Pride Month is an opportunity to visibilize sexual and gender diversity. But visibilization is not enough. We need to take a stand against the oppressive environment we live in. And we can build a witchcraft practice that matches our core beliefs – our Queer identity and all the core beliefs that come with it included. I found that there are some concepts we can reframe in regards to Tarot reading. Yet, this can also be applied to any other Divination practice of your discipline.
Are Queens in Court Cards depicting the figure of a femine presenting person and that’s it? Do all Kings hold a strong masculine energy? None of these questions can be answered without a social context.
Let’s brush up on some of the concepts involved in reading Tarot. Arcana portrays archetypal energies. Their interpretation can and should fluctuate as time passes on and cultural worldviews change.
Energy is late Latin for “in work,” and it bears a strong connection with action and movement. It’s up to us to read those energies as they fluctuate in each culture. It’s not an easy job, as it means questioning our perspective rather than questioning the Tarot.
In this post, you’ll find some questions on where to start forming your own perspective when reading the cards.
The Interpretation of the Cards
We need to start asking ourselves: “How can I read this arcana beyond the binary perspective?”
Let me be clear. You won’t find the answer to this question in this post. Actually, the idea is for you to end up questioning yourself about how you do your readings. To begin with, there’s a need to erase the idea of masculine or femenine energies, and start thinking about what’s the meaning behind those words. Start with the Major Arcana, pull any card with a person in it. Think about the definition of it you learned. How was that card taught to you? Was it assigned a feminine or masculine energy? According to the binary rules, why is it descripted as that? Let’s see some examples:
1. The Fool
As for the binary perspective, in the Marseilles deck, The Fool depicts a masculine energy wandering around the world. Pamela Colman Smith takes more creative liberty in the Rider-Waite Smith deck, creating the famous androgynous Fool.
What else can be interpreted from there? This card talks about feeling like an outsider. It’s associated with Arts because of the bohemian aura it holds. The Fool can talk about a lack of direction. It can also point to wanderlust.
Let us refer to the Marseilles Fool, though. Why does he have to have such a manly appearance? Why is it that boys are the only ones allowed to feel lost? Why are women supposed to have everything figured out? And breaking the binary mindset, how can we understand The Fool?
Rather than feeling lost, this card depicts the process of healing a wound. This Arcana allows you to explore outside the social fabric. The Fool left behind the city and the binary rules. Now, they place their full attention on themselves and find the path that is best suited to them.
This card can also reflect some aspects on the non-binary transition. As an enby myself, there are some times when I feel lost. The Fool is a comforting card; it reminds me I’m allowed not to fit inside any pre-established molds. There’s nothing wrong with my own experience. Every trans and gender non conforming person —and their experiences— are unique.
2. The Moon
Femininity is the first word attached to this card and the astrological figure itself. The Moon bears a deep connection to mystery and intuition. It talks about what happens when someone decides to act hidden in the shadows. It is often said that the person who pulls out this card is someone who can’t see the whole picture.
It talks about illusion, fantasy, and emotions. Why is it associated with the standardized perspective of feminine energy? Is it depicting some mischievous plan to promote a misogynist agenda? Or is it implying that only feminine presenting people are allowed to truly make space for their emotions?The Moon has little to do with what we call femininity. It’s more about the inner world we all have. This card opens the doors for you to enter the other side, that of your subconscious mind and everything in your inner world.
It can be a callout to connect with your emotions. It can also be a reminder to unveil them. You have to be connected with the world you can’t see, but feel. You need to recognize what’s inside so you can shine on the outside. Just like the satellite, which always has a hidden side, but you can admire the other side.
3. The Hanged… Man?
In this card the word Man is literally written in its name. Then, how can this card be open to questioning?
At first sight, it can seem a bit problematic. But we can understand this card as the counterpart of The Fool. The energies here are depicted as stagnant or stuck.
Lack of movement isn’t always something to be abhorred. It is a chance to take a break and shift your perspective.
At the same time, this card may have a meaning that’s already quite disruptive. The Hanged is a critic of the already established norms.
It’s The Hanged who wonders: “What to do when tied upside down from my legs?” Well, this character provides a new perspective. This makes one think about the reasons that led to this person to be hanged in such a sadistic way.
The Hanged can be compared to the ones who were punished by folly regulations. It’s time to stop submitting to your prescribed role. It’s okay for students to question their masters. Take the time to think of counterarguments to what has been taught. Actually, I found inspiration in this card to write this post.
The Hanged Person’s advice is this:
You build the World the way you see it… What if you turn it upside down?
4. The World
We started off with The Fool, we should end with the World. This is the last Arcana in The Fool’s Journey.
The World is usually portrayed as a feminine energy. But how can a card that bears the energies of the entire Tarot be reduced to one single label? It’s often associated with motherhood: the womb, creation, fertility.
But The World is not just a mother, but an entire landscape. The World breaks itself to many possibilities. It holds the potential to be anything, to fluctuate and change.
As The World holds all the Arcana in the journey, then it’s The Magician and The Empress, and also The Wheel and The Chariot. It most definitely embodies a gender-neutral energy, like that of angels. You can see The World as a communicative person, like the angel in the Arcana Judgment. It can also have something to do with having the social skills of The Hermit. The World can be as strong and solid as a bull, or as disembodied as the sky.
Being a Tarot reader has little to do with memorizing each of the cards’ meanings. We can’t fix a message on a card. If you’ve read Tarot before, you know that each card has to be interpreted in context. You need to take in consideration what the client has already told you about their issue, every other card in the spread, etc.
Does it mean it’s useless to study the original interpretations provided by the creator of the deck? Not at all. Actually, it’s important to understand the original message it holds so you can question it. Just don’t stick with the first you’ve learned. Witchcraft is a practice that involves changing. Feeling uncomfortable comes with the territory. You may feel tempted to stay with the information that feels right, but you have to fight that comfort and go further.
The way we interpret Tarot’s energies has a lot to do with our perspective. This is so because it’s up to us to convey that message. The way we speak reflects scores of ideas, so don’t just take other people’s words as gospel. We’re not questioning the person you got the knowledge from. Rather, I am encouraging you to find your own unique way to channel that knowledge.
I encourage you to continue reading and finding new perspectives. Don’t ever stop asking questions about the things you’ve learned.
Which is the card you feel more represented by? Have you ever thought about the reason why this is so? Tell us in the comments!