I think a queer tarot deck is important because, two big reasons:
- Allot of queer people feel isolated from traditional religions, so spirituality and pagan religions and spiritual beliefs often make a lot of sense to use queer people.
- I also think it is important because queer people don’t have role models to look up to, weather you take that literally as role models or deities or divinities, gods and goddesses – we don’t often have them any more in modern society in our image.
With the symbolism, the rich symbolism that is possible with Queering the Tarot, we can start to find images of ourselves.
I selected to be the High Priestess because, in my work as a cabaret performer and as a jazz singer and as a gender transcending diva, some of friends in the last couple of years have started referring to me, some jokingly and some reverently, others trying to get me to adopt it as an official title – as the High Priestess of Melbourne Queers. I really loved that, because my performances have been compared to a type of church or religious ceremony. There is singing, there is community, there is identity, there is hope, there is empowerment. All of the best bits from religion and spirituality, without all the worst bits.
Even getting my Name “Mama Alto”, even just be the mama. Every Mama is a High Priestess. The feminine mystique and magick of intuition and the inner voice. As a singer the voice is so important, but the inner voice, as a trans person, as a person of colour, a queer person, a mixed race person. The inner voice has always been so important to me because it speaks up and it speaks out against the toxic outer voices that we get so often from people in power.
The gospel of the Hight Priestess, one of my favourite song lyrics – “rise up singing” – and destroy the cis, white, hetro, patriarchy! Embodying the high priestess, and knowing that there is divinity inside all of us. It’s about empowerment as a person of colour, as a queer person, and connecting to your Queer history, connecting to your feminine divinity. Discovering who you are and realising that from the inside out.
Times when you feel like your power has been taken away from you; there were times when I was growing up where people who were in power teaching music, or giving opportunities for people to sing said: “you can’t be a singer”, “you can’t sing”. It was tied up with ideas that my voice was too high, and in their minds I wasn’t a “real woman” I shouldn’t be singing like that. There were people who said “no you can’t dress like that”, “you can’t dress like that on stage” or “the kind of performance art you are making is too niche”, ” you’ll never be able to find an audience”.
When I heard that – I thought, “Exactly, because they think I’ll never find an audience that will resonate with what I have to offer – but the audience are the people out there who are just like me, and I can’t be the only one!” So I think it’s about finding your inner divinity and your inner power and knowing that you are just as worthy and just as beautiful and just powerful as anyone else. We all are, and that’s so central to it.*
*Transcription of just a portion of the amazing audio interview
3. The High Priestess – Mama Alto – she/hers/they/theirs – Queer; Trans; Femme; QTPOC
I shot this card the day – well literally the night before I flew out to Canada. I was nervous, tired and stressed, it was wonderful to have this so timely poignant reminder to trust my intuition and that I was doing the right thing for myself and the right voice for my journey. Thank you so much Mama Alto. I am honoured to have you as a part of this project with me.