I was first introduced to this deck while browsing through Kickstarter campaigns that would be ending soon. At that time the campaign for The Afro Goddesses Arcanas Tarot was less than 50% percent funded so I backed it. I decided in 2018 to support deck creators of color to the best of my ability and to cultivate a collection of decks by creators of color that featured subjects of color. The Afro Goddess Tarot Deck is a deck created by a black, female, artist that showcases black culture, black bodies, black love, the black experience and black beauty. It would HAVE to be in my deck collection. With more than 50% funding needed in less than a week I realized that it would be a long stretch to make this deck happen but what was the point of being a part of a community if you can’t rely on that community to spread the word and support projects like these? I did my part, sharing and reposting as much as I could in groups and with friends in order to spread the word and to encourage the success of this deck. In the final days of the Kickstarter campaign, The Afro Goddess Arcanas Tarot pushed past its goal and was 100% funded. I’ll be honest, this was the first time I felt like the success of a Kickstarter campaign was community driven. It was with this campaign that I could see how much of a force the tarot community could be especially when people of color are involved.
Andrea Furtick updated followers and backers often with images and progress reports of how the deck was coming along. I drooled over the sneak peaks and glimpses of the production process and did a happy dance when it was finally announced that the decks were finished and would be shipping out, I waited anxiously for the unmistakable shape of a deck box to be delivered to my doorstep, and my body tingled from excited anticipation upon opening the shipping box and being met with the glow of a red velveteen bag. The amount of detail that went into the packaging for this deck was a tale-tale sign of what I could expect from the tarot deck itself, nothing less than excellence.
The first edition of The Afro Tarot Arcanas arrived in a bright, scarlet red, velveteen, drawstring bag. This detail alone begs one to consider the full weight of what it is they are about to see once unveiled. It is a warning, a call, an invitation. From the drawstring bag a one-piece, hinged, box is revealed. It is a warm, cinnamon colored box, reminiscent of the iron-rich, red, soil found in Africa. Its landscape orientation stands out as unique in my deck collection. Across the top is the signature font chosen to represent The Afro Goddess Tarot Arcanas. In the middle of this font is an image of the motherland, the continent of Africa, a reminder of where this deck comes from. Upon opening the hinged flap of the box, you are greeted with a quote, “For there is a most divine strength encased within the passion for wisdom and nestled in the cycle of external existence. And by the alignment of both wisdom and action your destiny shall be revealed.” It is a poignant and intriguing message that demands one consider their actions carefully when they use this deck of cards.
The cardstock of The Afro Goddess Arcanas is, in one word, Deluxe. It is so buttery smooth, it’s soft, it glides effortlessly over other cards all while being matte finished on the face of the cards. The card backs are some of the most amazing card backs I’ve ever seen. Once again, we are greeted with the silhouette of the African continent, big, black, bold, and glossy. The pattern surrounding the continent is a combination of matte, glossy, smooth, and textured, all together it is a tactile experience you must hold in your hands to understand. The cards are also edged in an antiqued golden finish with hints of shimmer dispersed throughout which remind me of the edges on the Dust II Onyx tarot.
Included with the deck is a small guidebook that overlays Andrea’s personal meanings and interpretations over the cards and while it does a fantastic job of being a guidebook a part of me wishes there was something more. One of the possible stretch goals for the campaign was a full book detailing Andrea’s artistic vision, experiences, and personal understandings regarding all 79 cards in this deck. I would like soon to see an expanded book released for this deck because I am very curious to understand the artistic process of creating this deck. I think an expanded guidebook for a black tarot deck could be a very relevant contribution to the tarot community and once again I’d be happy to support the creation of this work.
Andrea Furtick says in her Kickstarter campaign that she was inspired to create a full deck after an encounter with a patron who confided that she foresaw in a reading that Andrea would be creating a tarot deck. Andrea had already been working on goddess inspired artwork and decided that series should grow into 79 cards for a full tarot deck. Andrea also remarks that she put a lot of time and effort into understanding the nuances of the symbology found in a traditional tarot deck so that when she created The Afro Goddess Tarot Arcanas that it could be fluid, organic, and infused with her own interpretations and meanings. The level of passion and dedication found within the artwork in this deck is truly inspiring. Each time I pick up this deck it seems to speak to my soul, it knows my question before I can ask it. On the occasions I’ve had the opportunity to read with this deck I have been humbled yet encouraged by its message. It seems to be saying that I can’t come to the table trying to hide my truth, my truth shall be seen, heard, and read, to filth if necessary, but always honored and validated. I’ve searched far and wide for a deck I could be comfortable calling my own shadow deck, but I believe the Afro Goddess Tarot Arcanas has found its purpose amongst my collection.
One of the things I love the most about this deck is how Andrea has portrayed the men in this deck. A lot of times when looking at decks featuring all black men, I feel that there is excessive energy put into portraying the men as powerful, strong, and prideful. It makes a lot of sense given most images we are used to seeing of black men in modern and not so modern media is that of a criminal, weak, villainous, ignorant, stupid, foolish or “scary”. In the Afro Goddess Tarot, Andrea seems to put a lot of focus into portraying the softer and more gentle characteristics of black men, characteristics I’m used to seeing in my life. These characters are thoughtful, loving, gentle, considerate, protective, brave, bold, and intelligent. I appreciate this detail because it feels cohesive, relevant, and it feels like home. One of the other small details I find pleasantly amusing in the deck are the inclusion of Rhinoceroses. In a deck focusing on African culture and ancestry, it would have been easy to choose perhaps an elephant or even a lion to represent the wands but Andrea chose a Rhino. I don’t know why that makes me happy but it just does. I don’t think a lot of people give rhinos much thought especially since they are nearly extinct but they are so majestic and the closest damn thing to a unicorn we have walking on this plant. They are fierce, protective, and willing to charge anything that threatens their well-being so in a lot of ways, I’m surprised I don’t see rhinos representing the fiery suite of wands more often.
Choosing a few of my favorite cards is a hard task because every card is a powerful representation that reflects a part of me but I’ve picked three to highlight. The First card I want to highlight is the Tower. We see what appears to be the US White House in flames. In the background are dark grey storm clouds with lightning bolts striking the building, to the right-hand side appears to be either the moon or an all-seeing eye. In the foreground we see two individuals jumping into a stilled body of water. One person has what looks like the American flag draped around his face or gagging him. With all the tumultuous activity in the background, the waters are still, they are a place of respite, truth and safety. The structure that governs our lives is not as stable as some would like to believe especially when it was built upon the backs of your ancestors. We hid behind the empty promises and a false sense of security, allowing it to distract us from the unavoidable truth of the past. We know, we know where our safety can be found is on the other side of the river, away from the chaos, away from the lies, within our own self sufficiency, within our own subconscious.
The Supreme is the second card I picked because it is a supremely beautiful card. The first time I flipped through the deck, I thought the 79th card was missing from my copy. It fits flawlessly into the other 22 Major Arcanas. The supreme seems to represent everything, time, life, the universe, the four elements, and the four suites of the tarot deck. In the center of the card sits a woman in front of a black void. The void is the face of a clock set at the eleventh hour. She is dressed in all white, with a third eye on her forehead and ankh around her neck. In her hands she holds an hourglass with no sands. When I look at this card it seems to represent to me, my idea of the Divine Supreme.
The last card I chose to share is the Six of Pentacles. I like this card for a few reasons. I love the fact the woman at the center who is holding the scales has a closely cropped hair cut. I love the fact that she seems to have gained much through experience. She willingly offers what she has to share with those who need it, who want to learn from her, who wish to grow and become as abundant as she. This woman reminds me of a wise counselor who helps those who ask for it, she gives from a place of deep understanding and open heartedness.
In the bio for her Kickstarter campaign, Andrea mentions that she wanted this work of art to be something worthy of a Goddess to behold, she also called it a masterpiece of mastered peace. I think she’s succeeded with flying colors. I welcome seeing more artists of color contribute to the tarot community, it is needed badly. We belong. We are part of this community. We are not afterthoughts. Every time I see a successful contribution from a creator of color my heart jumps for joy, I am filled with pride. Sometimes it can be a very lonely road for a practitioner of color to find inclusivity in this community and industry. I know I am not alone, thankfully I can connect on Facebook and Instagram but having visual representation brings another dimension to the validity of my practice, of my culture, and my connection. The Afro Goddess Tarot Arcanas is another thread in the web that connects me to those around who seek representation and a deeper understanding of their origins and it adds one more brick to the sanctuary I call home.
You can find out more about the Afro Goddess Tarot Arcanas here.