If you’ve followed me or The Magical Buffet on social media, you’ve probably seen me share “The Ghetto Tarot”. It’s one of my all-time favorite decks done by photographer Alice Smeets and a Haitian art collective known as Atis Rezistans. These artists and Smeets recreated the Rider Waite Tarot using local sourced, found materials. I never wrote a formal review because it was done as a Kickstarter and I didn’t realize you could purchase it after that. When Smeets started a new fundraising campaign for a second tarot deck, I didn’t hesitate. What I received was “The Gift of Life Tarot”.
During 2020 lockdown Smeets was coming to terms with having to put her projects and travel plans on hold. Once accepting the situation for what it was, she looked for a new way to express her creativity. From “The Gift of Life Tarot” Guidebook:
The next day I started going through all of my archives from 13 years of photography. I looked through 1000’s of photos to find the ones that matched each tarot card the best. It was an amazing, fun and inspiring process and gave me a chance to reconnect to all of those memories from all around the world from the past. This deck is not just a deck, it is at the same time a retrospective of my work as a photographer since 2007. All of the photos I have chosen for this deck were taken during my travels to different continents, each single one of them is dear to my heart. The people portrayed in the photos are people I either encountered along the way and just met briefly, some I spent several days with and others are my friends.
Smeets feels the real-life scenes depicted on the cards make it easy to relate the cards to ourselves and our lives. “The Gift of Life Tarot” has the traditional 22 cards of the major arcana. The minor arcana is divided into four 14 card suits: fire, water, air, and earth. The traditional court cards of the minor arcana are replaced with daughter, son, mother, and father.
The guidebook features a few tarot spreads. Each card has its own entry that includes the gifts of the card and the challenges it can represent. There is description and also a life purpose reading for the card. A thoughtful extra is that each card entry includes Smeets talking about the photographs real-life moment. This really makes “The Gift of Life Tarot” a photo retrospective and obviously, a tarot deck.
“The Gift of Life Tarot” by Alice Smeets is a true reflection of universality of the human experience. Personally, I can’t wait to see what Smeets creates next!
You can learn more about both “The Gift of Tarot” and “The Ghetto Tarot” here.
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