Tarot of the QTPOC Deck Review: The Solar Wanderer's Tarot
The Wanderer's Tarot, and it's companion the Solar Wanderer's Tarot, was created by Casey Zabala as a "feminist tarot deck for modern witches." It began its journey on Kickstarter where it funded over three times its goal to great enthusiasm and when you look at its art you quickly see why.
What Drew Me To It
I love color and most of my decks reflect that. Even more I love a deck that fills its card with the full vibrance of its illustrations. So I was very surprised when I saw shots of the the Wanderer's Tarot on my IG feed and was instantly drawn to its simple, unaffected illustrations. It originally came in an all black deck drawn with white illustrations. Though I can appreciate the beauty of a white on black deck, my eyes hurt when concentrating on it. So I was over the moon when the Solar Wanderer's Tarot was released in beautiful black ink on white background.
Look & Feel
The cards themselves arrive in a clam shell style hard-cover box just a bit larger than the cards themselves. If I have to have a box for cards, I prefer this kind of packaging. It's compact, easy to store, and rather durable. The Solar Wanderer's Tarot box is beautiful, all sides and the insides illustrated with symbols from the deck itself.
The deck is larger than your standard tarot deck. The card stock is feels good in the hands, flexible but with a sense they'll last. If you like a bit of flash you'll enjoy the silver gilded edges. Honestly, I could take or leave it. Gilded edges often mean the cards will be glossy which doesn't take to photography well and causes the cards to stick together. It looks pretty enough.
Imagery & Content
The Solar Wanderer's Tarot card backs are completely reversible, illustrated with a shadowy portal radiating light. Which feels so right for this deck, pulling you in and taking your intuition on a journey. The art is stark, beautiful, and it's odd figures seem to be beyond this world. Most are faceless, often having symbols of the suit in place of their heads which I find humorous and wonderful.
For the most part, the Major Arcana titles are the same, not much is different about them. The art is very connected to the Rider-Waite-Smith and easily identifiable, with a few odd ones like the strange Emperor. It's the Minors where things get interesting.
The suits have been revisioned to ground the reader in the natural world. The Moons, Stones, Feathers, and Knives correspond to the traditionally Cups, Pentacles, Wands, and Swords. Zabala paid the Minors their due and the art that will draw you in is mostly here in the Minors. Stark, evocative, and immediately intuitive- even when I'm confused as to where to land with a card, I can still identify an associated feeling that gives meaning to the cards.
Even more interesting is the courts. They have been reorganized with the intention to disrupt gender and other structural hierarchies in place in the traditional naming of the courts.
The Wanderer's court titles are Philosopher (Page), Goddess (Queen), Prophet (King), and Wanderer (Knight) for whom the deck is named for. In this deck, it is the Wanderer who experiences the fullness of life. Zabala writes, "their journey is fueld by their inward desire to 'know thyself' as they have been the Philospher, Goddess, and Prophet and are ready to ascend to another level of understanding of their own being," and in this way they embody the spirit of their suit.
And the purpose of the Wanderer?
To return to the graces of the sacred feminine, remember the connection to the Goddess. This is the deck's central goal, as presented by its author: "The Wanderer's Tarot is an offering to the Goddess. It is a way for us all to reconnect with her sacred wisdom, through the symbols of the elements, our magical tools, and our own intuition... as a feminist tarot deck, it asks all genders and spectrums to honor the Goddess archetype."
All pronouns referring to the courts were using the gender neutral they/them, except for she/her when referring to the Goddess which I enjoyed. My bias may limit my perspective. I work with the Divine Feminine archetype of the Goddess and so I'd be interested to hear how folks who do not identify with the Goddess or sacred feminine might feel about working with a deck like this. Which is that I do think that the experience of working with the Goddess should not be limited based on one's gender-identification, and the Goddess is limited only by our minimizing conceptions. Additionally, there's a lot of work this world needs doing when it comes to respecting and recognizing femme magic.
In terms of representation, it's done in black in white with most of the human-like figures' faces obscured so race isn't explicitly pinpointed (though implicit bias remains). The bodies on the deck are intentionally drawn to play with our ideas of gender, emphasizing the truth that physical markers do not define gender leaving the reader to make their own assumptions and grapple with the reasoning behind those assumptions. As I said, the courts are identified with they/them and she/her. My bone to pick with the deck is that all the figures are thin, with no variation on body size. This undermines its feminist appeal a bit.
The deck doesn't come your standard little white book, instead it has a lovely foldable filled with basic information about number patterns, suit renames, and more details about how Zabala approached the courts. There is a larger guidebook available that can be bought separately. It provides insight into the artistic choices, background on the deck, and spreads for use with the deck. While I'm okay with reading this deck without it, I've always been one who wants to know what the artist was thinking so I appreciate having it.
I would recommend this deck for all levels though I would be sure to have some practice with reading symbols intuitively if I was a beginner. Otherwise it might be pretty inscrutable at first. I do believe that foldable inside the deck helps overcome this issue. Anyone starting with the numerology and symbolism as it is explained in there will be able to have profound readings with deck.
I've had a great time reading with the deck for myself, and have tried it out in client readings and found myself adept with it as well. The simplicity of the illustrations make me feel like all distractions have been cut away and I can just focus on where I'm at right in the moment with the reading.
Where to Purchase