EP120 Anti-Racism, Tarot, and Accessibility with Maria Minnis

Maria and Andrew explore the topic of anti-racism through tarot and their own journeys. talking about curiosity, accessibility, the nature of tarot, and how to show up for this kind of change. This conversation is very much an invitation into this topic. 

Or grab it directly from this link.

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Maria shared this list of deaf readers they have learned from: Also, some of deaf readers who I’ve learned a lot from:  

Leigh Clapp https://liminalsight.com
Thorne Davis https://spiritoracle.com/author/thornedavis/
Mina Reyes

You can find Maria and her great Anti-Racism Series here
And Andrew is @thehermitslamp everywhere and his site is here.
Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 

You can book time with Andrew through his site here


Andrew: Welcome back to the podcast folks. This is episode five of the spring, 2021 season. There’ll be one more episode after this, and then I will be off until  October when I’ll be back with another six episodes. While you’re listening to this, I want you to keep your attention on this idea of sharing and working for accessibility. You know, one of the things that I’m asking people to do is to support the podcast by sending a few bucks in to either BuyMeACoffee via PayPal or through e-transfer, if you’re in Canada to provide transcripts for those people who otherwise would not be able to partake in this podcast. So think about what you’ve listened to think about the episodes that you’ve enjoyed. And imagine if you knew that this was out there and people were telling you about it, but you couldn’t access it. 

And I think this is why this responsibility to make accessible. And especially when you’re listening to this episode where Maria and I talk aboutin their particular case, their parents who were deaf and accessibility in general. Please think about that. I think it’s important for us all to pay attention to it. All right. So do me a favor, hit the pause button, now, use the links in the podcast show notes and  and support the podcast. All right. We are most of the way done and we are just over a third funded. So, you know, there’s a way to go still. I appreciate all the support and for those folks who are supporting already, I super appreciate that too. All right. Have a great day.

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Andrew: Welcome to The Hermit’s Lamp Podcast. I’m here today with Maria Minnis. I came across Maria and their work on Instagram, not too long ago, where they were doing a very interesting run-through on anti-racism and the tarot, drawing inspiration from the trump cards to talk about issues around racism. So I thought, “Wow, this is a wonderful person to have a conversation with,” because I was really inspired by their work. But for those who don’t know you, Maria, who are you? What are you about? What are you doing these days?

Maria: Yeah, thanks for having me. Yeah. My name is Maria Minnis. I am a writer and tarot reader. I focus my work around everyday magic and holographic thinking. I just wrapped up my anti-racism with the tarot blog series that you mentioned. And I’m currently thinking about where it will evolve from here.

Andrew: Cool. Awesome. Tell me about holographic thinking, because that’s … I could make assumptions about that, but I’m curious what that means for you. What do you think about that stuff?

Maria: Yeah. I think sometimes the pace of life sometimes can push us to view ourselves and the world around us, which we inhabit, to be … to view them as from one angle. Holographic thinking says, “Well, what if you did this one thing and shined different levels of light on it, what would that look like? And what would the shadows look like? What does that mean?” I use the term holographic thinking to just encourage people to think about things from multiple perspectives. Because I think that the capitalist pace of production often encourages us to take things as they seem to be and move on because there’s no time to sit and analyze. But I do think that there is space for us to envision our world to be as it is and what it could be.

Andrew: Yeah, I think that being able to, I don’t know, digest what’s going on, look at it, think out about it, feel what’s going on, I think it’s so important. Yeah, like you said, I think it’s tough to find time for that. I mean, it’s super easy to be like, “Well, I got to go to work,” and then maybe you have kids or maybe you whatever. It’s like all of a sudden you’re like, “Oh, and another day and another day and another day.” It’s like, “Huh, what was that thing I like to think about? What was I going to look at?” You know?

Maria: Yeah, totally. I just started this silly little personal project where I’m just writing as many things about myself as possible, because I realized that I was interacting with the world in a single-faceted way and that I was also viewing myself that way. So I’m in this period where I’m super introspective in analyzing myself from different angles. In turn, it’s helped me visualize the world around me from different angles, which in turn leads to greater empathy for myself and others. So I don’t think that there is anything wrong with being willing to try to see things from different angles and sort of deduct your own meaning from that.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Tell me, is there an angle that you’ve discovered about yourself that surprised you? Are there angles that weren’t what you expected? What does that look like, I guess, is kind of what I’m asking?

Maria: Yeah. It involves a lot of reviewing the stories that I’ve told myself over and over and over again for years. I’ll take a very simple example. I’ve always said that I was an introvert because I like my quiet time. I could spend all day by myself and totally be fine. But in analyzing myself, I realized, “Maybe I’m an extroverted introvert. And maybe my whole, I’m an introvert, thing is my own personal shield against putting myself out there.” Before I would’ve just said, “Oh, I’m introverted. I’m shy. I don’t interact with a lot of people and that’s just the way it is.” Now that I’ve changed my perspective on that, I can envision a future in which, after all of this pandemic stuff is over, where I step out of my shell and go out into the world.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I mean, I think that what you’re talking about for me, I use the phrase identity magic.

Maria: Ooh, I love it.

Andrew: Yeah. So a lot of the magic that I do around myself these days is predominantly what I call identity magic, which is … starts from a process probably similar in some ways to what you’re talking about, where it’s like, “Okay, well, what do I need to do? What do I presume? What’s the pattern? What’s my history around this? And what would be more helpful? What would be more holistic or fulfilling? What might be more useful? And then, what can I do to embody that change through ritual magic actions?” It’s usually a multilevel kind of thing to work on those things. So, yeah.

Maria: Yeah. Yeah, I love that. I love that term, identity magic.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I think that one of the challenges is that we often identify, like you say, as an introvert, or as this or as that, or as something else. Those identifications might be really useful. They’re probably true on some level, or there’s something true in them. But I think it’s really important to sort of stay open to moving beyond those and looking at them. I kind of like to raise an eyebrow at them and be like, “Huh, am I really that way? Where’s the evidence? What’s going on? Show me the proof here, Andrew.” You know?

Maria: Yeah. Show me the proof. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: In this conversation, certainly, I’m looking at it for myself. I don’t walk around the world … When people tell me, “Hey, I’m an introvert.” I’m not like, “Yeah, yeah. Prove it to me.” I’m like, “No, no, not like that, but as a point of reflection.” Right?

Maria: Yeah, definitely. I think the world could use a little bit more reflection. I think it would be good for all of us.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). For sure. Tell me about, or tell our lovely listeners, about how you started the series on anti-racism and the tarot? Where did that … I mean, now that it exists, I’m like, “Yeah, of course that should have always existed. What a great resource.” But like a lot of things that should always exist, it didn’t exist. So I’m curious, what sparked that for you? How did you get started in that direction? That kind of idea.

Maria: Yeah. It first came to me in a dream, as many things do. I was really initially resistant to the idea. It was 2018. The year before, I went to the counter-protest in Charlottesville in 2017. I was just like, “I’ll support the movement financially from my own corner of the world,” because I was pretty deeply traumatized by that experience. And yet this dream happened and then it kept happening. Of course, when spirit, or whatever you call it, whispers, if you don’t listen, sometimes it turns into shouting, and then it gets really loud, amplified.

Maria: I know where that road leads. So I was like, “Okay, I get the message.” I initially envisioned it as a zine. I spent just about a whole summer writing, what is now, the blog series. I kept putting it off because I was shy about putting myself out there. Particularly because I was scared of trolls and the like, whatever you can find on the internet. And then fast forward, the pandemic hit. I was just like, “Oh gosh, I can’t care about this right now in the way that I’m caring for it.” And then once things started getting into new pandemic groove, some level of normalcy, I decided to release it as a blog series because I just thought that would be the most accessible way to get this information out there.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. How did you … Because I hear you about this, number one, yeah, spirit taps you on the shoulder, then it pats you on the back, and then it shakes you. Certainly there can be an escalation around that stuff if we’re not moving forward with that. I think that happens to a lot of people. Right?

Maria: Yeah. Totally.

Andrew: But I’m curious about how you … The piece about being afraid of being trolled for it, or whatever. How did you face that? Where did you find the courage? What did you do around that? How did you come to move past that holding you back? You know?

Maria: I wish I had a really great answer for you. It was sort of like full energy that I had one morning. I was like, “You know what? Just do it. Just do it, see what happens.” I didn’t check my emails or messages for quite a while, out of fear. Yeah, eventually I started realizing, “Oh, other people in my community and beyond are finding this useful, why not continue?” So instead of just rehashing the same things that I wrote for the zine, I sort of developed it into … developed the blog series to be more of a resource, to sort of be like a jumping pad. Like, “Here’s some basic information. Here’s some other resources you can look to to learn about this aspect. And also, here’s some reflection questions.” And, “Hey, if you want to donate to a cause, here’s a cause that I’m bringing up this week that you might be interested in and wanting to support.” So it became a more complex resource and I’m really grateful for that.

Maria: I think because I took the focus of involving the reader, as in, “Hey, what’s your perspective? Hey, reflect on this thing.” I felt more comfortable bringing my work into the world because it was less me telling people, “Hey, this is what this card means, so you should do X.” It was more like, “Hey, create your own experience around this. Think about untangling racism within yourself, within your relationships, and the community in which you live.” Once I realized, another thing that helped me get over that fear of mean people on the internet is knowing the way things can ripple. So, one person would share one thing. And then some other person from across the world would be like, “Oh, this is really helpful.” And then I realized, “You know what? The benefit of this is greater than my fear of being trolled.” So I was able to see the whole series through.

Andrew: That’s amazing. Yeah, I really like … I really encourage, first of all, everybody who’s listening to go and check it out. We’ll share where you can find it and all that stuff at the end. But one of the things that I thought was really interesting about it or really helpful about it is … For me in reading them, it was really an invitation. It was invitation to be like, “Hey, here’s an inroad to looking at these things.” Maybe someday we’ll … somebody, maybe you, maybe whoever, will write a post. Or maybe somebody has already written it. In which case, send me a link, I’d love to check it out. But maybe somebody will write a post where it’s like, “If you’re exploring racism and this card comes up, this is the kind of racism that it talks about it. Or this is the experience around it.”

Andrew: That might be interesting, but I think that the invitation to examine … I’m thinking about maybe the piece about death. You talk about how the death card has a relationship to sex. For folks who don’t know about that, go and look that up. So let’s have a conversation about sex, and then sex workers and pleasure. Who we value and how we value, and the ways in which that stuff reveals and sort of underscores the racism in our culture, in our systems and all those things. So I really thought that that made it really quite accessible for people.

Maria: Good. Good.

Andrew: Which is helpful.

Maria: Sorry for interrupting. My heart is just so big hearing that because I … In all of my work, I never want people to think that I am the source of truth or whatever. I think there are as many perspectives to the tarot as there have been people alive. Everyone’s got their own take, their own experiences, their own backgrounds. I’m not the person to tell you what the High Priestess means in your anti-racism work. But I can take one perspective of the High Priestess, one perspective that I have seen within the High Priestess, let’s talk about what this brings up for us. I just think that tarot is an evolving tool. And as we continue to live and go through our lives, our interpretations of tarot evolve. I think that’s healthy. I think anyone who’s telling anyone, “This is exactly the meaning for this card, and this is the way you should act upon it,” I shy away from those people. Because I really think that the tarot is a great analog, but it’s not prescriptive. If you do perceive it as prescriptive, it can’t possibly be the same way for everyone.

Andrew: Yeah. Because I have a store … I mean, not during COVID so much, but during other times. I’ll be in the store and somebody will come up and be like, “Andrew, what is the death card about?” There was a period of time … That’s a valid question, right?

Maria: Yeah.

Andrew: But there was a time where I would be like, “Well, blah, blah, blah. This and that and 10 other things,” or whatever. These days, I tend to be like, “I don’t know. I have no idea what it means.” They’re like, “What? Wait, what does that mean?” I’m like, “Look, if you’re going to ask me, what does the death card mean in a general sense? I’m going to sit here and talk to you for like two hours. We’re going to have this massive conversation that’s [crosstalk 00:16:38] wide ranging and scoping of the history of tarot, what I see as the three pillars of tarot, Marseille, esotericism, and contemporary Rider-Waite stuff. What it means in those different contexts, and some history and some cultural stuff.” And on, and on, and on we go, right?

Maria: Right.

Andrew: But if I’m going to sit down with somebody and do a reading, and they have a specific question about their actual life at a specific time and place, and this card comes up in relationship to that, then I’ll tell you exactly what it means. Because I think that the meaning exists at the intersection of those things. I don’t think that the cards don’t mean anything other than that, but I think that they’re just so broad that it’s hard to kind of articulate it in a short answer. You know?

Maria: Yeah. Yeah. It’s all about context. There’s no way in the world that all of our context or circumstances can be same or completely linear in some way that is some sort of thread that runs through every single person. I think that’s a lot to expect with the tarot. But that’s the best thing about it, is that it’s not this prescriptive linear tool. It’s not just the reader telling you exactly what this means, but it’s also how you process that information, how you process what you see on the card, how you process what your tarot reader is telling you. How do you process that information and what is your response? What is your physical or mental or emotional response to it?

Maria: That’s bringing a holographic perspective to it. It’s not just, “Here’s the information, go run with it.” It’s also, “How do I feel about this? What does it mean for me?” The less personal tarot gets, I think … When I mean personal, I don’t mean just for the self. I mean, also, tarot for the community or relationships. But when tarot becomes this thing, like curriculum, that is portrayed as being fixed, I think that’s when tarot becomes less of a powerful tool for us to analyze ourselves in our world.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I go back and forth about that idea, personally. Even though I think that in the interaction between people, in the interaction around a reading, I think that we’re on the exact same page, I wonder if we have a different idea about tarot and it’s sort of structuredness. Or tarot as sort of an existing thing that for me is flexible, but not open-ended. You know?

Maria: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m not sure if I’m just not hearing what you’re saying or if I just have a different perspective. Right? You know?

Maria: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: I think that when I run into stuff or decks … I look at different tarot decks and stuff. Sometimes I look at them and I’m like, “I just don’t even understand what’s going on with this anymore.” You know?

Maria: Yeah.

Andrew: It has moved from a position where I can kind of understand the relationship to what I consider the core ideas of the card, into places where it seems completely arbitrary. And at that point, is it still tarot or is it something else, right?

Maria: Yeah. Totally. Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, I was thinking about this last night. I was doing a live call and we were looking at a tarot deck. Perhaps if the book had more information about what the artist and the creator thought about it, there might be threads that I don’t see that … Which is always possible. I don’t think that I know everything about tarot at all. But there were so many things in the deck that felt predominantly arbitrary to me, that I was like, “I don’t quite understand why this is this way, so I don’t know what I would do with this.” Other than, as somebody said, because I really liked the artwork on a lot of them, they’re like, “Maybe you should just cut off the borders, cut off the titles, and treat it like an Oracle deck.” I’m like, “Yeah, I can just chuck the cards that I don’t dig.” You know?

Maria: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think I sit in between those two extremes. I think that there is so much power in personal interpretations of the tarot, but I also think there’s a huge wealth of information and symbolism and stuff, good stuff … I could go on and on, but I’ll just say good stuff … that comes with collective understanding of the tarot and collective symbolism, and the stories that are associated and myths that are associated with different cards. There’s a real history to the tarot. I know what you mean by looking at decks and like, “This doesn’t speak to me at all,” which, not to sound like a snob, is why I predominantly get decks that are made from other tarot readers. I love the art of tarot regardless, but it’s really important that a deck really speaks to me. Yeah, I definitely don’t … It’s not prescriptive, but there is something distinct that makes tarot, tarot, and not an art gallery showing or an Oracle deck. You know?

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Not that there’s anything wrong with Oracle decks. You know?

Maria: Oh yeah, I love them.

Andrew: Yeah. Right? I’ve made several myself. I dig them. Right?

Maria: Nice.

Andrew: But I think, yeah, that’s that question of, where does it fall down? And especially, where does it slide into … You used the word prescriptive a number of times. I think that one of the things that I find mysterious is where tarot people’s decks are talking about them in a very prescriptive way. But when you look at them in the context of, even tarot for the last 50 years, they’re real outliers, right?

Maria: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andrew: I think that’s part of the challenge for me is the conversations about it and where does that go? It’s expected that there’ll be a bell curve of interpretations, right?

Maria: Right.

Andrew: There’ll be some decks where it’s like, “Oh, look at this one. This card in this deck is in the minority of interpretations, or off to one side.” But I think it’s when … Yeah, when much of the deck is sort of off the chart to some extent, and they present it as being prescriptive or authentic or … Authentic’s the wrong word. It is authentic for them. But as being part of the core of tarot, and so on. It’s like, “Well, maybe you’ve just deviated from history here for a bunch. We’ll see what that means or if that continues to relate.” You know?

Maria: Yeah. I love thinking about the evolution of tarot as our world changes and evolves. Yeah. I was just reading a book that included a section about tarot history. I think there’s real value in the structure of tarot. It’s a very intentional structure. Whether you do Major Arcana and then jump into the cups, or whatever, each suit has a structure and it’s for a purpose, but what’s flexible is your interpretation of that. Yeah, because that’s where the real magic is. It’s not in the cards, it’s not in the little white book, it’s … we are part of the equation. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 


Andrew : Hey folks. I just want to jump in here for a second and Remind people that The Hermit Lamp is also a store. So I have an online store and an in-person store in Toronto that sells over 400 Tarot Decks 300 kinds of crystals and incense, incense holders, candles, oils, and all the magical goodies you might want for whatever spiritual practice you were up to. I think we have great prices on stuff. Everything is sourced to the best of my ability to be authentic, and we offer pickup or in store shopping when it’s not COVID in Toronto and we offer delivery just about anywhere in the world. So do me a favor next time. You’re thinking about stuff drop by thehermitslamp.com. Check it out. See if we’ve got something you need there, because I always appreciate that support.


Andrew: Yeah. I’m curious, having completed your journey through the trump cards in the context of anti-racism, are there things that you feel are maybe more structurally or inherently problematic in the structure of the tarot? Because we’re talking about it changing. We’re talking about tradition. I think that we … hopefully people listening understand that we live in a society and these things come from societies where racism and other biases are just part of the system. And that as much as we want to shake them off, we can’t just … If we just make the Emperor a person of color, we haven’t necessarily addressed the racism in the structure of the cards or in the structure of society. So I’m curious if there are things that you think about, or have thought about as you went on this journey, that you might think need more of a structural change or something else to kind of address some of those ideas?

Maria: Yeah. I am very fine with the structure as is. It’s the interpretation of different archetypes that I think can evolve a little. I think that we can involve a more diverse array of people, not just racially, but by ability, or whatever, to sort of re-perceive what these cards mean in our modern world, and what their relationships are with each other. Structurally, I think one thing that is limiting in some people’s perception of tarot, it’s this idea of, we start at one place and we end at one place. It’s from A to B. When, really, for example, you can put the Fool anywhere you want in the Major Arcana, or wherever you want in the deck, because that theme can be applied really anywhere. But it makes sense to be at the beginning or the end of the Major Arcana, because you’re either taking a giant leap there or giant leap at the end.

Maria: The one thing that I like to do is, if I get a reversal for, let’s say Temperance, thinking about not just, “Hmm, what is this situation telling me? What is this card telling me right now?” But stepping back to the lessons of the Devil, or excuse me, of death, and going back to that, and understanding, what’s that relationship like? Rather than just thinking, “Oh, okay, I’m at Temperance, I need to get to the Devil.” It’s difficult to have a structure that doesn’t have a beginning or an end, but I think our interpretations can be a little bit more flexible to understand the context in which this card falls in. That’s something that I think we could use a lot of cultural development around, because these structures are based off of an initial set of a small group of people. It’s grown all over the world and we just can’t say that tarot has to be the same for everyone. But within the structure of tarot, what does it mean in these different contexts? I think that’s something people are starting to ask a lot more these days.

Andrew: Yeah. I think the idea of progress … It was an idea that was appealing to me at one point. I mean, certainly I was like, “Yeah.” I was being involved in Western ceremonial initiatory traditions and so on. There’s all this idea of moving forward towards something. Right?

Maria: Right.

Andrew: I don’t think that I ever thought that I would be enlightened, but it was always moving towards something. Something better, something whatever. I think, yeah, that idea is really, A, unhelpful to the process. I think a lot of the time that the idea of always looking where we’re going, it’s very capitalist, it’s very … those kinds of ideas. But it also, to me, often I see it in conversations rippling back to creating hierarchies that don’t necessarily exist. Right?

Maria: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andrew: I think that there can be a big difference around the ways in which people … If somebody is leading a ceremony, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a hierarchy there. Doesn’t have to, right?

Maria: Yeah.

Andrew: In our own lives, this idea that we’re going to journey through the tarot, and what? Go on the fool’s journey. Or sorry, the hero’s journey or the fool’s journey, or any of these different things. I think that a lot of those ideas linger back to ideas that aren’t really great. That they’re rooted in colonialism. I know Joseph Campbell’s still in favor, but I think that a lot of their stuff is super questionable. I think that we need to maybe, yeah, deconstruct of that and be like, “Well, what if tomorrow I am the Emperor, and then next week I’m called on to be the Fool, or whatever?” What does that mean? And what if we, yeah, as you say, just sort of have a non-linear or non-hierarchical approach to these things. We’re not moving towards a thing, we’re just living our lives. Yeah, I think that’s where I’ve come to around a lot of it.

Maria: Yeah. Yeah. I hear you. Yeah. I have been doing a lot of thinking this week about, what would a world without “leaders” look like Sort of thinking about how that relates to my relationship with the tarot. I don’t have any answers yet, but I do think that as we question the structures in our society, it’s worth it for us to continuously question the structures that are within the tarot because things change, things evolve, and maybe things aren’t just applicable for the world we live in today. So I think the more we can see tarot as a tool that evolves and it does not have to be rooted in this Western colonial perspective of kings and queens and peasants, or whatever, or the giver and the receiver, there’s more to that. There’s more than just the line from A to B. That’s something we have to continuously question.

Maria: I think tarot is an analog for life, and as our lives change, we should reflect upon our relationship with the tarot. I think that within the tarot, all the things of life are within. So I don’t think that it’s a stretch to commit to analyzing and reanalyzing what that means, and how do we perceive it? Do we see it as a line? The Major Arcana is a line, three lines. Or do we look at it from a grid perspective? There are so many different ways that we can look at one thing. And I think that the more we try to evolve tarot into a tool that can evolve alongside with us and alongside our society, or whatever society we’re in, I think that’s a good thing. Because I know that there are plenty of outdated texts out there that people really live their lives by and I would hate for tarot to be a tool that seems like a relic of our time period in 200, 300 years.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). For sure. I think it will be inevitable that there’ll be some things that are and some things that aren’t. Right?

Maria: Right.

Andrew: I mean, I think it’s always … I think only time will tell, right?

Maria: Right. Yeah.

Andrew: We can have our ideas about it, but I think that it’s important to engage, to think, to do all this stuff we’re talking about, and you’re talking about in your work, and also to understand that life will change. Right?

Maria: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andrew: I think about my ideas about racism. I was a punk rocker in the ’80s and ’90s. Racism wasn’t in the foreground of a lot of conversations in my life and in the music, and so on. I go back and I listen to some of those songs, or I think of about some of the ideas, and I’m like, “They were just a bit of the conversation,” even though they seemed like everything at the time. I think that allowing for our knowledge, our experience, the collective conversation to grow. I mean, there are so many, I think, important developments that have given us new language to talk about things, and new ways to understand that, that I think, “Yeah, we’ll see what’s relevant and what is not over time.” But I don’t think that’s the point. Right?

Maria: Right.

Andrew: At least for me, the point is to be engaged and to be paying attention.

Maria: Yeah. I agree.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I’m curious, also, if I can segue onto something else?

Maria: Sure.

Andrew: You also provide ASL readings, right?

Maria: I do. Yeah.

Andrew: Tell me about that. Because I think that accessibility is an important part of or an adjunct to the conversations we’re having today. So I’m curious, if you care to share, how did that come about? Where did that come from for you? Yeah.

Maria: Yeah. My parents are deaf, so I have been signing as long as I’ve been talking. One day it just came to me. I was like, “I’d love to do a tarot reading for my mom.” And then I was like, “I have this whole language and insight into a culture, the deaf culture, that is unique and can be an offering unto the world.” So I started offering ASL readings earlier this year. I’m on a mission to try to elevate deaf tarot readers as much as possible. Trying to get into that space and sort of be an advocate for the deaf community in spiritual [inaudible 00:37:37] tarot, whatever. Yeah, it’s been so rewarding because I feel … Personally, I feel very comfortable around other deaf people because that was who I was with growing up outside of school. That was the community I was in. So offering these readings has been a way for me to reconnect into that world, even though I’m thousands of miles away from my parents and all of their friends and family. Yeah. It’s been very rewarding.

Maria: I think there’s so much space for more accessibility in tarot and other … I hate the word … I think we use spiritual so often that it becomes grating to my ear. But in the “spiritual” world out here on earth, I think we’ve barely crossed some sort of threshold where we’re becoming more inclusive. Sure, we’ve got decks that have a different array of people on them. People of different colors or abilities or sexualities, whatever. That’s great, but it’s not just the depictions that matter, it’s the true involvement that matters. And I hope to be a bridge between the speaking or hearing world and the deaf community in whatever way that I can be. A lot of that is just elevating the deaf people who are already out here doing amazing work. Amazing and inspiring work.

Maria: And then part of that is offering what I can to people who are drawn to me. If people are drawn to my work or the things I say, and they want a tarot reading from me, great. I know that some people have wanted tarot readings … some deaf people have one at terror readings from speaking readers and have been like, “Well, drats, they don’t have captions on their video device,” or whatever. So accessibility is really at the forefront of really a lot of my work. And I think that even though my focus is just on tarot, I think the focus on accessibility can ripple beyond just tarot. So, yeah, that’s a big focus for me right now.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s important. I forget exactly when I started doing transcriptions on the podcasts, but it’s been going on for a bunch of years now. I think there are so many things that are relevant to that conversation. Right?

Maria: Right.

Andrew: You said something that I maybe want to highlight more for people listening, if this is a new idea to you, is I think that understanding that there is a deaf culture, and there is … There’s also a difference in expression, at least from my understanding, between signing versus just transcribing what speaking people do. There are different cultural differences and that those things are not problematic, they’re not needing fixing, they’re their own culture. Right?

Maria: Yeah.

Andrew: In the same way that there is around different cultural backgrounds and so on. There are all these different cultures that I think that we need to consider engaging them on their own terms, as opposed to thinking that we know better, or this or that or whatever. I have no idea. The things that I do know about it I know from my relationships to deaf people. I think that, yeah, this idea that, A, there are definitely a lot of simple things that we can do now. It’s gotten so much easier. Like, just turn on auto captioning, at least for your Instagram. Right?

Maria: Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: If you’re making videos, Instagram will do it. You don’t know … Folks now, I’m like, “Oh, it’s so simple.” Years ago, it was like, you have to send it out to get transcribed. If you want subtitles, there’s a whole file format. You’ve got to have the technical know-how to slam them together and get them to line up, and so on. Work that I have been happy to do it and I’m happy to do whenever I can. But there are so many simple things, right?

Maria: Right.

Andrew: Or things like, when you’re putting in your hashtags. Instead of defaulting to a hashtag that’s all lowercase, capitalize each word so that folks who need a reader to assist them to interpret, to hear, it’ll read the words properly because it can parse those caps. But in the absence of caps, it can’t parse it properly, so then people don’t know what you’re saying. Right?

Maria: Right. Right. Yeah, I love what you said about interacting with different cultures on their own terms. I, for example, may think I know what’s right for somebody else, because I can be like, “Well, if I were them, I would blah, blah, blah,” but I’m not. So one thing that I’m really leaning into these days is just taking the word from different people from different backgrounds and just taking it as it is. There’s no need to fix it. There’s no need to argue it.

Maria: One thing that I’ve been trying to do more is adding image descriptions to my Instagram captions. Because I thought, “Oh, I’ll just add alt text and that’ll be fine,” but apparently that’s not. It’s not as effective. So I thought, “Well, it’s more convenient for me to do the alt text,” but that’s not my decision to make really. If this is the accessible route and I can do it, then why not? I think that doesn’t just come from learning about these different cultures or people from different backgrounds, but it comes from interacting with them and involving them. It’s not enough to just represent them, it’s about really integrating their perspectives into our world, the world that we all share. I think the more that we can fuzz these strict delineations between different cultures, I think the more space and more flexibility and the more empathy we have to work together to create shared collective understandings of things, such as the tarot, for example.

Maria: Yeah. Inclusion’s a very hot buzzword these days, but I really mean it. I really mean it when I say that the tarot community, at least, has to be more inclusive. And it has to be less about, “This is the way that it’s always been done,” and more about, “What does this mean for this person? And what does this mean for this circumstance?” So, yeah. When I say I am trying to be more inclusive, I really mean it from the bottom of my heart.

Andrew: Yeah. I think it’s fantastic, and I think we should all work on that. Or I feel like we should all work on that. I think that there are so many different ways on this. You can go and research, and people should go and research and look up different ideas about it and stuff. But for me, I think that the simplest place it starts with is trying to just engage people with some curiosity, and assuming that the person probably knows what they need, like just taking it at face value.

Andrew: I’ve been doing peer counseling stuff for, I don’t know, forever now, really long time. If people are interested, there’s a whole free peer counseling course that I did at the start of COVID, that you can go check out, which will introduce you to some of the ideas. One of the things that comes from that is the idea that it’s not my job to tell the person what the solution is, but it’s my job to listen and witness, and to help them figure out what the solution is for themselves. I think extending that to when we’re engaging with different people and be like, “Well, what do you need? What is the solution for you? What do you see as the thing?” And then going from there. Not to say that that means that I can always do it or it’s always possible, or whatever, but to work that way. I think it’s important in dealing with kids. I think so many people don’t approach kids with the idea that the kids know what they actually need. Right?

Maria: Right.

Andrew: I’m like, “Why would I know better just because I’m older?” Like, “I don’t understand a lot of things about stuff my kids are into, but I can engage and listen and help them figure out what they need,” and things shift for them. Really, a lot of it comes from them. Sometimes I’m shaping them, and sometimes I’m nudging them, and sometimes there’s obviously harder rules because safety. But I think that approaching stuff in that way, and approaching and giving people a say, conversation, the curiosity, and just engaging in those ways, to me, that’s where it all starts from. Yeah, I think it can really go in great directions from there.

Maria: Couldn’t have said it better myself. I really love that analogy.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. So tell me, number one, what’s coming up for you? Number two, where can people find you?

Maria: Yeah. Coming up for me, I am starting to teach again. I do have one class that’s sold out, but I am starting to open myself up to teaching opportunities throughout the year. The course that I’m teaching … The class that I’m teaching is tarot for social justice. I plan to do that training, or class, whatever you want to call it, experience, at least twice later on this year. I’m also working on a couple of zines. A couple of every day witch, spell type zines, because I have so many notes and musings. I don’t know where to put them, so I’m just going to throw them out there in a zine. Yeah.

Maria: Also, just trying to figure out what’s next for anti-racism with the tarot. You can always reach out to me. You can find me on Instagram at tinyparsnip. That’s one word. And you can also find me on my website, Mariaminnis.com, where you can find the anti-racism with the tarot blog series, excuse me. Also, you can look at my other offerings, such as tarot readings or tarot poems, et cetera. So yeah, reach out to me on any … Anyone can reach out to me on any platform and I’d be happy to engage with them.

Andrew: Nice. Well, thank you so much for making the time to chat with me today. I really enjoyed our conversation. I really hope people are going to dig in and look at this. I want to make an effort in the show notes to point to some more resources, including stuff around deaf culture, deaf readers, and some of the stuff that you’re up to and so on, because I think there’s a lot of great inroads. That people can start to get on this road and think about things that will … Ultimately, I think of it as expand our capacity to have genuine, authentic, honest, caring relationships with other people. For me, that’s really what it’s ultimately about. You know?

Maria: I agree.

Andrew: Yeah. Perfect. All right. Well, thanks so much.

Maria: Thank you.

<outro music> 

Andrew: All right. My friends that is episode 120, all finished and wrapped up. There’ll be one more, coming in next week, with my elder Willie Ramos. We’ll be talking about Orisha traditions and all sorts of fun stuff there. So please do come back and check it out. Do me a solid and make sure you share this, make sure you spread the word. And if it’s within your means and you are interested in accessibility and helping that happen for the people as I am, I really appreciate people supporting again. The links are in the show notes, so go check them out and  pitching as they say, every dollar helps folks. All right.

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