Here’s a new enquiry I received about my work with the tarot:
“I am always interested in anything to do with gender readings as a reader — male/female/trans and straight/queer/et al — especially from the male perspective as Tarot is traditionally a female dominated industry.
~ MF, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A.”
Thank you for your note. Many factors come into play here. As I reflect on what you’ve written, I wonder what type of male perspective to come from; there are straight males, bisexual males, gay males, transgender males, and many other forms of male identification. I can approach gender in the context of working with the tarot from a James Wells-related perspective, I suppose. I’m a gay male whose work has been influenced by many feminist and lesbian mentors, authors, friends, and colleagues. I do my best to be conscious of what I’m saying or asking with regard to gender during the tarot encounter. It’s helpful if I don’t make assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation; if their topic is intimate relationships and they don’t refer to a partner(s)’s gender, I either ask, “Which gender or genders of partner shall we discuss?” or I simply use generic words such as “they”, “the other person”, or “intimate partner(s)”. In fact, their preferred partner may even be themselves! The choice of deck is a factor, too. Do the cards depict one gender holding power over others or do different genders seem to be interacting with equal power in the images? Do the majority of symbols imply that one gender is “better” or “more advantaged” than another or are all gender identities symbolised in a healthy manner? I applaud tarot deck creators who have moved away from court/people cards and found other ways to think about and illustrate the last four cards of each suit. The old ways of choosing a significator no longer honour most people. If I were to create my own pack of cards, I would eliminate people cards altogether and simply number every suit Ace through Fourteen to depict the stages of journeying through each aspect of life. For me, every card, Major or Minor, can be a personality trait, an event, an emotion, an object, a place, a strategy, a challenge, a gift, an idea, or a person. Trump III is about nurturing, caretaking, and feeling safe and healed. Anyone can be these things, not just a woman sitting on a pillow in a field. Trump IV is about power, authority, and leadership. Every person can experience these qualities, not just a man sitting on a throne. When I’m with a client, I’m most interested in the concepts of the cards and applying them to a person’s enquiry, not whether they “should” belong to a person of any particular gender. The topic/question and our interaction with the cards in that context are what count. Whatever a client’s sexual orientation, no matter what body parts they possess, regardless of how a person identifies in terms of gender (if at all), they are a whole human being. To guide a person to richer awareness about hir situation and to witness hir leaving the consultation with a greater sense of power are profoundly satisfying, no matter who they are. I hope that helps, MF. These thoughts are brief and only touch briefly on a necessary topic. I invite other constructive ideas about this in the Comments section.