Pride Tarot, a collaborative deck

Reviewed by Lily

Pride Tarot, a collaborative deck
Published by U.S. Games Systems, 2020
RRP £24
ISBN 978-1-64671-003-4

Collaborative decks are always a bit of a gamble, and that’s what makes them exciting ~ through such projects we can discover artists new-to-us and contemporary interpretations of well-loved archetypes that bring fresh insights to our readings. I was really excited for the Pride Tarot. In the guidebook, Lynn Araujo states “We knew we wanted this deck to be positive, welcoming and a celebration of the diversity in the LGBTQ+ community.” It’s a shame this intention isn’t always met in the cards themselves, which I shall explain in this review.

There is something incredibly affirming about being able to ‘see yourself’ in the cards, which is why decks such as this one are so important for those of us on the margins. A third of the cards are obviously inclusive and representative of the community. Here are a few of my favourites:

It was a total joy to find Moomie Swan’s artwork in this deck (I got a pair of her The Lovers earrings a year ago and they quickly became a favourite) – a delight to get a preview of her upcoming Sapphic Magic Tarot deck.

Those of you familiar with Next World Tarot will recognise a few cards in this collection. I was a little disappointed not to have new art from Cristy C. Road (but that’s just me being greedy). After looking at the deck in more detail, I realised that there are further cards included from already-published decks: Two of Swords is from the Deviant Moon Tarot, and Four & Ten of Cups are from the Urban Tarot. There is no mention of this in the guidebook which feels a huge oversight to me.

The bulk of the deck appears somewhat neutral; you can spot the queerness in the cards, but it’s more muted.

There are 10 or so cards that really make me draw a blank. I don’t understand why they’re in the deck.

Having the support of allies is all well and good, but it feels like such a missed opportunity when there are so many incredible LGBTQ+ creators out there making incredible art, to not have their creative input present.

Whilst I can appreciate seeing the names of each artist on a card, I can’t help finding it a little distracting – it takes me away from the image itself, making it more difficult to sit with whatever a card is inviting me to recognise (when in my mind I want to read the artist bio, check out more of their work, wonder why they decided to depict the card in xyz way). On this note, we are missing artist bios from Robin Scott and Jeremy Hush in the guidebook – I would have loved the opportunity to find out more about these artists and their work.

I *love* the card back; it feels really inviting to me, especially when laying out spreads. Speaking of which, the spread suggestions in the guidebook are gorgeous: The Rainbow Spread comes with its own card and is pretty self-explanatory. The Parade Spread includes a significator, named The Grand Marshall – a hero or role model. For this review, I chose the Queen of Cups. Six cards walk us through a journey/parade route:

1) Beginnings – What is my goal and how can I get started?
Ten of Cups. Well, talk about start as you mean to go on! I’m happily nested at the moment, parenting my bi-teen through adolescence with the support of a loving partner. I love my queer family.
2) Challenges – What are the challenges I face in moving forward?
Three of Pentacles. Lack of support, especially in my local area. Have definitely felt like a bit of a lonely queer over the past year. We’re currently taking steps to move to a more supportive community so our needs can be meet more readily and easily.
3) Support – Who or what is supporting my efforts?
Page of Pentacles. From the artist Rayne Klar: ”I’ve drawn a portrait of a local LGBTQ+ elder in my community, Aaminah Shakur. Aaminah is a fount of knowledge on a number of subjects and offers guidance to those who ask. I see elements of the Page in their actions and work, and I hope they give you the courage to do what’s required to achieve the desired results.” Perfect advice ~ reach out to the elders. I often read this card as an invitation into humility, to ask Spirit for guidance about my next steps, particularly in relation to service, so this ties in beautifully ~ lean on Spirit and the wisdom of our elders.
4) Change – What needs to change in order to move forward?
Queen of Pentacles. I need to be more in my body; taking more physical steps towards my goals. Making sure I’m looking after my vessel, home, chosen family. Trust my natural abundance and parenting instincts.
5) Progress – What signs of progress do I see? What have I learned so far?
The Tower. You’ve gotta laugh. I think we’ve all had a little Tower energy over the past year…
6) Conclusion – What is the end result of my journey?
King of Pentacles. “Ambition, success, generosity, loyalty, and precision.” I’ll take that! I found this part of the guidebook particularly interesting, from the artist Helena Nelson-Reed: “Water symbolizes transformation, nourishment, purification and life’s ephemeral nature.” ~ precisely why I chose Queen of Cups as my Significator. I’ve never thought of King of Pentacles as being overly watery so this artistic interpretation was a new perspective I hadn’t considered before. I work with water a lot in my spiritual practice, so I wonder if that will have a bigger role to play in the future. Overall, I’m very happy with this reading.

As with any U.S. Games Systems deck, the card stock is good quality and the size of the cards make for easy shuffling. My deck arrived in the post a bit bashed and the box was slightly ripped at the bottom so I’m not sure how it will hold up long-term. The publishers donated $10,000 to The Trevor Project which will surely have more of an impact on our community than this deck… I can’t help feeling that the cover art for the deck symbolises what this deck really feels like – rainbow capitalism. I guess I’m just a queer cynic. My overall feeling is that this deck is most suited to cis-femme folk as there is not much depiction outside of this aesthetic. (For those looking for a more inclusive deck, I’d check out my personal favourite, The Numinous Tarot, or go to Next World Tarot if you liked Cristy’s cards.)

Having said this, the deck is pretty easy to read with (though I wouldn’t choose it as a total beginner deck) so if you’re familiar with the Tarot, I’m sure you’ll get accurate readings. If you haven’t got a deck in your collection that resonates with LGBTQ+ clients, then this is an easy route in.

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