Tag: divination

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

Ancestor Work and Tarot – An Interview with Nancy Hendrickson and Carrie Paris

  • Why do you feel people are so inextricably drawn to ancestor work?

I think that many people – if not the majority – are unrooted when it comes to their own family history.  Without those roots, there’s almost a restless energy that knows its lacking *something*, but doesn’t know what that is. Ancestral work has the ability to return the gift of deep roots to people. Once rooted, I believe we begin to step into our own power – and in fact, the power of generations standing behind us.
I can best answer this from diviner’s perspective because this is where I’ve been witnessing a growing interest in ancestral work. And while ancestral work has been around for ages, it’s also becoming a big part of the current divining community. What comes to my table more times than not are people drawn to understanding how healing ancestral and cultural wounds equals lifting and evolving their ancestral line.
  • How does Nancy’s book “Ancestral Tarot” compliment Carrie’s deck “The Relative Tarot” and vice versa? How should readers approach the two collectively?  I’d imagine armed with both, a reader could really go far!

This is just a great question as Carrie and I both talk about the book and cards as cousins. When I do ancestral tarot readings, I always use The Relative Tarot because its energy blends so well with my ancestral spreads. Hand-in-hand, the book and the cards give users a strong foundation from which to begin or continue their ancestral work.
The moment I opened Nancy’s book I knew I found “The Relative Tarot’s” cosmic cousin. Exploring ancestral patterns can be a painful journey, especially when the road is paved with skeletons that haunt us along the way. Thankfully, Nancy has written a valuable book brimming with useful techniques for uncovering where our ancestral inheritances may have originated and why we sometimes feel the impulse to act them out. Each exercise magically transforms the ancestral agenda and becomes a curative lesson in freeing ourselves from repeating outdated stories. In the end, “Ancestral Tarot” becomes a sound ally and advocate for healing the generational wound. I feel “The Relative Tarot” can bring a visual element to Nancy’s techniques because the intention behind the imagery is rooted in pictures from the past.
  • If you don’t really feel a connection to your deceased relatives or weren’t crazy about them while they were alive, how does that square with this sort of work?  Can you still benefit from it?

Absolutely. Ancestral work can be done by anyone, regardless of their connection to family. In fact, I’ve worked with many people who have had negative experiences with their family-of-origin. But working with generations further back in time a powerful and healing connection can be made – and often is.
This is a big question and one that includes establishing boundaries and taking a few steps before even entering dialogue with a challenging ancestor (if at all). I don’t encourage people to immediately connect with an ill-meaning ancestor. It rarely works and creates set-backs. Instead, my priority is to help a sitter solidify boundaries their ancestor may have broken. Once a strong boundary is in place, we look at locating the sitter’s well-meaning ancestors which tend to act as gatekeepers as well as advisors. If the sitter feels fortified by their established boundaries and still wishes to connect with their challenging ancestor, we are then prepared. In addition, I invite sitters to go into the conversation with what I refer to as their outcome goal. This is when a sitter enters a session not only with their boundaries and gatekeepers in place, but also with an outcome goal in mind— “I plan to leave this session with this outcome and this is what I am bringing to the table to achieve my goal.” Facing an adversary requires being tooled up and when we go in prepared, we are already in a position of self-care and healing.
  • Can you give one or two examples of ways you have seen ancestor work help people?

I have seen incredible healing for people who begin ancestral work. This is especially true for those who grew up in an abusive environment. Just knowing that they have ancestors who love and support them can begin the healing process.
So many are being called to this work that I can’t help but wonder what the driving force behind it might be. And each time I think about it, I always circle back to ancestral healing. As I mentioned in your first question, I feel ancestral work ripples out beyond immediate family issues, though this is where it usually starts. And from there it grows in people the capacity to feel connected and united instead of divided from their roots.
  • If you have one piece of advice for someone just starting out to explore this path, what would it be?

Be willing to trust yourself. Ancestral messages can arrive via tarot, feathers, a neighborhood cat, or a cloud formation. If you understand that you have ancestors who are always near, you’ll find it much easier to begin receiving messages as they’re coming in almost constantly.
Give yourself permission to rejoice in and be surprised by all the support you actually have coming from your ancestral line. Once you establish this connection, make a goal to celebrate and communicate with your well-meaning ancestors. And there are many ways you can do this: altars, offerings, prayer, simple conversations and my favorite, divination. Keep it simple and don’t buy into the stereotype of what ancestral communication is, because it usually isn’t what you think. Instead, it is as natural as having tea with your favorite aunt, who just happens to be deceased.
  • Are there any spreads you recommend that are particularly helpful for ancestor work?  

I do a three-card spread each morning that gives me an ancestral message for the day. The message answers my question of: How can I live this day to my highest abilities?
To begin, choose a card that represents the Ancestors to you. For me, it’s the 6 of Cups. After shuffling, I begin to draw down in the deck until I reach the 6 of Cups. The card just before the Ancestor card is advice on how best to live my day. The card immediately following the Ancestor card is a kind warning of what to avoid. This simple three-card spread is amazingly accurate.
I just posted a simple spread (below) that I feel all levels can do. It features the Chariot as an ancestral guide who leads the diviner to receiving a message.