Deck Name: Queen Alice Tarot
Creators: Dame Darcy
Where to buy: Dame Darcy’s Etsy shop
I’m one of the many people fascinated by the story of Alice in Wonderland. I love its profound silliness and clever twists of logic. I love the wildly fantastic and imaginative setting and the equally creative cast.
Most of all, I love Alice. I love her innocent and straight forward ways of thinking. I admire her honestly. I am inspired by her curiosity, ability to acknowledge when she is ignorant and the resulting willingness to change her point of view.
But what I find so captivating about Alice isn’t just her personality. As I grew older, I became more cognizant of lessons and messages that stories intentionally and unintentionally teach us. The roles we play is as important as the roles we are absent from.
Growing up in the 90s, most famous female protagonists in children’s stories are princesses. Now, I’m not one of those people who believe that princesses are weaklings who can only await rescue and, thus, teach young girls wrong messages. I believe they are positive role models.
Take Cinderella for example – she is a child who grew up in an abusive home. Yet, in spite of the treatment she receives, she is filled with kindness and faith. Her compassion and friendship towards her little animal friends (symbolic for those who receive no respect in society) wins their love and loyalty. They, in turn, help her escape. This story is far from a portrayal of helpless victimhood. Rather, it’s a story of choosing love over hate, courage to have faith when confronted with difficulties and finding clever ways to survive and thrive in darkness.
In of itself, it’s a beautiful story. My problem is that, for a long time, that’s the only role girls play. The absence of any other form of female protagonists can imply that there are no other roles for women.
This is problematic because, as strong as princesses can be, they are reactive to their environments. They are confronted with challenges and, to their credit, they make the best out of what life has given them.
But they don’t choose.
Queen Alice is not a princess, but a hero. Unlike princesses, heroes don’t merely react to their circumstances. They choose to go on an adventure. Through their choices, they teach that we also have the freedom to choose the lives we want to lead and the values we want to live by.
During her adventure in Wonderland, Alice demonstrates an active instead of passive strength. She is daring and brave. She explores and questions the world around her. In this way, her character compliments the traditional female protagonists and shows children that, just like boys, girls can also possess both yang and yin qualities.
As heroes often start out as fools, tarot is a great medium to express their fool’s journeys. Alice’s adventure is no exception. Her experiences and demonstrations of will, courage, thought and action is a perfect tale for tarot. To date, there are at least four Alice in Wonderland themed tarot (and at least one oracle deck).
The Queen Alice Tarot by Dame Darcy is my favourite. There is an almost psychedelic 70s vibe that brilliantly conveys the fantastic absurdity of this story. Dame Darcy’s art expresses the appreciation I developed for Alice as an adult.
What I love so much about this deck is that it captures how Alice FEELS to me. While the other Alice decks do an excellent job retelling the girl’s adventure in Wonderland, Queen Alice feels more personal. It’s as though Alice has grown up, became a punk rocker and decided to write an auto-biography. And the goal isn’t to document facts and events for their own sake, but how Alice remembers them and allowed them to shape her worldview.
Each card feels like a visual summary of the pages of my dream journal, penned in the middle of the night while still half asleep. Some are hazy and vague while others are incredibly detailed. All are illogical but still make perfect sense, the way dreams do.
The aspect of this deck that I find most powerful and personal is how Alice is portrayed differently throughout the deck. There are cards in which she is presented like the child who jumped into the rabbit hole. As she goes through different situations and experiences, she grows. This growth is reflected in her physical appearance in cards where she is presented as a mature woman – like the queen that she eventually becomes.
These gorgeous cards are printed on smooth shiny cardstock with silver gilded edges. They are sturdy and they shuffle like a dream. They come in an equally sturdy magnetic flip box with a red and black checkered design.
While it doesn’t come with a little white book, it contains an instruction sheet on where to download the PDF and how to assemble once printed. I’m not going to lie – I found the instructions confusing at first because I over complicated the process in my mind. On the second try, I realized that it’s as simple as cutting up each two-sided sheet into 8s – which is the number of pages per sheet – and putting them in order. After I understood the instruction, I actually had a lot of fun putting it together!