As a storytelling tool, tarot relies on archetypes that can be understood through shared culture. The meanings associated with each of cards have shifted to respond to changes in that culture. For instance, the Hierophant traditionally depicts a Catholic pope in a position of positive or agreeable power. In the Euro-centric narrative that popularized tarot, the Pope was a figure of religious unity, a person that a majority of tarot patrons looked to as a direct connection to the Biblical God. In this era, many Christians do not use tarot at all, and many tarot users are not Catholic. The Pope is a controversial, political, and fraught tangle and has less of a direct connection to the archetypal meanings we tie to the Hierophant card. But this card persists, as do the 77 others in the popular Rider-Waite style deck. The meanings behind the Hierophant – structure and ritual, community through shared goals, an orderly method of spiritual ascension – are still important aspects of many stories. But the added layer of “Pope” also applies and enriches the associated with this card. This card, and each of the others, is a little messier now.
Starting in autumn of 2020, I began pulling small sets of cards and attempting to layer their meanings in a way that acknowledged both traditional and current conversations in my awareness. The meanings that I associate with these cards are inevitably influenced by the way I interact with the world, and I become a part of the shifting narrative process.
An archive of past zine writings will be available as the project continues.