My First Dates with the Next World Tarot
Holy crap. This tarot deck is a slap in the face and a kiss on the mouth all at once. I’ve only recently started reading tarot for myself, as part of a huge transformation that I’m currently going through, and I plan to write more about that journey at Queer & Now. But when Cristy C. Road’s Next World Tarot arrived, I knew I had to share it here, because few things are more radically queer than this deck.
I first encountered Cristy at the inaugural FlameCon in New York. I first saw her artwork when browsing the website before the event, and I was viscerally struck by it. When my friend Roo pulled me to her table at the beginning of the event and said “this is Cristy, buy all her stuff,” I did just that. I nervously introduced myself and asked for one of each book, which I later devoured. A few years later, I’m sitting with this tarot deck, and it’s exactly like having a huge crush on someone. The cards are big, easy to handle, and gorgeous. I badly want to fall in love with this deck.
Approaching the deck interview, I might as well have had sweaty palms. Like a first date, I was wondering if I was good enough for this deck, if it would even want to work with me. Was I putting too many hopes and dreams on it? In the first draw, I had to call a mulligan because I realized I was just pulling all the cups cards in a row, despite how much I’d shuffled, and then I felt anxious. Should I have stuck with those cards? Was I rejecting the deck? But I spoke softly to it and tried again, and decided to go with it this time.
This deck comes to me at a time when I’m taking a very different approach to activism. Reviewing an annual exercise I did this time last year, I was very focused on and concerned about my role as a white person in anti-racist activism and feeling guilty about the online nature of my work. I was deeply concerned with the external and “doing it right” without wanting to focus on “doing it right.” This year, I’m a bit calmer. I’m finding that stepping back is one way to contribute, that internal and spiritual work is a big focus for me, that I need to meditate on generosity and how to make it a central practice. That while yelling at other white people is still important, so is getting in touch with my intuition and emotional truths. And here comes this tarot deck, full of justice imagery, beautiful QTPOC making shit happen. It’s a challenging deck for me right now, and the interview reflects that.
1. What is your most important characteristic?
Knight of Swords
This is a fierce, balls-out deck. It’s about recklessly charging through ideas and making shit happen, though maybe not about the emotional management it leaves behind.
2. What are your strengths as a deck?
Ace of Wands
YES. This deck is great for working with new creative projects, encouraging enthusiasm. I love the subtitle “The Roots of Fire” as I’ve been thinking about fire energy and how I embody it from time to time coming out of my watery base. When is the right time to bring on fire? Now, says this deck.
3. What are your weaknesses as a deck?
Eight of Swords
Maybe don’t come to this deck if you’re feeling trapped or need to make tough decisions. [Based on later answers, I suspect it’s because this deck will challenge the fuck out of me–or maybe just encourage a more reckless choice than is good for me.]
4. What are you here to teach me?
Ha! I kind of feel like I’m all over the hermit already, but maybe this deck will help me play with that energy more as I’m going through spiritual exploration. Maybe it’s also about challenging myself and asking tougher questions when I’m the only one I have to answer to (see Rubix cube).
5. How can we best collaborate together?
Five of Wands
Whoa. Okay, so we need to challenge each other, wrestle with shit. We might not always agree and the wisdom this deck provides is not going to be easy answers. But I should open myself up to new perspectives, and be open to the interpretations I don’t like.
6. What is a potential outcome of our working relationship?
Six of Wands
I might develop more pride and trust in myself through the challenges and conflict of the five, more confidence that I’ve done the work I need to do (getting past guilt and into action). I’ll be re-energized for the next thing.
The Second Date: Creativity and Courage
The next morning, I returned to this deck ready for a little New Year’s challenge for myself. A Saturday, the day after the last regular work day of the year, and I wanted to try out a creativity and courage spread to get some insights into the big changes in my life right now. I expected to focus on my personal work and activism, but this reading ended up being really applicable to my work life as well. After the initial jitters, this reading was really illuminating for me and I feel more confident and excited to continue my work with the deck. (Note: I flipped 1 and 2 in Beth’s spread, but otherwise followed her prompts.)
Nine of Cups
Knight of Swords
Six of Pentacles
Three of Pentacles
Eight of Wands
King of Pentacles
So I’m hoping for broad happiness, abundance, and satisfaction, but I fear becoming obsessed with one thing and cutting corners, being reckless, not committing fully to projects and running away instead. This really resonated, because I’ve been struggling with the last 10% of projects at work, whereas in my personal life I just start a lot but rarely fully manifest anything. Road calls The Knight of Swords “The Escape Plan,” and here I’m interpreting that as a fear that I won’t be able to stick with things until I reach that abundant state.
But I can transform the energy of my hopes and fears by sharing my resources, being generous, and thinking about project completion in terms of the impact it will have on others + the position I’m in to make an impact. No doing something just to do it, or for that matter being generous for brownie points. This is going to be about finding my own values and connections to others in search of genuine generosity.
I need to release the feeling that my work doesn’t have a meaning if I don’t have feedback on it, or that I need to be working collaboratively for the work to be real. It’s okay to put things out into the void sometimes. I shouldn’t worry so much about how others perceive my work or whether I belong. (I’m a little less confident in this interpretation, as other cards might say this more, but I wanted to pick up on how this version of the Three of Pentacles, “The Team,” really focuses on the collaborative aspects of the card.)
I can ground this year in focused energy, completing projects, and choosing what to focus on based on my values. I should pursue what gets me excited about the outcome and feels meaningful / impactful. This will create space and freedom. I’m creating abundance, stability, and self-reliance this year. It’s okay to be pragmatic. I’m growing as an awesome manager and implementer.
So that’s a little peek into the world of The Next World Tarot. I hope you enjoyed it! I’d love to hear about your experiences with tarot, with this deck, or thoughts you have about my interpretations. As a newbie, I’m fascinated by how different people read different cards. Go forth, be awesome, and make the revolution happen!