Although actually more focused on African myth and lore rather than African American contributions to civilization, this deck is a wonderful introduction to both explorations as well as being close enough to the RWS tradition as to be useful as a divination tool for any Tarot reader. Great for those interested in African culture and pride, as well as for meditation and past life regressions.
This deck is terrific, a wonderful resource to begin learning about African culture and history. Each card has an image from African traditional religions, myths, or history. The gods, goddesses and myths illustrated on the cards are taken from cultures all over Africa. The associations with African Americans are shown in smaller line drawing on the cards. For example, the 9 of Swords shows Uhlakanyana, a "dwarf demon sworn enemy of mankind" (from south African lore). It shows him from behind, standing on a hill with swords raised in each hand (The RWS shows a woman sitting up in bed, her head in her hands, as if crying in despair). The divinatory meaning, according to the LWB is "nightmare, terror, looming danger. Desperation, remorse," which is similar to Waite’s meanings, "Death, failure, miscarriage, delay, deception, disappointment, despair." The added image in the upper right corner shows a scene from the life of Garett Morgan (1877-1963) who invented a precursor to gas masks, a type of hood that is credited with saving the lives of workers under Lake Erie in 1916 in a tunnel filled with poisonous gas fumes after an explosion. He also invented the traffic signal.
This deck is close enough to the RWS to be used by anyone for divination. The Hanged Man departs the most from the RWS, showing a sitting, blindfolded man under a sky full of eyeballs. The LWB calls this "The Observer," revealing that this is an initiation ritual, including such divination meanings as self-sacrifice, dedication, and mysticism, matching Waite’s ideas.
This deck is superb for general divinations, meditation and past life regression to Africa and ideal if you are fascinated by African culture, this would be a great deck to use. If would also be good for professional Tarot readers with clients who are deeply interested in Africa and valuable to help guide people in learning more about African myth and legend as well as the many contributions in all areas of human endeavor that have been made by African Americans.
With knowledge comes understanding; with understanding comes tolerance. Using this deck to begin a study of Africa and African-American contributions may help lessen racism, and that may be this deck’s greatest gift.
Name of deck: African American Tarot
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Creator’s name: Jamal R
Artist’s name: Davis
Name of accompanying booklet: African American Tarot
Number of pages of booklet: 64 (13 1/5 in English)
Author of booklet: Jamal R
Available in a boxed kit?: No.
Magical Uses: Meditation; Past life work
Reading Uses: General
Ethnic Focus: African Culture
Artistic Style: Illustration
Theme: African culture and myth
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Yes.
Does it have extra cards?: No
Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards? If yes, what are they?: No.
Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits? If yes, what are they?: Cups are called Chalices.
Does it have alternate names for the Court Cards? If yes, what are they?: Pages are called Knaves.
Why was deck created?: "Afro-American culture, history, art and mythology are defined by a common origin: Africa. This Common Origin is the cornerstone of this deck."
Book suggestions for Tarot beginners and this deck: Tarot Plain and Simple; Tarot for Beginners
Book suggestions for experienced Tarot users and this deck: Santeria: The Religion; Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones; The Vodou Quantum Leap
Alternative decks you might like:
Tarot of the Orishas
Divination Shells Kit