Many folks who know me know I’m a little bit of a comic nerd and a little bit more of a Wizard of Oz nerd. Movie + book series. When I first heard about the Shadow of Oz tarot deck a few years ago I was on the fence. First of all, I am extremely picky about collaborative decks….does the deck flow? it it cohesive? does it read as one piece or many? Second of all, I am extremely picky regarding decks that embody subjects I may be a bit fanatical about…can I use them? Will I connect? Will the cards show what I love about the story? etc. etc. etc. I also know the cards were wider than many standard decks and I worried about the physicality of them. I couldn’t dispel any of my concerns from the info online.
But when I ran across the Illogical Associates booth at Emerald City ComicCon 2 years ago, saw the deck for myself +shuffled it in my hands, I connected with it more than I thought I ever would. To begin with, the deck is based on all 14 of Baum’s original Oz books. The deck is more than Dorothy’s fools journey from the movie. It’s Dorothy’s fools journey through out the series. The deck is also the story of Ozma, the Patchwork Girl, the Hungry Tiger, the Nome King, Polychrome, Tik-Tok and so many others.
And although it the artists included in the deck all have very different styles, as comic book artists each card seems truly approached as a single cell of an ongoing story. The borders represent the different suits + the major arcana. The cards are sturdy and withstand use, though they are a bit wider than standard tarot cards and can take a while to get used to.
While the deck can be used with little knowledge of the OZ realm, because of how heavily the full deck is based on the 14 book series, I find a base knowledge of the characters and stories across the series is incredibly helpful, and helps deepen the meaning of the cards and therefore the depth of a reading. I also suspect that, if you were given a reading to someone else, they might want to have a little familiarity with the stories.
These are reasons I don’t break out this deck often. But when I do use the Shadow of Oz it’s a really lovely and connecting experience. Because I am literally holding the wonder of OZ in my hands, and walking through a magical world with a cast of characters I hold dear. Which is not to say that it’s a deck overflowing with carefree joy (Dorothy did eventually say “fuck it” and moved everyone on the dusty, dying Kansas farm to Oz for good, after all) but it is a deck filled with whimsy.