Sakki Sakki Tarot

My Five Desert Island Tarot Decks

If you spend a little time in the tarot community on youtube, you may already be familiar with the gauntlet that Kelly Bear recently threw down before those of us with healthy (i.e., large and ever-growing) tarot collections. Kelly challenged her viewers to name the five decks they would use if they could only work with five decks for one year.

Although I don't have youtube channel, I just couldn't resist answering the question. You may notice, though, that although I said "recently" above, the date on that video is actually March 24th. This lil' post has been languishing in my drafts for that long because this question is TOUGH, y'all! The struggle is real. 

I'm no stranger to tarot deck overwhelm. I have a big collection, and even though my working decks only form a small proportion of that collection, I often feel like my attention is spread too thinly. This is particularly true now that I have decks in my shop, as I try to give a little airtime to all the tarot and oracle decks I carry in the store. Of course, having the means to build a large collection of tarot decks is hardly something to complain about, and I am gratefully that I'm able to pursue my passion in this way. Sometimes, though, all these deck options can feel like a double-edged sword.

Periodically, I think about using a single deck for all my work for one month... and then I break out in a cold sweat and try to pretend I never had the thought. Different decks serve different purposes, and each deck brings its own unique sensibility to a reading. Not to mention, at different phases of one's life - even different seasons - some decks feel more resonant than others. Decks that I thought essential to my tarot practice two years ago now don't speak to me at all. Decks that I thought would never ring my bell (like the Sakki Sakki Tarot) are now at the top of my reading rotation. 

Having said all of that,  it's a hypothetical question, so calm the heck down! But it does seem valuable to ask the question - what is essential to me in a tarot deck? Even if it's just at this moment that the answer resonates. What do I need out of a deck? And out of a group of decks, what sensibilities and styles would I want to capture? 

Ok, quit stalling. If I were going into tropical exile for a while, which decks would I choose to take with me?


1. The Spirit Speak by Mary Elizabeth Evans

Regular readers won't be surprised to see the Spirit Speak tarot at the top of my list. It's one of my favourites - deeply intuitive, deceptively simple, supportive, clever, clear to read with, and its images have a kind of bendable quality that really encourages personal interpretations. Something about the stark, symbolic style of the deck allows me, as a reader, to be more receptive. I like having those blanks to intuitively fill in!

(By the by, the pictured second edition of the Spirit Speak Tarot is on the way out, but Beth over at Little Red Tarot still has some copies in stock!)

2. Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot

It wouldn't be a desert island exile without the mermaids! Once again, if you're a regular around these parts, you'll know how I feel about Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot. It sticks quite closely to the symbolism of the Rider-Waite-Smith, but with sailors and mermaids and hot, seaside babes of indeterminate genders. It reminds me of the riot grrrl zines I loved as a teenager, so fresh and raw and beautiful. If any of that makes it sound like it's not a practical deck to work with, don't be fooled - these mermaids read well! And hey, if anyone is going to help me get back to civilisation (and the rest of my tarot collection), it'll be these seasoned sailors.

3. The Sakki Sakki Tarot by Monica Clio Sakki

I mentioned above that the Sakki Sakki Tarot was a slow grower for me. When I first became aware of it a few years back I was immediately certain it wasn't for me, but when our paths crossed more recently, something about it just clicked. Perhaps it's the emphasis on creative practice (this deck includes an additional trump, The Artist), which is increasingly what I use tarot for in my own life, or perhaps my taste has just lightened up, but I love this playful, colourful, and sometimes-abstract tarot deck. It has a kind and slightly silly vibe, and always gives supportive and practical readings. Definitely essential for lightening the mood when one's desert island exile is getting one down!

4. The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans

At this point, The Wild Unknown Tarot doesn't require much of an introduction. It's one of my workhorse decks, ready to take on any and all types of queries, treading a perfect balance between the practical and the esoteric. I use it for clients and for myself, and thus far haven't read for anyone who didn't respond to its nature-inspired images. Somehow, The Wild Unknown never seems to run out of juice! Handy if we're spending a year together, trapped on an island.

5. The Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi and Kwon Shina

The Dreaming Way Tarot is an old favourite of mine. In fact, it was one of the first decks I bought back when I started getting serious about tarot, and unlike some of the decks I've worked with over the years, the shine has never worn off. Like The Wild Unknown, it's a workhorse deck that reads well under practically all circumstances. Perhaps there won't be wifi on my desert island so I may not be doing many client readings, but this is one of the decks I use most frequently when reading professionally because it's very accessible, even to the casual user. And don't get me started on the outfits! With this as my inspiration, I'll be carving out a fine silhouette in my Ariel-style sail canvas island attire.

I ummed and ahhed over this list for weeks, knowing that whatever five decks I decided upon would be subject to change at a moment's notice! Who knows what five decks I'd deem essential in a week, a month, year?

For now, though, these are my picks. What are your five desert island tarot decks? I'd love to know! As ever, leave me a comment below or come and give me the lowdown on Twitter.

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Creative Solutions from The High Priestess

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking home from my job at the bookshop, thinking about, as you do, executing creative ideas. It's that time of year when that time of evening is decidedly twilight-y; summer's over but winter hasn't quite arrived, so my evening stroll puts me in a dusky dream-state. Perfect for thinking about the execution of creative ideas, no? 

Perhaps it's the season, but lately I've been in full download mode with the muse. New ideas for blog posts, ebooks, videos, paintings, tarot offerings, conversations I just absolutely must have with certain people in my life. I feel blessed to say that ideas have been pouring thick and fast across my mental windshield. The difficulty is, though, that unless one gives them the space to take shape, they remain just that. Ideas. Hypotheticals.

On that gorgeous, dusky walk, I started musing - with not a small amount of panic and frustration - about what I should do to help these gifts from the muse crystallise into something real. It's my knee-jerk reaction to say, "The reason these ideas aren't being executed is because I don't have time." Luckily, many years of self-exploration have afforded me enough awareness to know when my inner monologue's feedback stinks of bullshit. Sure, I'm busy. I have a job and a business, and two cats with complex and nuanced emotional needs. But since when was creative work only done by the idle?

So, I did what I usually do when I need to get out of my own way and start thinking differently. I mentally shuffled my tarot deck, and invited a card to pop into my awareness and give me some juice and perspective (an aside - does anyone else do this? Who needs a physical tarot deck when you have one in your brain at all times?!). I was surprised to find myself in that moment visited by the muse herself, The High Priestess.

From the Tarot of the Cat People.

She was like, "Psst! I know a little secret." And I was like, "Well, obviously. You're The High Priestess. Secrets are your purview." And she was like, "Bitch, don't sass me! You're going to want this one." 

I know when this witch comes calling, it's time to make a little inner space. The High Priestess's wisdom truly does live between the cracks, and unless you're willing to peer into those cracks, you're not going to see anything.  So, I walked in the door, dragged out my journal, and got to scribbling.

The High Priestess - keeper of secrets, guardian of wisdom, queen of the unconscious, the intuition. What was it that the High Priestess could show me in this situation? She is certainly a reminder to listen - or more likely, to make more quiet space in order to better hear. Perhaps I should be meditating more, or scheduling time to stare into space and think of nothing? The trouble is, what I'm looking for is not new ideas, but support for making existing ideas come to fruition. The idea of "just meditating more" didn't quite feel right.

From the Sakki Sakki Tarot.

I kept pondering and scribbling, and wondering what the passive receptivity of The High Priestess might be trying to show me about getting things done. She guards the portal from which creative ideas come, but she's not all that concerned with getting her hands dirty and making those creative ideas manifest in the real world. It's all well and good to have a visit from the muse, but the muse isn't the one who's going to do the work.

When feeling a little stumped about a card, I often turn to the structure of the deck for support. Each card has its own inherent meaning, of course, but tarot being the way that it is, every card has a place in a sequence - whether that's its place among cards that share the same number, its place in a numerical sequence, its home among the court cards, or its stage of the fool's journey of the Major Arcana. Even if they're not present in a reading, I find the surrounding cards in the sequence can often tell us everything we need to know about a card that's puzzling us. 

So, I cast my mind back to the master of manifestation, The Magician, who appears just one step prior to The High Priestess. Although it didn't appear in the imagined reading I did for myself, this card can offer some ideas for how best to prepare for working with The High Priestess. Prepare is the word I would use - The Magician is all about being ready, assembling the tools you need and summoning up your power before you embark on a journey. Interesting, then, that in the sequence of the Majors, we're asked to call up our power, lay out our materials and then... sit quietly with The High Priestess. One might want to go rushing into the "doing" part of the work, but it seems another ingredient is required first.

I pulled out my current favourite deck for personal and creative work, The Sakki Sakki Tarot, to illustrate this sequence, and I wasn't disappointed! The Sakki Sakki Magician has all the equipment necessary for a creative project there at hand. This Magician is seated at the desk, ready to get to work. Rather than being depicted with wand in hand though, before they begin their magical working, they gaze up to the heavens and says, "Ok muse, I'm showing up! What inspiration or guidance can you share with me today?" That facial expression is so whimsical, so open to inspiration. The Magician might be a master of manifestation, but they remind us not to start work until we've checked in with our intuition. 

So, I realised I had to step back for a moment. What was I hoping to do? What materials would I need? How could I ready myself for doing this work? Only then would the transmissions I received in the realm of The High Priestess be of use. Although I was flooded with ideas, I wasn't making the necessary preparations to do the work, and nor was I showing up, materials in hand, to let inspiration guide that first step. Sitting meditation wasn't what I needed, but sitting down with pen and paper in hand? Not to be underestimated! 

So, what's the takeaway?

Reflecting on The High Priestess (with a little help from The Magician) left me with a checklist, some questions to approach before I start panicking about my failure to execute my ideas. Perhaps this little checklist might be of help to you, too.

The High Priestess reminds us that if we feel stuck, we should cast our minds back to The Magician consider our preparation. Do we have our tools at hand? 

The High Priestess doesn't make house calls. It's not enough to be strolling around, waiting for good ideas to strike. We have to make the effort to go into our workspace to meet her. How are we showing up for the muse - in our physical space and in our mindset?

Finally, The High Priestess challenges us to go beyond our conscious minds. In creativity, that often means releasing fear and judgement, so that the weirdness of our subconscious can bubble up. How can we get out of our own way?

For me, this means making the time to take up my materials - be that my laptop or journal, for a writing project, or my paints for an art project. This means, setting aside sacred time and space to allow my creative self to be drawn out, uninterrupted. This means, quieting the mind, and letting the wisdom of the priestess be heard. With the right preparations (thanks, Magician!), I'll be more than ready to capture those stray inspirations as they float on by!

What can you learn from The High Priestess in your creative life? How do you use tarot to support your creative practice? I'd love to know! Drop me a line below or on Twitter.

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