In light of recent events in the States - well, needless to say, not much else on our minds this week - so we were delighted when, realizing it was time to write an article for our May tarot review, this deck came across our field of vision - how fitting!
What manner of sprite, muse or goddess caused our paths to converge around said unpleasantness? No matter. It’s perfect.
Our Tarot is the brainchild of Sara Shipman, grad student from Atlanta, Georgia who, in the aftermath of a bad breakup and the Trump election, decided to lick her wounds by immersing herself in a few of her favourite hobbies: making art, tarot and women’s history. On the title: “The name occurred to me almost as soon as I received the idea (for the deck). My deck would be called Our Tarot, a nod to the 1971 book created by women to inform women about their health: Our Bodies, Ourselves by Judy Norsigian.”
After a succsessful Kickstarter campaign, the deck came into the hands of one of my good friends who backed the project. Good thing too, as they seem to be sold out at the moment. According to her website though, “I’m collaborating with the brilliant folks at HarperCollins Publishers to bring Our Tarot to the world… and everywhere magical, history-filled & feminist cards are sold!”.
Yay! Sign up to her newsletter to get the deets.
She’s done a great job with the design. The cards are a standard size, heavy-stock with a mat finish. The white borders are unobtrusive and frame the artwork nicely. The font choice is understated and functional and similarly doesn’t take away from the art. And that art? Gorgeous.
The deck features 78 women from history who grace each card with their presence and life stories - some famous, some you may not have heard of. When exploring it, a sense of fascination deepens with each card turned.
Ranging from activists to adventurers, mystics to movie stars, and hailing from modern to ancient history, one has to wonder at how difficult it must have been to choose them, as the stories of women throughout history are ubiquitous and as we all know, sorely under-reported.
The accompanying book is a super good read in and of itself, which I’m sure was intended. Along with a few key themes for the upright and reversed meanings, each card’s pages include several paragraphs on the featured woman’s life story, when and where she lived and what events brought her to the public eye. A few that stood out for me today are:
“As the haunting sunbject of Dorthea Lang’s famous 1936 photograph, Migrant Mother, Florence became an iconic image of the Great Depression.”
She was also Cherokee, married twice, mother of ten, and considered the backbone of her family. She worked many jobs, any jobs really, to support her kids. Her life’s work, her noble purpose and career was being a mom. Her gravestone reads: A legend of the strength of American Motherhood.
A poignant choice for 5 Pentacles, which signifies hardship, poverty and lack, but Florence reminds us that when things are out of our control in life, sometimes it’s not about what is happening to us, but how we are meeting it.
15 year old Claudette from Montgomery, Alabama was actually the first woman to refuse to move to the back of the bus, 9 months before the famous Rosa Parks followed suit. She was tried in juvie court and branded a troublemaker in her community, while Rosa became the poster-child for the ensuing ‘bus boycott’ that ended racial segregation of bus passengers in 1956 Alabama.
7 Wands is a conflict card, typically portraying challengers coming at us from all sides. I love the way little Claudette reminds us to always persevere and stand our ground. And hey! those Alabaman’s really know how to put up a fight - when they put their minds to it.
What a gorgeous card!
Did you know that Frida had an abortion once? Polio as a child and a catastrophic car accident as a young adult had left her in ill health and questioning whether her broken body could actually build a heathy baby - just one of the many reasons why a woman might choose not to continue with an unintentional pregnancy. Unfortunately, her procedure didn’t work and she had a miscarriage which caused severe hemorrhaging and hospitalization.
Due to her health, Frida died quite young at age 47. Sarah chose her for the Death card as a personification of the transition, endings and the inevitable new beginnings the card represents. I can’t help noticing the new aspect she brings into the mix: her pain, her constant transition produced astonishing beauty. She was a true alchemist.
So - world events getting you down? Looking to be inspired, empowered, reminded why we go on with the struggle? Get this deck. I feel humbled by spending the afternoon with all these women. So many stories, such strength and character. In a tarot reading they bring new layers of complexity and avenues of exploration. The author did a fantastic job at choosing the right story to properly represent the traditional meaning of the card.
Have you had a chance to get Our Tarot? We’d love to hear about your experiences with it.