The Frida Kahlo Tarot is a 78-card deck published in 2019. The deck is copyrighted by the Frida Kahlo Corporation, which owns the trademark rights and interests to the name Frida Kahlo worldwide.
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is a well-known Mexican painter often described as a surrealist who was married (twice) to renowned painter Diego Rivera. In addition to her magnificent paintings, Kahlo’s backstory has drawn a huge amount of interest. As a teenager, she was involved in a horrific accident that left her physically and emotionally scarred for life.
The power of her stunning artwork lies in how she expressed her pain through her paintings. I personally compare her to confessional poets such as Sylvia Plath. Both Kahlo and Plath are highly influential in my work, both as a poet and as a person.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing the influence of this artist. Yet as much as I admire Kahlo, objectively, this deck leaves a great deal to be desired. Subjectively, I love it all the same because of the connection I feel to the artist that inspired it.
One thing to keep in mind is that Kahlo has incredible appeal and her popularly has grown over the years to its current all-time high. As such, her image and reprints of her artwork are not readily available for commercial use.
I’m sure that many Tarot devotees who are Kahlo fans would be disappointed to know that the images in this deck do not deliver the full glory of Kahlo’s work. But there may be others, like me, who will overlook the considerable shortcomings of this deck. For the time being, this is probably as good as a Frida Kahlo deck is going to get.
So, getting down to the details, the cards are small and the card stock is thin but not flimsy. They’re glossy, but not overly so, and I find them easy to shuffle. Packaging is attractive but minimal.
The unbound guidebook is written in Spanish, English, French, Dutch, and Portuguese. It includes a brief history of Tarot, short card interpretations for both upright and reversed card positions, and a section on Tarot spreads.
The titles of each card are written in English, French, German, and Spanish. As for the images themselves, they generally do not add much in the way of interpretation. Those who do not have a firm grasp of the Rider-Smith-Waite system will not get far at all.
The Major Arcana features Kahlo’s image or details or her paintings rendered as clipart. Some cards do not even go that far. For example, the Sun card has a decorative symbol on it, but even that symbol, as far as I am aware, was created for the deck and does not appear in any of Kahlo’s paintings.
A few of the Major Arcana cards fare a little better, with images that connect directly to Kahlo’s original artwork (although such images are scarce in this deck). With the Strength and the Lovers, there even may be something to be extracted for interpretation.
The Court cards feature Kahlo’s image from various photos that have been stylized and filtered.
As for the numbered Minor Arcana, they are merely pip cards. The Cups are adorned with clipart images of Kahlo, the Wands remind me of caveman clubs, and the Pentacles depict coins embossed with Kahlo’s image. Somewhat interesting are the Swords, which feature hearts impaled by daggers.
On the one hand, the intent of the Swords icon, I think, is to connect to Kahlo’s sensibility when it comes to heartache and her tendency to depict bloody images in her paintings. And I personally agree that the suit of Swords relates to difficulty and challenge. However, I wonder if the bloody heart imagery is as appropriate for the 2, 4, 6, and 8 of Swords as it may be for the others.
Yes, this deck is spectacularly flawed. Indeed, in real life, Kahlo has her critics, she constantly critiqued herself, and in some ways her life was largely shaped by restrictions placed upon her. Yet her spirit manages to shine brightly regardless. For me, that is the energy that this deck has to offer. I feel truth coming from these cards when I read with them.