by MJ Cullinane
I’ve been eyeing this artist’s decks for a while, finally settling on the Grimalkin Tarot when a cat came into my life to live with me, and the cat enjoys when I read tarot, so this deck seemed appropriate.
Let’s start with the cards. They’re ever-so-slightly wider than a regular tarot deck, but the height is the same, so small-handed people can still shuffle comfortably (I’m a riffle shuffler, so that matters a lot. I think for overhand or card stirring shuffling the size of the cards doesn’t affect the ability to shuffle, but if you like the casino-style “cut-and-crack” shuffle, card size matters if you’ve got smaller hands.) The card stock isn’t super thick, but it doesn’t feel flimsy like some decks, and the cards have a glossy finish (they often slip off the top of the deck, which may lessen the more you work with it.) They come in a sturdy cardboard lidded box, so they store well and look great on a shelf.
The cards are lovely digital paintings, and one of the parts of the guidebook I enjoy most is that every card notes who the real-life cat was who served as the model for the card. I also appreciate that the front of the guidebook has instructions for Yes/No/Maybe one-card pulls, which many tarot guides don’t include. There is also a M.E.O.W. spread included, which is both clever and unique. Since cats are inquisitive by nature, the front of the guide also contains cat-spoken questions for each major arcana card (for example, The Magician, “What is your magical power, and are you using it?”)
Guidebook broken down as such: Card, Cat the card is dedicated to, Notes on Symbolic elements of card, Message of Card, Energy Attributes of the card. End of book includes a quick-reference elemental guide to the cards. The book isn’t paginated, so I can only guess at length, maybe 60-75 pages is my estimate. Solid guide size without a whole lot of extras, and each card gets 1 page. The guide doesn’t provide reversal interpretations, so for me, this isn’t a deck where I read reversal interpretations — if a card comes up inverted, I just assume that the message for that card is more important, that reversed cards simply mean to pay attention to those messages more closely.
One last thing to note, and I think that this might be simply a quirk of this tarot creator and/or a printing costs issue, but the guidebook doesn’t contain images accompanying card meanings, so if you like that in a guide, keep that in mind. I cannot say if this is true of the same creator’s Crow Tarot, but both Grimalkin and Guardians of the Night don’t have interior images in the guide.
I will also note that most MJ Culliane decks and guides are priced at $34 and under, making them some of the most reasonably-priced independently produced tarot decks out there. The guides are easy-to-use, and the cards all have welcoming, inviting art and energy. These are a great addition to any tarot collection, and I think are excellent choices for new readers who want to branch out into a different kind of deck. These could easily be first decks that new readers can learn on, or fun, friendly little decks for experienced readers.
To purchase or learn more, visit: https://www.mjcullinane.com/