Book Report II: Modern Tarot

"The book is still the greatest manmade machine of all - not the car, not the TV, not the smartphone." 
Ken Burns, 2016

In our Book Report series, we'd like to introduce ourselves via our bookshelf and share the books that most shape our diplomacy. Our second book is Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea.

We couldn't have asked for a better crash course in Tarot. Michelle Tea doesn’t just teach how to read Tarot cards, but convinces you of their power as a tool for self-reflection. Her own insightful stories are fun and help you understand the structure of a Tarot deck, and the meaning and rich symbolism behind each card. Underneath it all is a respect for the power of these little storyboards to challenge, reassure, inspire, and roast you: 

“[the Tarot] hold mysteries, but we hold mysteries, too… by working with the Tarot, we learn more about ourselves and perhaps more about some of humanity’s big themes - love, heartache, betrayal, friendship, triumph, despair.” 

A tarot deck has five storylines: four suits and the Major Arcana. Each suit begins with an Ace, the purest symbol of the suit’s energy: Wands are fire, Cups are water, Pentacles are earth, and Swords are Air. From there, the suits show a rise, a fall, and a resolution in 10 cards. The suits end with four court cards: Page, Knight, King, and Queen, each radiating their own characteristics as well as the suit's.

“Taken together, the four suits encompass the variety of energies present in pretty much every human experience - anger and grief, wonder and innocence, disillusionment, excitement, everything.”

The Major Arcana shows the odyssey of life through “The Fool’s Journey”, an epic story with higher highs and lower lows than those of the suits. These highs and lows are mirrors of our own stories; each card shows a step, milestone, or major plot points of our lives. 

Close up of colourful tarot cards.

This has become our go-to resource on how to read (and create!) Tarot cards, and we highly recommend it. Our friends at Curious Fox can help you order it. The Polar diplomatic corps is already at work on our second deck… follow us on Instagram to stay tuned! 

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