The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck (Or Should That Be, Smith-Waite?)

Rider Waite TarotThere are a lot of different Tarot card decks you can choose to read from. Some people slerp around when it comes to Tarot and use lots of different decks whereas I’m strictly monogamous. I only use the Rider Waite which is the most popular of the lot in the English speaking world. (In Latin countries it’s the Tarot de Marseille.)

The deck was drawn by a woman called Pamela Colman Smith under instruction from a man named A. E. Waite who was an academic and mystic. It was first published by the Rider Company in England in 1909. Rider-Waite, get it. Don’t you love how the woman centrally involved in the production of these cards was ignored when it came to naming the deck? This is mostly the fault of the American toy manufacturer who has produced them for the last 40 odd years. Maybe we should start a movement to change the deck’s name to Smith-Waite instead? I know that some Tarot writers refer to it as RWS for short. Either or.

I love how practical this deck is. Not airy fairy at all. I’m a practical girl living in a practical world (practical, material, whatever.) The images are very concrete. Makes them easy to read. There’s lots of information too giving you plenty of food for thought. Plenty of clues to the message of each card. In the olden olden days when playing cards were used fortune tellers had to learn all the meanings by rote. Imagine that! Whereas the Smith-Waite deck hands everything to us on a platter.

It does have one major drawback however. One I hadn’t noticed until I started this blog and people from around the world started liking my Facebook page. The people in Rider-Waite are very whitebread. Very English looking. That’s not very inclusive is it? And to those who say I’m being too politically correct I say tosh and nonsense. Tarot reading is an intimate art. The cards speak to you in a personal way. So it’s important that you feel they can represent you.

Luckily this deck came out of copyright this year (and hence this blog began, yay.) So now it’s possible for someone to recast the images in other shapes, sizes and skin colors. What about a Fat Girl Smith-Waite? I’d like to see that. (Am I allowed to say that? Lol.)

What version would you like to see?

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