Perhaps it’s the time that we are living in and Covid19 forcing me to face my own fragile mortality, but I am increasingly thinking about those ancestral forces who came before me. All those mill-workers and milkmen, coal miners and domestic servants whose decisions and lives long-extinguished led to me, sitting here typing to you.
It was through her own work with her ancestors that creatrix Carrie Paris began work on what has become The Relative Tarot. She sought to create a sacred space where those energies could be respectfully approached and people’s stories and our own come together in celebration. Thus, The Relative Tarot was born.
This is more than just a single Tarot deck though, the set also includes a Spirit Oracle and in these additional 80 cards we find the personal images of ancestors given to Carrie to be included in the deck. Through the card images, and our gaze as we work with the cards, all these people live again – a wonderfully warming thought!
The two-deck package began life as a rapidly-funded Kickstarter project and backers’ decks began shipping directly from China at the end of last year. I received my copy in January 2020 and I was thrilled not only by the two decks, but also the value-added items – a beautiful reading cloth and, most excitingly, all the Kickstarter project backers had access to a 5-week online course taught by Carrie, Mary K Greer and James Wells. A top notch idea, don’t you think?
The Relative Tarot set can now be found on Carrie’s own website where you can choose the International option for posting outside of the USA. With Covid19 restricions, there are delays on items ordered from the USA, but they ARE shipping.
So, what do you get? The box is a wonderfully sturdy flip top box with a magnetic clasp and in luxurious chocolate tones. The styling is antique Victorian/Edwardian and very attractive. On opening, the two decks lie side by side, nestled in a dark brown flocked nest, with cellophane bands holding the two decks of cards in place.
The first thing you will notice about the cards when you take them out is the fabulous dark tea-staining to the card edges – coloured edges are in vogue on Tarots (I’ve not been brave enough to manually colour any of my deck edges though lol!) and these really complement the whole look of both decks. Card stock is nice and stiff and the finish on the cards ensures they shuffle easily. The Tarot and Oracle decks are both the same dimensions 4.75″ x 2.75″ and fit nicely in the hand. There is also a deck-sized 50-page instruction booklet. This booklet focuses on the Tarot deck and doesn’t really have information about the Oracle. I don’t see this as a downside, but in fact it leaves you FREE to use the Spirit Oracle cards in any way you want. More of them in a moment though.
Let’s take a look at the Tarot deck first of all. This is a 78-card deck with extras. In both the Major and Minor Arcanum there are twin cards that allow you to swap in alternatives to truly customise your deck with twins for Strength and Justice, a selection of Lovers cards and much more. It’s fully flexible to your preferred style of Tarot deck.
The artwork has been sensitively gleaned from vintage imagery and interwoven with recognisable Tarot symbolism. The resulting deck is a beautifully toned, ethereal creature that just begs you to look at ALL the cards! Dancers and actors rub shoulders with soldiers and family portraits in this ‘album’ of cards.
Of course, the Relative Tarot works as well as any other Tarot deck for general usage, but it was specially created with ancestral work in mind. Carrie says: “I wanted to create a deck that would highlight the mission that exists within [the sitter’s] personal blueprint. I also wanted to provide something both sitter and reader could put to use right away; a customized deck for identifying and navigating the sitter’s purpose in life while locating ancestral influences that might help or prevent them from aligning with their purpose. In short, this deck was designed to activate the Soul’s agenda and lead the sitter in knowing how to finish the sentence: I came here to …’
And we all want answers to that question, so it’s a pretty cool tool, right?
The Minor Arcana consist of the four suits Cups, Wands, Pentacles and Swords. The Courts are Page, Knight, Queen and King so there are no tricky unique ranks to get to grips with.
The system of reading to include your personal numbers, birth numbers, shadow numbers etc and how the cards are paired and linked makes up the bulk of the LWB.
I would point out that there is one snafu in The Relative Tarot – the 10 of Pentacles was misnamed the 10 of Wands. At the moment, Carrie is in the process of getting a new card printed, but Covid’s effects extend to the world’s mailing systems too. Keep the wrong card! You know how these things have a way of becoming collectible!
Carrie has confirmed, August 2020, that the replacement cards are currently winging their way from China and all backers and buyers will be issued with the correct card.
Now let’s move on to the Spirit Oracle. Believe me, this is not just some half-baked kickstarter add-on that you will never use; I find it incredibly useful. Especially when working with Court Cards – and I don’t just limit its use to the Courts of the Relative Tarot either, by the way. I’ve even used it with Marseille-style decks to help bring clarity to what a Court Card might be saying.
Use it on its own too. Ask a question, such as what energies serve me best today? The first time I tried this, I got ‘Coward’ and all day I made a special effort to question my motives if I felt like I was getting into a spat with someone (hey, facebook is that kind of place!). Did I need to make any comment? Did it add or detract from the conversation to contradict someone? Did I need to explain myself better? When was retreat the greater part of valour? And when was it simply cowardly? It was a fascinating exercise and one that prompted enormous self-reflection.
This Oracle’s artwork is very special and utterly unique in that it comes from photographs supplied by Carrie’s ‘Divi-nation’ of supporters and fans. They say that someone is not truly dead until their name is no longer spoken. Here WE play a part in honouring those ancestors by using the Spirit Oracle. We pull a card and we say ‘I see you.’
On each oracle card is a keyword that links to the image. From Academic and Addiction to Visionary and Wise Guy by way of Hearth & Home, Snake Charmer and dozens more. Let your imagination run wild! Use them with any other deck (even your Lenormand Oracle readings!) to bring clarity and spark conversations.
You don’t need to be a super-confident Tarotist to work with The Relative Tarot, but you do need to be prepared to sit with a pencil and paper and crunch some numbers to get the most out of it. As with everything that Carrie Paris makes, the details are thoughtful, beautiful and useful. If you are interested in Ancestral work, then get your hands on a copy of The Relative Tarot and Spirit Oracle. You won’t be disappointed.
Note: At time of writing, there are fewer than 50 sets remaining!
Alison Cross is a former Chair of TABI and is now a reviewer, author and social networking junkie. She works closely with the creators of The Wildwood Tarot and you can find her ebook/paperback companion for that deck, A Year In The Wildwood, HERE on Amazon.