Are you queer? Are you into tarot? Well, the best of both worlds has finally landed in your rainbow-tinted shop-a-verse. The much-anticipated Queer Tarot deck from Ash & Chess, the LGBTQ-owned stationery brand extraordinaire and creators of The Gay Agenda, launched today after months of teasing on the company’s social media channels. Ashley Molesso and Chess Needham, a queer and trans couple, decided to "make a big ol' gay, all-encompassing tarot deck." Packed to the brim with bold colors and pride-flag imagery, this tarot deck is everything our gay little hearts have been yearning for. While other modern-day decks have queer representation in some of their cards, every single card in the Queer Tarot depicts nothing but gay, trans, and queer individuals. It’s hard for me to put into words, but fellow LGBTQ folks will recognize how this deck managed to capture the indescribable magic of queer joy. There's not one straight vibe, trust me. Keep scrolling to see what I — a non-binary lesbian tarot card reader — really think of this wonderfully queer deck (spoiler: I love it). If you've been searching for a tarot deck that reflects what you and your community actually look like, the search is officially over.
The Queer Tarot deck includes 78 cards and a 172-page guidebook. The cards are stored in a separate easy-to-carry box for all your on-the-go tarot needs — very handy if you're like me and bring your cards everywhere. The guidebook features recommendations for reading your own cards and essays on the relationship between queerness and tarot. Of course, there’s plenty of information on each card’s meanings — there’s not always a queer or identity focus behind them; some are general and can include career or money. Ash & Chess also indicate the reversed meanings of the cards, and a "things to consider" section with advice on next steps after you’ve interpreted your reading.
As you can see, the cards themselves are colorful and vibrant and spark nothing but pure queer joy; there are no bad vibes found. Even usually negative cards like the Tower or Ten of Swords have an optimistic quality to them, you don't feel hopeless when you get them in your spread.
The art is printed using the screenprinting-adjacent Risograph technique, giving it that richly layered, analog look. "It's like you can only print one color at a time," Ash told R29. "It uses soy-based and fluorescent inks, so the colors that come out of it are so amazing." They stuck close to the original Rider-Waite deck when it comes to the designs, with some inspiration coming from the trippy 60s art of the Aquarian Tarot deck. Of course, they added queer motifs to it. "This is just like a rewriting of the standard," Chess said. "We tried to incorporate a bunch of different flag colors throughout the deck."
The cards feel perfect. They're comfortable to hold and super satisfying to shuffle with soft edges and a balanced cardstock. It's not too soft that you feel like they'll break, but it's not too hard that it'll hurt your hand. Whenever I have this deck close to me, I can't help but shuffle the cards. They just feel good, spiritually and physically. I've never felt so instantly drawn in by a deck before (and I have many). As soon as I opened it, I had this feeling that told me "this is yours."
Another reason why the deck feels oh-so-queer is because the authors used real-life queer people from their community as the models. Ash & Chess solicited photos on social media, and in just 3 days, they got 500 submissions. "It was really cool, seeing how excited all of these really cute queers were!" Ash said. "Oh my God, we were almost crying going through the submissions too." Representing everyone in the community — whether it's disabled queer people, drag queens, lesbians, trans men, or non-binary folks — these cards feel queer because they are queer.
For all the nosy tarot peeps and fans of Ash & Chess (I am both of those things), I asked each of the authors to choose their favorite card from the deck. Chess chose the inauspicious Tower (*dun dun dun*), saying "I think The Tower's just such a reminder, at least for me, that things are gonna go wrong, and you can't avoid it, so like all you can do is take it in stride." Ash’s favorite was the similarly tension-inducing Eight of Swords. "This card is basically saying you feel like you're tied up, but you actually have the power to get yourself out of this mess. You're not really tied up like you think you are."
Whether you're starting out in tarot and looking for a deck that speaks to you or you're a seasoned pro, adding the Queer Tarot deck to your collection will bring some much-needed color to your spiritual life.
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