As I move towards the end of this project, with only a handful of cards left to shoot, I’ve learned a lot about communication and the facilitation of an art project, the facilitation of a project bigger than me that includes a whole community.
Creating safe spaces. Feeling trust, understanding that what you share will be held with respect, trusting that you will be respected.
When I am planning a shoot with someone, I share a lot of information directly with them around how I work with the shoot and the interview. I want to make that public so that if you are considering being a part of the project you can know this information ahead of time, with no commitment, to understand what is involved and if that feels safe or right for you.
Who am I:
My name is Flossy, I am gender queer non-binary and my pronouns are “they/them”. I was born in New Zealand. Aotearoa, the land of many indigenous Māori tribes. My ancestry is Celtic/ Pictish, from Northern Ireland and Scotland highlands. I am investing in deeply learning and connecting with my indigenous history, culture and spiritual practices. I am a settler, who has lived in New Zealand, Australia and now Canada on the stolen lands of the Quw’utsun, W̱sáneć, Tsawout, Penelakut, and Lekwungen-speaking peoples. I come from a conservative christian, homophobic family and began exploring tarot, other spiritual practices as a way of healing. I wanted to see queer community reflected in a tarot decks I was using and when I first started looking, struggled to find one.
See this list of Queer / Gay Tarot decks that are available now.
This project is continually working to dismantle systems of oppression, and questioning social norms. Representation of gender diversity, queer people of colour, differing abilities, ages and sexualities is critically important to this art project. Understanding the privilege and access to resources I have to create this art project I am working hard in my life to create change, share resources, and understand the failures of colonial capitalistic patriarchal culture in order to work and create outside of those norms. I am committed to learning and educating myself especially in the areas of systemic racism and oppression. I am always open to feedback on how this project can do that better.
Financial assistance, or access assistance is available to anyone who might need it in order to participate in this project.
A personal story from an individual can be powerful, however this project has a special respect for not exploiting trauma, as it could have a long-term negative effect on both an individual and their community. I plan to write and share more as I actively learn about Ethical Storytelling.
Choosing a card:
I ask each person to choose a card they resonate with. As I’m drawing to the end of the creation of this deck I advise which cards are left, as a first choice, but I never ever tell a person which card they must do. The card choice is completely up to you, and is why so far, I have multiple people as one card. Connecting or feeling seen in a tarot card archetype is a huge deal and often vulnerable, so is a choice completely up to you. How deep or personal you want to be about this, is your decision, always in your control.
The Shoot location:
Spaces you feel safe in are important. Feeling safe in those spaces when there is a camera is critically important. When planning a shoot, I ask people to think of a place where they see themselves when they are thinking about the archetype of the card. What might they be doing, or where might they be when in that space. Sometimes this is a person’s home, sometimes this is an outdoor location. This is your choice. Again, if you invite me into your home, this is an honour and invitation I take very seriously. If you want to have a support person with you, so it isn’t just the two of us, I encourage this. I will never go into, touch or photograph anything, room, object or person I do not have express permission to do so.
After the Shoot:
When I come to edit the photograph, I provide you with a contact proof sheet of photos to choose from. The best photos (I check for bad lighting and blurriness etc.) you choose the final photo or combination of photos that will make up the photo to be used as your tarot card. I always ask if there is additional symbolism you would like drawn or illustrated into the photo and if I have suggestions on imagery or fantasy to be added into a card – you get to approve if you want that, and if you like it – before it is published.
I ask you to sign a release form that gives me permission to use your “likeness” for this project. If the release form is not signed, even if the shoot and interview have been completed, the permission and consent has not been given, therefore the photo will not be published, used or distributed.
I ask a standard set of questions for every interview. It is important to me that the language I choose to use when conducting interviews does not centre a white, cis, heteronormative world view as the common, norm or dominant culture. The questions are as follows below. You are welcome to prepare answers for these questions and read them out, or have it as a more natural conversation between you and me. Or if preparing answers will make you more nervous and camera shy – talking on camera is a big deal – then I’m happy to just go through them slowly. I never rush you to answer and it up to you as to how detailed a response you wish to share. I will always if asking for elaboration on something you have said – ask if you feel comfortable or if you would like to stop and move onto the next question. By following this standard set of questions, I will be able to draw out the equivalent to an interpretation of the card, creating a tender story that others may be able to learn from and see themselves in.
The interview questions I ask are as follows:
– Why do you think a queer tarot deck is important? (Or any other opinions on it Lgbtqia+ representation etc.)
– How do you resonate with the card you chose?
– Why did you choose to shoot that card?
– How might you relate to the card reversed (shadow side)?
– What would you tell your younger self about the lessons of this card – that you know now?
– What message would you want a baby/younger/new to tarot queer to know if they pulled your card?
– Anything else you want to add about the card you chose?
After the Interview:
The final card photo is posted online and the transcription of the audio interview of the card is typed up and shared. I want to make sure that this project always remains accessible to people regardless of what format the final interviews/ videos end up taking.
I intend in the future to edit the interviews down, to create a mini story from the interview. Taking out “ums / ahs” and capturing the essence, adding B-Roll or any other footage I’ve got from that location (especially if outdoors). These cards are created all over the world and giving them some context or even the background of the indigenous land that shoot was done on, feels really important to me. I will be starting on this editing project once all the card shoots have been completed and I’ve a full complement of at least one of all 78 cards.
I intend to create a deck with all cards I have shot, the idea of choosing one story over another to make a 78-card deck doesn’t feel right to me. I want to create an app hopefully that will enable a person who has the tarot deck to scan the card to then immediately watch the story interview video that has been created for each card. This will serve as the primary “interpretation” for the deck. I may make a print version of this, I am unsure if the will be a call for a non-digital version, but I am open to this. These decisions feel very far off right now.
Guidance and participation:
When I make large decisions about the project I consult community in three places: My newsletter, the facebook group and the Queer Tarot Patreon page. I take feedback seriously and have really appreciated having supportive and involved voices from those in cards already or those who are excited for or to support the project give me guidance. This project has taught me so much and I don’t doubt it will continue to do so.
Giving back to community:
This project currently does not make money, and currently does not support me as an artist. I am covering all project related costs and expenses myself. I am and continue to commit to giving back to a community that has supported this project. The project has supported a number of individuals (who are in tarot cards) financially during the pandemic and supported fundraisers for the Indigenous nations of the land these cards were created in – in various countries. The project is supporting a scholarship to one of the Reclaiming Tradition Witch Camps. There will be more ways this project will give back- so if you are in need of support please ask and if related to the cross over between queers and magical/spiritual practice I will be very excited to hear.
If you have any more questions, please let me know.
I wish to be transparent about the stories that I am entrusted with by those who share them as the deepest honour and with great respect. I hope this project connects, supports and encourages all queers to be strong, to not feel alone and find support where they need it.