welcome to the illest tarot guide! the main reason i didn’t include a hard copy guidebook is because i know my ideas of the icons represented in this deck are going to expand as the cards find their way into your hands. i plan to keep this guide as an ever growing document as new insights roll in. i love hearing what you all have to say about particular cards so i may be adding quotes and giving it a more collaborative feel. if you'd like to read more about how the deck began and the creation process, you can check that out here. i want to keep it organic and let it be exactly what it needs to be.
the major arcana. this is where we embark upon the "fool's journey". it starts with basic human development, moves into deeper self exploration and mastery, and ends with the upper realms of our soul's evolution.each archetype symbolizes a universal aspect of human experience. while we all live with our own set of experiences and perspectives, i hope the icons i chose for each archetype resonate with your personal journey too!
the fool. new beginnings, spontaneity, naiveté. (featuring abbi and ilana from broad city)
abbi and ilana are so wildly unpredictable when it comes to where they’re gonna end up next and the ways they chose to make the best of it. their vibe totally encapsulates what the fool energy feels like to me. they roll with whatever they are given and never let anything hold them down. they go for it and expect the best, knowing that they can handle whatever comes their way. the shellfish episode comes to mind here, as well as the long journey for jeremey’s package. instead of the classic fool image with his little stick and bandana, rabbi and ilana have huge bags from bed bath and beyond. they just go, and always laugh with each other through the journey. damn i just love those girls.
the magician. action, alchemy, manifestation.
denise huxtable was always a role model for me as a child. she was intelligent, willfull and stylish as hell. she somehow magically always got what she needed and wanted, always made her dreams into reality. while this is likely to do with the ‘happily ever after’ writing of 80’s and 90’s prime time sitcoms, i choose to remember her as i did when i was a child. an alchemist who could do absolutely anything.
the high priestess. stillness, intuition, wisdom.
tori. oh tori. she was one of the first concerts i ever saw at madison square garden. back when i was too young to drink at shows, when ticketmaster sent you real ticket stubs with little holograms on the side. at that young of an age, i truly had no idea what she was talking about in half of her songs, but my soul connected with them in such an intense way. her voice, that piano, the sheer magnitude of her power… that feels like the high priestess to me. you can’t quite explain it, but you know it to be absolutely true.
the empress. abundance, creation, fertility.
sade is another one where the feeling of the music really speaks to the vibe of the card. the way she sings and her sound that enveloped me felt so lush, so vibrant and heart opening. just thinking about her songs makes my hips start to sway and my arms fly open. she is pure beauty and abundance.
the emperor. structure, order, practicality.
rickie!!!! while i admit i relate to angela and rayanne sliiiightly more, rickie was always the one who kept shit in check. the voice of reason amidst teenage angst and drama. (thank you anna took for vocalizing this in our fb group!) the level of self awareness and structure he brought to that trio still resonates with me to this day. i am always looking for a rickie. he loves me, he understands me in a way others may not, but he is not gonna let this train fall off the tracks. his strength and level headedness are pure emperor vibes to me.
the hierophant. belief systems, mentor, savant.
the miseducation of lauryn hill was one of those albums that everyone i knew loved. she spoke to so many of us in such a raw, relatable way. the hierophant is also associated with religious systems, and lauryn hill is an outspoken christian. while i may or may not agree with her spiritual beliefs, i do believe in her wisdom.
the lovers. desires, self love, recognition of self.
liz phair was one of my junior high school favorites! while "supernova" was my first love, it turned me on to 'exile in guyville' which is still lauded as one of the greatest records of the nineties. she sang about her sexuality and love in a way that totally resonated for me and helped me understand my crazy teenage emotions.
the chariot. control, self will, uniting forces.
i mean, janet jackson literally made an album called control. she broke free from the image her family created for her, decided to do it her way and made it happen. the chariot is exactly that energy. knowing what you want, knowing how to get it and making it happen with action and will.
strength. patience, compassion, emotional mastery.
this card is super special to me. mary j. blige was my go to when i was upset or sad or feeling the feelings. i would crank up the stereo and sing my lungs out to all of her songs. when my friend jen got her license this was the only tape we played in her car (i’m not even kidding i think it was an iroc, lol). mary made it ok for me to emote in a way that i hadn’t quite experienced in my life just yet. she cared her soul in this way that was so relatable and such a relief. she got me through a lot of shit. a lot.
the hermit. solitude, introspection, illumination.
fiona apple has literally described herself as a hermit. she lives alone with her pets in venice beach and has basically shunned the world. she famously won some award and said it was all bullshit in her acceptance speech. while i am sure there were some sort of drugs involved, it doesn’t change the fact that fiona is fed up with the bullshit of this world and she’s not gonna pretend any different!! i am really looking forward to some new work from her, so she can illuminate us on all the she has learned from her journeying within.
wheel of fortune. chance, unexpected change, good luck.
bjork was the first card i created when i began making this deck. she is a master of the unexpected, avant garde and fun. bjork is not worried about your reaction to her art, she just wants you to have one. that’s what’s so mesmerizing about her. “it’s oh so quiet” is exactly how the wheel of fortune feels to be. everything’s humming along as usual, and then all of a sudden bjork is singing at the top of her lungs with abrass section backing her up. unexpected change, and definitely of the joyous variety.
justice. cause and effect, fairness, responsibility.
mos def. duh.
the hanged man. surrender, sacrifice, new perspective.
this one is a lot more personal, as the emergence of chloe sevigny in my life was one of those, oh! things don’t need to look exactly how i think they should type of thing. she was an invitation to think differently, to start to question the norms in my life, to start to pause and re-evaluate.
death. ending, transition, transformation.
beyonce!! how does she do it!!! i first experienced bey when she was part of destiny’s child. then she was in some austin powers movie. then her solo career started. then jay z happened. she has just effortlessly flowed from one life change to the next, inspiring more and more of us as she goes. she doesn’t make change look scary, she makes it look empowering. even the way she switches through looks on her visual albums… how can she be so hot in so many different ways!? lemonade is the perfect example of the death card to me. she turned something devastating into art and made everything stronger an better because of it. constantly reinventing, experimenting, and letting the old fall away. always starting fresh and being reborn over and over again. that’s the essence of the death card to me. a necessary end. a transformation.
temperance. blending of opposites, harmony, moderation.
andre isn’t someone i have followed as closely as some of the others in this deck, but his vibe feels like temperance to me. i was at work one night, and i asked my friend joffrey who he thought the temperance cards should be. he doesn’t know anything about tarot, but he’s got great taste and he loved the idea of this deck, so he asked “what does that card mean?” since ei always kinda struggle with that card, i said “it blends opposites, being able to adapt to any situation, margining fire and water…” and he said “do you know andre 300?” I DO. DONE. haha
the devil. habitual behaviors, bondage, indulgence.
i’m pretty sure my cassette of “live through this” was so worn through that the tape actually popped. i love love loved how angry courtney was. how she wore ripped up tights and smeared red lipstick. she was a living breathing portrait of my angst. then i gradually started learning more about her, and inevitably seeing her be incredibly high in some interview or documentary. she seems to be the epitome of the devil energy (and forgive me if she has since clean dup her act and stopped writing insane blog posts at all hours of the night). there’s always a little bit of fun to the devil. the raised eyebrow as they ask “let’s just do this one shot of tequila” or the not so innocent “i’m just gonna text him to say hi” 2am booty call… but eventually the behaviors catch up to us and we can’t see a way out. there’s no rationality with the devil, it’s a primal urge, that thing you simply can not say no to, no matter how much pain it’s gonna cause you later.
the tower. upheaval, release, chaotic change.
if you haven’t seen the craft, stop reading this and watch it immediately. it’s quintessential witch 101. fairuza balk’s character was a living, breathing tower. i remember being fascinated by her power but also thinking "dude, slow down" like it was my teenage brother in law driving on the long island expressway at 120. tower energy takes everything you know and flips it upside down. then burns it. then kicks the shit out of it. the tower feels so intense while it’s happening, but it is an absolutely necessary experience to shake you out of your complacency. don’t be afraid of the tower, try to use that energy to make a different kind of magic!! fairuza comes back as a groupie in almost famous. you literally have no idea where the tower can take you.
the star. peace, hope, serenity.
so of course i chose alanis because of her music that was just EVERYTHING to my teenage flannel wearing doc marten rocking ass, but also she LITERALLY PLAYED GOD in some kevin smith movie. there is something about alanis morisette that is so soothing and joyful and good. she has a peacefulness to her that feels authentic and genuine. her vibes are soothing. she sings about the realest stuff. she’s just such a damn angel. the star is the “all is well” card for me, and alines definitely exudes those type of vibes to me.
the moon. mystery, imagination, uncertainty.
the moon card has always felt very sexy to me. a little dangerous and sort of scary but undeniably alluring. the moon activates things inside of us that typically lay dormant. it shows us bits of ourselves we may not have been aware of. i don’t know exactly how this relates to the queen erykah, other than to say that’s how she felt to me when i first heard her music. way before i even knew what the hell it meant to be a witch, i knew she was one. mesmerizing. all knowing. powerful. her fearless ability to be herself and live in all of her contradictions and be proud no matter what, that seems like the damn moon to me.
upon further reflection, i’ve recognized that badu came around before i had embraced what it means to be an unapologetic woman. i was stuck in fear and comparison and general teen angst. i always loved to move to her music but i never actually, truly listened to what she was saying (and now as a grown woman i full-on cry at the things she says). so i think this all plays into why she feels like the moon to me. she always knew who she was and that was something i was pretty much terrified of seeing in myself.
the sun. joy, vitality, assurance.
drew! i will always love you!!! drew’s smile is what the sun card feels like to me. joy, peace, utter presence in this glistening moment. some of my guy friends still refer to me as their drew barrymore, and while i never wore daisies in my hair or flashed late night television audiences, i have always felt oddly connected to drew.
judgement. forgiveness, reconciliation, awakening.
this one is a deeply personal association. while i do think that in general kurt helped us all see a lot of stuff about the world, i chose him for this card because his music played a part in the day my dad passed on. we had been with him in the hospital for days, as he was all doped up and waiting to die of cancer. eventually he decided he just wanted to pass peacefully in his own home. i rode with him in the ambulance back to his place, and i asked him what he wanted to listen to. his response was the same as it had always been whenever we were in the car together: "whatever you want, honey". i'm not sure why i chose all apologies, but that's what i had on my ipod. not the song we danced to at my wedding, not something i knew he loved (he had really weird taste in music. my dad loved swv and the night at the roxbury soundtrack) but some song from my angsty youth. i suppose the sentiments reflected my feelings at the time. several hours later, i had to tell him i forgave him for everything and that's when he finally moved on. dunno if anyone else can relate to all that, but it was clearly the only choice for me, for this card.
the world. mastery, completion, wholeness.
work! rupaul has had such a positive impact on this world and i feel like every thing that they say is just straight source wisdom. ru is just full fucking circle, ya know??