I have a special relationship with black Sharpies. When I was a kid, my mom would take one to the faces and hands of the little white ceramic angel tchotchkes she’d bring home from Woolworths (or K-Mart or...Zayres) and color them black.
Yes, she was ahead of her time.
So when I stumbled upon Beth Maiden’s post on Little Red Tarot about a deck designed with said writing tool, the little girl in me jumped for joy on her pogo stick. Basic Tarot, the name on the box, or Witch Shop Tarot, which is the name in the LWB (I’m still slightly confused by the naming issue), is the work of Anna Hegarty. The Brooklyn-based artist took matters into her own hands when she couldn’t find a deck that fulfilled her needs.
“Everything I saw was either too goofy or was a vintage deck and was way out of my price range. I ended up buying a very very basic deck and using it for a few months before I naturally started making drawings for a deck of my own,” she told Beth.
I’m pretty basic myself, meaning that I like things simple...not “basic” as in how the kids use the word these days. At least I don’t think. Basic Tarot hit home with me when I opened the package, as it’s a just-the-facts type of deck. To get to know the cards, I used Beth's interview spread from her work Little Red Tarot Spreads.
1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?
Nine of Pentacles
"Hmm. I think the main one is self reliance, meaning that I help folks who use me rely on their own talents for interpretation. I don't have a lot of fluff, just basic (ha, hence my name!) symbols and archetypes. People who use me are free to be creative and make their own connections!"
2. What are your strengths as a deck?
Queen of Wands
"Check me out! I just need a crown, Venus' symbol, a wand and a star! Booyah! I may be based on the stodgy RWS system, but I'm pretty darned good looking in an 'I woke up like this' kind of way and I bring lots of creative energy, albeit in a very sophisticated manner if I may say so myself. Feeling down? Grab hold of me for a reading that will brighten up your day and spark some ideas."
3. What are your limits as a deck?
"I'm not sure if I'd be that much help if you definitely need visual triggers, especially human figures (other than stick figures). For example, some folks may need to see figure standing behind a table holding a wand instead of just a hat (the Magician) to trigger creativity and / or the ability to interpret. Nothing wrong with that. But my simplicity invites using your own power and imagination to reflect. To go within. To not need anyone or anything else for deep introspection."
4. What are you here to teach me?
Five of Cups
"I'm gonna flip the script on this one. Usually the Five of Cups signals a loss, sadness or throwing in the towel. You know: 'Let go or get dragged.'
But look at my Five of Cups. You see, well, five cups. Think of these cups as a shell game.
You're walking down Beale Street in Memphis. It’s hot. It’s humid. Your bunions are screaming. You’ve had too many lime Jell-O shots.
Not that I know anything about any of this.
Music is blaring (Stevie Ray Vaughan, thank you) everywhere. As you avoid the tourists stumbling out of clubs drunk you notice this old man with his set up on the sidewalk.
A shell game.
He calls you over to play. He's got five cups turned over on a small rickety card table. You know that you’ve got only a 20% chance of winning anything.
So fuck it. You decide to play. You need to stop walking anyway. Bunions.
The old man shuffles the five cups. You pick one. He turns it over and it’s empty. And you lose.
So you keep playing.
And he keeps turning over each of those five cups. And you lose, and lose and lose. Until finally you say, 'OK. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not going to play anymore, but it was fun anyway.'
I can help you with that lesson."
5. How can I best learn and collaborate with you?
Four of Pentacles
"What’s the first thing you see on this card? Probably that big pentacle on the right. It’s so big that half of it falls out of the frame. The FoP can signal that you’re not getting the entire picture, missing out on those three little coins in the background. Use me as a deck that helps you get the bird’s eye view of the situation, without all of the fluff and faff. I’m basic, so you’ll have no distractions, which is a great segueway to..."
6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
Four of Swords
"Because I’m such a simple deck, I can help you take a break from trying to figure out more complicated decks. Take a rest from the distractions for just a bit. Rely on your inner power, your knowledge to gain strength without twisting your brain to understand archetypes. You can do that later...have you seen that Dali deck?"
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