“A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale.”
For those who may not recognize some of the most popular lines of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast (go have a listen!), WTNV is a popular podcast written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. It is filled with surreal story lines built around a radio host, Cecil, who may or may not be a figment of his own imagination reporting on the daily news of his creepy hometown, Night Vale, all the while falling in love with a newly arrived scientist shaking things up, Carlos.
It is partly because of this base that the deck makes my Tarot of the QTPOC list as the world the tarot deck’s artist, Hannah Holloway, is directly inspired by is full of queer, gender non-conforming, and poc characters.
The deck comes in a gorgeous purple velvet bag with the WtNV logo. It is large enough to fit the deck comfortably as well as some tokens to keep your deck. I suggest bloodstone, Night Vale’s own favorite stone often used in ritual by the citizens of Night Vale which is featured on the backs of the cards.
The backs of the cards are not reversible, though the changes are subtle enough that if you weren’t looking so closely, you might miss it. It’s not particularly distracting, in my opinion. The cards themselves are standard size and card stock, matte, and fit well in the hand for shuffling. They do not come with a LWB, but if you check out Hannah’s tumblr, you’ll find their notes and thoughts as they built the deck, and some insight as to what the art represents should you need clarification.
While they did use standard tarot interpretations to guide their art, the WtNV tarot art is not particularly tied to RWS tarot definitions. Which is just fine for me, even preferable at times, but can be frustrating if you tend toward traditional tarot card readings.This is understandable, as a certain familiarity with the WtNV ‘verse certainly comes in handy when trying to feel out the lovely and sometimes creepy art (just like the podcast itself); it can feel limiting for folks with no idea who Carlos and Cecil and the constant presence of mysterious lights and bloodstone circles means.
The Major Arcana is relatively easy to decipher, though from the art in this card the Death card might actually just mean death for once. The Minor Arcana is an odd mix of seemingly standalone art and simpler (but no less richer) pip art. So far, there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for why this may be so other than artist’s prerogative. I’m certainly not complaining! It fits the atmosphere of Night Vale perfectly.
“The modus operandi of Night Vale is to make the normal seem different and the different seem normal.”
Where some tarot decks seem to have a smattering of POC as a last minute token effort, inclusion feels effortless here- even though most of the art isn’t just about portraying humans, or perhaps because of it. There aren’t a lot of people fully formed in this deck (and a lot of that is that this ‘verse is full of non-people, heh) but I still don’t feel left out. I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is, what it is about this deck, but I’m really happy about that.
I recommend this deck for any Welcome to Night Vale fan, and for folks who like decks that bend their understanding of tarot imagery.
“Embrace the unknown; it looks like it’s been needing a hug lately.”