What was your Gateway Deck?
RWS all the way. My older brother gifted me my first deck in 1994. Me, mounds of handwritten pages of faithfully recorded readings, and that Little White Book was all I had for probably 10 years. Though I was in active covens since 1998, I didn’t even know other people who seriously read the tarot as part of their own spiritual lives. They were all focused on being green kitchen witchy types. I…am not.
What about that deck made you want to stick with tarot?
I was and still am utterly fascinated with systems and reality maps. I loved how it weaved so many archetypes, facets and feelings in one place. And it worked. I didn’t know anything and it friggin worked. It’s just a map in a world full of maps. I just happen to really like this one.
Do you still read with/have that deck?
I still use it regularly to date. It’s in surprisingly good shape other than the great water bottle spill incident of 2010. A little warped like the rest of us, but still kicking along just fine. I’ve bought replacements two times and ended up gifting both to friends. Maybe the 4th one I run into will allow that first deck to go into semi-retirement. I’ll probably add the cards into my family grimoire if the cards seem down for it.
What is your favorite/most learned from/most drawn to deck?
I’m new to loving other decks, so each new one is a separate conversation against the backdrop of my faithful RWS friend. I think I’m drawn to the Thoth tarot, though I don’t deeply connect with the original Crowley Harris edition. There’s something in that system that meshes with my particular brand of magic but I haven’t put my finger on it yet.
What is the deck that you just can’t use?
I haven’t a clue what Marseille or Lenormand is trying to tell me. I could probably read with any RWS or Thoth derivative, but I don’t really enjoy reading most whimsical, pastel washed, prancing non-kick a$$ angel kinds of decks. I like saturated colors, visceral visuals beyond my own inner landscape, and at least a little edginess, while staying classic enough to recognize. Apparently my inner tarot reader is a Nancy from The Craft type. Her sense of style is fantastic, so she can stay. While I’m being opinionated, I also don’t read reversals because I’m lazy and trust the deck is clever enough to get the point across another way.
How do you feel about the RWS/Marseille/Thoth decks?
Team RWS all the way. I have plans to woo Thoth decks of varying types in the near future but am nowhere near a fluent reader with it. I, however, abhor counting pips and am currently allergic to Marseille-based decks. To date I have never even touched a Lenormand. I’ll happily leave it for now for those who love them.
Where do you whip out your decks?
Gurl, they’ve been in my corporate office, church meeting rooms, my car in the drive- thru, and often in my bag ready for a conversation. Unless I’m actively code switching non-woo, I am willing and able to whip em out wherever I see fit. Is it a flat surface? Ok, how about moderately flat and dry? Look, can you just hold em? Good enough.
Would you consider yourself a Deck Dealer? A Deck Pusher? A Deck Enabler?
I’m not a collector. All my decks are working ones. And yet I understand the love of tarot and oracle decks. Just knowing they are nearby makes me happy. Luscious art and deeply layered imagery is nothing to be mad at. I get it. So I enable and encourage anyone who finds joy, intrigue or curiousity to get you one. What about this one? Or that one? My only request is you put at least one of those decks you own to work.
What deck is at the top of your wishlist?
Spirit Keepers Tarot. Benebell Wen, honey, please, be merciful. As soon as you’re done consecrating them, just give me a holler. I’ll come pick mine up.
If a Deck granting Magic Being appeared at your door, what is the deck you’d ask them for?
A deck that somehow blends RWS with Thoth complexity, dark jewel tones, have humans that shine like the wide spectrum around me, and be esoteric AF that will keep revealing more magic to me for years to come.
How did your Gateway Deck influence your tarot preferences and reading style?
My Gateway Deck gave me a strong foundation in archetypal symbology. It’s a building block that just keeps on giving.
The downside is it was very euro-centric and has become the map upon which all other cards rests. Other decks that veer from it are jarring at first and take a little while longer to get to know. I do like that decks these days have more diversity and wider representation, but I’m Black all day whether the cards in my hand say so or not. I can say this now, but it was harder as a teeneager. It’s nice to know new readers might have more to pick from than I did. But it’s what I had and now we’re old friends. You don’t give up on friends just because of how they look.
And because I learned tarot from me, myself, and I (and my dear dead friends RWC-S), I don’t get hung up on the Right Way to do anything. Does it work? Do that. It doesn’t have to be from Egypt, cost a fortune, be gifted, be completely understood, be witchcraft, be found in a book, or co-signed by a “better” reader than you. If you are getting results, you are doing just fine. Do you, boo.