New decks: Discordian Deck and Fantastic Menagerie Tarot


For this week, the random number generator gives me a choice between:

I’ve decided to go with two of them: the Discordian Tarot (which is really an oracle) and the Fantastic Menagerie Tarot. I never used the Discordian Deck before, so I’m curious to explore it. Since I was afraid that I would find it too difficult to read with, or too boring in its imagery, I picked the Fantastic Menagerie Tarot to go with it. That way, I can participate in both the tarot and oracle exchanges, too!

As before, here are some initial impressions:

Discordian Deck: I printed my copy on slightly thicker paper (120g/m² or something?) from the PDF that is linked here. Therefore, shuffling is not as smooth as that of thicker decks, but the deck is very small and light-weight. When I took it off the shelf today, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to read with it at all, but once I examined the system a bit more closely, I found it to be quite intriguing and well-structured. I’m curious how it will actually read for me.

Since this deck doesn’t seem to be widely known in tarot circles, here’s some more information about it. The deck has five suits (Sweets, Booms, Pungents, Prickles, and Oranges) that are related to the five senses, with ten cards per suit (five of the ten are illustrated with something beyond the mere number of suit symbols). In addition to that, there are 23 trumps, most of which come in pairs of contradiction (e.g. The Initiate, illustrated with a hand holding a book open to read from it and explained as “one who seeks knowledge” and The Illuminate, illustrated with a hand writing into a book and explained as “one who dispenses knowledge”). The deck has been published in (at least) three versions, all of which may be freely copied, embellished, and distributed (see the Decks page for more details).

As the name of the deck suggests, it is related to Discordianism, which I won’t try to summarize here. Among other interesting things, it comes with its own calendar (today is Prickle-Prickle, 70th Bureaucracy, 3177). From what I’ve seen when I followed some Discordian trails across the internet today, people who are into Discordianism also often seem to be into hacking/computer geekery, non-mainstream sexuality/gender, and other kinds of weirdness. Sounds like good company to me, even though I’m not exactly one of them (then again, I’m not exactly not one of them, either).

Anyhow, even after a brief consideration of the deck and some googling of discordian-related stuff, I already think it will be an interesting week. And if I find that I can’t read very well with the deck, I can always read some more about Discordianism…

The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot features images from 19th century French illustrator, J.J. Grandville. The website for the deck tells me that he was “[k]nown as the ‘Father of Surrealism’,” which makes me think the two decks might be an interesting combination.

I usually don’t like clothed animals much (sold my Tarot of the Animal Lords because of that), but these are done in a style that makes them look pretty readable. In fact, I’ve used the deck before a few times and it worked well for me. I don’t like all of the colorings and I’m not so much into the busier cards (e.g. Emperor, King of Coins, Strength, Four of Coins) because the different creatures and surfaces seem to blur into each other on them. A lot of the cards are delightfully quirky, though, and I think they’ll be fun to read with.


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