By Christine Zillich and written by Johan von Kirschner
The Zillich Tarot is one of U.S. Games’ most recent tin box decks. It is one of the most beautiful decks I’ve seen in some time. Painted with water colours, the gorgeous images have a dreamlike feel to them.
What I love most about these cards is that, even though it has a very soft tone as a whole, it manages to capture quite a wide range of emotions. This makes it stand out from other water colour decks, which tends to have a uniform feel to them. With those decks, the emotional reaction from the Tower is almost the same as the 2 of Cups.
In the Zillich deck, however, there are many cards that stand out against the soft vibe of the deck. Some cards are bright and vibrant, giving off a lot of energy and excitement.
Others are dark and unsettling. In fact, the 10 of Swords in this deck is probably the most frightening one I’ve ever seen. It reminds me of the horror movie, ‘The Ring.’ I would never have thought that such a seemingly gentle deck can have such a dramatic effect!
Aside from being a water colour deck, Zillich is also Thoth based deck. Many of the major arcana and court cards contain the same imageries. Personally, I really appreciate the Princess of Cups replica as this is one of my favourite cards from the Thoth deck. The fact that she is pregnant is very symbolic and significant to me.
A most interesting thing about Zillich is what it does with the Lust (Strength) and Adjustment (Justice) cards. Instead of using the Thoth order, it uses the Rider-Waite-Smith ordering with Lust being VIII and Adjustment being XI – all the while, keeping the Thoth naming convention.
In addition, this deck renames Judgement to Justice but keeps the traditional meaning of Judgement.
After gawking over these cards for days, I have decided that my favourite card in this deck is the Death card. The way Death is portrayed is always one of the most interesting things in a deck for me. The wide range of emotional interpretation – from mourning to almost excitement for a new beginning – is most intriguing. Personally, I favour the mourning aspects of this card more and feel that to focus on ‘the phoenix rising from the ashes’ aspect of Death is almost a refusal to acknowledge the lessons of pain and loss that this card is meant to be.
With Zillich’s Death card, we see a figure in a long black dress and black wings standing on dead vegetation. A butterfly rests on each of her hands. This image ought to be solemn – and it is – BUT there is also something lighthearted about it. Her posture and the flow of her dress implies that she is dancing, like there is something being celebrated. Or perhaps, it is a ritual dance to honour what is gone. I think this image is the perfect synthesis to the mourning/rebirth focuses of this card.