Tarot south of the border

On my trips to Puerto Vallarta, I had noticed a tarot reader across the street from the condos, and had figured that someday, when my Spanish is better, I will have to go in for a reading. I am very curious about how different it may be in Mexico from the kind of reading I am used to giving and receiving. I have heard from some folks in the South that clients, at least, often request prayers, spells, blessings, and other rituals that they are not used to from their other clients.

On this visit, we happened to notice a shop selling tarot cards, incense, books, and other ritual items, so we decided to stop in. At first, it was hard to find the tarot cards. One thing that was prominently displayed were these:


We wracked our brains for a while to remember what “Jabon” is – soap! In a way, these are like the candles that you burn to attract various things, but instead it is soap that you use to attract what you want. I could probably use the one second from left – to bring you clients. We couldn’t help giggling over the one on the right – Macho Garlic Soap.

Here’s a deck that I probably should have bought for the novelty value:


“The Tarot of Death” (not to be confused with Tarot of the Dead). I probably would have, except that there were only the 22 major arcana, and each had an identical figure of Death, colored differently and with a different background. I couldn’t quite see how this focus on Death would help you learn about Health, Money, and Love, as the cover promises. This seemed to be a general theme, in keeping with the more light-hearted attitude toward death in Mexico:


There were also many ingredients for making infusions and using in rituals in jars around the room, as well as stones and other ritual items. The woman sitting behind a desk looked like she might be a tarot reader, so at least we asked her where the tarot decks were. She pointed out a few on a shelf. It was not the most interesting assortment ever, though I did pick up a recolored version of the Marseilles that I liked, and to support the shop and to practice my Spanish on a fun, familiar topic! We got into quite an extensive discussion with her about her own practice, and it turned she had a much more intriguing assortment of decks:


Those above are her personal collection, used with more private clients (not in the shop). She had set of well-worn decks that she used for the public, including a Gypsy deck with 48 cards. She says these are used by the Gypsies in Mexico – I found myself wondering about the origin of the deck, as well as the origins of these Gypsies that apparently travel from place to place. I had thought that most European Gypsies read with regular playing cards. In spite of having 48 cards (closer to 52, at least) these were not a regular playing deck. They had some attributes like a tarocchi deck in the illustrations, almost – except for the lack of a trump suit. I’ll have to get ahold of one of these on one of my next trips and look at it more carefully.


5 thoughts on “Tarot south of the border

  1. judithornot says:

    What fun! Cultural comparisons are fascinating; it is often at the places where two things meet that we learn the most.

    PS You REALLY need to get software to resize your photos! At the recommendation of a page somewhere in the question section of WordPress, I got a free download of FastStone Image Viewer. You can probably find them through Google. It works great! It helps me “resize” the photos I post here, and I use it now as my primary photo editing software (even for stuff I print at home).

  2. Oops, sorry!!! I know to do it, sometimes I just forget (blogging in a hurry). I’ll try to be more careful, I promise.

  3. Coppermoon says:

    I bet you’d really expand your online business if you could offer readings in Spanish – I’m betting that you would blow most readers away no matter which country you are in.

  4. ironwing says:

    The big statue appears to be holding a crude version of the globe – draped in the skull ribbon, it looks like Santa Muerta as the World card!
    A friend of mine has an old Llewellyn book about Mexican brujeria. In the section on Tarot, there are correspondences given for the Major Arcana and Courts with various saints, many of them aspects of the Virgin Mary. And I think our local Borders still carries the first edition of the Tarot Mistico Universal (World Spirit Tarot) in the yellow box.

  5. angelcard reader says:

    I am looking for a set of the tarot cards that you have taken a picture of. I would like to have the Santa Muerta cards. Having her visit quite frequently Id love to know what she is trying to tell me. She is such a super lady I hate to miss anything she might tell me

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