going well, share your treasures with others. Reward the people that help you along the way for their generosity and loyalty.

♡ What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
The Chariot. Overcoming your obstacles through trial, error and effort. Progress, forward momentum even in the bleakest of days. Using personal skill and creativity to solve the problems that previously held you in a motionless state. Do what you can to keep your focus on your goals and not to get sidetracked from achieving them. Learn not to let anything stand in your way, and especially not to sweat the small stuff.

♡ Which card do you want to show off?
Ace of Wands. Good in intentions, passion and ideas, but with limited lifespan. Quick to impress and fade out. Striking while the iron is hot and feelings run high, being moved by the heat of the present moment. A torch light meant to inspire others to find positivity and meaning as they traverse difficult or challenging everyday reality.

♡ How do you see me?
Wheel of Fortune. A bit of a wildcard, full of surprises. Always changing. Going through a turning point or a big change that can leave you reeling and confused until you start getting used to it. Circumstances that change radically and never go back to being the way they used to be. Luck that changes according to the ups and downs of your life. Embracing the unexpected as it leads to decisive moments. Not caring about the consequences you face even if they are dire. A love for gambling with your safety.

♡ How do you see yourself?
The Fool. Moving forward into new beginnings. Youthful at heart and in mindset. Ready to take on a new adventure because your heart is open and your slate is clean. Refusing to listen to warnings and instead looking to find experience on your own. Learning through new experience.

I found myself being more critical of the project than was intended, but I feel strongly that with so much wealth of resources to work with they did a mediocre job representing the world and its memorable characters. I don't agree with the portrait style of illustration without a background when the world is as important to us as the subjects.

Last year I started working on a Lenormand deck that would be a great companion for this deck, but that project has yet to be completed. I'll probably end up making a deck of my own sometime in my life because I am a very big fan of the film and have my own creative input on the subject, but especially to see the characters I love in relevant situations and interacting with each other. I think that was my biggest disappointment with this deck. More on this project some other time.

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