Pronouns: She, her
+ A sacrifice; a premature death; eccentric artist or philosopher
– A punitive crime or corporal punishment; making a change in direction (work, relationship, school, spiritual etc.); deluded
The titular Mandy from the 2018 film is a dreamy artist who in the midst of a random attack by cultists, spits in the face of their leader. He expected her to cower and join him but instead she rejected him. Mandy is dragged from her home and burned alive in front of her partner while hanging upside down. (The sacrifice of an artist is not lost on me in this film.)
Depending on where it lands in a spread, this card could herald metamorphosis. Considering it is right before the Death card, (aka the transformation card) this would make a lot of sense. At this point in the Fool’s journey we are at the halfway mark so by now the passage has begun to change us.
Water as the symbolic element associated with this card fills the form of whatever container possesses it—it is mailable. Regardless of whether the changes in our lives are expected or not, we have a chance to reflect and respond in our own way.
This is the card I associate the most with in this deck (besides my own portrait in the Fool of course). I’m speaking specifically to the dreamy but diluted artist coming to terms with change. As creative people we are never done shedding our skin and evolving into something new. The process is an uncomfortable but necessary one.
Pronouns: She, her
+ Change; destruction
– Rebirth; laziness; forced to change
This deck was created between June and September of 2020 in the United States. Many of the cards are a direct response to a sense of helplessness and are this illustrator’s attempt to control some aspect of the world around me. If 2020 has taught me anything however, it is that I am only powerless when I have decided to give up and I’m only alone when I decide to isolate.
The Death card is a symbol of a transformation. Death is a part of life and is an end as well as a new beginning. This change is only possible if we allow pain and discomfort into our lives as our teachers. I’m not talking about abject suffering. I’m referring to the discomfort of acknowledging our wrongs, getting honest and humble, and letting knowledge and empathy be our guides moving forward.
Unlike the Tower card the change of Death is not always abrupt or violent (although it could be) but it is none the less an unpleasant process.
Should this card come up, let it guide you through to the other side of something that will be hard but worth the effort. Know that now more than ever, more people are starting to understand this need for change. It will absolutely be a bumpy road but worth the journey.
Pronouns: She, her
+ Good health and humor; well balanced
– Transformed; rejecting a defined binary; gray area
I am asked often about my favorite card. I try not to have one but if I did, it would be Temperance. It is an aspirational card for me and I could not bring myself to “horror it up” for this spooky deck. Instead, I focused on the tranquility of this woodland princess playing with river water on a fall day.
This card is about balance and good humor. Temperance doesn’t tip the scale into pleasure or pain. It’s contentment which I believe is far more difficult to achieve.
Should this card make it into your spread, consider it a sign to not jump into the deep end of the pool but also don’t be afraid to get a little wet either. Moderation is key. Should this be negatively aspected consider evaluating to what extremes you are taking things.
Pronouns: They, them
+ Sex; indulgence; rejection of shame
– Insecure; repressed feelings; oppression; stuck a manifestation of collective insecurity
I describe my decks as “responses to the Rider Waite”. It’s hard for me at this point to not use a system that’s pretty well established and widely read. That doesn’t mean I don’t tweak the hell out of it to fit my own artistic needs. That’s very much the case with this card. The Devil in the context of this deck is about whether or not you are stuck inside societal expectations—trapped into being someone you don’t want to be.
This Devil is androgynous and heroin-chic sexy. They epitomize an unrealistic expectation that we have been told is “conventionally attractive” and yet they look over their shoulder with a hint of paranoia.
I thought a lot about the “Cool Girl” speech from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and how we begin to warp into a strange hybrid of the Expectation cloaked within the Reality. The fear of being truly seen is terrifying.
What if the path of the Devil was rejecting an impossible standard? Instead, we choose to truly love and accept ourselves and one another—appreciating the life we get to live here, today.
This Devil is us. We are plagued by a dysmorphic mirror and an internal voice that holds us to an impossible standard. It wants us to believe we aren’t thin enough, femme enough, butch enough, light-skinned enough, queer enough, pretty enough—whatever other bullshit lies are out there. It’s hard not to believe our own internal shame, especially when everyone is struggling with their own—feeding it with fear. This striving for perfection keeps us stuck.
If this card comes up in a reading, ask “how am I stuck?”. What kind of internalized self-hatred should be divested?
Pronouns: He, him
+ Disaster; crippling ruin
– Dramatic change; opportunity to change direction for the better
The crumbling Tower is toxic masculinity personified as Frankenstein’s monster. Dr. Frankenstein’s hubris to conquer death and create something to top nature led to his downfall. The monster didn’t ask to exist but he’s here now and using his immense power for ill.
When any one of us suffers we all suffer. This doesn’t excuse abusive and shitty behavior but that behavior is a dangerous symptom that needs to be addressed. Something I have noticed in my own bias is how rarely my work touches on issues that effect people raised as boys. I have fallen victim to the idea that I can’t be a part of the conversation because somehow loneliness and insecurity when packaged differently is not relatable. This is a mistake.
Should the Tower show up, I tend to take a more optimistic approach. Things aren’t great. However, they can only get better from here! The power is in acknowledging the bad in order to start building the good. Exiling or ignoring the bad is a temporary fix.
Pronouns: Ze, hir
+ Good prospects; on the other side of something hard; respite
– Broke; worse for wear
At this point in the journey, the Fool is over the hump having survived a lot including the Fallen Tower. The Star serves as a promise of a new dawn. The thing about tomorrow is that it is going to come no matter what. It’s not up to us what happens but we can decide how to deal with it. The Star is a reminder to take each day as it comes, treat it like your last, and try not to sweat the small still—because the worst thing that was going to happen already did and you survived it.
Survival doesn’t have to look cute either. This Star is segmented into prices, torn apart by life and all its bullshit. But they are still freakin’ standing and taking on the day.
If this shows up in your reading, look at the cards before and after and ask what the relationship is there. While a lot of cards are about transition or preparation for change—the Star is a pause. Whether that is the eye of the storm or a sign that things are clearing up—this is the time to just take a breath, attempt a bit of gratitude, and rest.
Pronouns: She, her
+ Enemies are concealed (wolves in sheep’s clothing); indulging in excellent sex; accepting our complications; loving ours whole selves
– Flinging blame, shame, and deceptive cruelty; letting the subconscious come forward including desire and fears; embracing id
Black women’s bodies have been used as objects and abused for centuries. Whether for desire or cruelty, we have weighed down Black women with our gaze for far too long. As a white lady artist I was worried about painting a nude Black body in this deck for this reason. Conversely, representation matters and there’s also a trend for artists to not celebrate black and brown skin in their work (or to render it very poorly). Then I found this perfect reference and I knew this was the perfect model and pose for this deck.
The Moon also gets short shrift in tarot. It’s moody and mysterious—somehow the way it comes off to me is a bit rude and negative.
The Moon is a poem about elegance and power. She floats confidently. While some would say the Moon is cold and isolated, I have always felt her to be a symbol of quiet power. In this card, I made her into a bride—her spouse is the night.
In a reading this card is about embracing ourselves and divesting ourselves of our personal hang ups. The wolves in sheep’s clothing can be real people or they can be our own bullshit, waiting to sabotage us. Be free.
Pronouns: She, her or They, them
+ Ego; the center of attention; leadership; shining brightly; showing our best side; achievement
– Verbal diarrhea; bad at keeping secrets; insecurity on display; asking others to carry our burden but never offering to help others with their own; foot in mouth; trouble
The Sun can be a source of love and warmth. Too much of it though can irradiate the skin off of your body leaving you a peeled and pulpy mess.
If the Moon is about subconscious thought than the is Sun very conscious thought and action. I have had moments in my life where I call attention to myself and wind up looking like an utter fool. No one remembers these moments from my timelines, but I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about them. This card depicts that panic for me.
I can handle public speaking and putting myself out there, but it zaps me of all my energy and when I have nothing in the reserves, the panic creeps up and creates these vivid nightmares. The many tongues or pulling out my insides has come up a few times.
Should this card turn up, it can mean a couple things: our outward facing self is shining bright and the leadership skills are on display. Maybe there is a Sun in your life that’s showing their best side. Conversely, there could be some foolishness happening and it needs to be straightened out.
Pronouns: He, him
+ Success; travel; forward; ending and beginning
– Stagnation and despair; death
This is where the Fool’s journey ends. In a way, the journey is really a circle—the end of one story and the beginning of another. This deck was created during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. At that point, each day was an opportunity to focus on that singular day. Any attempt at planning beyond that caused this illustrator extreme anxiety. Instead, I got a trial for Shudder (a streaming platform for horror films) and started to draw. Missing my regular figure drawings sessions, I focused on my continuing education online and let my brain wander.
The World card is a promise that tomorrow will come regardless of what happens. It’s is hope that after all the crap we have been subjected to this year and long before that, there is still a reason to keep putting one foot in front of each other.
As the world changes rapidly, our feelings oscillate between fear, excitement, and joy about the unknown. The World card embraces each of these things as he focuses on the celebration of new life. As I write this, results of the 2020 US Presidential election are known and decided but the work of building a better and safer tomorrow for everyone is still very much underway. We are exhausted and have survived some gnarly shit but to stop working and fighting for what is right at this point would mean giving up.
The World is wise. Unlike the Fool he isn't starry-eyed or insecure. Instead he knows the seriousness of his role as a parent and is contemplative. This card asks us to rise above the bullshit and to be who you are—and take on everything that comes with that. In a reading the card is about the big picture. Make all the plans you would like but the world is going to throw a lot of shit your way. You are stronger than you think.
Just don’t give up!
+ A fresh start, a reunion; building a new definition of fairness
– Mistakes, suffering, and loss; cleansed
Instead of Judgment as an action being acted out upon us, what if it referred to exercising our ability to choose. Black Phillip’s head combined with this figure is not condemning anyone but patiently waiting for your decision.
Maybe it’s time to come to terms with something and pick a lane. You have the freedom to do whatever you deem necessary— but your actions have consequences.
Often these cards have asked you to think about how your actions effect other people but this card is a reflection your previous movements and asking if you have assessed whether they worked for you or not.
When I was 29 years old, I hit a wall in my life. Looking in from the outside you would think I was fine. I had a job and was in a relationship. Things were ok. However, on the inside I felt like I was barely keeping it together. I could never quite catch my breath because I was always on the edge of a panic attack. One day I was laying on the couch and realized that if this kept up I was going to die a slow and miserable death. It became clear to me in that moment this fact was terrifying to me. So, I slowly got off the couch and asked for help. That lead to one thing, then another and now I’m doing ok. My life isn’t perfect and I have my bad days but it’s nothing like before. Discovering my deepest fear was slowly closing in on me took longer than I would have liked but I was able to pivot get back on solid ground. Now, when I eventually leave this earth I know that I will have done everything I could to live deliciously.
The Suit of Cups Card Meanings
Vampires and sex rule this emotional suit about relationships.
The Suit of Wands Card Meanings
Wands celebrate the devil in us all and the fire that keeps us alive.