Better Together: English Magic + Mayhem Tarot Decks

Decks Used: English Magic Tarot (Rex Van Ryn), Mayhem Tarot (Caity Mayhem)

Decks Used: English Magic Tarot (Rex Van Ryn), Mayhem Tarot (Caity Mayhem)

"Dark and twisty" — one of the Grey's Anatomy terms that stuck with me, I feel, is the most appropriate way to capture the spirit of these two graphic novel-esque card decks. I've never been a graphic novel type person (not even a comic book - turned blockbuster superhero movie type person), but the illustration style of these two decks instantly captured my attention.

While these decks are unrelated — the English Magic Tarot is based on mysticism and divination in English history, while the Mayhem tarot (at least in my opinion) is less specific, what ties them together is a smart, snarky and sinister quality that comes through in the illustrations and in the meanings behind the cards.

Look Ma, they both have hands on the card backs! I feel these cards need to give each other high fives.

Look Ma, they both have hands on the card backs! I feel these cards need to give each other high fives.

The English Tarot comes packed in a very sturdy box that accommodates a hefty guide book as well, while the Mayhem tarot is simply packed (I needed to get a pouch to house this one). The Mayhem, while called a "tarot" deck is actually an oracle that has some cards in common with a typical tarot deck — The Lovers, Justice, The Moon for example. Lenormand enthusiasts will also appreciate some cards like The Mountain, The Bird and The Snake. The 40-card oracle deck gives credence to both light and shadow, which makes it perfect for people seeking to explore both affirming and confronting sides of their lives.

The English Magic Tarot makes learning the cards easy because there is a clear division among the different suits (check out the borders) as well as the Major Arcana. The palette is very distinct and the use of color makes the deck cohesive. The illustrations are dynamic, almost like you did a split-second pause on something actually taking place — I feel this is where the comic book influence comes in handy; it brings so much more dimension to a typically static depiction.

It would be wise to overhand shuffle these cards because they are quite flimsy and riffle shuffling will easily damage the deck's corners and edges. I like to treat this deck very delicately just to make sure I keep it intact and pristine (I'm one of those readers). For $9.13 on Amazon as of my writing (list price is $24.95), I really wouldn't complain about the card stock. THIS DECK IS A STEAL, even for the guidebook alone.

For a set that's history-inspired, I like how contemporary the writing in the guidebook is. Meanings are accessible, well-written and to the point.

The Mayhem Tarot is self-published, and as with most independently produced deck, has better card stock. I love the matte quality of the cards — they riffle perfectly and have enough slip in them for a good overhand shuffle. This deck comes with a LWB, which I honestly don't look at because I prefer to go with my intuition. Best part of this deck is The Beekeeper card, which is a fun surprise for all us Tori Amos fans.

I find that together, these decks have a very direct masculine energy to them — something I like because so many tarot and oracle sets are so heavily feminine in their vibe. I tend to use these decks when I want to sort something out without a lot of frills. They're a go to when I just need the truth served straight up, no icing or cherry on top.

What do you think, folks? Do you agree that these two decks are MFEO?