Author Blog

May Author Blog

An Excerpt from “Alive with Spirits” by Althaea Sebastiani

Animism is an ongoing effort to be in right relationship with those around us, thus creating an interlocking web of relationships that form the basis of community. To sink ourselves more deeply into animism is to sink ourselves more deeply into the web of relationships and the web of community, binding ourselves to those around us through mutual awareness, respect, and obligation. In this way, animism—like any worldview—cannot be practiced. It is not a religion, not a system: it is a way of existing within the world. It can only be lived, defining every action the witch takes—be it those actions specifically focused on the everyday or upon the spiritual.

If animism describes the nature of the witch, then the Land describes the nature of witchcraft. And where the Land and the witch intersect, spirit work describes the nature of how the witch embodies their craft. Again and again, it all comes down to the Land, the very source of witchcraft, and the actions we take to be aware of and responsive to the existence and the autonomy it possesses. Yet the Land is not “Mother Nature.” It is not an impersonal archetype nor is it a resource for us to exploit and use. The Land—as a physical place intersecting with the world of spirits and overlaid with our personal experiences and interpretations—is a dynamic and fluid space, one that is ever changing, ever becoming. It is as receptive as it is assertive. In our relationships with the land and its many spirits, this imposes upon us obligation to approach those relationships as also being alive, requiring tending and demanding certain actions and behaviors from us.

Understanding Animism

Witchcraft a system that is dependent upon the awareness of and interaction with spiritual forces and beings. Because of its awareness of and use of spiritual forces, this naturally shows us that it, too, is dependent upon some type of worldview—one that encompasses the existence of a variety of spiritual forces and beings. These spiritual forces are typically called energy and these spiritual beings are typically called spirits, and both can be found within objects, such as the energy of a stone, as well as outside of objects, such as the spirits of your ancestors.

While these two things—energy and spirits—can seem like radical concepts within Western society, they are concepts intrinsic to animism.

It’s important to remember that, ultimately, we have no idea what energy is. It is not the energy discussed in any branch of science, and it is unable to currently be sensed or measured except through the use of spiritual skills—which makes its existence impossible to prove to anyone but ourselves. Yet we know that something is there. If you put in the time and effort to develop strong psychic/spiritual skills, you will have experiences that corroborate the existence of energy for you. And in those experiences, you can find similarities with the experiences of other witches who have likewise developed those skills.

Thus over the course of the last seventy years, during which time contemporary witchcraft has been born and proliferated throughout the world, there is a vast collection of experiences that—despite the inability to say much about energy with certainty—provide us a general standard of how energy behaves and how it can be affected, as well as providing us a general standard of what to expect when feeling and moving energy. Because of this, we are able to discern suitable actions to take in order to cultivate the skills necessary to effectively sense and manipulate energy.

Animism holds that the world is alive with spirits. That’s the simple definition, but in practice, the waters of animism flow deep. In a world that is alive and thrumming with spirits, the place of humans can be summed up as one among many. Contrasting— and conflicting—with the dominant worldview of Euro-American Christianized society (that often prizes the individual over community), this means that humans do not exist in superiority to any spirit. We are not special in relation to the vast number of other beings that exist within the cosmos alongside us.

There is no hierarchy among the variety of beings that exist—be they physical or spirit. Humans are not better than spirits regardless if those spirits are human dead, animal dead, the spirit in a mountain, the spirit in a river, a wandering spirit caught in your home, or the spirit within your coffee maker.

The term “spirit” refers to a spectrum of beings that are generally comprised of energy. Spirits are not “ghosts.” There exists as much variety in spirits as there does physical expressions of being; human dead are just one type of spirit that exists, and they exist as a very small percentage.

Some spirits exist with physical form (such as the spirits of plants or stones), some spirits once had physical form and now do not (such as human and animal dead), and some spirits have never had physical form nor will they likely ever have physical form (of which there is a large variety of spirits, such as the Good Folk, trolls, and the Gods). While spirits exist primarily in energetic form, all energy is not a spirit nor does it emanate from a spirit (we’ll expound upon this in Lesson 3: A World Alive with Spirits).

As a term, “ghost” can be viewed as infantilizing, as it focuses upon creating and maintaining separation between the living and the dead. This is problematic for many reasons, such as the way that it strips personhood from the dead and discourages viewing other spirits as possessing personhood, the way that it eliminates our accountability to the dead, the way that it creates an illusion of power that we hold over the dead and thus death (thereby enforcing hierarchy among beings and centering living humans), and the way that it further encourages us to fear death and, as a result, our own physicality.

These things contrast sharply against animism and are generally not compatible with the way that animism asks us to perceive ourselves, perceive other beings (that is, as people), and perceive ourselves in relation to other people. This serves as a good example of the surprising ways that worldview influences our thoughts, our perceptions, and behavior as we see that the concept of ghosts is largely embedded in a worldview dependent upon separation and maintaining so much of the pain that we try to dissolve and heal as animists.

What is special, however, is the connection that exists between us and these spirits (and, as a result, all other humans—living and dead—and all animals and all insects and all plants and the Earth and . . . ). It is the existence of relationship between us and these spirits that is the focus of animism. This is the way that animism influences and changes our behavior, because we have an obligation as animists to be in right relationship with spirits as much as any physically incarnate being. Animism demands that we prize community and that we recognize that community absolutely includes our local spirits as much as it includes our fellow humans and other forms of physical beings.

Underpinning that recognition is the awareness and acknowledgment that every spirit exists as its own autonomous being. These beings are not part of any larger whole; rather, each spirit is unique and complete, as much an individual as you or me. We’ll go into the concept of personhood of spirits in more detail in Lesson 3: A World Alive with Spirits.

As you’re likely beginning to notice, despite animism being frequently defined as the “belief that all things have a spirit,” this definition does little to demonstrate the far reaching influence animism has on someone nor does it describe how that person experiences the world. It’s an imperfect definition, reductive and dismissive. Such a statement implies that a declaration of belief is enough to be an animist.

So, we will instead focus on understanding animism through three defining traits that deeply relate to each other and gradually demonstrate how animism will be evident in your actions if it is your worldview. As we noted earlier, your worldview influences how you think, how you behave, and how you experience everything. It is impossible for your worldview to not show in your actions.

These three defining traits are:

  • lack of separation
  • diversity is the nature of the cosmos
  • right relationship and community

As can only be expected with animism, these three traits cannot be cleanly separated. And so, you will see a strong connection among them all because animism is not about separation but wholeness. Where most of the other worldviews we discussed— specifically Christian monotheism, pantheism, and panentheism—largely focus on linear progression and rise and fall, animism is focused on interconnection, webs of relationship, and cycles. And so, we will be diving into these traits throughout this book via their interconnection, approaching them from individual threads that then weave themselves together to show how fully adopting animism as a worldview can change your life.

—Althaea Sebastiani, Lesson 2, Copyright © 2024

April Author Blog

An Excerpt from “Secrets of Greek Mysticism” by George Lizos

Setting Up Altars to the Gods

An altar is a portal between the sacred and the profane. It is a bridge between the spiritual and earthly realms—a creation that aims to bring the gods into the physical realm so we can have an easier, deeper interaction with them. Therefore, setting up an altar opens up a portal to the spirit world and eventually transforms a secular space into one that is sacred.

Altars have been used by most indigenous traditions around the world, including the ancient Greeks. Since the beginning of time, humans have felt the need to communicate with the spirit world and have built physical altars with the aim of channeling and communicating with the nonphysical realm.


What to Include on the Altar

There are many schools of thought around setting up altars. In this section, I’ll share what we know about ancient Greek altars coupled with tips from my personal experience.


Although outdoor altars were common in classical times due to the layout of ancient houses, it may be more convenient to set up your household altar indoors. You can set up your altar on any surface in any room of the house. It could be on a side table in your bedroom, a shelf on your bookcase, a corner of your office desk, or simply a corner of the floor. However, I suggest that you set up your altar in a quiet space in a common area, especially if you plan on performing the rituals with the entire family.


Traditionally, Greek altars were rectangular. However, feel free to give your altar a shape that has meaning for you and for the god or goddess you’re working with. It could be a circle, square, pyramid, star, or any other shape you feel inspired to use.

Altar Cloth

Setting up your altar on a piece of cloth is a symbolic way to set its extent and boundaries. It’s also a simple way to transform a secular surface to something more sacred. Choose the colors and materials of your altar cloths mindfully so that they make sense for your chosen god or goddess.


Our modern lifestyle doesn’t always allow for a hearth to be permanently lit in the house, so the next best option is candles, an oil lamp, or even an electronic candle or lamp if you want to avoid fire completely. Always use natural substances, such as beeswax and soy wax candles or olive oil for the lamp.

Cleansing Water

Known as khernips, cleansing water is used specifically for cleansing and purifying our energy before we perform any kind of ritual. You can make it yourself by using either spring water or saltwater and setting the intention that it clears and purifies your energy. It’s important to avoid using tap or stagnant water, and always drain and clean the bowl following the ritual. You can learn more about creating cleansing water in my book Protect Your Light.


During rituals, the statues are more than just representations of the gods; they embody the gods’ essence and should be treated with the utmost respect. Although you can purchase statues for affordable prices from many online retailers, you can also use any sculpted or unworked natural materials as statues for the gods. For example, you can choose stones, crystals, and pieces of clay or wood. In fact, in the archaic period Greeks used xoana (singular xoanon) to honor the gods, which were often uncarved pieces of wood.

If you choose to purchase your statues, it’s important that you choose statues depicting the god’s or goddess’s whole body rather than their busts or replicas of vandalized statues depicting the gods with missing limbs and other damage (most of which were performed by the early Christians).

Although statues are helpful aids to connecting with the gods, they aren’t essential for your ceremonies, and you don’t need to include them if you don’t want to. Your intention to connect with the gods is the most important component of the ritual.

Ritual Dagger

Similar to the Wiccan athame, a ritual dagger is used symbolically to protect the altar from negative intentions, people, and energies. You can use any dagger for this purpose, but it’s best to choose something that looks and feels sacred to you and that you use only as part of your ceremonies.


Near your altar, you may dedicate an additional surface or storage space for the statues (if you choose to include them) and other ritual items. It’s important to have 200 Connecting with the Gods specific ritual items used solely for your ceremonies, and consecrate them using the practice in the next section.


The ancient Greeks used different incenses to honor each god, many of which you can find in the “Symbolism” section of each god’s chapter. Traditionally, they used a tripod burner to burn the incense and other offerings, but you can use any burner you prefer. Personally, I’ve handmade a ceramic tripod burner, as well as most of my ceremonial tools, in my pottery class. If you have the time and energy to make your own ritual items, it’s a great way to add your own personal essence to them and deepen your practice.


Although the ancient Greeks often sacrificed animals to the gods, this is no longer a common practice. Instead, we now offer grains, fruits, and flowers as a way of acknowledging, showing gratitude, and reaching out to the gods. For this purpose, have a tray or a bowl that you can use to make your offerings during the ritual and potentially leave on the altar table. I often arrange a selection of grains in a tray in a visually appealing way and leave it on my altar until the next ritual.


A libation is the ritual pouring of a liquid—usually red wine, olive oil, honey, milk, or water—in honor of gods, heroes, other minor deities, and the dead. For this purpose, have a large bowl to pour in your libations, and another vessel to store the liquid. When offering a libation to the Olympian gods, you should always use red wine, while for chthonic (subterranean) deities, minor gods such as the Muses and the Nymphs, heroes, and the dead, you should instead use milk mixed with honey, or water. Libations to chthonic gods and the ancestors (known as a choe) are poured directly into the earth rather than your altar libation bowl.

Additional Items

In addition to or in lieu of the traditional ritual items used by both ancient and contemporary Greek pagans, feel free to make the altar your own by arranging and decorating it in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing and feels right to you. Remember, you’re setting up a sacred space to help you commune with the gods. The more personal you make it, the easier it’ll be for you to connect.

A great way to bring life into your altar is to include natural items, which I like to call gifts from nature. Such items may include crystals, stones, soil, flowers, leaves, shells, sea glass, tree bark, fallen branches, or anything else you’re guided to collect from the natural world. Always be mindful not to dismantle any animal’s shelter or home. Walk softly upon the land and take only what you’re intuitively guided to, with love and respect in your heart. If you feel guided to collect flowers or plants, it’s important to intuitively ask them for permission before you cut them, and do so only if you get a yes.


Laying Out Your Altar

Setting up your altar is a ritual in and of itself. Once you have all the items and have spent some time planning how you want it to look, lay down your altar cloth, and with intention, prayer, and ceremony, place each item on the altar. Notice how you feel while setting up your altar, and include only items that inspire a sense of joy and upliftment. You’ll know when your altar is complete by the emotion you feel when it’s done! You’ll feel a sense of completeness or open-heartedness and joy along with reverence, as the items you’ve placed create the perfect energetic combination to bring in your chosen god’s energy.


Consecrating Your Altar

Consecrating your altar means to purify the energy of both the space the altar is set up in and the items you’ve included. Physical space and the items you’ve chosen all absorb vibratory frequencies from their surrounding environment as well as the people who have interacted with them (the ancient Greeks called this miasma, which means energetic pollution). Consecrating your altar resets the energy of everything so it can better align with the energy of the gods.

Follow these steps to consecrate your altar:

  1. Start by practicing the Meditation Prep Process from Chapter 8 and bring yourself into a meditative state.
  2. Choose your cleansing tool. There are many cleansing elements and tools you can use to cleanse your altar and ritual items. The most common cleansing aids used in ancient Greece were fire (in the form of sage and incense) and water (usually seawater or flowing water from springs and rivers), but you can also use sound (such as bells and gongs), essential oils, or your inner light channeled through your hands.
  3. Bring your chosen tool/s close to your heart. With eyes closed, call upon the oversoul of the tool to activate its power and support you in this process. Intuitively, you may feel your tool vibrating or lighting up in some way, signifying it’s ready to use.
  4. Use the tool to cleanse your altar space in an intentional, ceremonial way. For example, if you’re using lit sage, wave the smoke above, below, and around your altar with the intention that it’s cleansing all negative energy.
  5. After you’ve cleansed the altar, do the same for all the ritual items. Take each item one at a time and use your chosen tool to cleanse and purify it from all negative or residual energy.
  6. When you feel the space and your ritual items have been consecrated, place the tool close to your heart and thank it for its assistance.


Activating Your Altar

After you’ve consecrated your altar, the next step is to dedicate and activate it so it serves as a sacred space to strengthening communication between you and the gods you’re revering.

Follow these steps to activate your altar:

  1. Start by practicing the Meditation Prep Process from Chapter 8 and bring yourself into a meditative state.
  2. Place both of your hands on your chest and focus your attention in the center of your heart. Visualize a bright golden light extending from your heart outward and into your palms. This is your own inner light and life-force energy.
  3. Extend your hands outward to face the altar, visualizing the light washing over all the altar pieces and the surrounding space, instilling it with your loving energy and intention. Stay here for as long as it takes for your altar to feel elevated.
  4. Dedicate the altar to the gods you’re working with by saying and changing the call to the appropriate god: “I call upon [name of the gods] to enter this space and render it sacred, creating a clear portal of communication between the physical and spiritual realms. Thank you, and so it is.”
  5. When you’re done, place your hands on your chest to end the process and ground your energy into the Earth.


Animating the Statues

As I mentioned earlier, statues aren’t just representations of the gods, they act as gateways for the gods’ presence during the rituals. They embody the gods’ presence. Before they can take on this function, you need to animate them, meaning to invite the gods represented to bless and embody them.

Here’s the process to animate the statues:

  1. Having cleansed the statues, prepare a tray or bowl of a mix of grains, known as panspermia in Greek.
  2. With intention, circle the tray over each statue in a clockwise direction while reciting the god’s Orphic hymn (which you can find in the gods’ respective chapters) and pour the grains on the statue.
  3. While doing so, visualize the gods’ light entering and activating the statues, blessing them with their presence.
  4. Once you’re done, your statues are animated and ready to be used in your ceremonies.


Dismantling the Altar

Before you perform a new ritual, it’s important to dismantle your altar from the previous one, then consecrate and ground the energy of your altar space. The dismantling process should be carried out with the same sense of ceremony and reverence as setting up your altar, to show your gratitude for the work you’ve done with the gods.

Follow these steps to dismantle your altar:

  1. Start by practicing the Meditation Prep Process from Chapter 8 and bring yourself into a meditative state.
  2. Slowly and ceremonially, remove each item from the altar, holding it in front of your heart and silently thanking it for the role it played in your ritual.
  3. Having dismantled your altar, use one or more of the consecration tools you used previously to cleanse the altar pieces and space, preparing them for the next ritual.

Now that you know how to set up and dismantle your altars, in the next chapters I’ll share guidelines for performing your monthly festival rituals, as well as the new moon and full moon rituals.

—George Lizos, Chapter 23, Copyright © 2024

March Author Blog

An Excerpt from “The Marie Laveau Voodoo Grimoire” by Denise Alvarado 

Marie Laveau held her services on Wednesdays and Fridays. Never on Sundays. But people went to see her all the time.” —Mrs. Marie Dede, 1939

People often wonder whether or not there are optimal times—days of the week, phases of the moon, and so forth—when it comes to conjuring. As a practitioner, you can cast a spell at a moment’s notice, but there can be advantages to using certain timing correspondences to optimize power and impact. The association of special times with ritual activities is called magickal timing.

One of the primary things to consider about pairing ritual work with specific timing is intention. People are often driven by emotion and act on impulse; thus, they do not think the work through clearly. As a result, they experience any number of unwanted consequences; the most common is simply an ineffective conjure. We live in an instant gratification society and want what we want when we want it. We don’t like to wait. However, waiting for the right time can sometimes be one of the most important things you can do to render an effective spell. The intricacies of magickal timing are why many folks hire a professional rootworker to perform a spiritual service instead of attempting the work themselves.

Magickal timing can be broken down into several categories, including days of the week, moon phases, sunrise and sunset, planetary hours, time of the year, major life events, hands of the clock, biblical associations, and even a woman’s menstrual cycle. The most commonly considered magickal timing categories are days of the week, phases of the moon, and sunrise and sunset. Which method a worker subscribes to is entirely personal; it boils down to what works.

In Hoodoo, timing is associated with activities of daily living and the days these activities typically occur. For example, people generally get paid on Fridays, so Fridays are associated with prosperity work, getting a job, and getting a raise. In classical traditions, Friday is associated with Venus, the love goddess, and therefore is the ideal day to perform spells related to love and relationships.

While there are other ways to incorporate magickal timing into ritual work, the ones described in this chapter are easy to implement. Try pairing your ritual work with one of the described methods, and you should see an improvement in the power and success of your ritualistic endeavors.


The days of the week are associated with magickal timing in many esoteric and occult traditions, but it was the Babylonians who first created the concept of a seven-day week. They named each day after one of the seven celestial bodies known at the time: the sun, the moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. According to Babylonian beliefs, these heavenly bodies impacted people’s lives on the corresponding day.


Sunday is the sun’s day, and its power can amplify any ritual work. It is a good day for gaining wisdom and seeking assistance with health, wellness, blessings, prosperity, individuality, and power. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Sundays are devoted to God and the orishas Obatala and Orunmila and the loa Gran Bwa.


Monday is the moon’s day, a great day for water rituals, healing, fertility, transformation, intuition, and family matters, particularly those concerning women and children. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Mondays are devoted to the gatekeeper spirits Papa Legba, Ellegua, Eshu, and Exú, the ancestors, and the barons.


Tuesday is ruled by Mars and is appropriate for works involving aggression, offensive battle strategies, enemy work, protection, justice, and manipulating testosterone. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Tuesdays are devoted to Ogun, Erzulie Dantor, and the spirits of the Petro nations.


Wednesday is Mercury’s day, ideal for communication, teaching the arts, transformation, traveling, learning, and luck. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Wednesdays are devoted to Ogun, AnnieChristmas, Oya, Damballah  Wedo, and Babalú-Aye.


Thursday is ruled by Jupiter, and is ideal for conjuring increased wealth, finding treasures, abundance, success, and seeking answers to burning questions. In Catholic Conjure and Laveau Voudou, yellow candles are offered to St. Roche and St. Expedite on Thursdays. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Thursdays are devoted to the spirits Damballah Wedo, Olodumare, Olofin, Oshun, Obatala, Agassou, and Orunmila.


Friday is Venus’s day, and the classical love goddess makes Friday ideal for working on matters of the heart—love, desire, beauty, and romance. Friday is also the day many people get paid for their week’s work, so it is a good day for prosperity work. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Fridays are devoted to Chango, Oya, Babalú Aye, the barons, Erzulie Freda, and Manman Brigitte.


Saturday is Saturn’s day, perfect for conjures related to righteous anger, justified revenge, causing sickness, creating obstacles, banishing, binding, and destroying enemies. In New Orleans Voudou and related African-derived religions, Saturdays are devoted to Yemaya, Oshun, and Baron Samedi, and it is the day to celebrate all spirits.


A moon’s phase refers to the shape of the illuminated portion of the moon as seen from earth. Since the moon and earth are forever locked by the tides, we always see the same lunar surface. Four principal lunar phases hold significance to magickal workers: the first quarter (waxing), full moon, third quarter (waning), and new moon. There is also the period at the end of the waning phase, just before the new moon crescent, that holds significance to workers. This is referred to as the dark moon because the moon is not visible.

The new moon is when the moon officially begins to wax, growing invisibility until it reaches full moon status. The new moon is an excellent time to start new projects and prepare new conjures.

Waxing moons begin after the new moon and visibly grow until the full moon. Rituals designed to draw things to you are best done during this moon phase.

Waning moons begin after the full moon and end the day of the dark moon. Rituals designed to eliminate obstacles, conditions, or people are best worked during this moon phase.

The dark moon is the day before the new moon. Take advantage of the moon’s invisibility to perform clandestine works such as crossings and reversals.


Working by sunrise or sunset is another way to enhance magickal work. Do works designed to draw things to you from dawn until noon, such as love, money, and success. Do works intended to remove or eliminate conditions such as debt or illness from noon until sunset.


When both hands of the clock point upward, it is the ideal time to perform work to draw something to you. When both hands face downward, it is the perfect time to repel negativity.


The traditional time for taking a spiritual bath is at or right before dawn. Some folks pay attention to the moon phases for enhancing the power of their cleansing. For example, when the desired result is removing a condition or obstacles, then cleansing during a waning moon is ideal. A waxing moon is ideal if the goal is drawing something to you. A full moon is perfect for harnessing all the moon’s power towards a desired goal. However, a cleansing can be done any time the need arises, so don’t wait until morning comes if there is an urgent need.

—Denise Alvarado, Chapter 3, Copyright © 2024

February Author Blog

An Excerpt from “Tarot for the Hard Work” by Maria Minnis

We begin with the premise that tarot is a tool of self-discovery. The cards provide us a tactile means to do inner work and grow as individuals, to unveil our “true” selves. In particular, the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana depict “the grand picture”—classically they represent the archetypal energies we all share within the great universal unconscious. Our vivid trek through the majors has been described as the “hero’s journey” and the “great work.” It’s an alchemical process by which we move from innocence to knowledge, from unconsciousness to consciousness.

In other words, the majors present us with opportunities to move from ignorance, denial, and complacency to awareness, responsibility, and action. We might say that the journey wakes us up.

Tarot for the Hard Work is a potent partner for this journey. It is an array of Major Arcana writings and exercises for untangling racism, both externally and internally.

The word “racism” is tossed around so often that we don’t always consider what it really means, what it actually entails. Ask anyone, “What is racism?” and they’ll likely answer that it is white bias against people of color, that it is oppression rooted in racial and/or ethnic group membership.

They are not wrong in describing what racism looks like externally.

Often overlooked is internalized racism, something subtler and more insidious. When racism is the cultural norm, Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) raised in such a society can internalize harmful racial narratives, subconsciously and even consciously. We may unintentionally reinforce ideas about ourselves and the world that collude with racism, leading to self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-disrespect. Racism perpetuates itself on a deep, inner, and subconscious level that traumatizes us and undermines our true power. For the BIPOC community, this book provides a path toward personal healing.

Internalized racism in white people can also be subconsciously insidious. Generations of white dominance and political power has led many of them to rarely, if ever, think about their privilege blindness and how their deeply rooted preconceptions precipitate microaggressions. They may tokenize others, assume criminality, expect lower intellectual capacity, claim colorblindness, or disrespect different communication styles. Internalized racism in white people can prompt an inner voice that says, “But I’m not racist—that’s other people.” This sustains the lack of responsibility that perpetuates a structurally racist society. Yes, “good people” and “bad people” can be racist. For white readers, this book provides actions to break that cycle and answers the ever-present question, “What can I do?”

Tarot for the Hard Work is a tool for passionately demolishing structural oppression. It is a tool for white people who want to use their privilege for mass liberation. It is a tool for Black and Brown people living in a structurally racist society intent on selling self-hatred and shame to marginalized people and capitalizing on their pain. It is a tool for both tarot newbies and tarot experts. It is a tool for action. It is a tool for going beyond baby steps. It is a tool that can offer great satisfaction as well as great difficulty. It is a tool to expand your comfort zone. This is a tool that requires your presence for it to work.

I’m an unapologetically Black writer, tarot reader, ritual facilitator, and artist whose work ultimately prioritizes one thing: freedom. I’ll be your guide as we explore the Major Arcana to uncover how each archetype can help us cultivate a freer world. As we move through the cards, from the Fool to the World, keep in mind that everything we do ripples beyond us and that we must take responsibility for our actions. We’ll seek opportunities for liberation within ourselves, our relationships, and our communities. Bless the interconnectedness of all things, for it promises that our magic is about more than ourselves!

The fact that I’m your guide doesn’t mean that I have all the answers. This book exists because of my blog series about antiracism and tarot. I discussed various manifestations of racism and everyday strategies to combat it. It felt terrifying to write about these things on the internet, a place where I’ve been vulnerable to racist attacks. Being invisible was safe, but some things are more important than our individual safety.

The Moon card reflects how our subconscious has a way of boiling to the surface until it can no longer be ignored. Writing the blog, two things fascinated me:

  1. People actually use the strategies I’ve written about in the real world!
  2. Wow, I have a lot of internalized racism to unpack.

As I said, I don’t have all the answers. I’m right there with you, experimenting with creative ways to use my spiritual practice toward a more liberated planet upon the smoldering ashes of white supremacy. I chose to write about antiracism strategies using the Major Arcana because of the powerful impact that tarot has had on me. Tarot helped me heal past trauma, communicate with the spirit realm, process two near-death experiences, and so much more. I know how this resource has affected my life, as well as my darling clients’ lives. With tarot, we embody unique archetypes to energize different parts of ourselves to deepen our lives. If we can use tarot to inspire and enlighten personal evolution, why can’t we do the same with community transformation?

Our focus will remain mostly on the tarot, but please incorporate any other ethical tools, spiritual or otherwise, into your antiracism work. Each chapter will focus on one Major Arcana card and will feature

  • Multiple perspectives of each Major Arcana card and how they show up in internalized and societal racism
  • How the shadow shows up in each card and different ways to use the benevolent aspects of each card to confront it
  • Activities to dismantle internalized racism, interpersonal racism, and racism in communities
  • Thoughtful reflection prompts
  • Inspirational mantras

I would like to draw your attention to bullet point #3: Activities. This book is about action: taking action, changing action, becoming aware of action. Each chapter is going to present activities that will ask you to reflect on how you manifest and act upon the energy of each card. There will be questions. There will be exercises. There will be places where you’ll want and need to record your thoughts and impressions. I highly encourage you to buy a journal (or two!) so that you can participate in these activities as we go along. Look for this prompt for journaling exercises and activities: ✎

Of course, I could have asked you to fill in a blank on the page, but the number of activities in this book would have made it an unwieldy tome. And more importantly, I don’t want to presume your thoughts and exercise entries would even fit onto one or two lines. A journal will give you unlimited space to explore and do a dive deep: in your journal you are writing your own antiracism manifesto.

Your experience through this book should not feel fixed, prescriptive, or dogmatic. Tarot is a flexible analog for our life experiences. If our lives and world are always changing, then so should our tarot practice and freedom work. I want you to interact with the tarot archetypes more intuitively. In our instant gratification information-age world, it can be tempting to take someone’s perspective and run with it. Instead, take what resonates with you and forget the rest. I want this work to feel personal. I want you to strengthen your personal relationship with the cards. One reason I’m a tarot reader is the reality that tarot is most effective when intuitively guided and manifested consciously. As you incorporate new information and activities in your everyday life, try to

  • Take ownership over your actions and their consequences
  • Use whatever privilege you have responsibly and often
  • Remain open, aware, and flexible
  • Reflect regularly
  • Confess, apologize, and fix your mistakes
  • Listen
  • Act!

This work isn’t supposed to be easy. One could imagine where we’d be if it was. Our commitment to a radically evolved future means committing now to radical action and change. You might find that even minor changes can feel uncomfortable. Right now is a good time to accept that fact, anticipate some bumpy roads, and start where you are. We must get through the Tower to make it to the Star.

If you’re reading this book, you probably already have a few things in your “witch toolbox.” Maybe you have gems, candles, meditations, or whatnot. Lean on the magic that ignites your path to awareness, insight, and social change. There is one hard rule, though: you must understand that you are the most magical ingredient of your life. No rune or naked dance in the woods could hold a flame to your inherent magic. You may have companions, but ultimately you are the one who moves your energy. This book is a spell for our more ideal futures, forged by intention, willpower, action, and compassion.

In my Jewish tradition, we often speak of “the world to come,” the future we are constantly building with spirit guidance, community responsibility, and acts of devotion. I talked about this a few times with Rabbi Mychal Copeland of the Sha’ar Zahav synagogue in San Francisco. She once told me that some people recast the phrase as “the world that is coming.” I like that one better.

I believe in a better future. I believe in it because we are already building it.

One last thing: I’m only one person. I write this book from a perspective of a Black woman raised in the United States. I can’t divorce that fact from anything I do in the public sphere. Still, the strategies and exercises in this book can help you confront racism of all kinds.

The future is on its way. Let’s go, witches.

—Maria Minnis, from the Introduction, Copyright © 2024