Exit Interview with the Afro-Brazilian Tarot, Saying Goodbye

I have a deck problem. I can't help it, though I've tried, and I've delighted in growing my collection beyond what I thought it could be just a few years ago when it occurred to me that I could have more than one or two tarot decks. I hesitate to call it a true collection yet- it's not so much curated as the result of whimsy, impulse, and plain old want- but I can't think of a better word that fits.

One of the unfortunate results of growing a collection of items you're not just wanting to look at but work with often is that some of them get forgotten and sorely underused. While some decks are better to just look at, to be quite honest, for those that have a punch and a message to give I'm left feeling guilty. Which is silly. As much as we afford them a sacred place in our various practices, these are still cards. The thought that I should feel guilty is somewhat ridiculous to me.

Which left me two options to deal with this annoying guilt: use 'em or lose 'em.

Most of the cards went in the 'use 'em' pile and alas, at least two went to the 'lose 'em' pile: the Morgan-Greer Tarot and the Afro-Brazilian Tarot. As extra penance, and because I'm very much into making tarot as accessible to as many folks as possible I put them up for second-chance re-sale on my shop at super affordable prices. It wasn't so much about making the money back on the decks as it was paying for basic fair energy exchange and shipping costs. That felt good, and the decks left me with ease.

The Morgan-Greer went first, but before the Afro-Brazilian Tarot left me, at least for now, I had the presence of mind to sort the cards by suit before sending them on to their new keeper. As I sorted them into the five stacks, I remembered the deck interviews I did with the cards and wondered what the exit interview might look like. In the end, the cards spoke for themselves as I was sorting them into the five stacks for each suit.

I placed the cards down according to their suit, without trying to sort for numbered order, and let the final top card speak, creating one last reading for me.

Honestly, after this reading, I'm not so sure about letting this deck go but it's already been promised to someone and I choose to believe that they needed it more than I and that the Afro-Brazilian tarot and I will reconnect another time. It happened with the Mary-El, I sense a repeat. I'll check in next year.

exit interview afro brazilian tarot.jpg

STACK OF CUPS - ruled by water; realm of connection and emotion.
SIX OF CHALICES. In this card, the figure places offerings before soperas representing the ashe of their spiritual guides (in this tradition usually orishas and ancestors) which is a way to offer of ourselves as we ask of those who guide us. We call on our ancestors (biological and not) not just for guidance, but also as a way to honor the lineage we hail from and speak power into our blood and bones which we share with them. This kind of ancestral connection has come up again and again for me and this card is yet another push to recommit to deepening my ancestral connections, a particularly fraught space for me as I grieve the loss of my mother. As fraught as it is, it's a space that has triggered so much growth and deeper understanding of what kind of insight being caught in the veil (for that is what grief is) can bring.

STACK OF WANDS - ruled by fire; realm of spirit and creation
KING OF WANDS. In this card, a figure in all white, face obscured, is dancing. The obscured face indicates that it is an orisha, the all-white should be a reference to Obatala (the LWB for this deck is not always specific as to who is portrayed). If it is Obatala, I find it fascinating that such a notoriously cool-headed spirit should top the suit of Wands. I associate Wands with fire, constant movement, and unyielding passion- at times to a fault. At surface-level, it's hard to place Obatala- except he is the Orisha of intentional creation. One of the animals associated with them (one of my favorite things about Obatala is that she plays with gender) is the snail and not just because of its slow intentional movement. Snails also eat limestone and are said to over time create noticeable grooves if left undisturbed in their habitat for a time. In this way, Obatala was said to have sculpted our crowns (our heads, brains, etc). You can imagine how much care should probably go into that. The final message of this King of Wands is a reminder to undertake my passions with intentional care and attention to detail.

STACK OF SWORDS - ruled by air; realm of logic and communication
FIVE OF SWORDS. In this card, a figure walks away from what looks like an offering of fruits (symbolizing abundance, perhaps). The fruits are surrounded by a red border and four swords, a fifth sword fallen and pointing toward the reader. A candle burns in the corner, dwindling. It's cards like this that make me desperately want Giuseppe Palumbo to write a very long and detailed guidebook on why he chose the symbolism he did. I keep feeling like I'm missing something crucial. There is a feast of abundance at the center but the figure is alone, with no one to share it with, perhaps the owners of those four swords. As for the figure, they found no joy in their victory, dropping their sword and walking away, leaving it for someone else or the wild animals in that forest to partake should they come across it. Going on pure intuition, this feels like a warning around communication right now. I can win all the wars of words I want, and then what? To what end? It's also a nod to my anxiety and the ways in which it can have me straight turning away from abundance under the guise of protecting or taking care of myself.

STACK OF PENTACLES - ruled by earth; realm of practicality and material need
THREE OF PENTACLES. In this card, an unusually lone figure. This high priest (likely a babalawo) dressed in all yellow and surrounded by yellow (abundance, wealth), holds two opon (divination tray) in his hands and a third is on the table before him. The image feels inscrutable. There is a mastery of craft here that feels unreachable to my novice spirit. It feels like I've got a long way to go- and so much more to learn before I complete this particular cycle. Once again, there's the air of the supplicant to their guides. The figure looks up at the unseen (though I'm sure they feel whomever they are beseeching) and is asking for guidance. Another push to sit more deeply with my guides and avoid any notions of rushing through things quickly. Slow and steady and with guidance. That's my best course of action.

STACK OF MAJORS - ruled by all the elements forming pure essence of spirit/aether; realm of experiences and life lessons
THE STARS. I love that they call this card The Stars and not The Star for some reason. I'll sit with that a while and decide why that is so later. In this card, a woman in yellow, face veiled with strands of pearls or cowries that indicate an orisha; she holds a golden dagger and a golden mirror. Yeye O! This is clearly Oshun, orisha of love, beauty, sensuality, femmes, and all that is sweet in the world. This is such a sweet final message, I teared up a little when this card revealed itself as the last of the Major Arcana. Beyond all the optimism traditionally associated with The Star, Oshun occupies a special place in my heart. My name Asali is a gift from her, its literal translation is honey which is sacred medicine to her. To be left to meditate and sit in this energy makes me all glowy and gold inside. I love the layer of sweetness it adds to The Star- though none of it naive! Peep that dagger she holds in one hand even as she delights in her reflection. Her lesson is not vanity, far from it. It's about seeing yourself as you are and being sweet, compassionate, and yes delighted by who you are. Every bit of you. Though she is often heard laughing in the rivers she rules, she has intimate knowledge of deep gut-wrenching pain and what it means to claw your way back to yourself. In all this she never lost the essence of grace inside her, and in the end she was rewarded with all the good in the world- and she does everything she can to pass the gift on.

And with that honeyed kiss of a final reading, I pass this deck along and hope it brings sweetness and magic to its next keeper!

Harmonia Rosales, Birth of Oshun, 2017, from a series of works 'Black Imaginary to Counter Hegemony (B.I.T.C.H.)'

Harmonia Rosales, Birth of Oshun, 2017, from a series of works 'Black Imaginary to Counter Hegemony (B.I.T.C.H.)'