Asian voices in the tarot community

Morning Calm Oracle by Seo Kelleher

When I was growing up in the tarot world, the only Asian I knew of in this field was Robert Wang. Times have changed some, and I’m pleased to share with you many who are contributing incredible work to the tarot community.

In no particular order, here’s who I’ve been fangirling hard over as of late:

T. Susan Chang is the author of Tarot of Magical Correspondences and co-author of the forthcoming Tarot Deciphered. She hosts a podcast with M. M. Meleen, Fortune’s Wheelhouse, which by all accounts is one of the best tarot podcasts around. Follow her work or sign up for one of her online courses here.

I love being able to follow tarot deck creators on social media and getting to know the personalities behind the creativity. If you do, too, check out Kimberly Tsan (Fables Den), who created Way of the Panda Tarot and the Spread Machine Cards and Oracle, among other decks.

Wai Yim of On the Cusp Tarot and Juli Rose of Peekaboorose produce some of the most positive and inspiring videos on Tarot Tube. Also, they were both there for me through some tough times and I’m forever grateful as a friend, in addition to really enjoying their content. Wai inspires me. He is fearless, opinionated, charismatic, and full of love.

Juli is a talented writer who has also created the Inspired Soul Tarot, Cup of Contemplation Cards, Storytale Lenormand, and Spoopy Lenormand. Buy her decks and support her work here.

Also, Pamela Chen created the Witchling Academy Tarot, along with illustrator Mindy Zhang, and the Crystal Unicorn Tarot. Psst… no idea if she knows this, but I’m constantly lurking in her Livestreams on High Magick Divination, which she hosts with fellow deck creator Leeza Robertson. The two are amazing and produce such incredibly uplifting and healing energy.

Pocket of Peers Tarot by Jamie Sawyer

Chaweon Koo of Witches & Wine is perhaps better known in occult circles than in tarot, and has been blowing up on WitchTok @hichaweon, making every witchy Asian super proud. But she does tarot, too. So I’m introducing you to her. =)

Seo Kelleher @seokelleher is a Korean shaman and creator of the Morning Calm Oracle. She offers an incredible roster of online courses. I also want to give a signal boost to a group she started, in case there are any spirituality-curious women from the Korean Diaspora reading this. Go check out Unnie-ne.

Key 11: Justice from The Light Seer’s Tarot

Greg Traw @nohheechul is the creator of the Dracxiodos Tarot, which I’ve reviewed on this blog here. That intoxicatingly beautiful deck is chaos magic in a box. If you want to witness modern alchemy in pictorial form, check out his art.

Tina Gong has published several luscious modernist decks. The painstaking efforts she devotes to the production value of her tarot and Lenormand decks means they’re some of the most attractive ones in town. I reviewed her Golden Thread Tarot here. She’s the founder of the popular Labryinthos Academy.

Lucy Morningstar @lucymorningstar.art is a multi-talented traditional artist who has collaborated with Ethony Dawn and Theresa Reed (The Tarot Lady) on some incredible tarot decks that are forthcoming, so stay tuned!

I was thrilled for the opportunity to meet Charlyn Gee @charlyngee at Readers Studio in New York City a few years back. She creates these hand-crafted tarot stones that I love. Becky Wong is the founder of Estrella Studio and hand-crafts the most magical crystal jewelry. I’m lucky enough to have several pieces of her work.

Rome Choi, who has a smile and swagger that lights up a room, created the Dreaming Way Tarot, has been involved in the tarot world since the 90s, and teaches tarot. He also contributes a great deal of work to The Tarot School in New York. We met at Readers Studio where I laughed at his jokes and talked shop.

The True Black Tarot by Arthur Wang has been on my radar for a while now. His stunning design skills and the artisanal craftsmanship he dedicates to the production of his deck broke tarot Internet and continues to position him as the platinum standard. Then there’s Yoshi Yoshitani, who exploded onto the tarot scene last year with Tarot of the Divine.

Artist: Greg Traw

Maria Wander @maria.wander is another kindred spirit I’ve had the great luck of getting to meet in person. She’s a cartomancer, teaches different forms of cartomancy, and is an astrologer, all while sharing lots of witchy goodness.

Hazellie Wong was one of the first fellow Asian tarot readers I came across. She’s also an expert in numerology and runs Myna’s School of Metaphysics.

Sonny Zaide is an acupuncturist, energy healer, and shamanic healer at The Purple Cloud based in Chicago. Be sure to follow him on Instagram or via his Twitter handle, @PurpleCloudChi.

Awakened Soul Oracle Deck by Ethony

A few Asian Tarot-Tubers to check out are Casper from The Boy Diviner, Annaka from Nobody Here 2020, Ni from The Immaterial Garden, and Alissa from Half Asian Tarot Queen.

If you’re looking for a tarot reader to book yourself a reading, check out Gaius Wong Tarot. Meanwhile Liz Hong @l.izhong offers spiritual business coaching and specializes on helping tarot readers go pro.

Ancestral Path Tarot by Julie Cuccia Watts

Jeff @mytarotreader does this great photo series on the Otherkin Tarot and @twisttheleaf shares his personal tarot readings in a way that’ll inspire your own tarot journey. Tamsara Grey @mysticalmagpie shares glimpses into her deck collection, tarot spell workings, and her personal spirituality. Simone Grace Seol, whose tagline is “I am your Asian mom” (love it!), is a marketing, media, and life coach. I mention her in this post because she started out as a tarot reader and hypnotherapist.

If you’re interested in Hmong shamanism, follow Tassie Yang of Shaman Memoirs. She has the coolest and most informative videos on her YouTube channel. I also love Master Shaman PaLiChee’s channel. She offers some free faith healing videos that I think will pique your interest. Both have done videos on tarot cards in the past, so there’s the tarot connection! =)

There are for sure so many more names and faces I’ve missed, and I preemptively feel awful about it! Please help me out by leaving their names and info in the comments section. Specifically, I wish for more Diasporic South Asian tarot voices on my radar.

A…long time ago…

Once upon a time, I was that girl with a mic standing on a raised platform in the middle of the student union reciting spoken word poetry about Vincent Chin, lessons learned from the L.A. Riots, the need for solidarity among the marginalized, political apathy in the Asian community, and cultural imperialism. Once upon a time I published pamphleteer articles ranting about race, intersectional feminism, and politics. Those were the days before Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Pamphleteer culture was literally writing and printing out your manifestos from the school library, taking it to Kinkos to make two hundred copies, and disseminating them across campus grounds, passed from one hand to another. We stayed up all night painting posters, then stood outside of city hall in throngs, chanting into megaphones.

But aging, the corporate life, and adulting mellows you out; you become jaded. Once upon a time, the 20-year-old me really believed that I could single-handedly change the world by shouting my words into the crowd. At some point, reality sinks in. Also, life experience. You come to understand that it takes a lot more than words; it takes empathy, and patience, and humility, cooperation, and demands that you walk the path of your higher angels.

I am in awe at the new rising generation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who now bear the torch. I am even more touched to the brink of tears that so many of them are witches, occult practitioners, tarot readers, who openly practice shamanism, divination, psychic mediumship, and who are intrepid enough to pursue careers in the creative arts, defying parental and social expectations.

(Check out “Can Asian-Americans be Witches?” where Chaweon, journalist Fei Lu, Ryan the Conjure Man, and I chat. The video was inspired by Fei’s article in Paper, “Asian Americans Can Be Witches, Too.”)

I remember in undergrad, a professor of Asian American Studies called me in to her office after reading one of my articles and she said to me, “It’s funny, you know, how your generation reexamines these issues we were dealing with back in the 70s and 80s.”

And here I thought I was a pioneer, writing about new issues that no one has ever talked about before us. The professor smiled and shook her head. “Oh no. These problems were talked about in the 1800s–the massacre of 1871, the riot of 1877– on through the 1950s after the Internment, the 60s, the 70s, and are still perpetuated and unresolved today. Perhaps you’ll be the generation that changes it all.”

We weren’t. Maybe we moved the needle. I’d like to think we did. But no. Those problems we faced in the 80s, the 90s, and even the early 2000s are still being tackled today.

Maybe this Gen Z will be the ones who change it all.

43 thoughts on “Asian voices in the tarot community

  1. Wai

    Thank you so much for putting this together. Thank you for the kind mention.
    Thank you for all that you do.
    I see you. I hear you. And I thank you.

    Like

  2. Tyche

    In the Fortunes Wheelhouse Facebook group, Rowan Ong is sharing the amazing art and stories that are making up the South East Asian Tarot, I am learning so much about the history and magical stories from countries like Singapore, Malaysia and new South East Asian artists work. Well worth checking out.

    Like

  3. I’d like to add the extremely prolific tarot artist Lynyrd-Jym Narciso Paraluman studios.
    https://www.paraluman-studio.com/

    He’s also part of an project that is in the works, the SEAMS Tarot project (Southeast Asian Myths and Stories Tarot), a collaborative tarot project featuring a diverse membership of artists from various countries in Southeast Asia, and the myths and stories they share .
    You can see more on that here: https://www.facebook.com/SEAMS-Tarot-104284388273247/

    Like

    1. Wow Paraluman Studio decks look so stunning. I’m kicking mad at myself for having missed Lynyrd-Jym’s work! How could I be such an asshat! Thank you for alerting me to the SEAMS Tarot Project. So happy that’s now on my radar. It is looking amazing! ❤

      Like

      1. You are so NOT an asshat.
        It’s your blog post that helps bring out these artists and these projects. There is so much amazing work going on, everywhere. It’s so beautiful to see all this sharing of information.
        This is exactly how it is supposed to work. 💚

        Like

      2. Yes Benebell, Ly is a-mazing and has, I think been making decks for 20 years now and at not yet 40 that is a heck of a pedigree. He is artistically verstile, beyond talented and a humble, great teacher.I just adore him.

        Like

    2. stankbeest

      Yes! Lynyrd-Jym Narciso is an amazingly talented and diverse Artist. I just wish he would re-issue some of those great super-limited older Decks of his (like, only 50 copies made of each). I emailed him a while ago and he did say he was considering doing just that some time this year – but apparently he is famous for delaying and even abandoning planned productions. Though supposedly his “Discorporae Tarot” is well on its way to completion. Hopefully we will see it soon.

      And THANK YOU for the tip about the upcoming “SEAMS Tarot”. I will even try to get my wife interested in this one (she is Vietnamese). I’ll be on the lookout for their Kickstarter campaign for sure.

      Like

  4. Cool! Now I have a bunch of great tips on interesting new decks from another perspective. Many thanks.
    …and let’s not forget Ivy Feng of “Wheel Of Fortune Tarot”. Also some really powerful cards by Celine Jeong for the “ETA Oracle” collaboration deck.

    Like

  5. Thanks for the mention, Bell, and elevating so many Asian voices. You’ve been someone I’ve looked up to since I started reading the tarot and definitely for many others as well. Your story is important. While I’m not American, I feel for my Asian-American brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunties; with my limited platform, I hope to spread more awareness. Much love, Casper

    Like

  6. Liz @weststarhealthandhealing

    Wonderful newsletter full of great resources. I hear you about thinking you can change the world….., but thank goodness for every twenty-something who tried! I’m still trying well into my sixties! We gotta at least try.

    Like

  7. SK

    Hello,
    Am a Canadian (South Asian descent) and been reading tarot for past 25 years plus. Self-taught but love your inspirational work and your book “Holistic Tarot” plus adore Katrina Wynne’s in depth courses. Just wanted to say hey and appreciate your work🌷. GREAT ARTICLE. 🙏
    Also check out Tina Gong’s fantastic book, decks, website and apps for learning tarot. Can find at the website
    https://labyrinthos.co/
    Be well 🌷

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Allan T. Ritchie

    This is a great post. Thank you. I would like to add Zach Wong the creator of the Revelations Tarot. It has been one of my go to decks for fifteen years.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. quickectomy

    I think it is great to call out products from marginalized communities – especially ones that have been in ‘under the radar’ until recently. (the “alarm clock” hadn’t gotten loud enough yet, sadly). I would also like to challenge you (from the heart) on a reply you gave a reader. It was about a word which means something like, “adopting a historic skill/gift from one culture into another, which can dilute the traditional meaning and/or even change it”. It had a sense of disdain. The perfect example is someone from Kansas, Oklahoma claiming to be a “Feng-shui expert”. (I agree here – many of these so-called ‘experts’ have never heard of the Flying Stars school). Anthro…something? My view is that this phenomenon, when kept true to tradition, is essential “cultural translation” if the tradition hopes to survive. Literally referred to as “terma” in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I’m pointing out a conflict in opinions you’ve expressed with that “advice post” and this one. AND I support this celebration of acknowledgement. (The Black tarot deck – WOAH! If only I could learn again! I suffer from ADEM from a tick-born virus).

    Like

  10. Shadowrose

    Hi Bell,
    I always appreciate your very considerate and balanced thoughts about racism, sexism, cultural appropriation, as well as, struggles within the esoteric community and vs. science/rationalists and other topics that cause frequent discussions and shit-storms.
    It’s true, that all those topics have been discussed over and over again, already, decades ago. Progress is slow for tradition tends to preserve itself (that is a good thing in respect to cultural identity, music, arts, rites, etc. – but negative when marginalizing certain groups). However, identity (not only cultural) goes hand in hand with definition. For example: What are the criteria that make one a certain sex/nationality/member of religious group/member of political group/whatever? Those criteria/definitions change over time. But no matter what those criteria are and whether we would judge them positive or negative from today’s societies point of view – there will always be groups being marginalized. Yes, women, Blacks, Asians, etc. have been the ones being marginalized for far too long in human history (and it is great to see it changing!). But what I want to say is, that as soon as criteria change other groups are being marginalized and they will fight against that, for nobody wants to be marginalized. Let’s say finally society has overcome racism – then it’s being the racists being marginalized. Pretty fair, but they won’t give up just like that (and are – right now – still in a stronger position). See, what I mean?
    Society can overcome certain forms of discrimination, but it will never suffice in making everyone happy. For there are too many different opinions and advantages for one are the disadvantages for the other. Just like yin and yang.
    The other problem is indeed, that change is so slow that the generation who is initializing the change will not experience a true difference. No matter whether it’s women going to university, blacks using the same entrance like whites or nerds being considered as cool kids. Those who started to make the difference are those being inconvenient to those who want everything to stay as is. They are the “troublemakers”. It’s the next generation who grows up with new values and norms. They won’t complain about the new rules, for they are used to it (it’s their tradition).
    Anyways, however slow-going and unsatisfactory it may appear, I think it’s not in vain. And you are doing a great job!
    Not judging but rather encourage awareness and self-reflection is the best thing one can do.

    p.s. I am average caucasian but always considered myself as open minded and pro-diversity, multicultural, not defining myself or others by their appearance or cultural background (as far as they did not WANT to be defined by that). But even I had to learn that I made some mentions or unintended differences that could be seen as racist. Or I just didn’t stand up enough against it in some awkward situations. I try to be more aware and I can only encourage others to do so, too. Reflect, reflect, reflect! Be mindful, be aware. But also don’t start shit-storming others whenever you see them making a mistake for you could be guilty of the same thing without noticing. Not a single person is entirely free of prejudice and misleading choice of words.

    Like

    1. Tyche

      ‘Society can overcome certain forms of discrimination, but it will never suffice in making everyone happy. For there are too many different opinions and advantages for one are the disadvantages for the other.’

      I don’t think it’s about making everybody happy, it’s about making sure people have access to their rights to exist as equal in dignity and legal personhood. The argument that all this progress is nice but it’s slow and it hurts racists feelings/makes them feel marginalised and since we’ve always had racism maybe we always will have… that arguments suits racists. It’s what neo nazis count on white people to believe. It’s at best apathy to the struggle of people who need you.

      If you see racial justice as a ‘would be nice to have’ pipe dream then you are accepting the racist status quo, my friend. I’m guessing that doesn’t sit well with your values because you don’t sound like somebody who thinks someone who practices a different spiritual practice or who has more or less melanin in their skin is inferior to you.

      Like

  11. Shadowrose

    Another thought that came to my mind:
    A society is always strongly influenced by media and the stories we tell. But the influence and status can change over time when society changes. So, stories always have to be seen in their historical context.
    I personally like adventure stories like Indiana Jones, Quatermain etc.. The latter was very progressive and open minded for the time it was written in. H. Rider Haggard lived in a time when Europeans were in the middle of colonization, claimed themselves to be the superior race and culture in the whole world and so on. The protagonist of the story saw differences in habbits, but not in worth and cultivation between blacks and whites. However, I believe, without seeing the historical context, one would also consider the story racist from today’s point of view. (not to mention many aspects from Indiana Jones – although he is also depicted as pro-respect for different cultures).
    Same goes to StarTrek. A black female lieutenant was revolution in the 1960ies. Today we might argue about female (and black) roles in the tv series. I even met true racists that like star trek – for they just liked the sci-fi theme and action, but didn’t get the hidden criticism in the stories.
    However – that can cause that a story that was once symbol and help for a positive change, can later on convert to a story that rather helps changing back to a less open minded state. Unfortunately. And that might also be part of the very slow progress.
    I mean, most of us like those tv series and movies we grew up with. But that also causes older values and norms to remain far longer.

    Like

  12. Juli

    Thank you so much for this post and for including me among this fantastic group of AAPI. As an FYI, people can also find Seo Kelleher’s sister Sarah Choi, the organizer of the Unni-ne group, on Instagram @sarahchoi.rocks.

    As always, I appreciate you so fierce! Thank you for making us feel seen, for continuing to use your voice, and continuing to move that needle. ❤ xoxoxo

    Like

  13. May I add Amnart Klanprachar to the list, creator of the beautiful Roots of Asia Tarot?

    And also Nathnat Tangtassawadi, creator of the Four Heavenly Kings Tarot. I have both decks and love them.

    Did anyone mention the Nusantara Tarot?

    Like

  14. Laura (aquamarine18)

    Wonderful list Benebell! If I may, I would also like to add a few more wonderful creators of Asian descent in the tarot world:

    Janice Tsao (@oseastars on Instagram) is currently creating an amazing tarot deck featuring sea creatures.

    Tina (@queenofwans on Instagram) has created several beautiful decks, including Tarot of Architectural Objects and Naturescapes Tarot.

    Addi Miyako (@amiyakom on Instagram) created the stunning Botan Tarot.

    Like

  15. Rydra Huang

    Love this, and thanks for putting it together! Also adore the Botan Tarot (by @amiyakom, mentioned in comments ), the Oriens Tarot by @ambi_sun (Malaysian born/ Melbourne based), the Jia Sung Trickster’s Journey Majors, and the Open in Emergency Asian American Literary Review Tarot is interesting too.

    Like

  16. stankbeest

    Hey Bennie,
    I just discovered that the SEAMS Tarot is now on Kickstarter. It looks like they have a long way to go before they reach their funding goals. PLEASE PLEASE give a plug, if possible – it would be great if the work of these Southeast Asian Artists could come to fruition. I just pledged a Deck myself…

    Like

  17. Patrick Booker

    Hope its OK to post this here – no Tarot connection,although there is an I Ching connection (sort of – the 64 gods). I am just on the third volume of Rebecca Kuang’s epic fantasy ‘The Poppy War Trilogy’:
    https://rfkuang.com
    https://rfkuang.com/books/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._F._Kuang#:~:text=Her%20first%20novel,%20The%20Poppy,Awards%20for%20her%20first%20novel.

    An intriguing idea, if rather harrowing and gory at times. It falls into the alternative history genre, set in an entirely mythical version of modern Chinese history.

    Like

  18. fyi:
    The SEAMS TAROT [The Southeast Asian Myths and Stories Tarot – collaborative tarot deck by various artists from the diverse cultures of Southeast Asia] is now live on Kickstarter (for real this time)! I think it would be great if this project came to fruition. Just a suggestion…

    Like

  19. Pingback: The Connection in the Cards - Mochi Magazine

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