Christy C. Road | Next World Tarot (Silver Sprocket)

78 cards | $20 (tarot deck pocket edition), $50 (tarot deck with guidebook)

176 pgs. | $50 (hardcover art collection)

Artist, author, musician, and activist Cristy C. Road’s Next World Tarot was released as an indie deck in 2018, bringing the world in which we live into the cards that we use to manage it. This tarot deck is not only diverse, inclusive, punk, and angry, it’s tender and precious, showing those parts of us that are usually airbrushed away. Road wrote her thesis on the history of tarot, and this deck was born of her reclamation of magic and community.

The cover to the “Next World Tarot” hardcover art collection.

Unless you live among the Stepford folk, you will find yourself in this deck, in the far-off gaze of the Fool and the warm embrace of the Two of Cups. The High Priestess looks like a friend of mine, and seeing my community in my tarot deck makes it easier to relate to. This is the point of the tarot: to shine a flashlight onto your path and see which way to go. Having cards that look like your face makes it easier to use the tools that are in your hands.

Traditional tarot decks are full of straight white folks. This is the way it’s been since they first came around in the early 1400s. This makes sense, since they were originally European and the ability to print and commission art was limited to straight white folks.

Box artwork for the “Next World Tarot” pocket deck.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, you could count on one hand the number of tarot decks that featured Black folks, people of color, or any kind of sexual or gender inclusivity. These were mainly indie decks, but even in 2007, while actively searching for diverse inclusive decks, I was only able to find around 20 of them. The hashtag #TarotSoWhite is true. And luckily, the world of tarot is shifting away from it.

It’s about time.

When the deck first came out, I interviewed Road, talking about representation in the tools that we both use. In response to my comment that, “It is frustrating to always see straight white people in tarot,” Road responded,

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 elevate folks who usually aren’t elevated. I paint people I know. I started the deck when I was 29 [or] 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.”

Next World Tarot has just been re-released by indie comics/zine publisher Silver Sprocket. The card stock is sturdy, the deck is smaller than the indie release and a little easier to shuffle, and the artwork screams at you from each card. This deck is asking you to find beauty in the way you are, power in the way you feel, and community in the world that is.

It’s also demanding change. This deck is a powerful tool in the hands of anyone who believes in making the world a better place for everyone. No exceptions.

Available with the deck is a STUNNING bilingual (English and Spanish) hardcover book that can pull you into the deck with both hands. It’s sometimes frustrating to peer at the details in a tarot deck. This book is for anyone who wants the full picture with all of its meaning clear. It’s an absolute must-have. | Melissa Cynova

Sample artwork from Next World Tarot, click to enlarge. To purchase, visit  Silver Sprocket.

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