Tarot Bloghop: Don't Fence Me In with Tarot Traditions


Our Tarot Bloghop theme is "Don't Fence Me In" and so in a modality like tarot, full of old stodgy traditions, I decided to shout just that at some of my least favorite tarot traditions.

Your first deck must be gifted.

It deeply saddens me how many people's tarot practice was slowed down or worse, never started up because of this old myth.

It comes from a sweet place- but it just isn't so. Tarot is a mirror. It's for you, first. Even those of us who read professionally, we understand that the relationship to the cards is personal first and that's what enables us to share that with our querents. Otherwise I'm just regurgitating some memorized lines to you. Which just isn't the wave.

Also, this social justice witch despises gatekeeping. The idea that someone has to invite you into the club and give you a special pass makes my skin itch. Tarot isn't a country club, it's a public park.

So if you ever run across someone slinging this at you, go with the theme of this bloghop and shout out "Don't Fence Me In!"

Assumed gender, race, class, & other hierarchies.

If I asked you to describe the King of Pentacles what would you say? What do they look like? What is their job/career? What are the pronouns you used to describe them? Why did you make those particular choices?

How about this Emperor from the Numinous Tarot?

How about this Emperor from the Numinous Tarot?

If I said that my King of Pentacles was an Black disabled queer local community non-profit worker in their late 20s who often organizes community outreach programs around work, health, and shelter and that she specializes in making the always dwindling budget of her program work miracles, would you want to re-label her the Queen or Page of Pentacles? For her gender? For her age? For her job/career?

Even as a queer tarot reader I had to unpack so much when it came to working with the tarot. All the tarot books beginners are invited to read were all talking about gender, race, sexuality, and class in narrow terms with no room to breathe. It didn't feel right. So I wiggled and I twisted and found new ways of approaching the cards. I discovered decks like the Numinous Tarot and Slow Holler that didn't stick to those assignations and revisioned the cards through their art and language. I discovered decks like the Wanderer's Tarot that re-organized and renamed some of the courts. I discovered myself and my community in decks like these and suddenly the road to tarot wisdom was no longer closed to someone like me.

This revisioning did not cheapen my connection to the cards, it deepened it. And if the argument is that it separated me from those older traditions, well I don't want that kind of stifling connection, anyway. Don't fence me in!

Your deck must be complete to 'work'.

Speaking of... here is one that folks may find even more radical than the one before.


Before I start, I don't believe in good and bad cards. All cards in the tarot have a story to tell, something to illuminate within us. And also, I can hold space for folks who may feel strongly about certain cards. It's not just The Tower and Death that can scare someone off. There are folks for whom the seemingly happiest cards, even cards like The Sun, can cause a dark and painful reaction. Tarot norms say lean in to that discomfort, uncover the reasons behind it, work the shadow. And yes, okay there's value in that.

It just can't be the last word on that.

There's little as harmful as being forced to face trauma we're not ready to deal with. I invite you to ignore anyone who tells you that you have to rake yourself over hot coal unnecessarily. I believe in compassionate healing. Tarot can be an intense experience, one that's not all sunshine and roses, but it is not meant to be a punishment. Re-traumatizing yourself for the sake of keeping a deck complete just doesn't compute! Especially when that deck is supposed to be helping you.

And of course, should you feel pushed beyond your limit, take a deep breath and let it all out with a ringing "Don't fence me in!"

Feels good doesn't it?