A State-Of-The-Art Guide To The Arcane: My Review Of Michelle Tea’s Modern Tarot

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My inner sense about the Tarot has finally collapsed into an ordered, reliable universe. Modern Tarot is basically a secular guide for learning the Tarot. That means, the author (you’re gonna love her: Michelle Tea) plays up the practical psychology of the Tarot as a tool for affirmation & spiritual integration, but in a way that still shows you how to make a little magic with what you learn from the cards!

And the guidelines can be applied to any deck.

Michelle Tea is like the witchy punkrock BFF I never had & spent all my 20s looking for. And through her palpable card descriptions, I could finally ground the sylphic, high-concept fantasy of The Starchild Tarot (my main deck, which I fucking love) with my gritty true-world experience as it actually... feels. The story she tells about each card is like hearing the coming-of-age story of someone you see every single day, but never imagined had such a vast universe locked up inside.

If you’re still trying to memorize all the cards in your Tarot deck, this is the how-to Tarot guide to invest in. All 78 messages of the Tarot will totally & unforgettably seep into your mind-body. You’ll be antsy to go out into the True World to hunt for the archetypes & alchemical experiences described by the guide. You’ll be excited to live the Tarot!

I fell head over heels on page 6: 

We are living in a moment of renewed interest in the mystical. Call it New Age or ‘Woo,’ call it Witchcraft or the Intuitive Arts or Mind-Body-Spirit; name yourself Bruja or Conjure or Pagan or Priest/ess. The point is, I can’t swing a magic wand without hitting someone who’s got a crystal in their pocket, or just got their aura read, or is lighting a candle for the New Moon. Yes, I do live in the rarified land of California, but through the magic of the Internet I observe a surge of people looking toward enduring mystical practices such as tarot, spell-casting, crystal meditating, earth worshipping, goddess imaging. It makes sense to me. Our future-focused, technology-obsessed world seems to be hurtling down a bad path. People are turning to ancestral practices for a sense of enduring longevity, & comfort… Tarot offers moments of deep connection during a time when connection is ubiquitous but rarely delves beneath the surface. And in a time where most religions seem irrelevant—dated, boring, antagonistic to peace—the affirming & personal nature of the Tarot offers a spiritual experience that is gentle, individual, & aspirational.

The guide is like an encyclopedic conversation between you & Michelle. Each card is its own chapter--divided between Major, Minor, & Court cards--& reads like a novella; written in the disciplined cadence of a literary ace. 

Best of all, for every card, Michelle provides a magic recipe! Nothing high falutin’; nothing pedantically pagan; nothing incomprehensible to anyone who isn’t a Higher Initiate to a sacred order. You’re gonna learn what the cards mean & how to make the cards meaningful for you, by creating inexpensive magical experiences, DIY herbal balms & tinctures, & also with Michelle's recommendations for incense & oils coded with esoteric significance.

Here's a taster, based on a card I've been deeply studying for these past six weeks while enrolled in INFLUENCE (more about that coming soon--sign up for my newsletter to find out when the post is live!): The Empress. 

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III. The Empress

“The Empress understands that the earth is her home, that it gives her every single thing she needs for her basic survival. The same is true of all of us, but as much as long to feel connected to the earth & the natural world, such connections can be fleeting at best for most of us city-dwellers. Through a core spirituality that sustains her & colors her world, the Empress remains connected to the cosmos. Connected to her own creativity, she sees many of her activities, not just her more obviously art-making ones, as deeply creative. Most of all, she is connected to herself: loving herself effortlessly, she treats herself as she would treat any of her beloveds--kindly, sweetly, lavishly. There is no guilt or shame or toxic perfectionism in this person. Whatever her body may look like under her robes, she’s into it, & it hasn’t occurred to her that you wouldn’t be too.” -- Michelle Tea, Modern Tarot

Okay, & the magical tip for making The Empress real in your life:

Be The Empress: "A friend of mine began a monthly gathering called Femme Healing Arts Day: she gathered her female friends together & we all participated in magic, art, or self-care. We did tarot readings & passed crystals & incense; painted with watercolors & created magic oils; made baths salts & candleholders; dressed up for portraits; & ate foods selected for their magical attributes. Femme Healing Arts Day enhanced our lives tremendously & strengthened all of our bonds. The spirit of the Empress was clearly present at these gatherings & will be palpable at yours as well!"

All this is so good, but the best of Modern Tarot lies in the Courts cards. (The pages, knights, kings, & queens.) If you’ve ever grasped for words trying to describe the qualities & messages of a Court card in a reading, get the book! 

You can find Modern Tarot on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, & you can find out more about Michelle Tea at her website or by connecting with her on Twitter!

BTW--the Tarot Casts are coming back!

...but in a whole new way. At the top of 2018, I'm going to start posting monthly Tarot Casts, with Qs & dares to get you applying the Tarot's arcane wisdom in your day to day! 

Modern Tarot definitely helped me rethink how I could write about taking inspired action with the Tarot (that's my jam, baby) without turning it into a weekly chore. Once a month (versus once a week) allows more room to plot the action you can take, plus time for reflection / synthesis. 

If you're down for news about Tarot Casts, enroll in Magic ❤︎ Mondays! My newsletter lets you know when new posts go live, unpacks the bigger concepts behind some of the craziest woo-woo stuff I'll try talking you into, plus (all new for 2018!) let's you know about pop-up Q&A sessions re: Goddesses, reality hacking, & all the Big Fat Ideas behind living the right hand path as I know it!

Did you pick up your copy of Modern Tarot? What'd you think? How are you working differently with the cards? Tweet @ me & let me know!