Valerie Sim serves as the VP of Communications for the ATA. She received her first deck of tarot cards 32 years ago and began studying astrology in 1973. Both have continued to be passions for her over the years and have led to the authorship of her own tarot and astrological teaching materials, with which she has been an online teacher for the past year and a half.
Valerie is the Listowner of a popular tarot email list, Comparative Tarot, a list which is populated by tarot students, readers, teachers, authors and artists. Her book about the Comparative Tarot method and ways to keep tarot fun and exciting, Tarot Outside the Box, is due out from Llewellyn in 2004. She also wrote the pamphlet, or "little white book," for the recently published Lo Scarabeo Comparative Tarot Deck, and is the Editor for both Tarot Reflections and The ATA Quarterly.
On the shamanic path and active in animal rescue, Valerie has many favorite decks including Animal-Wise, Vision Quest and Shining Tribe. She is currently writing her second book, Shamanic Tarot.
I have been known to go on at length about the different voices of the many different Tarot decks available today. Some people have understood and agreed with me, and many have mentioned the fact that perhaps I am “hearing voices” myself. If you fall into the latter group, don't bother to read this article, just call for my straight jacket. If you are in the former group, enjoy this article, and please buy my book! You will not be disappointed.
This article is dedicated to “irreverent tarot”, that aspect of working with the tarot that allows us to learn while we relax, and yes, while we laugh. I seek not to offend those readers who still wrap every deck in silk and read only by the light of the full moon with incense burning, but rather to encourage the rest of you to learn to relax and enjoy working with your deck(s). Tarot reading is a relationship. Have fun and brave new depths with your partner, or watch that relationship become stale and boring.
First of all, I am a firm believer in irreverence, not just with tarot but on general principle. An attitude of irreverence helps to keep a soul from feeling too self-important, from taking life seriously unto the point of heart attack, and in general it liberates the spirit. When irreverence is celebrated with the tarot, it allows the reader to stretch effortlessly. Learning is no longer driven, and the tarotist then begins to really appreciate their journey with the cards.
Said irreverence can be an attitude used and perfected with any deck, or it can be applied via specific decks. The following decks are, in my humble opinion, inherently irreverent. Use them at your own risk. You may just find yourself loosening up and laughing at odd moments. If you like being uptight and rigid in your approach to tarot, do not try this at home!
Stevee Postman , Eric Ganther
Publisher: Inner Traditions
This is a deck that is physically and sexually irreverent... or is it? Is this deck irreverent or is the rest of the world just fundamentally uptight?
The Cosmic Tribe Tarot is a celebration of self, in all forms, and of physicality in general. People in this deck are gloriously of both genders, all colors, and of every sexual orientation. Bodies are lean and toned, Rubenesque and in between. We see faces that are obviously Asian, Anglo and African. Some cards are joyous, others are a bit scary, but always there is a feeling of living life at full tilt. This deck has a way of lending levity to a reading without devaluing it.
Cosmic Tribe Tarot
Princess of Disks
Are you middle-aged, slightly overweight and somewhat out of shape? Super! This deck is for you. It will teach you both to embrace your own flawed physicality and to accept that of all others; those like yourself and those that are your polar opposite.
Are you young and impetuous? Perfect! There is a passion inherent in this deck that will fortify and encourage you.
PoMo Tarot: A Postmodern Deck for Navigating the Next Millennium
Publisher: US Games Systems
This I my favorite political/apolitical deck. I interview all politicians with this deck… equally and tongue-in-cheek.
“What?” you say. "Who is she to interview politicians?" Well, I don't actually interview them in person, I interview them via the tarot and from a distance. I can still feel some of you bristling. "Interview? Read? Without permission?" Let me explain to you what it is that I do.
Political figures launch themselves into the public eye. From that point on they are game (fair or not so) for the press, the paparazzi, and fans of all types and psyches. Unlike the afore-mentioned, I seek neither monetary reward nor publication, I just like to get to know those political figures that ardently seek my vote. My ethics are okay with this. If yours are not, so be it.
Not too long ago, I “interviewed” Bush, Cheney, Gore and Lieberman via the tarot. All were asked the same question. The insight the tarot revealed during this equal opportunity interview was staggering. Suffice it to say that I felt I learned more from these tarot interviews than from anything I glimpsed in the news. It definitely influenced my vote.
Every time I do one of these political readings I hear Brian Williams laugh. I like that, too.
Tarot of the Dead
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Here is a deck that many non-collectors have never heard of. It's a great deck! Rumor has it that it is coming to mainstream tarot soon. Actually, it is more than a rumor. This formerly self-published deck will be released by Llewellyn in September 2004
If, because of the title, you are expecting the ghoulish or macabre, you will be disappointed. This deck merely reduces the tarot archetypes to “bare bones.” For those of us who view life and death as opposite and recurring portals on a longer soul journey, this deck is really refreshing. For those that are fearful of existence beyond this fleshy incarnation, this is probably not the deck for you.
Tarot of the Dead
If you have an open mind and a zest for adventuring I encourage you to take this deck for a spin… or should we say, for a shuffle.
This has been a mere introduction to irreverent tarot. Remember this: Love and irreverence are not mutually exclusive. Love your deck(s), but learn to laugh with it/them. You will find that this laughter leads to a stronger, more long-lasting relationship.
Keep grinning... and keep shuffling.