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Ethnic Suits

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 05 Jun 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.

Indigo_lady  05 Jun 2003 
I was doing a general reading for a friend on what's ahead for her the other day using the Witches Tarot .

I was basically working on my instinct and I came to the conlusion that she was moving from 10 of Pentacles to 10 of Wands environment

In the Witches Tarot the 10 of Pentacles is represented by a castle like house, beautiful garden and a couple with a small child walking towards that house. All very stable, secure, you can call it idyllic if you like. In the ten of Wands you have another house, pretty little thing in the middle of a forest maybe, built of stone, looks very stable and firm. Standing outside the house you have someone holding a picture of this house, comparing them. Very much finding a house they have been looking for.

So I saw this and my intuition told me that she's going to move from that 10 of pentacles house to the house in the 10 of wands, but more in a culture sense. A change of lifestyle

As in she's going to settle down with someone from a different cultural background to her (She's been raised a Christian, by the way in a very stable, not affluent but she's had some of a privileged upbringing and a close family). And then this 10 of wands in this specific circumstances speak to me of a well settled proper environment but in which she is a stranger and will have to overcome some problems to be accepted.

Then after that there was the Hierophant which I think represents organised religion, tradition, group... and I took this as a reinforcer to what I saw

So obviously she asked me, from what background will that person be? and of course I told her, I can't tell you that, I'm not the FBI and we laughed about it and moved on to other things.

Looking at her life, there is a chance that can happen. But I know how she is and I know she won't plan the rest of her life on what I told her.

But now I was thinking about and was wondering if you guys make any relation between the suits and ethnicity????

I guess in the same way that court cards can indicate aspects of our personality as well as actual people, so can be the case of the suits

What do you guys think???? 

firemaiden  05 Jun 2003 
A couple different decks have made such a correlation, the Ancestral Path Tarot is one of them.

Cups = blond - nordic
Swords = Japanese
Wands = Egyptian
Pentacles = Native American

I can see how making such a correlation might be interesting or important information in a reading, such as the one you have just done.

On the other hand, (there is always another hand, isn't there), since each suit theoretically also represents just one arena of the human experience, it is a bit awkard to also link them to ethnicities; what-- does it mean only Nordic people are emotional? and only Native Americans are earthy????? only Egyptians are fiery?

Of course we are all smarter than that, and it does make for pretty pictures, ( I especially love the 2 of swords in the Ancestral Path Tarot, she looks like Madama Butterfly from Puccini's Opera), however... hmmm, you know what I mean, it could get a bit limiting. 

galadrial  05 Jun 2003 
I think you are having the same kind of second thoughts and doubts that I sometimes have about non-standard, intuitive leaps about cards or connections between cards that are specific to a particular reading. But every time I have trusted my intuition my readings have been more relevant than if I'd played it "safe". I say trust your instincts whether any of us have seen the suits that way or not:-) 

Thirteen  05 Jun 2003 
Well, in olden days (rockin' in my rockin' chair here, reminising), when Tarot was done by Westerners--and thus every tarot reader was likely to be, well, white, the court cards could be a little more specific on looks. Like Swords = blond/blue-eyed, Wands = redheads, and Cups, I believe, were those with brownish hair (don't quote me on these, it's been a while).

This made things easy ethinically--if you got Pentacles, those were the dark-haired, dark-eyed folk, including anyone non-caucasion. Because non-caucasion folk were fairly rare, so pentacles could include any swarthy eyed, black haired, ethnic man/woman, be they Italians, gypsies or, on very rare occassions, genuine black folk.

But in our multi-cultural age this method of distinguishing via suits is as problematic as using Queen-of-Swords to signify a "divorced woman" (divorced women were far rarer in times when divorce was hard for a woman to get. So if you said,"this person causing trouble in your life is a divorced woman," your querent would likely know who that was, as compared to now, when it could be any number of women).

People no longer fit into neat ethnicities--no matter how hard we might try to stick them there. Which brings us back to multi-ethnic decks. Tarot of all Ages also features 4 ethnicities (East Indian, African, Vikings and South American)--as do several other decks. I think these are best used for telling ethnicities.

If you're really looking to just generally describe someone, however, you can go back to the old way:

Swords: pale skin, pale eyes, pale hair.

Cups: light or lightly tanned skin but eyes are dark--brown or uniquely grey/hazel, hair dark (reddish brown, brown or black) (includes darker haired/skinned caucasions as well as Asians or Pan-Pacific folk, like Hawaiians).

Wands: rich brown skin, brown/black eyes, hair brown or black (moving here into East Indians and Middle Eastern--sun/desert folk if you will). Or, hey, a red-head (why not?--that if, if you think the person likely to be caucasion).

Pentacles: Dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes. 

Indigo_lady  21 Jun 2003 
There should be a globalization tarot to keep up with the times coming...

Let me rephrase that, the times already here

I mean, someone brought up in between Africa and Europe, but lets say their mother is 3rd generation Jew from Brasil and the father American, but actually he's of Lebanese descent (or so the family legend says)

Takes japanese as a hobby and has taken frequent trips to the country... who's this?

The World?

or if there's a big enough Cauldron to fit the heritage in the card, Temperance????

too many things 

Macavity  21 Jun 2003 
I think I have always been rather wary of any deck containing ethnic allusions, simply because I would wonder about the correct use of such allusions. Despite this, I think "ethnicity" is used to quite good purpose in the Haindl Tarot for the COURT cards. I suspect this is more related to the use of a particulary vivid mythological association from each of the particular cultures, rather than to their specific ethnicity. I find, in this case it emphasises the archetype of the court cards rather more strongly than the (to my eyes) often (superficially) rather uniform courts in many wholey western. decks. But I guess I think in terms of archetypes, rather than "whole" people - even for the courts. I (wildely) speculate these latter may have their origins in the various "humours" - choleric, melancholic, sanguine and phlegmatic and possibly through the various associated, coloured bodily fluids... and more besides. Eeeeew })

Macavity (Experiencing a meeting black and yellow bile :laugh: ) 

XLCR  23 Jun 2003 
when using tarot? (uh besides Galadrial) I use the sacred circle tarot which aside from the strength card - all cards are "white"
I find that when doing a reading in which ethnicity is relevant the cards "tell" me so. Once while doing an internet reading I pulled the knight of wands - and told the querant the person in question was "dark" because when looking at the picture (which was of a "white" male, I saw a "dark" complexion. She asked what did I mean by dark and I explained not fair, not blond, possibly Italion, possible Latino, maybe Black, but definatly not blond. It turned out the woman was African American and only found out because the website recently allowed pic posts. 

Alobar  23 Jun 2003 
Originally posted by firemaiden
A couple different decks have made such a correlation, the Ancestral Path Tarot is one of them.

Haindl is another. 

The Ethnic Suits thread was originally posted on 05 Jun 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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