James Bond 007 Tarot Deck

POPULAR CULTURE, TAROT Add comments
James Bond Tarot

James Bond Tarot

Movie Tarot Imagery
Movie Tarot Imagery

For something as intriguing as tarot cards, I’d imagine the tarot would be more recognized in our popular culture then it is.  I can’t think of many films where the tarot was involved.  One film is Woody Allen’s “Scoop” where tarot cards played a minor role. 

Perhaps the film that stands out using tarot cards as a significant plot device was the 1973 James Bond film “Live and Let Die”.  This was Roger Moore’s first time playing James Bond.   This is not a movie review, but a look at the use of tarot cards in film.

The deck created for ’Live and Let Die’ is called the “Tarot of the Witches” designed by Fergus Hall.  At the time the movie came out it was marketed as the James Bond 007 Tarot. The is not a typical deck.  The art is bold, colorful and surrealistic.  The characters have tiny little hands and feet. 

Otherwise the deck follows the standard tarot format.  I understand why the filmmakers would use such a colorful deck.   It stood out visually in the movie.  If you look carefully at the back of the cards you’ll see a stylized “007” pattern. 

How realistic was tarot reading portrayed in the film?   The card reading character was a Bond Girl, aptly named Solitaire (played by Jane Seymour) who had the power of clairvoyance.  Her power was hereditary, passed down from her mother who had the same abilitiy. 

The villain in the film was Kananga and he used Solitaire’s clairvoyance for his own sinister purposes.  Implausibly, Solitaire’s clairvoyance was never wrong.   Yeah, that is pure fantasy.  The process of card reading involved elaborate costumes.  Otherwise, notice the Celtic Cross layout in one of the images.

A plot element was her clairvoyance existed only if Solitaire remained a virgin.  Her virginity (and her usefulness to the criminals) was obviously in jeopardy with Bond mulling around. 

When Bond first encounters Solitaire, she speaks to him while reading her cards.  She said, “I know who you are and what you are and why you come.  You made a mistake.  You will not succeed.  The cards have followed you for me.” 

Bond seems to believe in Solitaire’s abilities, but he is also  uninterested in her power.  If I were a secret agent and discovered someone with her amazing abilities, for sure I’d report her to intelligence.  Forget the bad guy.  Then again, maybe not.  Who would believe?  He really didn’t appreciate the significance.  The villain sure did.  In real life there are accounts of governments employing psychics and remote viewers.  But no.  Bond only wants to chase bad guys and have nookie with the girls.  

Bond cleverly uses Solitaire’s belief in the cards to his advantage, seducing her by using a stacked deck.  After sex, she tells Bond “The power…I’ve lost it. The High Priestess is wife to the Prince no longer of this world. The spiritual bridge to the secret church.  It was my fate.  By compelling me to earthly love, the cards themselves have taken away my powers.  It makes no difference. The physical violation cannot be undone. When he finds out I’ve lost my power…”

This is an odd statement.  Does it have any connection whatsoever with real-life spirituality?  What to make of the movie’s association of virginity with clairvoyance?  It’s only a plot contrivance.  I don’t know any authentic spiritual practice that requires virginity for spiritual development, outside the Catholic Church.  If anything, a card reader should have a full life experience.  It would aid in card reading, not inhibit it. 

The silliness aside, it is nice to see a movie with the tarot in full display, even if it is portrayed fantastically.  The presence of tarot imagery in popular culture is uncommon enough, that anytime I see it I think it is worth noting and recording.  Also noteworthy is another tarot deck featured in this movie, the famous Rider-Waite deck.  Can you spot all of them in the images?  There are quite a few.  The Rider-Waite deck is the real deal, not movie making.

12 Responses to “James Bond 007 Tarot Deck”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    I used to love 007 movies though I’ve rather outgrown them, I think now. Live and Let Die was/is one of my favorites if not the favorite. I loved the idea of cards that never told a lie, a gift for reading them that passed from mother to daughter.

    Some time back I used those ideas (NOT the virginity)in a series of short stories I haven’t finished (the series, not the stories) and taught myself Tarot so the meanings wouldn’t be completely whacked.

    I’ve been surprised how intriguing tarot readings are and how much I’ve liked the stories.

  2. Stephanie Says:

    (Which means, I not only enjoyed the movie, but you could say it inspired at least some of my writing and my interest in Tarot). I still do an occasional tarot reading on “Ask Me Anything.”

  3. David Says:

    Stephanie isn’t discovering the tarot an amazing experience, no matter the original reason we first discovered it. I think people who are drawn to the tarot require imagination. Anybody without imagination can’t understand the cards. And not everybody has imagination. A tarot card is far more then only a strange picture.

    I actually had the Bond deck as a teen. It had a book with it and a layout sheet. After playing with it I gave it away because it did not speak to me. I wish I had kept it “mint in box”. Now it’s a collector’s item for Bond collectors.

  4. Arlene deWinter Says:

    This deck is in the wind lately! I have been looking for one for a while and found it was out of print. I think it is being re-released soon according to folks at Borders.
    There is a forum Tarot Collectors Forum that I stop by occasionally. there is a big discussion about the Bond Tarot there that is really interesting. Something about the various versions and titles of the deck.
    Fun post as always!

  5. Stephanie Says:

    The cards that work best for me are the Tarot of the Cat People. My husband’s gone through several decks. He had some he liked, but he hasn’t found any that worked as well since he lost those.

  6. Maria Says:

    Pretty cool post. I just found your site and wanted to say
    that I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  7. Kevin Says:

    Hope this isn’t too wordy but its a true story.
    I loved bond films as a kid, and still do. I remember watching Live & Let Die but I had no idea what Tarot cards were back then and where I lived they never promoted the bond cards. Recently I was on eBay and a set was for sale, there were 5 decks listed from various sellers so I picked the lowest bid unaware of the date or time to end auction. The deck I bid on was a week away from ending so that was why it was so cheap at the time I originally bid. As time went on the bid got rediculously expensive, I looked at other oo7 decks and saw they were way way less. Finally in the small print I realized this was not just any deck, but one that came from the library of a celebrity in Hollywood. It turns out they belonged to the actor singer, Sammy Davis Jr. and someone was auctioning off part of his estate. They had hundreds of items listed all signed or whatever by him. I lost the auction when the bidding ended, but then two days later the seller emailed me that the winner never paid them so if I wanted them I could get them for the last bid. I wanted some assurance that they were really owned by Sammy before shelling out so much money. The seller ended up including dozens of photographs, letterhead, a bowtie (seen in a photo) and some autographed books so eventually I was convinced this was the real deal. Sammy was in the 70′s film Cannonball Run and apparently he was a bond fan. I now have his personal deck which is really neat, but the fact it is a bond deck and the fact that it was a movie I really liked makes it super special to me. I felt like a kid at christmas when the box arrived. I was trying to learn more about the deck and came across your site, thanks for listening to me ramble and thanks for creating the site, cheers.

  8. David Says:

    Hi Kevin, that is a great story. You have a real collectible there. I had no idea Sammy was a Bond fan. I used to have the 007 Bond deck long ago, it came with a book too. But I gave it away to my brother back then. I get a kick out of the 007 logo on the back. I am sure nobody watching the movie recognized the logo.

  9. emma Says:

    i like james bond naturally when your father makes you watch at least 2 movies a week growing up every week you get to like james. but i got a question i recently have come across a set of james bond tarot cards and i am wondering what they might possibly be worth if i had to replace them in the future.

  10. David Says:

    Hi Emma,
    You can check out the cards on Ebay. They are some collector value depending on condition. I lost my original box long ago. I should have kept them in mint condition!
    Dave

  11. jeff Says:

    I have two! One I opened (stupidly) as a kid but have never played it. Today, as I was going through my Mom’s estate stuff in her house, I found the other: SHRINK WRAPPED! I’ll probably put it on Ebay in a few days (unless some collectors want to get in a bidding war or if Christie’s shows some interest. :)

  12. Robby Says:

    I also came across one of these decks digging through my attic and was wondering how to get rid of it to someone who really wants it. In really good condition except on particular card the “strength” card is damaged. If anyone knows a way to get the cards a proper home my email is robbymonster87 hotmail.com . i would just hate to see something as cool as this be wasted

Leave a Reply