I know that adult coloring books are all the rage right now, but I wanted to produce a tarot coloring book for children, which sure, adults can use, too. The premise of the coloring book is to use the tarot, and namely, my Spirit Keeper’s Tarot deck, to impart everyday insights to children. So it’s instructive to the extent of “everyday wisdom, but with a slight universal-religious bent.”
While writing the text to go along with the card drawings, I pictured only one particular child and envisioned myself talking to her. So I have written this book entirely to her. Her parents come from a particular background and faith, and so do her grandparents (and she’s being raised by her grandparents), so all wording is with that in mind. Whether it ends up being applicable to anyone else in this world, that remains to be seen. But just so you know, I wrote this book to her.
I don’t know if I’m good with children. I don’t have any myself. But I do have a bunch of nieces and nephews. I’m the kind of aunt who–true story– when tasked to babysit for the day, will teach your four-year-old kid how to play chess or a simplified version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise on the piano. I tend to start from a place of presuming that children are brilliant and capable of anything.
Nonetheless, oh man, some of these card entries were really, really hard. The fun part, though, will be people comparing what’s written in this coloring book for each card in Spirit Keeper’s Tarot versus its entry in The Book of Maps, the companion guidebook to the deck, which is written with the presumption that the reader is an actively practicing occultist. I would like to say I was doing okay up until Key 5: The Hierophant (which I’ve renamed to The Holy See). Key 5 was the first card to stump me: how in the heck do I explain this card without being controversial?
The little girl I wrote this book to believes in angels and guardian angels. She goes to church every weekend because her parents take her. Her grandmother is kind of unbearably Christian, if you know what that means. Yet to all of their credit, they’re also very open and accepting about my tarot work and my other metaphysical practices.
Now that you know that little tidbit of background, some of the wording used in the coloring book will make a lot more sense to you.
Each coloring book entry has a rather blank line drawing of the card image on the right side of the page spread and on the left, an image of what the card looks like in the actual produced tarot deck (which is in black and white) and then the card entry explaining some of the insights we can learn from that card. So you may notice that these entries aren’t about divinatory meanings. Instead, there’s something more everyday-wisdom to the text.
Jumping directly from writing about the cards in The Book of Maps to writing about them in this coloring book was kind of a major cultural shock, but a fun one. Like the ear of corn in The Hermit card (renamed The Erudite) where it’s delving into not just the Virgoan essential nature and Christian symbology of abundance in the afterlife, but also the Eleusinian Mysteries alluding to Persephone, Demeter, and Hades and what Crowley had to say about the ear of corn and The Hermit. That stuff is in the so-called “Big Book” (The Book of Maps). But covering all that in wording for children in a big font size on a single page was more than I am capable of. So I did kind of have to over-simplify.
When I got to the Death card, I thought… Crap. I almost abandoned ship, thinking how me writing a children’s book on the tarot was probably a terrible idea anyway. I’m not cut out for this…
As soon as I said that, I realized it was kind of a fascinating challenge. So I went for it. You can click on any of these images for an enlarged viewing and read what I would have to say to a small child about the Death card in tarot (though of course, in specific reference to the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot).
Great. The Devil card. This was another hard one for me. So weirdly, I find that it’s one of the easiest cards to explain to grown-ups, but then to a kid, I just get stumped.
Oh by the way, I haven’t proofread or line-edited the text yet, so already in these screenshots I see some grammatical errors that will need to be fixed. Oops.
Which is harder to explain– The Devil or The Tower? In writing this coloring book, I pictured myself talking to the little girl that this book is written for. What would I say, how could I say it, and what might I have to intentionally leave out, but do so without misrepresenting or distorting the truth?
Specific to the Spirit Keeper’s deck, the hardest Major for me to write for children was The Moon card, which I renamed The Necromancer. There’s a reason I renamed it to The Necromancer, and yet the implications of necromancy are exactly why this card was so hard to explain to a child.
And again, the text in the coloring book isn’t written to give card meanings for divination; it’s to be generally instructive. What can the tarot cards teach us about life? What are some bite-size pieces of insight to chew on while you color? That’s the kind of text I was trying to go for.
It probably goes without saying that Spirit Keeper’s Tarot isn’t necessarily what one would call a tarot deck for children, but I don’t see why children can’t access it. There’s no profanity, no nudity, and I don’t think there are depictions of traumatizing violence, but that’s for a parent to decide after checking out, you know, the Death card I suppose, Tower, Devil, Three of Swords, Ten of Swords, etc. I mean, I’m a million percent certain that this would have been a book my own mother would have let me read at the age of seven.
Psst… just before posting this, I updated the landing page for the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot and added an Introduction and a Design Statement where you can read more about the premise, the background, design point of view, and conception of my tarot deck.
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