One of the first tools or trappings of paganism that I fell in love with as I started down this path was the Tarot. And while my beliefs about it, my manner of working with it, may be different from the norm, I find it to be a very useful and enlightening thing to work with.
However, it’s long bothered me that the imagery is – and understandably so, given its history – so steeped in outdated gender roles and iconography. Even as it lifts some female or feminine figures into powerful places, these women are still caged in ideas of feminine purity, sacred motherhood, or spiritual mystery. Worse, when I read interpretations of cards, the gender divide is rarely challenged. Most uphold the idea that certain traits indicated not just an feminine or masculine ideal, but could indicate a specific male or female person who fits that description.
It’s a very restrictive and, I believe, damaging way to look at the world.
If a querent cannot see herself in the cards or hear herself described by a reader, how can the Tarot fully describe her particular existence? And if readers do not learn to look at cards such as the Kings or the Emperor and see in them the possibility that a woman is sitting on that throne, how can their readings be complete or accurate?
So, not one these days to sit on the sidelines and say “somebody ought to do something about…”, I’ve started work on a Feminist Tarot. Not only do I want to portray all of the figures, archetypes, and ideas embodied in the deck as female, I also want to modernize and diversify the imagery. I think part of the value in the Tarot is that it can potentially describe the entirety of a person’s experiences at some level, but it can only do that if we look past the restrictive iconography. So why not remove it altogether?
Anyway, that’s the project I’ll be putting my attention and effort towards for the next little bit, and therefore I’m going to start posting about some of the interpretive changes I am making to the iconography in the deck. Stay tuned!