ASK A WITCH-Socially Conscious Tarot
The more we learn, the more we must unlearn. There is a long and insidious history of colonialism to be recognized and dismantled. It takes effort and knowledge to avoid harmful practices, but it is always worth it. When we know better, we do better, and that's good for everyone.
Over the last year or so, the work of some amazing witches (like Marisa de la Peña) has drawn attention to the racist and cultural appropriation of many tarot decks. As a white person challenging myself to unsettle my ideas, I no longer feel comfortable using the Motherpeace deck I’ve had for 20 years. So, what would be a good spell to remove the power from the deck, since it does have years of energy from my use? After the deck has been deconsecrated, I feel okay about destroying the cards (maybe bonfire, maybe burying) but please advise on that as well. I’m having a hard time thinking it through clearly & I don’t want any cosmic blow back! Thank you!
This is a great question. I’m glad to see you challenging yourself, it’s an important part of white allyship. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Motherpeace deck she’s referencing has been accused of ignorant cultural appropriation. It was created by white women, and while their intentions were good- they wanted a feminist deck focusing on feminine power and imagery-they unknowingly used images inspired by African genital mutilation rituals. They didn’t do any research, which is problematic by itself, but when they learned what they had done they refused to change the imagery and it remains in the deck to this day, which is still in print and still earning money for the white creators. Unfortunately, this is only one of many cases of problematic white spirituality. The history of the Tarot is vast and complex and often colonialist. It is our job as informed and modern witches to do better, and that includes the cards we choose to read.
Moving on to your question, deconsecrating your deck can be a powerful ritual. I would begin by choosing a stone or stones that feel right (and have been recently cleared) and place them on the deck. Wrap the deck and stones in a cloth and place them on an altar. Use your breath, words, smoke, fire, water, etc to transfer the energy in the deck into the stones. This may happen in one ritual or you may feel it needs more time. If that is the case, return and refresh your ritual as often as possible until it feels complete. Do this with respect and honoring for the years of magic you have shared. It is normal and valuable to learn and evolve; it doesn’t mean we have judgment around who we were. Practice change.
Once you feel that the deck has been neutralized, you have a choice. I like both of your ideas for either burning or burying the deck, and ultimately it is up to you to decide which feels more appropriate. Let this be a ceremony of saying goodbye and moving on. Honor what you loved about the deck. Make sure you make offerings to either the fire or the earth, thanking them for their assistance, as well as an offering to the deck in its transformation.
Take your charged stones and place them upon your new, more socially conscious deck, and let the transfer of energy begin. Let this consecration ritual be similar to the deconsecration of the Motherpeace. When your new deck of choice is rich with your energy, thank the stones and give them a beautiful clearing.
Alternately, if you already have your new deck, you can transfer the energy directly from deck to deck before releasing the old and incorporating the new. It would be a similar ritual, with your own special tools and allies. As always, to avoid cosmic blow back, let your work be for the highest good of all.
for online libraries of POC and LGBTQ+ Tarot decks.