The Tarot Review

The Pirate Tarot

Posted by: Beatrix Spinnaker on: March 13, 2012

Arrrgh – This Deck Blows!

With the success of movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean”, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a Pirate Tarot (Schiffer Publishing 2009) ended up getting published.  Created by Lucas Amodio and artist Liz Harper, the concept originally started out as a deck engraved on wood (you can get an actual wooden copy at but evolved into a standard 78 card deck with images of pirate life done in a woodcut fashion.

Initially, I thought this was a fun idea and the cards are indeed humorous but the novelty quickly wore off when I actually tried to read with this deck.  First of all, the size is rather large and doesn’t fit well in the hands.  I have a few bigger decks like this and to be honest, I really don’t use them as they are simply too uncomfortable and difficult to shuffle.

Figure Head

Figure Head

The artist is very talented but aesthetically, this deck was not pleasing to me as it was simply too cartoonish for my tastes.  In fact, the characters depicted look like something you’d see on a Saturday morning children’s show.  Some people may like that, but I find it unappealing.

The word PIRATE is written in big letters on the side of every card, which I thought was distracting and ugly.  At the bottom of each card, a few general meanings are written which may make this deck helpful for beginning readers but are unnecessary. Because the cards are supposed to resemble wood cuts, they don’t have any color to them at all but they actually do look like wood so the artist was able to convey that well. I did like the back of the cards which had an image of two Jolly Rogers joined together.

4 of Pistols

4 of Pistols

Some of the names for the Major Arcana are changed to sound more “piratey” (Ex: The Chirurgeon for The Magician; The Figurehead for The High Priestess).  I’m a bit of a purist and prefer the traditional names but I thought this was a fun touch and pirate fans will probably appreciate it. A couple other name changes to note: all the other suits remain like a standard deck but the Wands become “Pistols” and the Court Cards become Cabin Boy, First Mate, Lady Captain and Captain.

A sheet with a few spreads come with the deck but there is no little white book of meanings.  The author probably didn’t feel it necessary as the cards already have the interpretations printed on them.

I did try to read with this deck but sadly, I could not get past the way it looked.  It just didn’t sing to me. The card stock is study enough and this deck is certainly built to last but considering that I would never use this deck, I can guarantee it will last it is going to be tossed in the back of some drawer.  I would only recommend this deck to a pirate fanatic or someone who wants a fun deck without a lot of depth.

Beatrix Spinnaker