A modern tarot deck may strike you as an oxymoron; according to Robert Place in The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination, the cards developed in northern Italy in the early fifteenth century. But, in 2021, this Late Middle Age practice has become as commonplace as checking Instagram. Many use tarot cards as a sort of pocket-sized spiritual therapist — or, as R29 writer Elizabeth Gulino describes it, “The cards are less about predicting the future than about providing guidance around how to best cope with things that crop up day to day.” This brings us to The Modern Witch Tarot Deck: a diverse and contemporary take on the old-school Rider-Waite-Smith version that boasts a rare 4.9-out-of-5-star rating and over 13,000 reviews on Amazon. Illustrated by comic-book artist Lisa Sterle, the cards are brimming with everything from iPhones to LGBT+ themes and POC representation that its impassioned internet following calls beautiful and validating. After purchasing The Modern Witch from ESP, a spiritual store in Williamsburg, NY, I quickly became a dedicated member of its stan club and decided to investigate its viral online success even further.
This deck definitely celebrates empowered human beings of multiple identities — including LGBTQ, full figured, and senior citizens. POC, finally, are more than just an afterthought.
Described as a “youthful” and “contemporary” take on traditional tarot imagery, the $16.80 deck is perfect for beginners; “I’m a tarot reader and I have many tarot decks but this is one of my favorite go-to decks! The imagery is so on point and sometimes when my intuition is a bit blocked, this deck is still easy to channel messages for myself,” Amazon reviewer The Cosmic Aquarian Goddess confirms. It includes all 22 major arcana cards, the four suits of the minor arcana, two additional cards — the notable of which states: “You are a badass being. Full of life, love, and possibilities. Through this deck, may you find a path to your best self.” — and an interpretation guidebook. (There’s a separate journal you can buy to keep track of your readings, too.) The cards are substantially heavy with a thick glossy finish that feels suited for outlasting years of daily use. Although weighty stock can make handling difficult, I adapted to the feel of these cards in my hands and easily found a smooth shuffling style. “This deck. I got goosebumps when I took the cards out. The card stock is fantastic. I’m a terrible snob about card stock but I’m totally swooning over this deck. It’s VERY thick,” Amazon reviewer Spartygirl commented.
I needed something with the original symbolism, but in a contemporary fashion to help me understand tarot for my modern, everyday life. It’s like this deck was made for me!
Aside from its under-$20 price tag, readability, and high quality, why are over 13,000 reviewers swooning over this deck? The magic lies in its representation. Oftentimes new-age spiritual practices are whitewashed with decks that are extremely gendered and soaked in heteronormativity. The Modern Witch Tarot Deck demands a higher standard; one where the spiritual world represented in the cards matches the diversity we see in real life. The Modern Witch replaces those all-white and mostly male cards of tarot decks past with the inner spirits of female bodies, queer folk, and POC. Although some argue that its all-female representation is gender exclusive, I personally found a creative portrayal of gendered archetypes from feminine to masculine and non-binary featured throughout — a sentiment that Amazon reviewer, Kkato, echoes: “The gender representation is just more fluid and nuanced. There is masculinity and femininity in this deck, it’s just not represented in a binary system.”
If I could have a conversation with the person who made this deck, it would be to thank her for helping me feel seen.
As with any tarot deck, whether it’s your first or your tenth, it’s important to feel drawn towards your cards; “We find that individual decks can call to our inner spirit,” Mysticalcraft Arriana, Keen.com advisor and tarot card reader, explains. This was my first deck and, as thousands of other reviewers also shared, I feel as though it were made for me. I’m a Puerto Rican, non-binary lesbian who can present both masculine or feminine — so, in my readings, sometimes it was the King or the Queen or the Knight of Swords who popped out to represent me. No matter which card I dealt, the illustrations spoke to my spirit by not adhering to traditional gender norms. Now that’s special.
Whether you’ve been considering getting into tarot or are a seasoned expert who reads for LGBT+ and POC clients, I recommend The Modern Witch Tarot Deck wholeheartedly. With a visual vibrancy that’s more than matched by its spiritual powers, my readings (both personal and with others) have conjured up feelings of being seen, heard, and comforted.
As a biracial lesbian woman, I wanted a deck that could resonate with my spirit and these cards honestly make me feel so validated and seen.
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