“Whether we are seeking a home, as Dorothy might have found through the suit of Coins, or a brain, which the Scarecrow could have sought through the suit of Swords, whether we seek the Lion’s courage in the suit of Wands, or the Tin Woodman’s heart in the suit of Cups, the Tarot and the Yellow Brick Road move us forward in our journey to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit.” – From the book
Although the Wizard of Oz is the most known work by Frank L. Baum, there are actually 15 additional books featuring Dorothy’s journey to self-discovery. While most are familiar with the Emerald City and Dorothy’s companions—Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Woodsman—other whimsical (but not necessarily nice) characters and lands occupy the landscape of Baum’s imagination. In the Tarot of Oz, author and illustrator David Sexton mines rich, relevant archetypal lessons buried within Baum’s fanciful tales and correlates them with the ancient wisdom of Tarot. Sweet Jack Pumpkinhead, who sacrifices himself many times to save his friends, makes an especially appropriate Hanged Man, while the clockwork mind of Tik-Tok the machine man mirrors the theme of Justice as he fights tirelessly to rescue the royal family and bring King Evoldo to justice.
Who among us hasn’t been affected by the cyclone of change (The Wheel) or endured the sudden Deadly Desert experience of The Tower, where gritty, stinging hot sand seems to touch everything?
The Minor Arcana cleverly follows four story lines: Swords (Air) follows the adventures of a now intellectually superior Scarecrow (The Scarecrow of Oz), exploring themes of handling conflict and using your noggin. Wands (Fire) depict Lion (The Magic of Oz) leading a colorful team of characters on a quest, exploring the realms of creativity and using our own will.
Cups (Water) teach us lessons about love and emotion as the Tin Woodman of Oz searches for Nimmie Amee with his friends. Stones (Earth)—a path often focusing on monetary pursuits, career matters, or simple aspects of home—are explored as Dorothy (Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz) makes her way back to Oz when she tumbles deep into the Earth via a California earthquakes, resulting in several subterranean adventures.
The Tarot of Oz comes with a 78-card deck in its own box nestled in a slipcase, which also contains a 180-page bound mini-book. There are two extra cards detailing the 9-card Yellow Brick Road Spread. Measuring approximately 4 ½ x 3 ¼ inches, the cards feature a stylized OZ monogram in the background of each image with dual suit symbols on the Minor Arcana. Card backings, showing the same OZ motif with all four suit symbols, are NOT reversible.
Even if you’re only familiar with the most famous Baum story (like me), Sexton does a wonderful job correlating plot details from the other books with the theme of each card—often with eerie appropriateness.
For example, The Lovers depict Nimmie Amee and Chopfyt. Originally, Nimmie was in love with Nick Chopper (the Tin Woodman), who used an axe cursed by a witch. Every time he swung the axe, it would turn on him and chop off a body part—requiring him to get tin replacements until he was no longer human. Well, Nimmie fell in love with *another* man, a soldier named Captain Fyter, who suffered the same type of fate—except his sword was the cursed instrument.
Distraught over losing two suitors, Nimmie finds out that the smith who replaced the parts of both men not only kept the discarded human pieces—but also sewn them together to form a new man called Chopfyt. Nimmie fell instantly in love. Sexton writes of this card from the Tarot of Oz:
“As the Lovers, Nimmie and Chopfyt foreshadow a choice we will need to make between paths that may seem equally compelling. Careful consideration must be given before a decision can be made. Is it possible to find a choice that includes both possibilities as Nimmie did?”
If you ARE unfamiliar with the likes of Dr. Pipt, the Nome King, Ozma, Scraps the Patchwork Girl or Polychrome the Rainbow’s Daughter, then you’ll have to consult the mini-book for interpretation and insight, in my opinion. As such, I don’t think the Tarot of Oz is a good deck for Tarot beginners, although it would make an appealing deck for those with a soft spot for Dorothy and company or fantastical whimsy.
Below are 10 images from this deck:
Tarot of Oz by David Sexton, © 2002. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the publisher.
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.