I began my journey into Tarot with a traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck, you all know the one, the one with the infamous checked card back. It was sooooo traditional that it was from, like, the 70’s–it didn’t have a glossy finish. It felt like paper and didn’t have the dreaded copyright information on the card face. But when I moved out, I did the ‘right thing’ and gave the deck back to my mother and bought my own, new Rider-Waite-Smith (still with the checked back). Unfortunately, this meant having those glossy finished cards. I don’t like that plastic-y, glossy feel. I’ve been working with, and trying to learn those cards in some capacity on and off again for about a decade. The images are so complex, and there is just so much in them that I have constantly found it difficult to get all of the image associations packed into those cards. The images almost feel like helpful hints or cheat codes to help me decipher the cards. But my approach, it always felt a bit too academic–a bit too forced. I wasn’t connecting with the cards, but I was learning.
My first memory with tarot is my mom sitting cross-legged on her bedroom floor with a black cloth with the Celtic Cross spread printed on it covered in traditional Rider-Waite tarot cards when I was about five years old. I thought it was mystical and cool, and she naturally shooed me away so she could focus. That was that.
Fast forward about five years and I was asking her if I could borrow her deck. I played with it and read for my other 10-year-old friends. We all oooohed and awwdd over the mysticism of the cards. I was doing a simple three card past-present-future spread. It was fun. And eventually I gave the cards back. Then later, at around 15, I asked my mom yet again if I could borrow her deck. I was playing around with tarot and Wicca and mysticism. Just exploring, but just like always, I read from the little white book and never committed to a real practice. When I moved out, I gave my mom her deck back one last time and got my own–my own Rider-Waite deck.