Home Christian News With ‘Villains’ Tarot Deck, Disney Pushes the Mystical Practice Further Into Mainstream

With ‘Villains’ Tarot Deck, Disney Pushes the Mystical Practice Further Into Mainstream

tarot disney
The Disney Villains Tarot Deck. Photo via Insight Editions

(RNS) — If Disney gets into occult religions, are they even occult anymore?

On Nov. 9, Insight Editions released the 78-card Disney Villains Tarot Deck, featuring Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty,” Mother Gothel from “Tangled,” Scar from “Lion King” and other beloved evil figures from Disney’s canon of animated films.

In September, the company long known as the definition of family entertainment put out “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Tarot Deck, drawing imagery from the classic 1993 Tim Burton film that captures the spirit of both Halloween and Christmas.

Until now, tarot readers who are Disney fans were limited to decks sold on online sites such as Etsy or eBay that repurposed Disney’s original art or homemade replicas to make decks.

None of those were officially licensed.

There’s a brisk business, too, in an October 2001 deck that Disney produced to promote Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion” ride, which gets an annual “Nightmare Before Christmas” overhaul to ring in the holiday season. Guests at the inaugural event in 2001 received a limited-edition tarot deck as they exited the ride. Today, those special-edition decks, which feature the film’s characters as well as the ride’s fortune teller, Madame Leota, sell for close to $300.

The Insight Editions decks appear to be the first mass-produced tarot decks with official Disney licensing. We reached out to Disney but did not receive a response.

However, Insight Editions’ spokesperson Lara Starr did confirm they are officially licensed.  In December, an “Alice in Wonderland” deck will join the others.

Both of the currently available decks have generally received a favorable response from tarot readers. J. Ryan, a professional reader in Minneapolis, said, “I gave it a test run and it reads well. The characters on the cards make sense and help the metaphors along as well.”

He added, “Having Disney enter the market with their own decks was nice because it has the company’s blessing.”

Incorporating pop culture into tarot decks is not a new development. Insight Edition publishes “The Supernatural Tarot,” designed after the long-running television series, as well as the “Labyrinth Tarot,” based on Jim Henson’s 1986 film.

Elsewhere there are tarot decks inspired by HBO’s “The Game of Thrones” series, the 1980s sitcom “The Golden Girls” and the artwork of H.R. Geiger of “Alien” fame. In 2019, “The Starman Tarot” by artist Davide De Angelis hit store shelves, giving David Bowie fans a deck of their own.

“Truly there is a tarot deck for almost any interest out there,” said Banshee ShadowWolf, a retired librarian and longtime tarot reader, noting that her husband enjoys his “James Bond” deck.

Not everyone in the metaphysical community is pleased with Disney’s entrance into the market.

Drew K. Prince, a pagan and podcaster at Magick Radio Chicago, said, “I don’t think Disney or any corporation should cash in on the magical arts. Whenever anything sacred becomes popularized, it generally becomes kitschy and loses its mystery. They might as well produce Mickey Mouse Jesus dashboard miniatures or Disney-themed Bibles.”

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heathergreene@outreach.com'
Heather Greene is a journalist with Religion News Service.