The Art of Cristy C. Road

 Photo shamelessly lifted from

Photo shamelessly lifted from

I found Cristy Road’s work because a friend had the New World Tarot and unfortunately let me hold it for a while. I could not put it down. They actually had to take it back from me. If you haven’t seen this deck, stop right now and click on this link. Easily one of the most diverse tarot decks I’ve ever seen. Feminist, inclusive and representative of the world around us, Road’s deck is a clear departure from the straight, white tarot that most of us grew up with. 
After going down the rabbit hole researching Roads and her work, I grew more and more enchanted with her. Musician, artist, poet, and activist- she lives the punk rock badass existence and shares it with us through so many avenues. We found some time to chat and my crush and admiration embiggened.

 The Lovers - The Next World Tarot

The Lovers - The Next World Tarot

M: Your thesis is on the history of tarot! That’s cool as shit.

C: Yeah, I want to do something more with that. I’m not sure what yet. I went to FIT for illustration and wanted more teaching gigs. I found that capitalism was becoming a problem. I realized I’m not going to change my style or the content of my graphic novels and music and the deck to capitalize off it more. I felt like I could get more commission work if I had a more flexible portfolio and developed that. I needed to shift my focus to workshops and lectures. I felt like with an MSA I could get more stable jobs. I’m a Cancer rising and I need this weird life. Being on tour for half the year and then having this grounding thing. 

I went [to FIT] for illustration and did a written piece and a visual piece – the tarot deck was the visual piece. I’d been working on it before school and was going to do a Kickstarter eventually. I really liked the concept of creating this deck on a way that was very based off of my magic and reclaiming magic from the dogmatic and weird ways that it’s been presented to me all my life, through Catholicism or even witchy communities that were very white. 

 Justice - Next World Tarot

Justice - Next World Tarot

I grew up in Miami, my parents are Cuban and I grew up with this culture and magic that’s around all the time. I had conservative values that made me angry when I was younger, and a punk rocker with this other life. We weren’t really religious. My family has changed through the years, and now things are different, but I just feel like connecting to magic and spirituality was my personal journey, and getting the ancestors and family involved helped to open that portal and realized that creating a tarot deck and getting into astrology and the queer connection to magic – it grew. It was something I connected to this experience and developed my identity and who I was. I realized that that woman focused magic wasn’t something that I connected with. I didn’t really know who I was, and I’ve been on a journey to connect to magic in a way that was really real and honest, and not just “This is here and I’m going to take it”. All of that led me back to ancestral magic and this connection that is really queer. I learned about things that allowed me to be magical and connected, and these cultural experiences and spirits and traditions about Santeria and Catholicism. It was a very magical to see my own individual history without the validation of Catholic communities and straight witch communities. It was then that I was ready to work on this deck. 

I started the deck with Michelle Tea back in 2007, we collaborated on the image ideas, but then we stopped working together. No drama involved. I stayed with the deck, though. I wanted to make it mine. I was very depressed – it was hard to work with the pangs of racism and homophobia. Friendships were hard, and there was so much death at the time. I was trying to stay grounded with yoga – you know, smoke some weed.... Overall, I wanted to make sure I had my communities and my altars and all of these things that assisted with this long-term healing process. My response to all of this was triggered by past trauma with sexual assault and reclaiming my body from these terrible things that happened 15-20 years ago. Healing from that with involved feminism, punk and being a badass bitch. My book Bad Habits is all about that.

At the end of the day, that along with family drama and colonialism – things that affected my family and have made my existence different than the idealized immigrant story that we grow up hearing. Realizing that we were just people. I really needed grounding and I think that’s why I connected to magic. The way it connected to my tarot deck was really amazing. I never considered learning about the tarot – I thought it was cool and I knew about the cards, and how people connected to it. I liked not knowing the history because I was aware of the European commercialization of it. I decided I would really read this and then explain like the Golden Dawn ignored everything that came before it. Egyptian, Chinese, Indian history was just covered up and destroyed. These things did not become commercial, they were just spiritual tools. The commercialization started in the 1500’s in Italy and from that came the first commercial decks. It really pissed me off. This is the history of capitalism.

That’s why I wrote it. I love and respect the pioneers of the mass production of those projects. I just hate the history and the archives. I couldn’t even find the Egyptian history except that Egyptian imagery is used in the cards. The knowledge about the Qabalah that exists in popular decks – people have created decks that are using this information, but where are the roots? The history with the Golden Dawn and the late 1800’s in the decks – the exclusivity that existed there that was put forth by white men. There is so much more that we should all know. This is why I’m editing my thesis for publication – this is all articulated in there. I also talk about politicizing the deck. Even though people still honor the Golden Dawn, there are also decks like the Motherpeace decks. You need the feminist versions as well.  I’ve only heard of tarot being taught in an illustration course once. I’m having a moment now- I’m so glad you brought that out. 

It was really cool to learn this history, and I found the book “The Secrets of the Tarot” by Barbara Walker. This is an anti-patriarchy, anti-colonialism book and it was amazing. (There is also a feminist tarot deck by Barbara Walker) She really politicized everything – I’m so glad it was written. 

M: It’s frustrating to always see straight white people in tarot.

C: Right, but I don’t think it’s always straight white folks who perpetuate that, though. It’s sad. When you live your life subconsciously seeing only a certain kind of face around you, it’s a lot to deal with. You want to try to represent everyone. The older I get, the more I want to elevated folks who usually aren’t elevated. I paint people I know. I started the deck when I was 29-30, and it was just a lot of queer punks who were my age. Maybe some older folks. There were some people who weren’t included even though they were friends, because they were white or straight – and I thought that they’ve been represented a lot. I definitely engage in white spaces a lot in the punk scene, but when I was younger I didn’t want to go to shows. Now I don’t care – I just want to go see a band I like. 


I think that Cristy Roads’ work is important, because people on the margins can see their faces in the tools they use to see their lives. This is a big deal. The next edition of the New World Tarot will be available in November 2018. 

Cristy - thanks so much for taking the time!

Xo Lis

I once put Cheerios in my singing bowl and the Ohm’s went on for hours. - Karen Rontowski


I found Karen Rontowski because I was depressed in 2010. I was tooling the internet, watching my friend Sara Benincasa’s videos and stumbled upon Maria Bamford. She made me laugh SO hard and feel so much better that I became an instant fan. I went to see her a few years ago, and her opener was Jackie Kashian. Jackie is also hilarious, smart and clever, so I started listening to her podcast. She has this great podcast called the Dork Forest, in which she interviews folks about things that they’re crazy excited about. So thank you – amazing chain of women.

One of the episodes was with Karen Rontowski – a comedian, tarot reader and ghost hunter. Three of my favorite things. After going way, way down the rabbit hole on google with Karen, I emailed and asked if I could interview her and she said yes! We talked about our superstitions and how we beat them down with gratitude, and honestly, the first ten minutes of the interview were spent talking about tarot and politics and our businesses like we’d known each other for years.

Tarot seems to be trending lately and both of our tarot businesses are doing well. We talked about how the world seems to be getting more hostile. More folks are looking for comfort. We are both working our asses off because it feels like the next three years are going to continue to be intense, and that figuring out who we are and what we stand for is a huge part of our work, as well. Since Karen’s work involves helping people AND making them laugh – I am so glad she does what she does.

M: Karen, when did you find tarot?

K: I met the lady I still consider to be my tarot teacher. Although, I didn’t really believe in my psychic stuff, but I believed in it in general. I saw the way that she did it, and she taught me a little bit about the cards when I was in my twenties. I thought that I could learn every single thing about these cards and then I could put it all together and become a great reader. All of that effort I put into the cards just woke up everything for me – I was about 24. I’ve always had psychic stuff happen, but I think he cards were such a great tool for me.

M: Lots of times the cards will amplify people’s gifts, but I love that they woke yours up.

K: Yeah, it was approach it from a place of complete logic.

M: I love that – there are a lot of tarot folks flinging love and light at tarot right now, but I love that substantial logical view of the cards. It reminds me of Rachel Pollack – if you can’t figure it out, just read the card.

K: I’m in love with the Rider Waite deck. I never stop reading books on it because I just find it fascinating. One friend has 1500 decks and another reads playing cards, but I just need the one deck.

M: If you find a tool that works in your hand, use that tool, right?  

K: Yes. Absolutely.

M: So, ghosts scare the shit out of me. I’ve only seen a few, and I wanted to talk to you about this ghost hunting thing. How did it start? Do you find it more of a passion or something that you can’t *not* do?

K: It’s funny because I have a friend who’s a skeptic – he doesn’t believe in psychic stuff but gets readings from me. He says that I eat, drink and shit paranormal. He’s absolutely right. I would say it is both – it’s both something I can’t not do, and it is a passion. I would say this is even before tarot. I’ve always been interested in it – always loved ghost stories, always pursued it. Even on the road, I would look out for haunted places. It’s funny how it evolved. There’s regular ghost hunting. We would go to a haunted location and that is very tedious and long. You basically sit around with your equipment and wait for something to happen. I joined a group in LA – there’s a group on for this. There is also learning about fairies and elementals – and I kind of mixed them all in one. And I just kind of discovered YouTube like it never existed before and am studying the djinn. These are the things that fascinate me. Who I am is wanting to know what the next paranormal or UFO thing is.

M: what I hear you saying is that a gigantic, huge part of you is asking why.

K: I have one foot in the outside world and one in this. I’m always fascinated with people who are not interested. What?

M: Yes! I just finished my second book and my editor said I needed card descriptions. Some people will know how to read cards, but some won’t. She had to explain that there are people who don’t read cards and it took me a second to realize that that was a thing. Really? That’s so odd.

K: I have a joke where I say “I have a friend who won’t let me read for her because she’s afraid of the future, and I say “I know who you’ve slept with – you should be afraid of the path”. I admire people who are so in the moment that it’s just in the moment. But I know how much better people feel after a tarot reading, too.

M: Is there a way that tarot has made your life any worse? Since were talking about how it make our lives better.

K: Not really. As a late bloomer I don’t think so. My business picked up fast. I started reading in comey shows fro the stage and then I started the business. I went from no readings, to some readings to 4-5 a day. It’s amazing how tiring it is. It’s a very tiring energetic focus. I also think that I opened up this connection with god, or whatever people want to call it – the Universe, that just made my whole life better. It’s a spritutality – almost like a high – and I have to ground myself after. Somewhere a connection is made that makes you closer to your source.

M: It’s very refreshing to hear from someone for whom reading has only improved their life.

K: I do remember one time doing a reading with a friend who is an animal communicator. We had a whole room sold out, and didn’t realize that the room as attached to a church. The day the advertising came out, the folks from the church said they wouldn’t step foot in the church again if we brought tarot cards into the church, and had to find a new venue that night.

M: I want to ask about tarot reading from a stage. I’ve never heard of anyone doing this with cards. How does this work? I’m astounded and also kind of want to steal your idea.

K: I have a standing show at ??’s in Burbank, and I have a show every other month called Psychic Standup. My favorite i with my friend Lamont. He takes the question and I read the cards. It’s almost the same as reading on the phone. We make up jokes and read at the same time. We’ve been doing this together so long. It’s a risk, though, that a lot of comedy clubs won’t take.

M: Well, you’re a badass and are brave as fuck. What are the mechanics of it?

K: I just wait for the question and then tune in. I promise you could do this if you try. Just read the fucking card, right? The only hard part was being funny and reading at the same time. You do readings over the phone? You’re already there. I don’t see a difference. I’m not sure if you’re on stage a lot, because that’s my whole life, so that might be the block.

Comedy gives me a backup plan – someone asked a question and I said “I think there’s a money problem. He said no. Is there a gambling problem? No. So I made a joke and everyone laughed. I left it there but did see something there. As long as you have the laugh, it’s easier than doing it cold.

The first thing I do is say, “Who has a question?” and NO ONE raises their hands. After the first question, every hand is raised.

M: Is it comedy and tarot for you forever? Have you found your Thing?

K: Yes. Comedy, tarot and paranormal. My dream is to have a comedy/paranormal show called Paranormal Karen. I’d love to drive around and look at the paranormal stuff, and my stage show would be the comedy part. That’s the plan if the Universe wants to give it to me. I don’t want to do anything else.

M: That’s so cool. I know I don’t know you but I’m crazy proud of you and excited for you. Anytime I can find someone who talks about tarot and doesn’t make us look like a bunch of assholes, I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see what else you get up to. Thanks so much for your time!



 You can catch the Amateur Tarot podcast LIVE - Thursday, July 12 at 8 PM - 9:30 PM The Monocle * 4510 Manchester Ave, St. Louis 63110

You can catch the Amateur Tarot podcast LIVE - Thursday, July 12 at 8 PM - 9:30 PM
The Monocle * 4510 Manchester Ave, St. Louis 63110

I met Brian at one of our tarot meetups. And again at another. And then another. I am terrible with names (and also faces).  Brian is a really cool guy who has turned his tarot path into a goodhearted and funny adventure for us to follow. 

I'm excited just by the excitement that Brian and Ben bring to tarot. It's fun to listen to folks discover something that I've known for so long - I ALWAYS learn something new. You can find the podcast here. 

Brian and his co-host Ben are taking the podcast on the road. If you're in St. Louis, you should check it out here. 


Tell us about yourself!
Amateur Tarot Pod is a comedy podcast wherein two decidedly non-mystical non-trained skeptics use the power of the tarot to answer listeners' life questions, from universal truths all the way down to office etiquette.

The show is me, Brian Dooley, and my co-host Ben Noble. We're both creative-types in our professional lives, and we're both improvisers.

We've been doing the podcast since October of 2016, and when we started, neither one of us had any skill besides an easy banter between us. When we began, we would check every card against the LWB, write down all the answers, and then record the show. Over the course of almost two years, we've become passing acquainted with most of the cards, and we no longer require the books (for our advice readings).

What’s your idea of happiness?

It's difficult to think of happiness in terms of something sustainable, and I prefer to look at is as peak emotional notes in a longer composition. Snuggling with someone I care about, petting cats and dogs, eating a food that I love, ordering new tarot decks, and recording our show are a very short list of things that play those notes for me.

What’s your idea of misery?

Oh boy... At the risk of turning this into a political forum, I would say that there is misery inherent in the lives of people who work to stifle the lives and well-being of other people...and they create misery in the lives of those that are stifled. My heart aches for people who are less fortunate than I have been, and my blood boils at the small-minded bigots and cowards who strive to keep those people down. Misery is also often something that comes from within ourselves, due to faulty wiring or bad chemistry or something like that. That kind of insidious misery can strike anyone. Am I answering this question correctly?  *YES*

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

I need my friends to be kind and funny. Everything else is just window dressing.

Where would you like to live?

Besides the weather most of the time, I love living here in St. Louis. There are times when I think I'd rather live in a bigger city nearer to an ocean, but my city has everything I want, and I've grown to love it quite a bit.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Blue is my favorite color, in all of its many iterations. Typically I have a new favorite shade of blue every time I get my hair colored and my stylist creates something new. One of my best friends' favorite flowers is the hyacinth, and I think that's just about one of the best words in existence...but my favorite plant is called a Lamb's Ear, and it's soft and furry and I can't help but touch it every time I see it in someone's front yard.

Your favorite poets or authors?

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. has held the highest spot in my pantheon for a long time. I also fell in love with beat poetry when I was in college, so Kerouac and Ginsberg and the rest of those boho hobos are in there. The best series of books I've ever read is the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Argh! It's difficult to narrow down once I get started, so I'll just stop there.
Honorable Mention to J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter Series), Jomny Sun (everyones an aliebn when you're an aliebn too), and Bryan K. Vaughan (Saga)

Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

Number one would have to be Chewbacca. He's a loyal friend with an intense amount of love and humor. I named my cats Han and Lando so that I could be the Chewie of our group.
Your heroes/heroines in real life?
I admire people who speak truth to power. Anyone who organizes and participates in protests against injustice and inhumanity. Voters. Comedians and other artists who use their platform to create change. These folx do the day-to-day work that will help create a world worth living in.

What is your present state of mind?

I'm coming off of a lengthy depressive downswing and starting to enjoy my day-to-day life more and more. I just read Tarot at Tower Grove Pride Festival this past weekend, and as a byproduct I got to spend a lot of time with a lot of my best friends, so that was really nice. I'm still kind of riding that high.

What role does divination play in your life?

I love reading the cards. It's one of my favorite things to be doing. But I don't read them for myself, and I don't believe in mystical woo woo things. It could be argued that I'm 100% more mystical and woo woo than I was before we started this podcast, and I wouldn't push back too hard. I've seen quite a few coincidences in the cards that have chipped away at my cold Scully to find the Mulder underneath.

As far as the podcast goes, Tarot is a huge part of my life. I'm always recording, editing, planning, scheduling, writing, or purchasing something Amateur Tarot Pod related. And out of the two of us, I'm definitely the one who has been shifted the furthest from our skeptical bedrock.

Selfishly, as a socially anxious person, the cards are a great way for me to connect with other humans in social situations. :) What is your favorite deck or divination tool?
The Numinous Tarot is by far my favorite deck. Over the past few years, I've built up a small collection of 100+ decks, and we use two different decks for each episode, so I'm forever getting new decks. But from the first moment I started flipping through the Numinous deck, it was Love. I've been using no other decks for the past month or so (but recording starts up again soon, so I'll have to go back to my old deck-slut ways).

Your favorite songs?

Oh boy, this is as hard as that author question...
Anything by Cake or Ben Folds is going to get my attention. I listen to a lot of 90's pop rock (reliving my youth, I suppose). I love Pink Floyd. Billy Joel has been my favorite musical artist for the past 30 years.

Your favorite word?

"Autumnal" is a nice word. It feels so pliant and willowy.

Your least favorite word?

"Clot" is a nasty word. There are many political names that I would place here as well.

What about your favorite curse word?

"Fuck" is likely my favorite.

What sound or noise do you love?

I love when a piano is being played so hard that it sounds like it might break.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Young children crying and/or screaming.

What turns you on?

Kindness, humor, talent. In that order.

What turns you off?

Lack of empathy. Cruelty.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

"You were right. Kindness is all that counts."

Tarot Makes Music - Ste McCabe

A long, long time ago, I created the Tarot MixTape Playlist. I asked a few of my buddies to find songs that defined the Major Arcana for them. "Pendulum Swinger" by the Indigo Girls, for example, nails the High Priestess for me. 

I love using pop culture to teach tarot. It's accessible, it gives depth and texture to the cards, and it's fun. Big fan of fun. 

So I got an email from a fella named Tarot Cat (Ste McCabe). Instantly curious, I saw that he played with some of my friends and had a very cool Zine for sale. This little booklet (which I bought, devoured and then read again) (and it's autographed! Aww. <3) is fantastic. 

There are articles from folks like Enrique Enriquez, Theresa Reed, and Christiana Gaudet. The theme for each article follows the connection between music and tarot. It's a very cool perspective on a really interesting concept. I couldn't recommend it more.

My favorite part was Robert Place's article about Pythagoras and the threefold allegory of the Trumps. Just fascinating.

You can find the zine here, and more about Tarot Cat below. 


LFT Questionnaire

What’s your idea of happiness?

Living in a cottage in the middle of a deep green forest with my husband, a lot of cats and some whippets. Having no responsibilities other than looking after my four-legged friends in the wilderness.

What’s your idea of misery?

Having to be a teenager again.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

That they are drama-free.

Where would you like to live?

Honestly, I love living here in Scotland (I’m from England originally). I would like to be a little more remote in the beautiful Scottish nature though.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Teal is my favourite colour. I’m terrible at naming flowers but I recently smelt wild Sweet Cicely (European Herb) for the first time in years and it brought a lot of happiness!

Your favorite poets or authors?

Sarah Waters for the Victorian lesbian costume dramas, and Murakami for the psychological spiritual experimentalism (and cats).

Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

The entire teenage girl gang in Joyce Carol Oates’s Foxfire.

Your heroes/heroines in real life?

Right now, Houn Jiyu-Kennett, a female British Buddhist who brought Soto Zen Buddhism to the west in the 1960’s. Such an amazing person and life.

What is your present state of mind?

A little bit magical.

What role does divination play in your life?

It’s an old friend, a way of understanding myself, a mind-bending psychological game - and it’s a part-time job too!

What is your favorite deck or divination tool?

I have to be boring and say either the Rider-Waite-Smith or the Tarot de Marseille. I like my tarot traditional!

Your favorite songs?

Oh blimey! I’m a musician and music geek, too many choices! Anything by Pagan Goddess Wendy Rule will do right now :)

Your favorite word?


Your least favorite word?


What about your favorite curse word?

It’s ‘c**t’ I’m afraid. I know you guys hate it in North America, but it’s almost a term of affection here in Scotland.

What sound or noise do you love?

Ducks quacking.

What sound or noise do you hate?

My cat hissing (he’s a drama queen, it never stops)

What turns you on?

Eastern European accents (I married a Polish man to prove it)

What turns you off?


If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

‘Oooh, hello gorgeous, it’s you! I just adored those little hotpants that you wore for Holy Communion!’

“There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical.” ― Ludwig Wittgenstein

I wrote about the Numinous Tarot in my last newsletter and have been using it this month for some of my daily posts. It's a beautiful deck. It's beautiful in a few ways. 

1. The artwork itself is lovely.

2. The edges are all shiny and sparkly. (Hi, i'm a magpie)

3. The diversity in race is glorious.

4. The representation of ways to love people is beautiful.

5. The different sizes and shapes and abilities of the folks in the beautiful cards is amazing.

6. The interpretation of the swords as bells brings clarity. Pentacles as Tomes brings groundedness. Cups as vessels brings satisfaction. Wands as Candles are enlightened.

This deck is representative of the world around us. It's joyful and hopeful, dark and serious. It's all parts of each of us. I couldn't love it more if I tried, and I know for a fact that it changes lives. 

The creator is Noel Heimpel, and they were sweet enough to fill out our questionnaire. Scroll to learn more about Noel and their fantastic work.

LFT Questionnaire



Tell us about yourself!

My name is Noel, I'm 27 years old, and I currently live in Seattle, WA making art and reading Tarot! I'm originally from Maryland, where I was blessedly brought up to embrace creativity and uniqueness. I've been drawing since I can remember and reading Tarot since I was 13. I'm a polytheistic animist and a witch—these days I call myself an art witch because my art and magic really couldn't exist separately from one another. I love bright colors and fashion and being outdoors in nature as much as possible. I'm white, nonbinary, and queer (pan & gray-asexual/gray-romantic). My pronouns are they/them.

What's your idea of happiness?

A mug of tea, a book, and some snacks while sitting outside under the sun is very much a picture of what happiness is for the introverted side of me. But these days more and more happiness to me is most often found within the connections I have to other people, whether in the flesh or online, whether directly or through a book or a deck or a comic they made, whether we're very similar or very different. I felt very alone for much of my life, for various reasons, so the feeling of connecting and loving and understanding other people is so very fulfilling and brings me a lot of joy.


What's your idea of misery?

In the past when I felt that deep aloneness and disconnect, when I was afraid to connect with others or wasn't able to because abuse had warped my view of what connection meant, or what it would bring for me, that was really miserable and would be again. Also, one time I saw a bunch of JROTC teens jogging and chanting military songs in unison and felt deep in my core that doing that sort of thing would be absolutely antithetical to my very being, so there's that! I love connection but I also can't stand the thought of being molded into a single uniform unit, personally. I gotta let my individual weirdness shine.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

The thing I appreciate most about my friends is their deep compassion. Everyone in my life right now is full of compassion and love for others, including people they don't know. Many of them are activists and organizers who work hard & fight to better the lives of oppressed people, and to create better communities for us all. It's really difficult and draining work but they do it out of love. The same can be said for my friends who are creatives & makers, putting work out for those of us who normally don't see ourselves in media. And that love and compassion is present in our personal interactions as well; I never have to worry these days about being judged or turned away if I go to one of my friends with a problem.

Where would you like to live?

I'm actually extremely happy right where I am! I live in a cooperatively run—as much as we can without owning the place anyway—house in Seattle, right near to a big park and almost all the amenities I need, with roommates who are my chosen family, and little could be better than that. Maybe one day I'd like to live more out in the country, closer to the ocean, but I definitely love being in the Pacific Northwest (I'm originally from Maryland) and feel like I'm here to stay for a long time.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Right now I'm very partial to light pink (“Millennial pink” as they say), bright yellow, gold, and turquoise! I have a bajillion favorite flowers as well but bluebells and sunflowers are at the top of the list for the moment.

Your favorite poets or authors?

I have so many favorite authors, but the top of my list right now are: Virginia Woolf, Alice Hoffman, Barbara Kingsolver, Terry Pratchett, RoAnna Sylver, and Claudie Arseneault. The first big four have been inspiring my expression of magic & emotion since I was a teen, and the last two are friends of mine in indie/self-publishing whose works are really wonderful and queer stories that I see myself in very deeply, in ways I normally don't. People should definitely check them out & give them the attention they deserve!



Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

Sam Vimes from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels is definitely one of my favorite heroes. He just has a core-deep understanding of justice and the will to enact it—without looking for personal glory—that I find admirable and inspiring. And child-me looked up to Daine from Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series a lot. I mean, she could talk to animals! And use that magic to make a difference in her world! That will never not be cool.

Your heroes/heroines in real life?

Right now I am in total admiration of all of my peers in both the queer Tarot world and in comics, for doing the work they do and creating all this beautiful community space for us to thrive in. Especially in a society that devalues creative work, especially when made by marginalized people. The fact that they are still out there creating and thriving and supporting one another inspires me and keeps me going every day!

What is your present state of mind?

I feel very grateful and blessed right now. For the past week I've been receiving a lot of heartfelt messages and reviews concerning the Numinous Tarot, as well as way more new orders than I expected to get during the first few weeks of sales, and I barely know what to do with all the feelings that inspires! It is so fulfilling to know that this thing I made is being received exactly the way I intended it to, and that it's having a positive effect on people's lives. Plus the financial support continually brings me closer to possibly quitting my part-time day job to work full time on Tarot and art, which is my dream. But even without that, just hearing that you've touched someone with your work is the best feeling in the world.

What role does divination play in your life?

Divination has always been a tool for self-exploration and healing for me. It helps me put my life, my thoughts, and my feelings into a framework from which I can study and understand them better. Then I can make better, more heartfelt choices of where to go or what to do next, I can find closure, I can find acceptance, all sorts of things are possible. Especially as a trauma & child abuse survivor who has been trained to dismiss their own needs & emotions, being able to check in with myself via Tarot is very affirming and has helped me rebuild a lot of self-confidence.

Divination is also part of my career now, thanks to the Numinous Tarot! So there is now a business aspect to that relationship, where I have to work to market and sell and all of those things. It also puts me into contact with other people, whether they're getting readings from me or buying my deck, and seeing how those things affect them. Between those interactions and the larger divination community I'm a part of online, it means Tarot is something that builds a lot of connection for me as well as being a personal tool.  

What is your favorite deck or divination tool?

Honestly, my deck is currently my favorite tool, haha. Reading with it is kind of like having a conversation with my ideal self. Since the cards are all literal representations of my personal experience with Tarot, and my personal interpretations of the cards, it makes them extremely easy to read with and it's rare I don't immediately understand what they're trying to tell me. Or perhaps what I'm trying to tell me! I am also really partial to the Circo Tarot by Marisa de la Peña—the colors are just gorgeous and it has a really interesting personality.

Your favorite songs?

Right now I'm really into “The Heart's Swift Foot” by Red Tail Ring, although “Civilian” by Wye Oak will always be a top fave!

 All photos courtesy of Noel. :)

All photos courtesy of Noel. :)

Your favorite word?

Umbel! Which is a type of flower structure—think carrot flowers or Queen Anne's lace.

Your least favorite word?

I really hate the word “yummy,” especially when applied to non-food things. It just makes me shudder for some reason.

What about your favorite curse word?

“Fuck” is definitely my favorite curse word, it just has such a great force to it AND can be inserted into the middle of other words for amazing emphasis.

What sound or noise do you love?

I adore the sound of a babbling stream, wind rushing through leaves, birds singing...the sound of nature in general, especially forest noises! I also really like “sparkly” and jangly sounding noises in music, they're so pleasant and uplifting.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Any sort of overlapping talking or competing noises, or loud noise in general. I have an auditory processing disorder so if there is too much background noise, or more than one person is speaking, etc., everything just turns to gibberish and I can't understand a thing! My brain can't prioritize competing noises so that and loud noises just get me really frazzled. Leaf blowers especially ought to be outlawed.

What turns you on?

Creativity, thoughtfulness, and joy are definitely at the top of that list.

What turns you off?

Cynicism, dismissiveness, and unwarranted meanness, for sure.


If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

“Welcome! Please have a rest before you move on to your next life. You did a good job.”

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Book review time!  I've finished Book the Second, and have had time to catch up on my reading. Here are some short reviews of the lovelies I've just finished: The first and third books were sent to me by Red Wheel/Weiser, and the 2nd one was from my friend, Leeza. 

Tarot: Plain & Simple - Leanna Greenaway

It is what it says it is. Very simple. It's got card meanings, reversals, key points about each card and exercises for you to do. This is a beginner book. It also says it's the only tarot book you'll ever need, and I'm not sure about that bit. For a beginner, to learn the cards though? Solid.


Tarot Reversals - Leeza Robertson

I love this book and really wish I'd had it when I was learning. This isn't just "what is it when your card is upside down". It's never ever that black and white, which is why reversals are tricky to learn. Leeza has these five different ways to interpret the cards. 

Blocked, Protection, Mirror, Shadow, Retrograde

One of the only books I've seen that has such depth in looking at reversals. Gotta pick this one up.


Crystal Gridwork - Kiera Fogg

This book is just lovely. I found out about crystal grids because my son started making them under his bed without knowing what they were. He just said that putting the rocks there made him feel better and sleep well. That's pretty much the job of a crystal grid. It's placing your intentions into the crystals to be a battery/power grid for you. 

There is an explanation of how to use the grids, and a ton of samples of Love, Romance, Protection, Motherhood - so many different ways to use this lovely tool. 

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” ― Paulo Coelho

 Ethony's Money Magic Manifestation Cards ended up on my altar

Ethony's Money Magic Manifestation Cards ended up on my altar

It's review time! I got quite a haul at Reader's Studio this year, and am also in the cool position to receive decks from publishers to review. I'm not mad about it. I haven't had a lot o time lately (what with finishing my next book and all), but I wanted to knock these out and tell you what I think of them. 

I think I should also share that if I get a deck from a publisher that I don't like, I won't review it. I think that's fair considering they send them for free. So if I get a deck that I think is just a complete trash can, you won't ever see it on my page, and i won't talk about it. 

What I WILL talk about is the fact that I reviewed a BUNCH of decks yesterday, and not one single one of them had people of color in them. What the everloving fuck. These are not old decks, and they're not "classic" decks. I've stopped being surprised at this and now I'm just mad. Can we do better, deck artists? Can we try harder, publishers? Thank ya.

Ethony's Money Magic Manifestation Cards

I got these from Ethony at Reader's Studio, after opining to Ethony, "Girl, I seriously need to get that deck.'  Thanks, boo. These are brightly colored decks that have all sorts of lovely intention setting statements on them about money and security. Having just gotten into right relations with money myself, I love the idea of reinforcing my new positive relationship with this force that's a huge part of my life. I asked Joe to pick one, and it's on our altar right now. Lovely.

  • Artwork - simple and cheerful
  • Cardstock - Amazing
  • Diversity - N/A
  • Packaging - sturdy 

Small Spells Tarot Cards - Rachel Howe

I am not generally a fan of quirky art decks. I'm used to my RWS, thankyouverymuch. HOWEVER, I follow Rachel Howe on Instagram, and I really, really like her art. I love the simplicity of the designs and the colors that she chooses. They just work, and by 'work' I mean that the small spells that she created align with what the card is. They're fun and silly and accurate. I actually got these for my husband in an Aries birthday box from House of Intuition. If he read tarot (so I bought myself a deck?) this would be his fiery Aries deck. (but I guess I have to keep them now. So sad.)

  • Artwork - Eye-catching and colorful
  • Cardstock - It's okay. I would say middle of the road. 
  • Diversity - N/A
  • Packaging - The tuck box tore while I was opening it. you're going to need a makeup bag for this one.

White Witch Tarot

This is a GORGEOUS majors only deck that I got because Andrew won it in the raffle at Reader's Studio and I whined that I wanted it. See? Being a brat pays off on occasion. I'm starting to like majors only decks because the readings seem more intense and focused. The artwork is just beautiful and I found myself just staring at the cards, pulling details out of them and letting my mind wander. This isn't for quick readings, but for meditations. 

  • Artwork - Gorgeous and ethereal and accurate
  • Cardstock - A+
  • Diversity - N/A
  • Packaging - Perfect. 

The Land of the Sacred Self Oracle 

Andrew McGregor created this odd, lovely deck and luckily, has a 12 week (free) course that helps you learn to navigate it. I like it, but I don't know why. i'm not sure how to use it (so I'm taking the course) and I keep wanting to figure it out, but it's strange and there's a narwhal for some reason. I'm not mad about the narwhal, but I feel like I'm circling this deck before we become friends. *edit - I like things that make me curious. This is a lovely, curious deck.

  • Artwork - I don't understand it (yet) but I like it.
  • Cardstock - the cards are big and the edges are rough, so it kind of hurt my hands a bit. 
  • Diversity - N/A
  • Packaging - Simple

Eight Coins Tattoo Tarot - Lana Zellner

I wasn't surprised to find that Zellner was an architect - the lines of this deck are fantastic and the artwork pulls you toward it. Sneaky architect geometry. I have an appreciation for tattoos, so I was going to get this deck ANYWAY. Then I saw how pretty it is. Sold. This is another one of those quirky decks that doesn't seem like it would read well at first, but then it does and we're all happy about it. There are 82 decks, a spread sheet, and a BOOK. This book, you guys. I love her perspective on the cards, and I LOVE that the book is indexed. I can't believe that every tarot book doesn't do this. Especially mine. Too late to recall it? Damnit. I know that i'm going to be using this deck all the time.

  • Artwork - BEAUTIFUL
  • Cardstock - good. it's a little hard at first (snicker) 
  • Diversity - None. boo.
  • Packaging - Good.

The Witchlings Deck and Book

I love Paulina Cassidy's work, and this one is just adorable. It's kind of like an oracle deck with a bonus magical spell at the end. This is going to come in handy during those times that I forget that I actually have agency over my own life, and can do more than pull a card for insight. I can pull a card and then DO SOMETHING. In a really cute way. 

  • Artwork - Quirky and sweet
  • Cardstock - Good and flexible
  • Diversity - None. Boo.
  • Packaging - Good.

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” ― Robert A. Heinlein


I like to noodle around Instagram to find new tarot decks. I like decks with diversity, creative interpretations of the cards, and a sense of whimsy. I found the Hip Chick Tarot, by Maria Strom, checks all of those categories. 

The suits are renamed, here, with Majors, Create (Wands), Feel (Cups), Think (Swords), and Earth (Pentacles). I just love this - they're intuitively connected with the suits so I won't have to have a sticky note to remind me that Swords/Think. 

The artwork reminds me of the 70's - kind of an Electric Company vibe. I have no idea why, but I just love it. I haven't yet gotten a copy of this deck, so I don't know about the cardstock yet, but I love the artwork SO much, it won't be a deal breaker for me.

You can learn more about Maria below, and find her on Instagram and Youtube.




About me:

I’m an artist, card reader and cat lady. I have three cats: Pumpkin, Peanut and Rue. I was born in Portland, Oregon and now I live in Athens, Georgia. I grow tomatoes every summer.

 I love that she's wearing a hoodie

I love that she's wearing a hoodie

Hip Chick Tarot came about because most of the people I read cards for are women. Often, in my Tarot practice, I’d find myself translating traditional male images and their meanings into ones that fit the psyche and experience of my female clientele, so I decided to create a feminist deck.

What do you appreciate most in your friendships?

People who “get me” and who are comfortable with themselves, so I can be comfortable around them. Those folks are priceless.

What’s your idea of happiness?

For me, happiness is the lack of self-preoccupation. It’s just being here without being all wrapped up in me.

What’s your idea of misery?

Being caught up in my head with miserable thoughts circulating.

Where would you like to live?

I love where I live now. I moved to Athens, Georgia from San Francisco a couple years ago. The big city was fun, but I love having a backyard and three cats. Out of all the places I’ve visited, I love Rome the most. If I lived there, I’d just walk around and soak up the art and history.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Orange, olive green and aqua blue. I like the simplicity of daisies and the symbolism of bleeding hearts.

Your favorite poets?

Honestly, poetry isn’t my thing. I prefer prose.

Your favorite heroes/heroines in fiction?


Ester Greenwood in The Bell Jar comes to mind; I love her courage and honesty.

What is your present state of mind?

I feel calm with a little anticipation of excitement.

What is your favorite deck or divination tool?

I’d have to say Hip Chick Tarot. Lol

Your favorite song?

What a Wonderful World by Louie Armstrong.

What is your favorite word?

I have so many. But I really love the way “quagmire” sounds.

Your least favorite word?

Can’t really think of one.

What is your favorite curse word?


What sound or noise do you love?

The sound of a cat lapping water and rain on the roof.

What sound or noise do you hate?

The little beeps and buzzes of electronics can be annoying, sometimes.

What turns you on?

People who are secure enough to be open and okay with themselves. People who don’t need to impress.

What turns you off?

Gossip, self-preoccupation.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?


Hey, welcome.

Masters of Tarot - Interview with Mary K "MF'in" Greer


As part of the preparation for the Omega Institutes "Masters of Tarot" weekend, I got interviewed by one of my personal heroes, Mary K. Greer. That was something else. You can follow the above link to her blog to read all about it.

You can sign up for the Omega Institute weekend, here! Rachel Pollack, Mary Greer, George Koury and Liz Dean (and also me!)

The theme is Five Approaches to Messages from the Cards and I'll be talking about stripping your questions down to their base elements to make them more useful. 

Thanks, Mary, for the great interview. Keep your eyes out for more from the other presenters!




“To learn to play seriously is one of the great secrets of spiritual exploration.” ― Rachel Pollack


It isn't often you get to interview your hero. 

The second tarot book that I ever bought was "78 Degrees of Wisdom". I'd been reading cards for about a decade at this point, and although I could read the cards, I didn't really understand them. Not entirely. Rachel Pollack's book introduced me to my cards in a way that made me feel like we were old friends. I could talk to the cards and for the first time - clearly hear what they said. Magical.

Because the Universe seems to conspire to shower me with blessings, I was invited to present with Rachel Pollack, Mary K. Greer, George Koury and Liz Dean at the Masters of Tarot weekend at the Omega Institute. (August 3-5, sign up here)  

As part of our preparation for the event, we're interviewing each other. I jumped at the chance to talk to Rachel. 

Melissa:  Rachel, with your writing of novels, comics and divination texts, your work has a theme of offering the readers self-discovery. Is this a conscious decision, or did it just work out that way?

Rachel:  I was always a writer of fiction first, and actually wanted to write comics long before I did so.  In fact, I was teaching years ago at a college in New York State, and gave a talk one evening, and one of the students asked how I became a teache.  I began by saying I had tried to get a job writing for Marvel Comics but they weren't hiring, so became a college teacher instead.  Well, that made me a kind of mini-celebrity with the student body!  The faculty, not so much.  But the big thing that happened during those two years came on a quiet, bitterly cold afternoon in early 1970, when a fellow faculty member said if I gave her a ride home she would read my Tarot cards.  They completely fascinated me, and I knew I had to have it.  I also remember thinking they reminded me of comics.  There were mysterious pictures of people and actions (early Rider deck), and a book--one of Eden Gray's works--that seemed to explain the pictures, but was really just another layer of mystery.  As for self-discovery, I'm not sure I consciously set out to make that the theme.  Wonder and adventure are really the common themes of most of my work.  But what greater adventure is there than discovering the mystery of yourself, and that of the world?  And being queer (I like to joke that I'm half of LGBT, the beginning and the end) self-discovery became almost basic survival.  Because if you allow the outer culture to define you, you're lost.  I think one thing I've learned from being intimately involved with the living oracle of the Tarot is to make the subtle shift from "defining yourself" to "divining yourself."

Melissa:  Your work - from comics to tarot has been a huge inspiration for myself and so many others. So, who inspires you? 

Rachel:  So, so many people!  Tarot readers, poets, novelists, artists, scientists, people who struggle for justice, so, so many.  Just within the world of Tarot, I've been inspired for so many years by Mary Greer--and consider myself so fortunate to have taught with her for nearly 3 decades.  Two others are Caitlin Matthews and Camelia Elias.  And I have a special connection with David Schaar.  Many won't know his name--yet--but that will change when he publishes his remarkable work on traveling the Tree of Life.  And I find working with Robert Place--on the Burning Serpent Oracle and more recently, The Raziel Tarot--very exciting.

Melissa: What else excites you about the future of tarot and divination?

Rachel:  There seems to be a great new wave of decks, both Tarot and oracle, featuring very exciting and explorative art.  At this recent Readers Studio there were so many wonderful new works.  It feels almost as if Tarot has been re-discovered as an art form.  Both the quality of art and the sense of mystery have jumped to a new level.

Melissa:  Some of my tarot buddies have said that your work seems to take a literary analysis approach to reading the cards. Which authors influence you? What do you read for enjoyment? That's a lot of questions at once. 

Rachel:  First of all, I think "literary analysis" sounds too academic and intellectual.  I approach the Tarot as a living being-maybe a storyteller--and try to discover just what that story might be.  The authors who influence me are again a very wide group, by no means all Tarot.  riters on myth and mystery have been vital to me, books about prehistoric art, Australian Aboriginal art, esoteric practices and beliefs, heresies, books of tribal and ancient poetry in daring translations.  Here are some titles that have meant a lot to me--"The Gate of Horn," by Gertrude Rachel Levy, a book on the history of religion, and a kind of founding text of the Goddess revival--"Shower Of Stars: Dream And Book,< by Peter Lamborn Wilson, a work about dream initiation, divination from Ancient Egypt to China to 19020's Harlem, and the idea of a magical book,that is, a book that is itself magical rather than just information about magic--"Awakening Osiris", Normandi Ellis's gorgeous poetic rendering of the Pert Em Hru, aka the Egyptian Book of the Dead--"Flash of the Spirit," by Robert Farris Thompson, a great work on African art and spirituality--"Boneland", by Alan Garner,the third book in a trilogy, written 50 years after the first two--"Major Trends In Jewish Mysticism", by Gershom Scholem, a work that almost single-handedly brought Kabbalah back into cultural consciousness, "Shamanic Voices", edited by Joan Halifax, a series of first-person accounts of shamans from around the world (one of the most beautiful, and scariest books I've ever read), and on and on.  As for pleasure, I'm not sure there's a sharp line between reading for pleasure and for inspiration, but I do like mysteries and fantasy.  Lately I've been very excited by a couple of fantasies that probably are considered Young Adult (72 is young, right?) "Every Heart A Doorway," by Seanan Maguire, and a trio of novellas by Nnedi Okorafor--"Binti," "Binti Home," and "Binti The Night Masquerade."  And then there's "Tropic Of Night," a book I've read four times, and will certainly read again.  it's a thriller about African sorcery in Miami, and explores a kind of shamanic psychology that I find very powerful.

Melissa: And now my "books to read list" has doubled.  Thanks for that!  Ok last question. What is something that you wish more people knew about you?

Rachel: You know, I'm not sure!  I kind of just try to be myself in most situations.  I guess I could say that everything I do is about sharing what excites me.

Melissa: Thank you - this was an absolute treat. 

Rachel:  Me too, Melissa.  I hope it's okay.

Melissa:  *dies from a severe case of fangirling*