"Cartofeminism", A History Of Tarot's Last 25 Years

Cartofeminism, The War To Make Tarot The Domain Of Women

The new version of "Cartofeminism" includes a new illustrative Tarot card called "The Harpy". As I explain, this card symbolizes a certain (admittedly absurd) affliction Tarot and its seekers have been experiencing for a number of years now.
Many years ago, when I was still in the beginning stages of learning about Tarot, I did as beginners today do. I went looking for some answers to my many questions.

Unlike today, where the answers (most of them pretty useless) are plentiful online, we back in the day were forced to rely on basically two sources:

Old Tarot books—written in occultese, which to young people often seems incredibly dense and boring. You feel as if you're reading through caramel syrup to get to very few useful ideas. This is often the impression left on people, for example, when they first tangled with that extremely popular, but little understood, Pictorial Key to the Tarot, by A. E. Waite. Now, understanding what Waite was doing and why, I find him an often amusing, if not exactly a good writer. But, unlike what a lot of the Crowley's God, & Waite Sucks school of critics, and I was one of those for a few years, will tell you, I think Waite is a perfectly fine place to go looking for answers—IF you know how to look. But most people need a helping hand on that count in the beginning.

Which brings us to the second option back in the day:

New Tarot books—initially, back in the mid-1980s, when I began to see more Tarot books on the shelves of occult bookshops, and especially when a couple of new, Thoth-related, or anyway Thoth-illustrated, books appeared (by Angeles Arrien and James Wanless), I was excited to have a chance to see what people knowledgable enough to get a book published, could tell me that I did not know. OK, I was naive. I did not realize, especially concerning occult subjects like Tarot, you actually don't need to know much of anything to get a book published. Arrien's and Wanless's books were proof of that. Arrien's book particularly was a disappointment, as what we were hoping for was a Crowley-explainer, and instead what Arrien wrote was a Jung-Campbell explainer, illustrated with Thoth Tarot cards. More oddly, Arrien made the peculiar argument that this was her way of "honoring" the person she counted as the real maker of the Thoth Tarot, Crowley's artist on the project, Frieda Harris.

At that point, having exhausted all other possibilities—short of joining the OTO or something (stopped joining things back at the SBC)—I was left with no choice but to commit myself to many years of studying Tarot, its history, and its symbolism.

Along the way, as I began exploring information and sources online, I figured something out that nobody else seemed to have noticed. There was method behind the lazy madness of people like Angeles Arrien and Mary K. Greer, Arrien's student. And the method really is evidence of one of those conspiracy theories people tend to dismiss out of hand.

But in this case, there was a real conspiracy, which I began to notice might be the case when I kept seeing people, schooled by Arrien and Greer particularly, using the same language and justifications to explain why the occultists, like Waite and Crowley, were bad people, who had "stolen" credit from their female artists for making their Tarots.

What a strange argument I thought. Why would they see things that way? After all, the artists didn't seem to see things that way.

Eventually, I figured out the mystery (no surprise, it's mainly about making money), and I named the phenomenon, and I wrote a long article exploring the history and much mysterical nonsense associated with what I called "cartofeminism".

My article, reprinted now at glennfwright.com, and with new material added for this version, will tell you things you did not know about the history, especially the recent history, of Tarot. You may be shocked, you may be angered, you may wish to censor me—which is what most of the Tarot world of the cartofeminists has done in the forums they control.

Or—you may find the information interesting, entertaining, perhaps even provocative in a way that makes you want some answers from the people who perpetrated some pretty questionable things to Tarot.

The silly-factor of Tarot, which is a big part of pop Tarot, acts like a veil of iron, making sure the deeper, darker Tarot stays untouchable to what occultists like to call "the profane". So, you see, there is an interesting collaboration between groups of people who are actually diametrically opposed in their attitudes about Tarot values.

For what it is worth, I play on nobody's team—not even my own. I am just interested in the truth of what happened, as I have always been.

Hope you enjoy the article.