The White Sage Tarot by Theresa Hutch and published in late 2018 by U.S. Games is a charming and whimsical little pocket-size deck in a tin in soft pastel hues. It doesn’t feature any humans and instead, focuses on the animal kingdom, though there are references to man-made objects as you’ll see.
The deck description provided by the publisher notes that the intention for White Sage Tarot is to be a balance of masculine and feminine energies. However, it still felt more feminine to me.
You get these quick-reference chakra correspondence cards because understanding the chakra correspondences will factor in to how you read with these cards. There’s also a little white booklet with card meanings that help you to read with this deck that otherwise diverges from traditional tarot imagery.
The cards follow the RWS order of keys in the Majors and rely on animals as omens. While upon first impression the deck may not seem beginner-friendly, there’s a way to get really beautiful and powerful readings with the White Sage Tarot, though I’m probably a bit of a maverick here…
…I totally sidestep traditional tarot reading techniques. I don’t even treat this deck as a tarot deck (even though it is, and totally follows the classical tarot structure).
I go off the imagery outside any tarot system and pretty much ignore my tarot knowledge altogether. So for example, the Temperance card shows up in a reading. I don’t read it as a tarot Key 14: Temperance card. Instead, I look at the butterfly and work only, exclusively, with the butterfly symbolism.
Ever watch those television psychics and mediums, where they blurt out something like, “I’m seeing a butterfly… the spirit is showing me a butterfly… why? What does the butterfly mean?”
Yeah. That’s exactly how I read with these cards. “I’m seeing a light bulb. It’s flickering on and off and it’s the only source of light in a cold, dark, and gray room. Why? What does this mean to me at the moment? Where in my life have I seen this specific imagery?”
And then for the Minors, since I’m fluent with chakra correspondences and know it like the back of my hand, that’s what I rely on when reading the Minors. I do this sort of nonconforming integration of numerology and the chakras when reading with the pips and go solely off of that.
See how there are specifically colored or multi-colored ribbons featured throughout the Minors? The Three of Swords pictured above, for example, features a blue ribbon. Blue is typically associated with the throat chakra. Okay, before we get there, how does the imagery on this card make me feel? Not great–tensions– clash– conflict. Three is fruition so it’s tension and conflict very much going on in my life at the moment. Throat chakra. An argument? A face-off that leaves me finally seeing the truth about someone or something.
Working only off of Hutch’s chakra reference cards, there is no direct chakra correspondence with pink. (Note that there are some modern systems that associate pink with the heart chakra.) So what is a reader to do?
In color theory, red and white make pink and in the Nine of Wands pictured above, to use an example, to get that hue of pink, it’s more white than red. White is the crown chakra and red is the root chakra. I see this as a tension between what my root chakra compels of me and what my crown chakra compels of me, leaving my aspirations at a stalemate (doh, snuck in just a little Minor Arcana elemental suit association there). There’s an internalized clash of wills here.
Reading the Ten of Wands in White Sage Tarot is a great example of how I diverge from traditional tarot reading with the deck. Here, I see a bundle of sticks tied with green ribbon, green for the heart chakra. The imagery here for me represents focused hard work that’s going to yield a very practical, beneficial result. That it’s tied with green ribbon says to me this is what my heart wants and this is the path of following my heart.
Is that a traditional tarot interpretation of the Ten of Wands? No, not really. And yet it works (for me) when reading with White Sage.
Say that the Four of Pentacles shows up (love the sand dollars). Four sand dollars are being brought together into a related cluster by the orange ribbon. Orange is for the sacral chakra– emotions, creativity, innovation, sexuality. “You’ve accumulated the most perfectly harmonious collection of assets for yourself and now it’s about using all of these assets together, in cooperation.”
The little white book provided with the deck offers the more familiar set of card meanings for the tarot, so the deck is certainly operable–and wonderfully so–as a straightforward tarot deck. However, I personally found that I take my readings with White Sage to new levels and it really broadens my psychic horizons and development as a reader to work with this particular tarot deck more as oracle cards than traditional tarot.
Reading cards at a yoga retreat? Do you just feel like the modern spirituality movement was made for someone like you? Then I think you’re going to connect to the White Sage Tarot like a duck takes to water.
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received the White Sage Tarot from the publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.