February 21, 2024
Ask Astrology

Tarot Deck Review: Santa Muerte Tarot

Newly published tarot and oracle decks arrive on Amazon, Etsy, crowd-funding platforms, and in bookstores every month. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks as well as published ones. Reviewing a deck is a subjective judgement intended to help readers determine if they want to own the deck.

The critical review of a deck for AskAstrology involves looking at the quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion book or booklet, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review the Santa Muerte Tarot Deck: Book of the Dead by Fabio Listrani.

The Cards

The Wheel of Fortune Knight of CupsPentacles Two of Wands

From the introduction in the companion book:

Despite whatever ambiguities present themselves, what you have in your hands is a deck of cards that celebrates and honors life. The thought which this celebration unfolds derives from the aesthetic of Mexican and Pre-Colombian traditions and cults, in a colorful and floral triptych composed of “Santa Muerte”, “Calavera Catrina”, and “Dias de los Muertos”. The motif is that Death as it appears to us, due to erroneous mental constructs, is not the opposite of life but rather an integral part of it. It is the opposite of birth, something that is connected to us from the moment we are conceived, when we begin to take shape and become part of the material world.

About Fabio Listrani (from the booklet):

Fabio Listrani was born in Rome in 1981. He is a digital artist, author, and graphic designer of world fame, with many years of experience in the creation of various types of artistic and graphic products. His productions, in fact, include a great variety of illustrations, such as covers for comic books, illustrations for novels, artwork for musical groups, concept art, t-shirt designs, poster art, and, naturally, Tarot.

Card Stock and Shuffling

Printed on medium card stock, these cards have a glossy finish with curved edges. They are easy to shuffle, and a little slick when you first get them out of the box. They may slip out of your hands until the cards get some wear from handling and repeated use.

Artwork and the Visual Accessibility of the Deck

The artwork is quite beautiful, and Fabio Listrani is a world-class artist. Unfortunately, the artist and his artwork do not easily convey the meanings of the cards, so you will need to rely on the companion book to know the meanings the creator selected. The deck breaks significantly from the Rider Waite Tarot, changing many of the images, even though he keeps the traditional names of the suits.

Two of Wands

Two of Wands

From the booklet:

The two of Wands presents as a complicated arcana, where an accumulation of desires could cause rivalry and cause two opposing forces to arise, such as rebelling against limitations imposed by a third party. This card can bring not only regrets with it but also radical changes, surprises, and positive unexpected events.

Advice of the Dead:

Evaluate what is the best way in which to act and terminate a situation of conflict and rivalry that makes you restless and unhappy.

The Hierophant

The Hierophant

From the booklet:

The Hierophant in this case fully incarnates his role as a mediator, a bridge, capable of connecting what is above with what is below, what was with what will be. The wisdom that comes from our ancestors and from the collective unconsciousness they created, freely flows in this mature figure, capable of communicating, clarifying, helping, and protecting, as well as bringing and attributing an ideal to our actions.

Advice of the Dead:

Once you have analyzed the situation with foresight, your means and what you are able to communicate, proceed towards your objectives and your ideals.

Ace of Pentacles

Ace of Pentacles

From the booklet:

The Ace of Pentacles, more than any other reality, represents all that is tangible on a material plane from our body to economic resources, announcing success, profit, and health. This card is an active principle that operates on all of the tangible aspects of our existence, bringing happiness and triumph.

Advice of the Dead:

Totally enjoy what you have earned and deserve. Everything proceeds well but don’t forget to look at things beyond material concerns.

Explanation of the Cards

This deck does have a companion book that is beautifully designed; however, the writing about the cards is not the same quality as the artwork. Every card has a paragraph of explanation and then a section entitled: “The advice of the dead,” which you can see from the examples above. One gets the sense that English is the second language for the creator, as the sentence structures show some of the common patterns you would see in translations and not the natural flow of a native speaker. Also, you will have to read through a lot of grammatical errors. It would have helped to enlist someone with greater knowledge of the tarot and better writing/editing skills. The booklet is not terrible; it’s just not great.


As a professional reader, I can say that this deck is definitely eye-catching, but probably not the best for reading in public spaces in general. It’s a great deck for the celebration of the Day of the Dead, generally celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd. Of course, this deck is perfect for Halloween. But outside of those days, and select clients who appreciate the Day of the Dead (and skeletons), the deck will not have wide appeal.

I would recommend the deck for personal use, collecting, and limited professional use. This deck is beautifully drawn; people will likely consider getting a reading from the deck if they can see the cards and connect with them in some personal way.


The deck is rich and well-drawn, visually-speaking. The art conveys the meanings in a limited way, so you will need to learn what the creator intended them to be by reading the booklet explanations. The small booklet that comes in the box with the cards gets an “A” for effort, but a “C” for execution. It really could use editing, both for grammar and better flow explaining the meanings. The flexible card stock makes shuffling easy, and it will get easier once some of the initial slick sheen wears off with frequent repeated use over a long time. I give this deck three out of five stars.

Where to Buy this Deck

If you like this deck and wish to purchase a copy; you can do so at: https://www.amazon.com/Santa-Muerte-Tarot-Deck-Book/dp/0738754382/