Firstly, I want to share and in a way verbalize my thoughts about certain aspects of tarot spurred after watching Kelly-Ann Maddox’s new video.
I want to talk about the tarot in relation to color politics and dynamics, or better said in relation to people of color.
Essentially, in its core or heart, tarot transcends issues of color, imperialism, and gender. The reader approaches the cards and reads in them the full aspect and spectrum of life. This spectrum does not necessarily deal with the previously mentioned issues. What it does deal with are metaphysical, spiritual, material, ambitious, vile and destructive aspects of life. Our everyday physical and non-physical life. The visible and the invisible. What goes on inside and outside of our selves. Therefore, tarot is not in essence concerned with the divisive issues that humanity itself has built up, that humanity itself has constructed.
With that said, there is a historicity to tarot, its roots, where it sprung from that links it to issues of economic and cultural strata. I am not a tarot historian in any way, and I could very well be mistaken in this, please correct me if I am, but tarot sprung up in specific spheres of society, and these spheres were not poor, nor the minority. These underpinnings come with the historicity of tarot but it by no means diminishes the power and transcendence of tarot. Given these underpinnings tarot has a specific look, the classic tarot, and it is beautiful and I certainly do not pretend to suggest that that should change. Classic, historical decks are of immense value. They are eternal and enduring and important.
What I want to address here are the new decks coming out, the new decks being created. I feel there should be a re-visioning of our communal perspective in regards to tarot and the images and archetypes depicted therein. Our current postmodern hyperreal global world is immensely diverse, and this diversity, as opposed to being limited in its visibility is increasingly visible. Newer generations are able to interact with and see the whole spectrum of diversity that abides on this planet. Given this “progress”, the tarot community should address the diversity and the multifarious nature of it all. We should be open to different perspectives of seeing eternal archetypes, and open to representing these perspectives in an honest manner. By honest manner, I mean including people of color, including the minority, the outsiders, and the disenfranchised without objectifying nor “exotifying” (yes, I made that word up) these people and their respective culture.
I have thought about this issue on and off for a while now, as I look at the decks I have and love. I remember one specific occasion in which this issue reared its head. I had ordered the Golden Universal, seeking to bridge a connection with the classic RWS, a deck I do not connect with at all. Unboxing it, I was really excited, anxious to see it, shuffle it and play with the cards. As I flipped through the cards, I was struck by the predominance of blonde people. I know the RWS is a classic deck and I am not suggesting it should change, what I am addressing are the choices behind the re-visioning of this deck by the publisher. I would have been happy with a couple brown haired people. If I recall correctly, I might be wrong, but the original RWS did not have so many blondes. Again, these are just opinions.
In the beginning of my tarot journey, I was immensely drawn to black and white decks, stark and monochrome. Hence, my first deck was the Hermetic Tarot. From then onward, I have grown to include more variety and color in my decks, and I love all of them and the ones on my wishlist. I love Tarot for all it is, all it brings to the table, its many uses in life both visible and invisible life. I love all it stands for and all the creative endeavors that have sprung up from the inspiration of the 78 cards.
I am not sure if my point has been transmitted clearly, if I even make sense to the outside reader. But I do want to clarify before ending that I am just one humble person, giving my very humble and, in many ways, naive opinion. I do not pretend to be an expert in any way, shape or form.