Pamela Colman Smith Tarot Deck Interview

Pamela Colman Smith Tarot Deck Interview.jpeg

It’s a great idea to ‘interview’ a new deck before you start to work with it, and many people rely on the following 6 card spread in that process for an effective intuitive exercise. (Six, you say? I often see seven (or eight!) in these posts. Yup, I can’t resist making this a Seven Card Spread.)

As it’s October, the month of Halloween, I wanted to start using my most witchy/occult/creepy decks for spreads this month. I figured I’d start with the Grandmother of them all, Pamela Colman Smith’s Rider Waite Deck. Now, I’ve often been intimidated and put off by this deck, but what kind of tarot blogger doesn’t use this deck? I figured it was time to give it another shot. I think it’s safe to say ‘Pixie’ likes the idea of limelight, and so this interview went really well. I am excited to use this deck – a very old one but new to me in so many ways.

1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?

Judgement. If this card could speak it would say: “Let’s be honest. All other decks of the last 100 or so years are judged by a standard I set.” True. So true. For the same reasons I felt like this was a deck I ‘should’ work with, it’s a deck that everyone needs to be familiar with.

2. What are your strengths as a deck?

The 3 of Swords. It says: “I don’t pussy-foot around. If something harsh needs to be said, I say it.” Perhaps this is one of the reasons I feel like this deck is particularly well suited for the dark time of the year.  

3. What are your limits as a deck?

Empress. Ah, a card I hate in this deck as it’s all the negative connotations of the card in one little image!  The card seems to say: “I am from a time of particular ideas about gender. That’s off-putting to people in your time. Also, I can be overly fussy. My time, my creator, all of it gets mixed up and so I’ll send you mixed messages about female power.” 

4. What do you bring to the table? What lessons can you teach me?

The Wheel of Fortune. so many symbols I don’t understand. I think this card says, “If you have been ignoring the occult symbolism of the deck, I can help you make sense of it and find a deeper reading of the cards.”

5. How can I best learn from and collaborate with you?

6 of Wands. Immediately I thought of the wonderful season the Gina Thies gave at BATS on perspectives within a tarot card. I saw the horse and it seems to say: “Don’t just ride me. I’m not a tool. I’m a partner. Don’t hog all the credit of a good reading.” What a good point. And, perhaps a nudge to see if I can somehow honor or acknowledge the creator of the deck when I read?

6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

3 of Cups. What a great card! I hope it speaks of community, celebration, and new friends.

7. Anything else I should know? Any question I didn’t ask?

Queen of Cups and the 9 of Cups. They both jumped out. Wow! The Queen of Cups AGAIN. Last week I said this (and it still rings true: “Not only the card I associate with my hopes for being a full-time professional tarot reader, but the card I most closely associate with the wisdom of the tarot. I think this is an indication that studying with an older deck will give me much needed perspective on the tarot in general.” Fascinating that it turned up again.

The 9 of Cups is also a card of wishes granted. I love that. It points to not only a card that can help me achieve my dreams, but a card that’s great for spellwork? A good topic for October!

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