I just finished the last page of Modern Tarot: Connecting with Your Higher Self through the Wisdom of the Cards, by Michelle Tea. Tea effectively demonstrates using tarot for personal guidance, and looks at the tarot through a queer, politicized lens. She’s not the first to do this, of course (Cassandra Snow, Andi Grace, Maranda Elizabeth + more all have posts and ongoing series over at Little Red Tarot–and throughout the web–that focus on looking at tarot through various lenses), but it’s refreshing having a complete guide that can be used across decks in book format. And the Modern Tarot boasts 1-3 spells accompanying each card meaning. Also the artwork by Amanda Verwey is an updated and fresh take on the classic RWS deck–fingers crossed it gets printed someday!
It’s a fast and enjoyable read, peppered with stories of how Tea derived certain meaning for the cards from her personal life. But I found the card meanings far from original and innovative. A good beginner book, especially for the social-media politically active minded, but fair warning that if you’re familiar with the tarot already you may not find a bunch of creative meanings between these covers. I mean, honestly, I’ve read more than a few fresh takes on the 7 of cups lately that call it the FOMO card. And now I can add Tea’s interpretation to that list. That said, there were a few nuggets in there, mainly focused on small symbolism in the RWS cards that are not usually focused on in intro books—I’m not calling Modern Tarot a waste of time by any means, but I am saying I didn’t find it as groundbreaking as the bulk of Goodreads reviewers.
Halfway through the Major Arcana I decided to focus on the spells corresponding with the cards. Crystal correspondences and herbal infusion/ tea drinking reflections abound, but there’s also candle spells, herb mixes, and a variety of other spellwork. I always enjoy hearing others opinions on meanings and ritual, and learning how others follow their craft. For the most part I quite enjoyed the spell sections. The spells are calls to act directly with the energy of the cards and the influences happening right. Fucking. Now. In YOUR life. I love that.
But I’ll also say that the tenants of “Be Smart. Be Sensible. Be safe.” Seemed to sometimes fly out the window completely. Dressing a candle with chili oil or including a whole chili in a handcrafted candle, even with the warning to burn outside is careless. I mean, I could also go spritz some pepper spray in my own face, but I think I’ll pass. Thanks. And to be honest, I find some of Tea’s writing socially careless as well. We live in an age where social support and programs are being stripped away by politicians in record speed. The careless remark of “people on government assistance are afraid to get a job because they’ll lose their paltry paycheck,” seems not only dismissive, but downright dangerous at this juncture in US society.
In the end, if you want to read Modern Tarot, you should go for it. There ultimately is enough between the covers to make it a worthwhile read. Just read it with an ounce of skepticism.