Tarot Deck Review
The HooDoo Tarot
by Tayannah Lee McQuillar
Artwork by Katelan V. Foisy
Publisher: Destiny Books
Publication Date: 2/18/2020
The HooDoo Tarot: 78-Card Deck and Book for Rootworkers, published by Destiny Books, One Park Street, Rochester, Vermont, is a Tarot deck designed and created by Tayannah Lee McQuillar, with artwork by Katelan V. Foisy.
This beautiful Tarot set comes in a solidly made 6 1/4 inch by 9 1/2 inch cardboard box with a glossy sepia-toned surface. On the front of the box is the Major Arcana XX card, called Dem Bones; on the back are a description of the set and brief bios of McQuillar and Foisy. The box is very sturdy, with an equally-sturdy slide-out drawer that contains the guidebook and the cards.
Upon pulling out the drawer, the first thing we see is the beautiful soft glossy cover guidebook, the front cover imprinted with the same card image as the box and the back cover imprinted with four other card images. The 6 inch by 9 inch guidebook has 148 pages with a black typeface sized for easy reading on sturdy white paper. The guidebook begins with an Introduction that sets the stage for this powerful divination set, describing the definition of Hoodoo, its origins, and the forms of divination associated with a Hoodoo practice. With a strong foundation in place, we now are ready to begin to learn about the setup of the deck itself, presented in the chapter entitled “Getting to Know the Hoodoo Tarot.” Here we learn about the symbols and rankings used in this deck. Next is a chapter presenting sample spreads and sample readings using the deck.
Then comes 113 pages of card descriptions. First is The Elders, this deck’s Major Arcana cards. Each card entry has an image of the card, title (and traditional Major Arcana equivalent), a Bible verse offering a card interpretation, plant correspondences, a lengthy discussion of the card image and the meaning and history behind the image, possible meanings, and questions to consider.
The next section is called The Family, a perfect name for the Court Cards. The ranking used in this deck is Mother, Father, Daughter and Son. Each card entry has an image of the card, title of the card, plant correspondence, a description of the image and its symbolism, and possible meanings.
Finally, we have the Minor Arcana equivalent called The Community. Like The Family, each card entry has an image of the card, title of the card, plant correspondence, a description of the image and its symbolism, and possible meaning. The suits of the Minor Arcana for this deck are symbolized by Sticks (primal energy, power, passion, authority), Baskets (love, emotions, healing), Knives (ideas, thoughts, beliefs) and Coins (wealth, security, protection). The guidebook ends with a suggested reading list, and bios of McQuillar and Foisy.
The cards themselves are a nice size, 2 3/4 inches by 4 5/8 inches, an easy to handle pack for my hand size, not too small and not too big. The first couple of shuffles seemed a bit stiff, but the card stock quickly became comfortable as I worked with the cards. They are made of a sturdy card stock with semi-gloss sepia-colored images with the title of the card at the bottom. The card back shows an upright and reversed silhouette of the Southern States of the US with a key superimposed.
Delving into this incredible Tarot set is like taking a college course on Hoodoo and rootworking. Tayannah Lee McQuillar (also the author of The Sybils Oraculum, which I reviewed in 2019) has created a Tarot set that offers so much more than a divination tool. The guidebook is a complex reference guide filled with so much of the culture and lineage of the African/Indigenous spirituality, culture, rootwork and healing practices of North America that I find it difficult to put the book down in order to use the cards themselves, and that would be a shame for the artwork of Katelan Foisy (also the artist of The Sybils Oraculum) is not to be missed.
Unless you are a rootworker or practitioner of Hoodoo, this would not be a good deck if you are looking to learn about the traditional meanings of the cards in a Tarot deck. Although rooted in Tarot archetypes and symbolism, the card names and meanings are Hoodoo-focused and don’t easily transfer to other decks. However, if you have any interest at all in rootworking or Hoodoo, this deck would be worth the study needed to use it effectively. Even if you are an experienced reader, this deck will take a bit of effort to work with but the opportunity to learn of a new culture using the framework of the Tarot as a foundation is very much worth that effort.
I highly recommend The Hoodoo Tarot, especially if you are looking for an opportunity to experience the symbolism and framework of a Tarot deck using a new and exciting lens.
Tayannah Lee McQuillar is a Tarot reader, and a researcher of religion, esoterica and mysticism. Also a cultural anthropologist, She is a member of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion, the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, the American Academy of Religion, and the New York Classica Club. Besides The Hoodoo Tarot and The Sybils Oraculum, she is also the author of Astrology for Mystics, Rootwork: The Folk Magic of Black America, Tupac Shakur, with Fred L. Johnson, and When Rap Music Had A Conscience, with Brother J of the X-Clan.
Katelan V. Foisy is a visual artist, writer, and occultist with over 20 years of experience who specializes in vintage style mixed media art and photography. Besides the artwork for The Hoodoo Tarot and The Sybils Oraculum, Foisy’s art has been featured on album covers and tour backdrops for well-known musicians. Her art is displayed at museums, her short films shown at film festivals, and has been featured in magazines. Her website is: katelanfoisy.com
About the Author:
Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher. Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.