We talk a lot about the landscape of tarot, excited and grateful for the opportunity to share new creators with our community, as they craft their imprints onto the diverse tarot panorama. As a mystic shop, we’ve cultivated a reputation for specializing in independent tarot and oracle decks. Because we’ve had such a delicious and vivid front-row seat to the independent tarot revolution over the past 5 years, I thought writing about the world of indie cards & creators would be easy - singing to our wheelhouse! However, it’s been the challenging opposite to try and capture such a vast and changing world with a landscape that has transformed to include nuance and beauty and refuses to sit still.
What is an Indie tarot deck?
For those new to tarot, the term indie deck might be unfamiliar to you. In the most concise terms, independent (or "indie") tarot and oracle decks are self-published by their writers, illustrators, and creators before making their way independent shops like ours! Alternatively, there are mass market decks, published by larger publishing houses. Both kinds of decks hold value in art, content, and spiritual connection.
What's special about Indie decks?
When the artist has total control over the art, writing, card stock, gilding, box type, finish, printing values and location, with no one to gatekeep distributing their work to the community, it stirs a compelling, grassroots energy that unapologetically opens portals and paints new worlds within the tarot landscape. The significance of this potent power is that safe and sacred worlds get crafted by marginalized artists. From there, many others discover these new worlds and a community is born. It’s no wonder the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has been at the forefront of this indie tarot revolution!
Influential voices in Indie tarot
Beth Maiden explains the movement with powerful precision in Queering the Tarot’s forward:
“Whether comfortably taking up space in the mainstream conversation or fiercely reclaiming tarot to reflect the experience of marginalization, seizing the 78 cards we know as tarot and using them to reflect our experiences has become part of our community’s lineage and literary canon.” (p. XIII)
Beth Maiden is a pioneer of the queer indie tarot movement, cultivating an online space that became a resource for BIPOC and 2SLGBTQIA+ tarot creators, authors, and academics. The website, Little Red Tarot has been active for about a decade. It's a hub for all indie tarot information, keeping up on queer & diverse decks produced independently, their artists who frequently write info-packed and thoughtful blog posts, reviews, and highlights of all the indie mystic media crafted by marginalized groups.
While Little Red Tarot is now inactive as an ongoing blog resource, all Maiden’s back catalogue is still linked on the site, and I recommend a good deep dive into those older articles. The site is still an invaluable resource to the queer indie tarot community it help so much to help grow. Still functioning as an online store for hard-to-find indie titles, queer and BIPOC creator features and interviews, and a tarot education source complete with a paid alternative tarot course, free card meanings, and articles to dig deeper into study.
Cassandra Snow is another person whose intersectional work in the tarot and queer community has positioned the indie landscape! The writer and tarotist authored Queering the Tarot (published in May 2019), which was one of the first fresh tarot books that discussed the Fool’s Journey in terms of the queer experience. Snow’s lens is very detailed and accounts for so many nuances within the 2SLGBTQIA+ experience. There is sure to be card revelations that add dynamic, robust, yet personal layers to potential card meanings. Additional works from Snow have also been praised and include: Lessons from the Empress (2022), and Queering Your Craft (2020). Snow has been an instrumental figure in shaping the queer tarot landscape, working with indie decks and artists, and bringing the queer experience to card readings for 2SLGBTQIA+ querents that might not have had access to that lens prior to many 2SLGBTQIA+ creators producing their decks and guidebooks.
The final influential voice in the indie tarot world that we’ll introduce here (rather several voices) is that of the Indie Tarot Deck Review on Instagram and Facebook. They are a collaborative group of writers, creators, and editors that highlight independent deck titles and artists. The growth they’ve provided to the community is vast! Indie Tarot Deck Review is an excellent way to stay informed on what’s new in the independent tarot world, discover artists & deck creators, and keep up with diverse, inclusive representation in the tarot!
Diversity in the world of Indie tarot
The indie tarot landscape is so lush with diversity, social identities, spiritual paths, and inclusive representation and it continues to evolve and grow! It has gained enough momentum to now be informing the world of mass market tarot. Some decks, like This Might Hurt by Isabella Rotman and The Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road have been picked up for mass market production, getting them into the hands of even more tarot lovers around the world! A similar connection is noted in the intersection of tarot and 2SLGBTQIA+, with beautiful mass market decks like Pride Tarot by a large publisher. The deck features 45 queer-identifying artists and is one of our favorites on the shelf! Not to mention Queer Tarot by Ash+Chess, Rainbow Tarot by Sam West, Fyodor Pavlov Tarot by Fyodor Pavlov, and Fifth Spirit Tarot by Charlie Claire Burgess (another indie-to-mass-market deck) to name a few.
I’m sure this blog post cannot do justice to the world I’ve had the honour to walk through; watch unfold, blossom, and ignite into vibrant hues that I’ve caught so many authentic glimpses of myself in along the way. The indie tarot and oracle world continues to evolve and I’m endlessly grateful for this lush landscape, and the view I have as an indie mystic shop merchant to take it all in! If this panorama is compelling you to explore, I hope you find every corner within it that speaks to you and makes you feel at home!