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'The Dark Crystal Tarot Deck and Guidebook' Invites a Deeper Look Into Jim Henson's World

Jul 14, 2023

Fans of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal can now add another unique item to their collections. Insight Editions has published an official The Dark Crystal Tarot Deck and Guidebook, illustrated by Tomas Hijo and written by Casey Gilly—the dream team behind The Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck and Guide.

In the tradition of other fandom-based decks, this one adapts characters and items from the world of The Dark Crystal to fit within the traditional structure of the tarot: 22 named cards in the Major Arcana and 56 cards in the Minor Arcana, divided into four suits. Tarot decks and the art of reading tarot have come a long way since the form was established in 15th-century Italy. Each deck has its own strengths and weaknesses, and each one comes with a particular vibe or flavor.

The Dark Crystal Tarot Deck feels particularly immersive, as it presents Shards as Wands; Vials as Cups; Stones as Swords; and Gems as Pentacles, in addition to featuring major characters from both sides of the war in the Major Arcana. Below, you can see Jen as The Fool, embarking on a journey across an unknown world; Aughra as The High Priestess, connecting the space between two worlds; and SkekZok the Ritual Master as the Hierophant, obsessed with tradition and hellbent on keeping things as they are.

Using the “Two Made One” spread from the back of Gilly’s guidebook, I got to know the deck through a series of introductory questions about how we might work together. For me, it seems this deck will answer difficult questions in straightforward ways, and demand self-reflection and forward thought in return. It’s one of the most unique decks in my collection, and I am excited to get to know it more with future readings.

If the tarot is familiar to you, you may find that adapting to suits specific to The Dark Crystal isn’t as intuitive as reading with a traditional deck. However, this seems to be the only major obstruction for access. If the tarot is less familiar to you, you may actually have an easier time diving right into The Dark Crystal Tarot Deck. Gilly explains each suit and card in plain, straightforward English, taking the time to both describe each one and explain what it could mean in either the upright or reversed position. Hijo’s art clearly depicts each character and suit, with intricate linework and bold colors that invite you closer and closer each time you pull a card from the deck. As you grow more comfortable with the cards, intuition takes over, especially if you have deep knowledge of Jim Henson’s world, its history, and its characters.

That said, even if you aren’t familiar with The Dark Crystal, if you feel particularly drawn to Hijo’s art, you can have an equally full experience working with this deck. It seems entirely plausible that someone could pick up this deck for the art, and then end up falling in love with Jim Henson’s world on the other side. However you come to The Dark Crystal Tarot Deck and Guidebook, embracing that feeling of connection will help you with each of your readings and your overall understanding of the deck.

Similar to other fandom-based tarot decks, this one provides a unique opportunity to both dig deeper into one of your favorite worlds and/or create a connection with someone else based on your mutual love of a particular story. Reading tarot is always a nuanced experience, especially if you are reading for someone else, and adding the shared language of fandom to that connection just adds another layer to that bond.

However you approach tarot or The Dark Crystal, this deck and guidebook seemed primed to take up a place of honor in your collection and become a beloved tool for reflection and understanding.

The Dark Crystal Tarot Deck and Guidebook is on sale now wherever books are sold.

(featured image: Insight Editions)

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Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and editor who has been working in digital and print media since 2010. Their work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture and their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.