Tarot Going Mainstream + So You Wanna Create a Tarot Deck?

This post is a combo, a two-fer. First, above, I share Episode #22 of Bell Chimes In, a cheeky rant on tarot deck creators. Oh, by the way, the deck I’m displaying is the Venetian Tarot by Eugene Vinitski, which I love and have been using religiously for all my personal readings as of late. Vinitski’s deck is totally not one of the decks I’m whining about in the video rant. I literally just showed this deck for the cover pic because it matched my outfit.

It turns out this video is somewhat related to something else. This month (January, 2018), Ethony over at Tarot Readers Academy is hosting the annual “31 Days of Tarot” challenge. For Day 26 (Friday), the prompt was to share your thoughts on tarot going mainstream. I have had so much fun watching people’s YouTube videos on this. Can’t link them all, but the most recent ones I watched are listed below. There’s a diversity of perspectives offered here, so definitely check out more than one.

Mad props and shout-out to Cape Code Creatures for keeping it real. I also love how personal Nobody Here gets.

There is, however, a pretty big distinction between what I think about tarot going mainstream and the dilution of tarot deck publications.

I’m a huge proponent of tarot going mainstream because it’s like yoga and meditation going mainstream. The more expansive the reach, the more people these practices can help. When yoga is extending the years on our grandparents, helping injured war veterans in physical therapy, and dramatically changing so many people’s physical and emotional health for the better, are old guard purist mystics seriously going to cry about yoga going mainstream?

I’ve watched so many people, both I’ve-got-my-shit-together and I-do-not-have-my-shit-together types, who thought tarot was bullshit, learned just a little bit more about tarot, and opened up to the enormous personal benefits that these cards can offer. So tarot going mainstream is a wonderful thing.

On the other hand, every third hipster graphic designer jumping on the “I’m gonna self-publish my own tarot deck and launch it on Kickstarter”… that’s a different issue for me. If you’re going to produce and sell a tarot deck, then do a little homework first. No, strike that. Do a lot of homework first, please.

I’m so not against kitschy tarot decks, by the way. I love me a good tongue-in-cheek cutesie tarot deck. In fact, those are awesome. Man, I own so many “oh whut, they made a tarot deck out of this?” tarot decks and treasure every single one. But guess what. All of them were made by creators who seemed to know a thing or two, or ten about tarot. That’s all I’m saying. Know your shit.

The ones that get under my skin are when clearly the deck creator is taking him or herself way too seriously and yet the blatant ignorance in the realm of tarot fundamentals is undeniable. Or when people turn a pre-existing project into a tarot deck because the tarot is cool and trending, so what’s actually going on is the project is about the creator, not about the tarot. A tarot deck should be about the tarot, always.

But I’ve seen this deluge of sub-par tarot decks on the market these days where the deck creation project itself becomes nothing more than a means to self-congratulatory glory. The project isn’t about producing something extraordinary. It’s about fanning the personal ego. I’m not against deck creators doing that. I would simply urge tarot deck creators to be better than that.

4 thoughts on “Tarot Going Mainstream + So You Wanna Create a Tarot Deck?

  1. I agree on the topic of tarot deck creators. I love and encourage diversity in tarot deck creation but not at the expense of substance, meaning and authenticity. I know my love for decks that have traditional occult background or serious vibe/work behind may hinder a bit my objectivity but spreading the use and the learning of tarot through “kind of biaised” tools will just water down the richness of the teachings tarot can initiate. I’ve seen some kickstarter projects proposing decks with great cardstock, top-notch finishing and elaborate graphic design but it was often missing the essential : a soul, some depth, meaning, a real work of research…

    For me this phenomenon is tighly linked to the “spiritual burnout” I feel sometimes these days. I know it’s another debate but apart from a few writers/youtubers who use modern tools like social media to inspire, to share (and by share I mean actually sharing a “real” thing, not those billions of unboxing videos…), to stimulate intellectual curiosity, there is a largely spread and what I would called nocive behavior : the “instagramation” of the craft/the spiritual world. It’s like having nice crystals around your cards on a wooden table with some witchy stuff meticulously displayed around and the likes your gonna get for your “hard work” has become far more important than the real personal work. A lot of people seems to have forgotten the essence of all this. I know we can’t put everyone in the same bag but I can’t help but think this romanticized watered down presentation of the spiritual world and the craft just encourage the newcomers (not matter how old they are) to satisfy themselves with the visual aspect and the “I’m a part of this original community” thing without teaching them the taste to do their homework, to research, to do things that matter, not for an audience who will give them good grades in the form of likes and retweets, but for the very person they are. Maybe all this is part of the learning nowadays, I don’t know. My rambling kinda sounds like “I miss the old days”, but I swear I’m not that old ;p Guess you can blame my scorpio moon for my thirst for depth and meaning in things…

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