Exploring the Collective Tarot

“Intuition is a voice that speaks louder the more clearly you listen…” – the Tarot Collective

The Collective Tarot is near and dear to my heart. I studied philosophy at the University of Portland in Oregon and spent four wonderful years exploring what the city had to offer. The Collective Tarot was originally dreamed up by a group of artists and Tarot enthusiasts in the Portland area in 2007 (the call themselves the Tarot Collective). It was a collaborative project that took about 5 years to fully manifest. The images and explanations that go with them are heavily influenced by the radical queer community of the pacific northwest region of the U.S. You don’t have to be a member of the queer community to enjoy and appreciate this deck. I am not gay, but I do identify myself as a humanitarian and a feminist, so this deck speaks to me on those levels. Some of the imagery in this deck is quite intense (especially in the suit of Feathers). There is also a lot of heavy handed political statements in the booklet. In spite of these facts I still consider this to be a very easy-going, beautiful deck with the overarching message being: love and accept everyone! 

Like most Tarot decks it is comprised of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 4 Suits of Minor Arcana. The Tarot Collective had a little bit of fun with the 4 suits of the Major Arcana.

5 of keys

Keys take the place of Wands and represent creativity, action and the element of fire. I like the use of keys because I have always loved keys. When I was a kid, finding a key was like a stroke of good luck. I always imagined that it was a special key that unlocked a secret room or hidden treasure. For those of us who use Tarot for personal growth the insights offered by Tarot readings often act as a key to unlocking previously unconscious gifts, talents and ideas.

3 of Bottles

Bottles replace the Cups and symbolize faith, emotional intelligence and the element of water. The artwork and style of these cards isn’t my favorite,  but the stories that they tell are familiar to me, which makes it easy for me to relate to this suit. The booklet explanations and images are especially warm and playful compared the other suits. Someone put a lot of heart into these, which is perfect for the suit of Cups.

5 of Feathers

Feathers take the place of Swords. In general this suit stands for clarity, communication, honesty and the element of air.  The artwork is much darker and heavier than the rest of the suits, but it is fitting considering Swords are usually full of pain. The image above may seem dark and scary, but the message is ultimately positive. The writer/artists states in the booklet, “Drawing this card suggests that you are operating without compassion, and that you are somehow using your head to the detriment of using your heart.” This message, coupled with the image above, can help a querent to see clearly how they are hurting themselves by ignoring their heart, thus helping them to change their ways. This doesn’t always work, but sometimes it is enough to make positive changes!

10 of Bones

Bones replace the Pentacles. In the classic Rider Tarot the Pentacles look like coins, and since they sometimes represent money or financial gain of any kind it is difficult to draw people’s attention away from that connection when Pentacles appear in a reading. Pentacles often mean so much more than just money. They represent all aspects of the Earth element, such as health, home, work, art, death, history and ancestral knowledge and yes, wealth and prosperity. I honestly think Bones do a better job of portraying the multiplicities of the Earth element than Pentacles do. Bones remind us of our mortality. Bones symbolize the natural structure of life itself and meditating with them can help us connect to Pachamama.

All of the Major Arcana archetypes are present in this deck, but there are a few differences. One interesting example is that in the Collective Tarot the Emperor and Empress are replaced by less gender specific characters. “Reception” retains the Divine Femine aspects of the Empress Archetype without actually showing a woman, and “The Code” still communicates the Archetypal Male energy without showing a big, bearded “manly” man. In a way these cards help me to focus more on the male/female energies because they don’t focus solely on the the man/woman dichotomy normally depicted in decks.

Reception The Code

Unfortunately this deck is currently out of print, but if you really wanted a copy you could probably find a used deck on Amazon. If you are new to Tarot, you may want to start with a more basic deck, but then again if this deck speaks to you, based on my description and the samples above, by all means find a copy! It really is a wonderful to work with!

Learning to read Tarot cards has changed my life. Not only has it offered me a unique and exciting way to help people (and make a bit of a living), but it has helped me develop my intuition. I hear my inner voice loud and clear these days and I believe it is largely thanks to my work with Tarot cards. I spent a long time learning my Rider Tarot deck, but now that I have begun exploring other decks, such as the Collective Tarot, I have come to realize the limitless creative possibilities Tarot offers. I hope you enjoyed my analysis of this deck and that you are inspired to find a deck that suits your needs! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions! Click here if you would like to schedule your own private reading with me. I am can do readings in person or via email, skype or phone call.



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