In my Creator Interview with Emi Brady, I mentioned that “sometimes a deck just smashes you in the face before it’s even done being made and you know it’s going to be one of Your Decks.” This has been entirely true with the Brady Tarot, and I’m so thrilled and honored that not only does this deck exist in the world thanks to Emi, but that I also get to have and use my own copy. The artwork is incredible. The book, written by Rachel Pollack, reads like a conversation and a lesson from a beloved teacher. The cardstock is thick and smooth and matte. The packaging is impeccable.
The Brady Tarot was created as a series of linoprints. The images were drawn onto linoleum blocks, carved, then printed. From there, Emi painted in the colors and digitized them for printing. Each card is a piece of miniature 2.75” by 4.75” work of art.
Prior to the Brady Tarot, I have tried to get into and use animal-based or animal-only decks. I couldn’t. The effort to use and read them without just falling back to the base meanings stored in my brain was too much. I struggled to connect the story in the cards, the story in traditional tarot meanings, and the story in the reading (especially when using a particular well loved animal-based deck). The first images I saw of the Brady Tarot, via the kickstarter, felt so dynamic and so rooted in the stories of the creatures shown that I felt I could dive into them the way I do with human-centric cards. This has held true as I’ve used the Brady Tarot, and I keep finding more throughlines and stories and connections every time I lay out the cards. And honestly, that’s the biggest thing I ask for from my decks. I ask for room. Room for stories, room for connections, and room for growth.
The book, like the cards, is a work of art. The cover is the same matte as the cards, and Emi’s artwork is everywhere in it. Emi shares her artist statement and Rachel Pollack writes about each card, bridging her decades of knowledge and understanding of the tarot, Emi’s inspirations, and each unique image. At the end, she describes potential methods for reading, and shares a spread she developed for the deck. It’s a substantial LWB – not so little and very not so white either!
Overall, the Brady Tarot has a Thoth-y structure to it. The court cards are family groups (daughter, son, mother, father) and each minor has a single word caption to it. The minors have been renamed. Feathers were Wands, Horns were Cups, Arrows were Swords, and Roots were Pentacles.
So far, this deck reads big and deep. It dives into the depths and doesn’t hold back. It’s a deck that I want to pull out when I need to face my shadow, eyes open and back straight. It shows joy and ecstasy. It doesn’t shy away from pain and blood. It feels like a genuine representation of the Wildness of Nature and Spirit.
Every card in this deck has something to teach, something to dig my hands into. When I first went through the Arrows suite (traditionally Swords), I had the realization that the Arrows suit readily serves as the symbol of the outsized impact we’ve had on our planet and the other species we co-habit with. In particular, the 9 of Arrows shows an eagle with broken eggs and shredded plastic bags tangled in the tree branches outside the nest. The eggs are more easily broken thanks to humans’ use of particular pesticides, and our various plastics infest every bit of the environment, down to bits picked up and used in building nests. The Horns suit, which shows horns and antlers carved into drinking vessels show a different, overall more positive side of human interaction with the environment. The depths of these cards are astounding, and this paragraph doesn’t even account for the Native American mythos and larger cultural stories that have been incorporated into them.
The deck interview speaks well to its nature, I think. The Tower, The Devil, and the Hermit. It’ll show you who you are, with the shadows and lights and greys between. 4 of Horns, Father of Arrows, and the Hierophant. It’s clear and sharp and demands engagement in order for you to grow.
Like Emi says in her artist statement, “This [deck] is a tool, not a weapon. This is a conversation, not a commandment.” It is a deck worthy of attention and respect.