Our Tarot was inspired by Sara Shipman’s interests in women’s history and tarot. It took Sara nearly a year to complete this project which was successfully funded through Kickstarter in 2017. Initially, this deck was meant to be a personal project but eventually Sara decided to share it with the world, a decision I am very thankful for.
Our Tarot is a Waite-Smith based deck of 78 cards. The first edition arrived in a gorgeous shipping box decorated with roses and previews of cards from the deck. The deck itself is presented in a standard tuck box also decorated with a floral pattern. One face of the tuck box features the initials O.T., while the other face displays the tag line, “Some decks may be stacked against us but this deck is ours”. The cards themselves are a satin finish, absent of high gloss shine. They are flexible and slide smoothly which makes for a pleasant shuffling experience. The backs of the cards are collage art with two hands whose fingers almost touch. I find it to be reminiscent of Michelangelo’s, Creation of Adam. A background of gray inkblots is bordered by florals in a sophisticated palate of pinks and yellows.
Each card highlights the story of a woman who made her own mark on history. These stories have been thoughtfully paired with an archetype from each of the 78 cards in the Waite-Smith system. The women in Our Tarot span from multiple decades, cultures, religions, and walks of life. Some women are historically famous, such as Cleopatra, who is The Keeper of Wands. Some women are not as well known but all are equally important. Kings in the court system have been changed to Keeper to reflect the feminine archetype. The Hanged Man has also been changed to The Hanged Woman.
As impressive as the Our Tarot deck is, the guidebook is equally impressive. Nearly every page of the 262-page guidebook is used to educate the reader. One feature of the guidebook I really enjoy is the table of contents which lists every single one of the cards and their corresponding page. This allows the guidebook to function as resource and reference material as well as a guidebook. The title of each card, along with the name of the woman, her date of birth, and date of death appear across the top of the page. Near the center a small black and white reproduction of each card is displayed along with key themes attributed to the archetype of each card for both upright and reversed meanings. Below that is a short yet thorough profile of the woman featured on the card usually covering between one and two pages.
It is extremely difficult for me to choose just one card from this deck as a favorite because I too love women’s history and I love learning about strong individuals who changed the world by being themselves. While I do struggle to pick one favorite my favorite card from this deck is number 11, Justice. The story of Mamie Till-Mobley is feature as Justice and I personally can’t think of a more fitting example of Justice. The key themes attributed to this card are seeking truth, right action, balance and honor. The reversed attributes are ignorance, lack of conviction, and unstable. I already knew who Mamie Till-Mobley was prior to receiving this deck but it makes me so proud to see her story featured for those unfamiliar with her tragic loss and heroic efforts. Mamie Till-Mobley’s son Emmett Till was savagely murder by racists for no reason, as if one requires a reason to slaughter another individual, especially a child. The men who murdered Emmett were white during Jim Crow era in the deep south. Nobody was going to ever consider holding these people accountable for their actions because “white is right” was an actual saying. Mamie fought for justice in her son’s name. There is much more to her story but you can see from this brief expert that Justice was and is a perfect match for her in this deck.
I’ve heard some people say they think that this deck might present a problem when it comes to reading with it. While the idea of an educational deck is novel, is it practical? I say not only is it practical, it is easier to learn with. By paring a history lesson from an actual person with a card archetype I can memorize and relay the information more effectively than I could by trying to memorize images and meanings of antiquated symbology. This deck not only stimulates my spiritual wellbeing, it emphasizes my connection to the world. Every single one of these individuals were living their lives and doing what they felt was right at the time. Our Tarot is a reminder that by living our authentic lives we are changing the world every single day.