Get ready. I’m coming in hot.
We’re all in agreement that the way society has been built is to keep us all in our own boxes, right? Where we are placed in those boxes the second we were born, and we were taught to live up to the societal standards assigned to our boxes.
If you don’t agree at all, that's cool. Welcome. And if you’re open to it let’s talk about those boxes.
Thank goodness we are here and thriving in 2020 where Millennials and Gen Z are all about jumping out of those boxes and creating our own safe space where we can figure out who we are. I want to pay homage to those who broke the mold before us, those who broke the mold when it wasn’t as safe as it is to do so nowadays. We love and appreciate your energy. We would not be where we are today with out you all.
And with that, let’s talk about patriarchy and tarot.
The OG: Smith Rider-Waite Tarot
The Smith Rider-Waite Tarot deck was published in December 1909 by A. E. Waite and artist Pamela Colman Smith. Waite was born in the United States and raised in England. Smith’s mother was Jamaican and her father was British. She spent her time in Kingston, New York and London. I’m keeping this all super brief because I’m anxious to get into the reason for this post.
Smith is a woman of color who designed all the tarot cards and didn’t get paid for her illustrations. Her name wasn’t even on the original iterations of the deck. It’s because of this that I refer to the deck universally known as the Rider-Waite as the Smith Rider-Waite. Paying tribute to an artist that was a woman of color is so incredibly important to me and this is the common thread when it comes to my work’s inclusivity while giving respect to those who have helped pave the way for us baby witches.
If you’re interested in a more in-depth history of the deck: https://tarot-heritage.com/history-4/the-rider-waite-smith-deck/
In the Smith Rider-Waite deck we see no people of color, no same sex relationships and everyone is able-bodied. I’m not here to put blame or criticize the deck by any means. What I am saying, is that it’s time for a much needed update.
I learned tarot on this deck and it will forever hold a place in my heart, but as a Latina woman, ya girl wants some diversity in her deck.
The ripple effect of this deck also trickled down to the interpretations of the cards.
When I began studying tarot, I was obsessed with watching readers on YouTube. I lived for the monthly overviews that would help identify some energies to look out for in myself and with others. I was tying these little phrases and energies to the cards in order to learn from my favorite readers. When I saw the Six of Cups, I immediately thought of a past love connection, something so deep that past lives were built on it. Now, that could be how some people see the Six of Cups, but I’ve completely altered my thinking. How about the Devil? Oh that was 100% obsession and addiction. Again, I don’t see that card like that anymore. And The Empress? Maternal, motherly, selfless and warm. Yeah, not so much.
We have tied these old belief systems to these cards. The Six of Cups does not need to be tied to romance. What if that comes up in a reading and the person you’re reading for is asexual? The Devil, yeah, its not automatically tied to something “bad”. The Empress is not just motherly energy. What if the person you’re reading for is a woman, but doesn’t identify with wanting to be a mother? What if the person you're reading for doesn't identify as female?
These are all old paradigms we were consciously or unconsciously passed down to us. Those who are in this community and use tarot may have been taught this old way of thinking or maybe someone didn’t even pick up a deck because they didn’t identify with those close-minded energies that are attached to the cards.
Again, there is no blame here. This is about identifying and understanding that the world has always been colored with various kinds of people. We are all beautiful and unique in our own way and that should be celebrated especially now.
Inclusivity on Decks Thank goodness we are in 2020 and (most if not all) of us are here for the inclusivity and embrace diversity. Can I get a hell yes?
We are here and ready to put our money toward sharing the table with any and all who want to sit with us. Some decks that I’m here for (I’m going to do my best to find the links directly from the artist or link a small business. With a quick Google search you can also find some of these on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.):
Dust to Only by Courtney Alexander: I remember Lindsay Mack (https://lindsaymack.com/podcast) interviewed the creator of this deck and I learned so much. Courtney Alexander is a woman of color and created the deck to highlight African culture, and did it through a Kickstarter campaign. The images on these cards are absolutely stunning. It’s mind-blowing. This deck is more expensive, but if you are able to spend your money and support a woman of color, I highly recommend checking this deck out. https://dust2onyx.com
Modern Witch Tarot by Lisa Sterle: The imagery follows the Smith Rider-Waite deck, but the cards highlight people of color. The colors and wardrobe are updated, there’s body hair, we’ve got body inclusivity and so much more. I cannot recommend this deck enough for any baby witches out there that are beginning their tarot journey. https://bit.ly/3kRUkq3
Next World Tarot by Christy C. Road: First of all, the people in this deck are so rad. The drawings on this deck highlight are so unique and one person has a bob with a blue streak running through it. This deck includes, BIPOC, the queer community, body inclusivity, various cultures and not every card includes an able-bodied person. https://amzn.to/34PzkuF
The Ghetto Tarot by Alice Smeets: The author created this deck with the assistance of a group of Haitian artists called Atis Rezistans using only material they were able to find or create locally.The site states the images were shot in the Haitian ghetto. The colors pop. The people are beautiful and the cards capture their unique culture. https://www.ghettotarot.de
And Now it’s Your Turn
I am so here for those in this world who are done with putting others in boxes and now that there are so many decks and creators that have that creative energy to help fuel their dreams, we are on our way people. Let’s let people decide who they are and let’s ask them about their heritages, their traditions and how we can do our part. It takes a willing ear to listen and not interrupt. It takes a safe space for someone to feel comfortable expressing themselves. It takes inclusivity in art, TV, music, yoga, tarot, etc. for those who feel unseen to be seen.
I also know there are so many more decks out there that were created by BIPOC, those in the LGBTQIA+ and more who’s purpose is to highlight the uniqueness of the world. If there’s deck you adore that please let me and the people of the internet know.