First let me confess that I tend to be serious about the Craft and my understanding of a Witch as a practitioner of sacred alignment with the natural world. I don’t have witch kitch decorations everywhere. My idea of Fairies are more along the lines of Brian Froud. My humor is dark or sarcastic. The Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake is an excellent example of a style and tone which appeals to the lighter side. Still, I liked Harry Potter, just like so many people, so I decided to take a closer look. The first thing I liked was the box. It wasn’t a flimsy affair, but a sturdy magnetic closure contraption you can slide into a bookshelf stuffed with tomes of history and lore and the box will still not fall apart. Then I looked at the cards. I never start with the book, because it’s all about the symbols and the art, for me. The cards in the Everyday Witch Tarot are borderless, and the name of the card is in a banner along the bottom. The art itself is richly illustrative in a classic storybook style which is slightly evocative of a turn of the century (that is, the turn of the last century). The artist, Elisabeth Alba, was a new name for me. I have included images of the cards later in this article for you to see for yourself.
Every deck tends to have its own signature of symbols. Often, the ease with which I find myself tuning into a deck is directly proportional to how well that symbol set matches my own personal touchstones. The Everyday Witch Tarot celebrates witchiness with pointed hats, striped socks, cats, brooms, crows and even dragons. Oh, and more cats. I searched and found five cards out of the 78 which somehow didn’t include a cat in the illustration. For a tarot deck that doesn’t have the word cat in the title, that’s pretty impressive. Fortunately, I like cats. In fact, I like the cats in the Everyday Witch Tarot better than some of the cat-themed tarot decks out there, because their presence is not contrived, but completely in accord with their role as friend or familiar for so many of us.
Although most of the cards are close to the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, some are a departure and more contemporary depiction. For instance, the Hierophant is not the pope (yay). Nope, it’s your yoga teacher in lotus pose. The chariot is a motorcycle with a sidecar. Temperance is a witch with one eye open and one closed, standing one-footed in tree pose. The tower is a smoking ruin, with a witch in the foreground ready to rebuild or move on. Judgement is not an angel blowing a trumpet but a witch playing a recorder or tin whistle and dancing with her cat down the path.
There are other departures from the standard symbols, as well, but they all make delightful sense. Don’t worry, the 216 page Guide to the Everyday Witch goes into the details of each card. Want to see some of the images? Here you go, There’s some major arcana, followed by examples from each of the four suits. I have more to say after these images.
The four suits are mostly as expected:
Swords – These are usually depicted as daggers in this deck, basically, the athame of the witch. Delightful.
Cups – Life by the water. The scenes on this suit are in watery settings, the ocean, beside a stream, depicting the water that cups represent.
Wands – Yes, handheld wands, or in some cases brooms, represent the suit of wands. Again, delightful.
Pentacles – They grow on trees in this deck. They are also on magical bottles, and one even looks like a golden snitch.
Will this deck appeal to Real Everyday Witches?
I think it could be an incredibly friendly deck for someone new to Tarot, and especially for anyone of this magical sub-culture, because it lights up the imagination. The cauldrons, Harry Potterish settings and some absolute surprises make this a deck I enjoyed discovering. This deck almost won me completely. But it could be better. The Five of Wands provides the best illustration of the off note in the deck. The cats depicted include black, white, gray tabby, calico, orange. But look at the witches. Not so diverse. Even as I went through the deck to look for cats when I recognized that theme, I went through and looked for diversity, when I noticed the lack.
This is a 2017 deck, and all the illustrations are original, so although the illustrations do reflect a historical style from the previous century, I do expect more diversity than the possible hints of mixed asian, native or latinx I can willfully interpret in a couple of the cards (like the Two of Wands above). Llewellyn, the publisher, has published new decks which do include the diversity I find missing here, so I know they can do better.
So maybe the second witch from the right in the Five of Wands is modeled after Frida Kahlo? Or maybe, if you like everything else about the deck (and there’s a lot to like), the cats can be the stand-in for the diversity of Real Everyday Witches? For some people, it just won’t matter, they will see what they need to see in the cards, like those who are tone-deaf, it’s the beat they follow. For others, just like those with perfect pitch, one wrong note can throw a whole song. There’s a lot to love here, great story art with a modern twist in a useful package.
To sum up, the Everyday Witch Tarot is delightfully full of cats and witchy symbols and even a couple of dragons. There are some wonderful new reinterpretations of some of the cards which help us approach the archetypes in new ways, and a well-written and insightful guidebook which helps unlock the cards in fun and interesting ways. The drawback in this deck is the lack of diversity expected for something published in 2017. The cats though, are a delight.