People are familiar with the standard pack of cards, usually used for games, but less well known are the cards of the Tarot, most commonly used in fortune telling. There are more cards in the Tarot pack, split between two ‘Arcanas’ :The Minor Arcana bears resemblance to the standard card pack, although there are more of them, they are often more picture-based and the suits are different. The Major Arcana are a set of twenty-one picture cards depicting the ups, downs and influences on one’s life. The images are diverse and, in a fortune-telling context, their meaning depends upon their position in the card-reading spread – all is not as it may first appear!
In the context of Halloween, a festival of the Supernatural, the Tarot and its images offers an opportunity for some innovation and ingenuity. Here we have some ideas of our own, with some internet alternatives for the more challenging concepts, but, like the Tarot itself, it’s all down to individual interpretation…
The card depicts a jester-like figure with items of the Minor Arcana (Coins,Swords,Staves,Cups) before him on a table. If you’ve a Magician outfit, fine, otherwise a jester will do.
Symbolic of the Mother figure, here we’ve used a simple oriental empress outfit - others may like something more elaborate.
The Earthly Father figure and counterpart to the Empress. Again, we’ve borrowed from our oriental collection. Other options might include one of the Roman Emperors or Ming the Merciless
The Spiritual Father Figure or Pope in other words. Possibly the most obvious of the spiritual/religious card personalities.
Representing the more secretive/reserved influences. A monk or similar works well.
A female counterpoint to the Hierophant/Pope in the spiritual department, although here we’ve used a more pagan approach with a Druid-style priestess.
The Card commonly features a Lion being restrained or ridden. There are a multitude of ‘ride-on’ outfits on the market but we’ve only seen a lion one on an American site, and it was child-size! We’ve used a junior strongman outfit as our interpretation, but you can mix and match..
The Hanged Man
On the face of it, a challenge if you’re trying to work to PC/acceptability guidelines (if not, ‘Have I Got Noose For You’ and ‘The Well Hung Man’ have been seen). In fact this is the epitome of the ‘All Is not as It Seems’ concept as the card shows a man hanging upside down, the rope tied to his ankle, and seemingly unfazed by his situation.
Symbolic of one’s movement through Life’s options (some might say), costumes involving wheels of any sort are rather few – possibly it’s a practicality thing. Perhaps time for some improvisation.
Outbreak of the Couples costumes here: We’ve chosen Romeo & Juliet, but Antony & Cleo, Scarlett & Rhett or other more modern pairing are possible. The card often features a Cupid-like figure as well, but that might cause complications.
Pivotal influence on the passing of days during Life, we’ve represented the Sun with a Golden Goddess/Sun Queen, but anything involving a gold/yellow colour-scheme could do the job.
Counterpoint to The Sun, the Moon is represented by our Miss Midnight outfit which can feature a Moon mask, although the Moon is not always visible at night although it is always there.
Influential for those into Astrology, and you might want to depict a Star-sign as your representation (although Libra/Justice might already be spoken for). An alternative uses a pop/film mega-star. We’ve chosen Elvis
For many the way forward here would be the Libra-look – the basic classical gown plus scales or the enhanced version with a sword and blindfold (though some may not see how that works). We’ve taken a more forthright Slayer and Axe approach, although an Executioner is equally representative.
The Tarot card usually depicts the Judgement of the Last Trump (the biblical event, not the president) with an archangel, people rising from graves etc. Being that this may be a little difficult to depict unless you are a performance art troop, a Judge may have to suffice.
Wheel of Fortune
Truly the card of Life’s Ups and Downs, here represented by a costume we don’t have, but widely available – the ‘Spin to Win’ roulette outfit for females – sorry chaps!
Numbered 0, we come full circle and back to the Jester, often depicted on the card as stepping into an abyss and the unknown. Some have suggested links between cards 1 & 0 and the Jokers of the traditional pack.
What’s on the Net?
A search for Tarot costumes on the Net will most likely produce the Tarot Fortune Teller (as seen at fairgrounds, sea-side piers, etc.). A slight problem is that some see this outfit as an example of Cultural Appropriation, undermining the heritage and traditions of gypsies and the Romany peoples, We don’t offer the outfit, so it’s not an issue, but just so you know… The other Card costume commonly found is a Death Card outfit – fits right into Halloween and it’s a good variation on the skeleton/Grim Reader look.