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As Fate Would Have It, These Philly-Inspired Tarot Cards Are Finally On Sale

You can thank Philly Mag for commissioning the artwork that spawned the deck.


tarot cards

Photo courtesy of James Boyle.

In the October issue of this very magazine, we published a story about the mysterious, mystical comeback of tarot cards. James Boyle, a 36-year-old illustrator and frequent Philly Mag contributor, drew some mock cards for the artwork.

That story was clearly on to something, because once it published, Boyle became inundated with requests about the three cards he’d designed — featuring the Phillie Phanatic, the Rocky Statue, and City Hall — and whether a full deck of Philly-inspired tarot was available for purchase.

“It became clear there was a huge demand and opportunity for the Philly tarot deck to come into existence,” Boyle said. Then he thought: “Who better to do it than me?”

So he turned to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and set a modest goal of raising $6,500 to produce his full deck of 78 cards. It’s one thing for someone to express abstract desire in the deck on a Facebook comment; it’s another for them to actually shell out $40 for the real deal. But Boyle — and Philly Mag deputy lifestyle editor Gina Tomaine, who wrote the initial piece and has penned an accompanying “guidebook” for the deck — sensed this was a legitimate craving. Boyle ended up raising $44,000 in just over one month. (Philly Mag has no financial interest in the project.)

tarot cards

The three original tarot drawings by James Boyle.

What’s behind this modern resurgence of tarot? The BBC recently speculated it had something to do with regaining control — or at least the semblance of it — amid the turbulent political climates across the world. Which would be more than a little ironic given tarot’s purported initial use: as a mechanism, in post-feudal Europe, to delineate societal roles to the masses — and, from the perspective of the elite, maintain their subjugation.

But that was a long time ago. The relevant point now is that people are responding to these peculiar divination cards.

The original mockups of Boyle’s deck included images like that of the Phanatic, as well as a certain orange-haired hockey mascot. Boyle spoke to a copyright lawyer about his potential liability. “It is kind of a gray area,” he said. “I’m a little nervous about that.” But at least for the first printing of 1,500 decks (800 of which were sold on Kickstarter), those cards are included.

Boyle’s set up a website where you can purchase the decks, as well as 8″x10″ prints of certain cards. He’s also been in discussion with some local retailers about selling future printings. Nothing’s set in stone yet, though, so you may want to act fast online. Who knows what the future holds?