Vintage Erotica Tarot

With its hot pink gilded edges and bright colors, the Vintage Erotica Tarot by Freyja’s Daughter catches the eye immediately. This deck was released in August 2018 from the Canadian publisher & comes with 82 cards. Tarot Witch Wilma used digital collage and antique erotica from the late 19th & 20th century to add delicious femme sensuality to the classic Rider Waite Smith deck.

The cards are larger than standard, which makes them a bit hard for my small hands to shuffle but the cardstock bends nicely so with some effort I can shuffle. I am a sucker for shiny edges and the hot pink choice really makes me smile.

The Major Arcana are riffs on the illustrations done by Pamela Smith. Tarot Witch Wilma has added some extra cards as well – there is The Witch, a femme take on the Magician, as well as queer sapphic The Lovers to compliment the hetero Lovers. A reader can remove or add as they desire.

Some of the Majors are amusing; the Chariot in particular makes me giggle. The Emperor is so powerful; this is a powerful rich woman and like our blessed Cardi B says, “I was  born to flex, diamonds on my neck”. I also like the shifts made to the Moon and the Sun cards. They are similar visually and connect to the cosmic Sun/Moon cycles. A hopeful Moon card is a positive thing to me. There is an absurdism to antique erotica that is still really amusing while also fully capturing the stylistic aesthetic of the times.

The pips are pretty similar to Smith’s illustrations as well. I particularly enjoy the 9 of Cups, the 4 of Swords, the 3 of Wands and 7 of Pentacles. These cards are almost exactly the same as Smith’s drawings but seen through Tarot Witch Wilma’s eye they take on a lushness that really speaks to me. The use of modern digital imagery adds symbology to the antique images that creates unique tarot cards.

In my opinion, the Court Cards are the weakest, particularly the Swords. The images are clumsy and do not capture the energy of the Courts for me. The Princesses are the most well-made, while the Kings are not.

With the use of antique erotica as the core imagery, this is not the most inclusive deck on the market. The women are overwhelmingly white, able bodied and thin. Given that these were the only women photographed eroticaly at the time, this is the only source material to draw from. For my practice, this makes the deck hard to connect to.

The men in the deck are observers and not subjects. This is particularly apparent in the 6 of Pentacles. A naked woman is on display on a chaise lounge while a fully clothed man stands behind her in the middle of a wealthy room reminiscent of manor homes in Europe. This card gives me a bit of a gross vibe. Is the man a patron? Is the man her husband? In either context, the philanthropic giving of the 6 of Pentacles is lost and becomes transactional. This is not charitable giving, this is capitalistic exchange, at best, or capitalistic exploitation at worst.

I believe this is one of the only tarot decks that uses vintage erotica as the focus and inspiration on the market currently. There is also the “Les Tarot des Femme Erotique” which is out of print. This deck by Freyja’s Daughter has a clear voice and aesthetic.

You can purchase the Vintage Erotica Tarot here.

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