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Black Tarot by Nyasha Williams vs. Rider–Waite–Smith: The 22 Major Arcana Cards

Just as our guides differ on our journey, as our we change and evolve - our spiritual tools should mirror this same evolution. Our energy and needs are always evolving and finding a divination tool that aligns with your current self takes reflection. Use your intuition and look for artwork that calls to you.

When designing 'Black Tarot', I reviewed a plethora of decks, the 'Rider-Waite-Smith' included. I wanted to create a visual side-by side comparison of my deck and one of the world's most popular decks, narrowing in on the major arcana.

Illustrator of Black Tarot:

Kimishka Naidoo is a multi- disciplinary creative from South Africa. She studied Motion Picture at AFDA (South African School of Motion Picture and Live Performance). After a few years of traveling and working as a Video editor/ motion graphics artist she returned to South Africa. Her love of drawing began at a young age, but it wasn't until her late twenties that she pursued illustration. It was during that time that he discovered digital illustration, and the rest is history. Today, her work centers around the unique diversity of South Africans.

Kimishka decided to work on 'Black Tarot' with the Author, Nyasha Williams because she believed that this deck would be something unique and aligns with her cause of the representation of BIPOCs. Being given this opportunity by Nyasha to create something so beautiful and unique could not be passed on.

Illustrator of Waite-Smith or Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot:

In acknowledgement of the history of tarot cards, Pamela Colman Smith was a British artist, illustrator, writer, publisher, and occultist. She was born to a white American merchant father, and a black Jamaican mother. She is the original illustrator of the Waite-Smith or Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck. In designing and drawing each of the illustrations on the 78 cards included the deck, she contributed in a fundamental way to the completion of the Tarot deck. She worked in collaboration with Waite, from his written and verbal instructions to design each of the Tarot cards. Smith and Waite drew from a number of sources as inspiration for the deck’s designs. The original works of art are unique in terms of the cards’ stylization, draftsmanship, and composition, which is a significant aesthetic achievement. They are one of the best examples of Smith’s imagination for fantasy, folly, ecstasy, death and the macabre.

The Major Arcana

The Fool: “Let go of preconceived ideas and remain open to change.”

The fool is a free spirit. They are devoid of, and sometimes actively reject, the preconceived notions of their society. They are therefore more receptive to their inner wisdom and the energy of the universe. They start as empty vessels so that they may be filled, only to be emptied and filled again, and so it goes.

The Magician: “Trust your inspiration. You are smarter than you think.”

The Magician demonstrates hands-on magic in healing, transformative rituals, and many other ways. A modern Magician is any person who completes the circuit between heaven and Earth; one who seeks to bring forth the divine gold within themselves. The Magician is a token of the freedom we have to declare our spiritual politics without fear of reprisal.

The High Priestess: “Put self-cultivation at the top of your daily priority list.”

The High Priestess represents human wisdom and can be viewed as a kind of female Pope (a Papess), the ancient Egyptian Priestess of Isis, the even more ancient snake and bird goddesses, the Greek goddess Persephone, or Eve, before the fall. The High Priestess is The Fool’s first teacher, representing inner life and the method for contacting it, as well as the contemplative study of nature and spiritual mystery.

The Empress: “Rather than being tough on yourself for not measuring up, know that your positive influence has facilitated favorable outcomes.”

The Empress portrays the energy of the great mother. She is nature, around us but also within us, the ever-unfolding source of life-giving power. The Empress provides nourishment and security and symbolizes fertility.

The Emperor: “Draw upon the capable inner resources you possess to get the task completed.”

The Emperor represents the highest leadership, head of state, or the most exemplary and powerful person. This ruler is responsible for the affairs of a society or community, which are directly proportional to his well-being and happiness. This card acknowledges your potential for mastery and reinforces a sense of sovereignty and physical manifestation within yourself, despite any self-limiting beliefs, habits, or appearances to the contrary.

The Hierophant: “Develop your expertise, and have faith that you are a master in the making.”

The Hierophant refers to the learning of practical lessons from the study of natural law. The energy of this card points to a resource that can reveal the secrets of life, the cycles of the Moon and tides, and the links between human beings and the heavens.

The Lovers: “Creative compromise helps you accept your commitments fully.”

The Lovers reflect the challenges of choosing a partner. The energy of this card reminds us of the real challenges posed by romantic relationships, with the protagonist often shown in the act of making an either-or choice. The path of pleasure eventually leads to distraction from spiritual growth.

The Chariot: “Look upon the movements of change as full of promise and adventure.”

The Chariot points to a strong feeling of freedom, as if being paraded through the streets as a hero (or heroine). The card reflects congratulations for high achievement, and serves as a sign of empowerment. More of the world becomes accessible to one ambitious enough to seize The Chariot's reins. However, there is danger in this feeling of freedom because of the increased rate of change and the power to magnify mistakes in judgment.