Zillich Tarot

Zillich Tarot

The Zillich Tarot is a modern interpretation of the Crowley Thoth Tarot, illustrated in an dreamlike watercolour style. It keeps the esoteric depth and spirit of Frieda Harris's original art, adding a dreamier and (even more) surreal feel.

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Card Images from the Zillich Tarot


Zillich-Tarot-Fool Zillich-Tarot-Empress Zillich-Tarot-Lovers Zillich-Tarot-Strength Zillich-Tarot-Wheel Zillich-Tarot-2-Discs Zillich-Tarot-6-Wands Zillich-Tarot-8-Swords Zillich-Tarot-Page-Cups Zillich-Tarot-Back

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Zillich Tarot Review by medusawink

The Zillich Tarot is a tarot-in-a-tin from German artist Christine Zillich. Taking its main source of inspiration from Aleister Crowley’s Thoth cards, it explores archetypes and symbolism of tarot through astrology, kabbalah, mythology, and numerology. This deck takes an intellectual approach to tarot, exploring deep esoteric significance in the quest for self-knowledge.

This is a fully illustrated 78 card tarot, with 22 Major Arcana cards, and 56 Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana follows Crowley’s ordering, and uses the titles The Magus for The Magician, Lust for Strength, Adjustment for Temperance, Justice is designated as Judgement, and The Universe is the title given to The World.

The Minor Arcana is divided into four suits of 14 cards each – 10 number cards, and 4 Court cards. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Discs, with Crowley’s Court and ordering – Princess, Prince, Queen, Knight – being used. In addition, cards 2 to 10 across all 4 suits all feature Crowley’s titles such as Dominion (2 Wands), Abundance (3 Cups), Futility (7 Swords), Wealth (10 Discs), and so forth.

The cards measure 60 x 97 mm which is quite small for a tarot deck, much closer in size to Lenormand cards. This compact size makes these cards ideal for users who have small hands, or find themselves constrained by physical challenges such as arthritis and RSI.

The card stock is quite light and very flexible which means that if you are a heavy-handed card shuffler you will need to exercise caution when working with this deck. One slip with these relatively lightweight cards will result in creasing at the very least. On the other hand, if you find yourself challenged by cards made with heavy card stock this deck will be a welcome relief to work with.

The cards have a smooth, satiny, and low gloss finish which facilitates easy shuffling and prevents the cards from sticking together and clumping when they are handled.

Artist Christine Zillich has created a remarkably elegant set of illustrations in vibrant watercolours. Her pallette is broad and quite subtle – with strong yellows, delicate pinks, violet, aqua, misty greys, and the occasional pop of fiery reds dominating the deck.

Her art style is rather abstract and makes the most of the translucent quality of watercolours. Many characters are depicted in gender-fluid silhouettes, accompanied by rather surreal, art deco style interpretations of the tarot’s esoteric symbolism. The overall effect is to create a beautiful dreamscape which is open to interpretation by the Seeker, in the moment and spirit of the reading. What may appear as threatening or dark in one reading may seem distant and foggy in another.

The images have no borders and reach to the edge of the cards on three sides. A white banner at the bottom of each image contains the card’s number, title, in the case of the Minor Arcana their sub-titles, and in the Major Arcana their Tree of Life path or alignment.

The design on the back of the cards – abstract swirls in shades of blue – is symmetrical, and therefore reversible. The cards come packaged in a small metal tin which is painted with images from the Zillich tarot, a brief description of the deck is printed on the side, and on the base of the tin - publisher’s information. The paint is sealed and extremely glossy, however one scrape with something sharp will do immediate damage and scratch the finish right off. Such is the nature of painted tins. The tin however, gives excellent protection to the deck and its accompanying Little White Book. It is small enough to drop into a shoulder bag or backpack without taking up any notable space or adding significant weight. However if you wish to preserve the lovely appearance of this well painted tin then I would suggest that you place it into a protective covering – even a Ziploc sandwich bag would do the trick.

The guidebook is written by Johan Von Kirschner and translated from German into English. The Introduction jumps straight into the esoteric background of tarot, and immediately acquaints the Seeker with the concept of the Tree of Life and the tarot’s symbolic representation of it. There is also a brief outline of The Fool’s Journey.

Major Arcana cards are afforded a little more attention. Each card is given two points of information as well as an alignment – elemental, planetary, or astrological. Part one contains a description of the esoteric and mythological symbols associated with each illustration, which are clearly defined and explained. Part two is a divinatory interpretation, though not all cards have both upright and reversed meanings included. The interpretations vary from big picture and rather arcane meanings to the personal and very specific.

Minor Arcana cards are given astrological designations, which is accompanied by a paragraph that discusses both the illustration, and the divinatory meaning in a reading. A guide to reading the Celtic Cross layout using the Zillich tarot is included.

Crowley was never one to soft pedal the harsher meanings of some cards, and the Zillich tarot follows this line – it is better that one be able to anticipate difficulties and take preventative action than to delude oneself that everything will always be peachy keen. For tarot users who are used to the more New Age light-over-dark approach to tarot card reading this may come as something of a rude surprise.

The Zillich Tarot is a beautiful and striking deck that holds true to the spirit of Lady Frieda Harris’s original illustrations for Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. Seekers who are familiar with the Thoth Tarot will not be disappointed with this deck, while those who are a little apprehensive about using the Thoth Tarot (and I know you are out there) may find the Zillich Tarot to be a suitable alternative.

If you like watercolour decks, or are taken with abstract art then this is definitely a tarot deck worth checking out. If you are interested in tarot cards with surreal and dreamy illustrations than the Zillich Tarot might be just what you are looking for. A vibrant and lovely deck.

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Complete Deck Details

Name: Zillich Tarot
Creators: Christine Zillich
Publisher: US Games 2018
Deck Type: Tarot Deck
Cards: 78
Major Arcana: 22
Minor Arcana: 56
Suits: Cups, Swords, Wands, Discs
Court Cards: Princess, Prince, Queen, Knight
Card Size: 2.36 x 3.82 in. = 6.00cm x 9.70cm
Card Language: English
Card Back: Reversible
Back Design: Abstract swirls in shades of blue, green and purple
Companion Material: 60-page companion book by Johan Von Kirschner, translated from the original German to English.

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