Tarot puts forth a language to talk about our inner and outer selves. As a visual learner who is fairly out of touch with her emotions, this couldn’t be a more valuable lens of self-reflection for me. I created this deck because I wanted to make the ideal deck for me to read with, a deck that accurately and adoringly reflects the world I live in. There are so many types of people—queer people, people of color, people of many sizes and abilities—and I wanted to see them in this deck. However, I didn’t want it to be a deck just about the good and beautiful aspects of life. Sometimes we draw the Sun and everything is joy, but sometimes we draw The Tower and it hurts. Life is beautiful and life is hard. As a mirror and a language, tarot should be the same.

This deck is more to me than a reimagining of Arther Waite and Pamela Smith’s historic deck. It takes classic imagery and puts it in the context of our modern world. You may find this jarring, but I want to say it: I’m a huge believer in tarot, but not in divination. For me, there is no magical force, god, spirit, universe or otherwise, that controls which cards are drawn in accordance with the future. If you believe in these things, then that is great. More power to you, but for me, the real magic is in the interpretation.

Tarot is brilliant because each card represents an archetype, a potentially universal human experience. What you interpret from these concepts is a reflection of what you are going through and your own inner world. When I draw a card that represents a universal human experience, I don’t consider that magic, but when I look at card and think “well, of course, this relates to the individual human experience that I am personally going through,” that is where the magic is.

It can be daunting to learn tarot. There’s 78 cards, for yelling out loud! I encourage you not to feel pressure to learn the meaning of each card. This is not a test in memorization. I started drawing this deck because I wanted to learn to read freely, and drawing is how I take notes. Two-and-a-half years later I’m still finding new ways to look at each card. I hope that lasts forever. The meanings are fluid. They depend entirely on context. The cards interact. A good reading feels like solving a puzzle. Oh, that’s how that fits into my life.

When you draw a card, look at the illustration. What do you think is going on? Do you identify with any of the characters? Notice how it makes you feel. Is the situation in the card reminiscent of a situation in your own life, past or present, real or metaphorical? This is called reading intuitively.

The best way to learn cards, I think, is to pull a single card once a day. Read it intuitively, then look up the meaning. Wrap your brain around a few key words, images, or little stories to help you remember. Let that card be your reading for the day.

You may wish to read this deck without the guidebook. That is an awesome and totally valid way to read tarot cards, and I encourage you to try it. You may wish to have the guidebook with you for every reading to look up card descriptions. That’s great too. Over time, you will find that your intuitive readings combine with the guidebook descriptions into something new and uniquely you. That’s part of the magic of reading tarot.

Now that this deck is complete, it’s exciting to present it to the world. I loved making this deck. I love each card and all the characters in them. I can’t wait to see what it has to say.