Cassandra Snow

Magickal. Practical. Radical.

Cassandra Snow is a tarot card reader, writer, and theater artist professionally. This website is focused on her life in tarot, with substantial references to witchcraft, LGBTQ+ community, and chronic illness.

Filtering by Tag: yule

A Short & Sweet Yule Tarot Spread!

I spoke on my last blog about how important the concept of light is to the holiday season, and though I shifted my focus to something different there I a reading on my Patreon today based on the changeover of a dark winter into a lighter one. It was a simple three card spread, and I laid it out like this:

This deck is the  Numinous Tarot  & for a short time, you can  grab one here !

This deck is the Numinous Tarot & for a short time, you can grab one here!

I laid out the two cards on top (you can do it in whatever order makes the most sense to you) and then the one on the bottom in the center. The card placements represent (in this order):

1) What light is already shining in our lives?

2) What light do we need to let in?

and 3) What darkness can we let dim right now?

I absolutely loved the reading I did for my patrons with this spread. The concept of light in dark times is always important, and that’s true figuratively and literally. For December Holiday season we have multiple holidays that focus on light, most notably Yule and Hanukkah. Even Christmas has it’s hint of it though. The three wise men followed the light of the North Star, and secularly what do we adorn our houses with when we want to look festive? Oh right, lights!

Enjoy your reading, tarot lovers & have a blessed week or so until I see you again.

Blessed Be Y’all,
Cassandra Snow

If you’d like to see the community reading, my Patreon is community style which means you get FULL benefits including this one for as little as $1 a month. I donate 10% to an organization or person in need, and benefits include ongoing Queering the Tarot pieces, monthly tip sheets or worksheets about tarot or spirituality, patron only occult writing, and a monthly spread. Anyone who follows by the end of this month ALSO gets a FREE tarot workbook or e-zine from my shop in a couple month’s time! Support here.

The Decks I Use Most Often & Why (Plus my current deck wish list!)

Hello all,

As the holiday season approaches people are putting together their wish lists and reading holiday round-ups and I am living for it. I love those lists and eat them up with vigor. I’m not quite doing that but I am doing a post about the plethora of decks I use regularly and why you should grab them for your loved one or yourself this holiday season.

I’m picky about tarot decks: if you’re not queer friendly and throwing some fierce images at me, if there’s not a progressive slant, if you’re just rehashing the same classic tarot decks we all love but have been done to death I just can’t throw my money in to support you. I’m also exceedingly picky about the Death card, the Moon card, and having illustrated pips. I read and teach largely through art analysis so you’ve obviously gotta give me some kind of art to analyze.

With that being said, here are my absolute favorite tarot decks:

One of many very good images from the Next World Tarot

One of many very good images from the Next World Tarot

  • Unfortunately a couple of my favorites are out of print and a couple are in between printings. So while you maybe can’t buy The Numinous Tarot or Next World Tarot THIS holiday season you should bookmark those sites and check back.

    The Numinous Tarot is a delightful trip down a colorful genderqueer paradise and the art even features disabled people, chubby people, and lots of BIPOC. It’s shiny and pretty and I absolutely love it.

    The Next World Tarot is a powerful and exciting deck. In the creator’s own words “Featuring body outlaws, endangered cultures, and anti-colonial belief systems, THE NEXT WORLD TAROT envisions a world where justice relies on respect and revolutionary love “. It also gives crystal clear readings with practical steps.

    The Slow Holler is, unfortunately, totally out of print and potentially not coming back. The Collective Tarot is for sure not coming back which is a shame because I don’t even have one. I’m just obsessed. If you manage to find a copy of either floating around a Facebook marketplace or e-bay though grab it stat. Both decks are collective decks that reimagine the suits and the majors to be explicitly queer and reference queer community instead of heteronormative family units. Good luck and happy deck hunting!

  • There’s a deck I love so much I decided to use it to illustrate my upcoming Queering the Tarot book: The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott. I’m careful with this one because some of the images can be jarring to people who’ve had rough experiences. The deck updates the Thoth tarot beautifully though, giving it an urban magic makeover. It’s getting repackaged and sold through a bigger publisher soon but you can still grab a copy at the link.

  • My personal favorite decks are actually The Book of Shadows tarot by Barbara Moore. I honestly don’t know why I connect with this sister deck so much. The As Above & So Below decks are so different and not altogether cohesive. Yet I turn to the As Above over and over again for advice on spiritual matters, and the So Below is absolutely my standard deck for events and busy days at my steady gig as it’s packed with modern images, soft but bright colors, and practical guidance.

  • The Linestrider Tarot looks like a light, fluffy, whimsical deck. It is that, but it is also anything but. It is actually my “straight talk” deck that I turn too when I can sense someone needs some blatant honesty from the tarot. It just happens to have really cute splashes of watercolor throughout it.

  • The Prisma Visions is stunningly beautiful and at times starkly evocative but that’s just one of the reasons I love it. Each suit spreads out to make one big picture, and the card’s interpretation is just what happens when you lift that piece out. It’s an amazing learning tool for my tarot students and it’s a breathtaking deck to use with clients. Honestly if what you’re hearing is “I like it because it’s easy to learn and pretty”…well, that basically is what I’m saying.

  • I have often thought that a good way to subvert cis and heteronormativity in the tarot is to just not feature humans. The Wooden Tarot has proven that to be a solid viewpoint. This one somewhat breaks my rule about illustrated pips but there is enough difference in each card and intentional design of the pips that I am still able to teach and read with it easily.

  • The Cosmos Tarot & Oracle. I don’t even know what to say about this deck. It’s definitely not for beginners and even as someone who is just an astrology hobbyist I struggle with it sometimes as it combines the two forms of divination into something really unique and special, albeit a little complicated. It’s a collective deck too, and right out of Minneapolis. It’s stunning, artistically. It’s fun. It’s very deep and nuanced and you can read with it for years like I have and still learn new things at every use.

  • Surprisingly, the deck that has been and has felt like mine the longest is actually a very battered Spiral Tarot. This one fits in with my spiritual beliefs that life is a cycle and we sometimes just need guidance for where we are. My Celtic based paganism is largely why I fell so hard for this deck, but I also listed it on here not to push you to buy it but to show that the deck that calls out to you is the one for you. You can queer it later. You can add your radical beliefs and subvert every single card if that’s what you want to do. The magick is in the connection between you and the deck, and you never really know where that’s going to land.

From the  Book of Shadows, So Below

From the Book of Shadows, So Below

There’s one HUGE exception to that last statement though; when a deck isn’t rooted in our history and culture, we probably should not use it to make money. I have a Santa Muerte deck that I think most Latinx readers would absolutely adore. I use it for myself or my partners sometimes. I never, ever use it to make money or for promotional pics because it is so steeped in Latinx culture that it feels ludicrously appropriative for me to profit off of. Another deck I love and strongly recommend but do not use is the Dust II Onyx deck. It is so full of love for black women and black spirituality and so deeply imbued with fat and body positive messages. This deck is so important and I can not recommend it enough to black clients and students. I in no way use it to make money but honestly it’s phenomenal and you should own it.

As I look at how my practice has changed and evolved, I’m super into a few decks that I think would round out my collection amazingly. So here’s what I want Santa to bring me for secular Christmas this year (or what I want my Pagan friends to snag for me for Yule). My top wish list decks are:

  • The Visionary Tarot. I’ve been looking for a black and white deck that calls to me for a long time and I’m really smitten with this one and it’s silver edges. There’s very little info about the deck or it’s process out there. I saw it on one of my favorite instagram accounts and have been stalking the Etsy page ever since.

  • The Brady Tarot. This one is a lot of birds and again, I just really love the art of it. Emi has spoken a lot about her visions and ideas for the deck though and I’m always delighted at those interviews and Emi’s vision for using the tarot to shape conversation and connect to deeper purpose. For some of the same reasons I’m also really smitten with the Anima Mundi Tarot. They both go back to that whole “less humans = more queer, more liberation from patriarchal ideas, etc” idea and are so lovely in such different ways.

  • Of course I’m constantly dying to get my mitts on the aforementioned Collective Tarot as well as Thea’s Tarot, which is a queer, feminist deck. Thea’s IS coming back though and you can read more about it here.

Please share your favorite decks (or wish list items!) in the comments below! I love to hear about your experiences with tarot and what’s moving you these days!

Blessed be y’all!

A Very Tarot Christmas for Me!

My tarot wish list is almost always completely out of control, and I do buy decks pretty frequently. I like to have two-three that I'm learning and a plethora of faves to pick from for clients or myself. This Christmas I definitely got my "learning" shelf stocked up but some of them won't take me long, and the ones I'm most excited about are the harder ones, so I'm diving right in. Here's my snapshot reviews of the ones I've received this holiday season.

Cosmos Tarot and Oracle Deck
Overall inspiration and connection: Excellent. The queerplatonic partner and I went to the art exhibit here in Minneapolis and we were overwhelmed by the care put into every single art piece that comprises this deck. I was also fascinated by the concept of combining astrology, myth, and tarot to this extent. Most decks include all of these elements, but this is a totally different, beautiful beast that focuses more on the myth and cosmos. I have a deep abiding love for collaborative decks on top of that, and while some people won't like the lack of cohesion, my queer, art-loving brain loves it. The diversity of the different cards means my brain doesn't lull while I'm reading or try to make connections between cards where there aren't any.
Artwork: Stunning. It's 100 different brilliant artists and the variety of styles means there's something for everyone--with the exception, as aforementioned, of people who need their decks to be flawlessly cohesive.
Card Quality: Fine, so far; It's not a deck I held in my hands and thought "YES, BEST CARD QUALITY EVER," but it's better than even some of my decks that I use all the time. Nice and glossy, and though thin (which my arthritis loves because it shuffles better), they seem durable enough.
Queering Potential: Like the possibilities of the cosmos, the queering potential is endless. There's a few things in this deck that are gendered and the super traditional Empress isn't my favorite, but most of the cards are vague enough concepts or ideas or easy enough to alter genders and identities. Fascinatingly, there's called "Binary System" that could actually be wildly helpful in navigating through some of my client's identity questions, and more than enough cards that navigate outside of this binary to guide me the other way if they don't fall within the binary. The creators of this deck did a great job making sure myths were well-rounded and include some LGBTQQIAP+ oriented stories.
Guide Book and Ease of Learning: Ease of learning is a no-go on this one. I don't hold this against decks and prefer my decks to step outside the norm, so this isn't a slam, but if someone came to me and said "I really want to start learning tarot. What's a great starter deck?" I can't recommend this one. However, the guidebook is GREAT. It tells you about the astrological or cosmic entity being represented, the myth behind that entity, and how it ties into a reading. It is a totally different, made-up-for-this-deck school of tarot, and sometimes I hate that, but I really love what this deck does. If someone came to me and said "I want to learn tarot. I just want one deck I can connect to and bond with," this deck would be on that list.
Other Kudos or Complaints: The biggest problem I'm having with this one is a conflict between the way I learn and how this deck should be learned. I have several tips and tricks for learning, none of which work here. My preference is to combine what the deck says about the card with my understanding of it, but some of these are so drastically different. The cards do have keywords on them, which will be helpful for some, but hinders my learning style. This is more of a note than a complaint, but I know a lot of people learn similarly, and wanted to be honest about this. Even so, this is one of my very favorite decks, and is absolutely worth the challenge.

The Vertigo Tarot
Overall inspiration and connection: Great. This is definitely a "not for everybody: deck, but I'm a huge geek and Vertigo comics fan, so this has been on my list for a long while. It keeps going in and out of print, so I was so stoked and grateful the queerplatonic partner nabbed it for me when we saw a used copy. I connect with it really well, because most of the artists or writers involved are personal inspirations for me, but this isn't a deck for those not as into them or who just don't know much about the source material.
Artwork: For comic fans this is a beautiful interpretation of scenes and characters you love. For everyone else, it's a delightfully twisted and dark deck.
Card Quality: Not great, unfortunately. Someone who also collects decks to use told me at one point she couldn't use this one a lot, and I have to concur. Will absolutely use it for myself and geeky clients, but there's already some cracks and bends in it. They do shuffle well though!
Queering Potential: Adequate. There are some already queer or implied queer characters in the deck, and a lot of the stories and interpretations work well for how I already queer decks. Vertigo does have many more really great queer characters I would've liked to see show up, but I can definitely still work with this.
Guide Book and Ease of Learning: Ease of learning is great! It fits very well into most common schools of tarot. If you learn super image based, this one gets a little tricky. The guidebook is a little weird. They formatted it needlessly artistically but it basically does it's job and you can look up interpretations you can't figure out super easily.

(Anticipated) The Next World Tarot
I obviously don't have this yet. The Kickstarter just ended. I am so, ridiculously beyond excited for it though. For those who don't know, this is a Michelle Tea, Cristy C. Road team up that is described as a "queer punk" deck, and at first glance is full of nothing but WTFs. I could not be more ready for my kickstarted copy to show up. Obviously this review will likely change drastically, but hopefully by then I'll be writing regular reviews and get super in depth.
Overall inspiration and connection: I'm so desperate to get this deck in my hands. I want to cry with wanting it right meow, if that tells you anything.
Artwork: "Queer punk", full of femmes. I'm drooling over every single picture they've released already.
Card Quality: This is the one thing I'm nervous about. Kickstarted or indie decks in the past have been really hit or miss. I don't expect them all to be The Fountain Tarot (SO smooth! So good!), but I also don't want another Prisma Visions card stock--so thick, doesn't shuffle well, some of the gloss started peeling, etc. (The PV is a super phenomenal deck though otherwise!)
Queering Potential: My job is done here.
Guide Book and Ease of Learning: It looks pretty straightforward for a queer deck, but we'll see! I'm pumped about it regardless, whether it's easy breezy or a challenge.
Other Kudos or Complaints:

The Hobbit Tarot (Not Pictured)
Overall inspiration and connection: I mostly wanted this deck for geek cred and as a deck collector, but was pleasantly surprised by the connection I felt once it was in my hands. Not my strongest or most in tune deck, but definitely a pleasant surprise.
Artwork: Adorable in a way I don't hate. I don't do a lot of novelty decks unless I'm super into the thing, which I am in this case. This is a very sweet deck based on original artwork and concepts from Tolkien's book The Hobbit.
Card Quality: Good--if you've bought a mass market deck in the past 20 years, you know what to expect.
Queering Potential: It's tricky, but not impossible. In some ways a deck featuring mostly male characters lends itself to this easier, but it's a lot of twisting Tolkien's original character concepts. However, this deck is much more "epic quest" based and much less other people based, so it can be applied to any major quest or search.
Guide Book and Ease of Learning: By far the easiest deck I got this season to learn, and the deck is one of the small paper-only ones with really straightforward interpretations. It's not necessary to know about the tarot or The Hobbit to pick this up, and if you know about one or both it's really easy to combine what you know about each in your brain.
Other Kudos or Complaints: Any problems I have with this deck are problems I have with either Tolkien or original school of tarot concepts, so.

So Those were the decks other people got me this season (so far), and they are pretty great overall. In 2016 I should be receiving my Slow Holler tarot deck (!!!!!), and reviews moving forward will be one at a time and more in depth. I'm so excited to have this blog and have you all reading.

Share your favorite decks you got this year and how you feel about them, and until next time,

Blessed Be.

Yule is Coming!

Both Yule and Secular Christmas are very happy times for me, and we'll get to the latter shortly. For those who don't know, Yule is a Pagan celebration and depending on who you ask it can mean several different things. Common elements, and what I celebrate have to do with rebirth, returning to the starting point, the promise of coming light, and storing your harvest for the winter. As such, I created this rad Yule tarot spread for you all! Don't worry if you can't read my writing. I'll go through it all underneath.

The Spread is four cards, and you can use any layout you want but this one really shouldn't require anything fancy. Before I share spreads, I go through them several times to make sure it works out and the flow is right, and I had the best readings when I just did the four cards in a straight line. The four cards laid out should be read in order of how you read them, with the placements meaning:

1) What should my Yule focus be? By this we mean how should you focus and direct your energy on this day. For those of us who do ritual, what should that ritual be about? For those who just meditate and think a lot of things through throughout the day, what should you be thinking about?

2) What parts of me need to be reborn? In other words, which parts of ourselves should be transforming and changing or looked at totally differently this season?

3) What should I do to plan and store for my future? (Pretty straightforward)

4) How can I use the energy and lessons of this Yule to increase my happiness moving forward?

Below is a sample reading. Please note that while I do occasionally share public readings, this one is just a sample. Do not take it as a reading meant for you, me, or anyone else. It was done with my Tarot of the Silicon Dawn by Egypt Urnash.

Here we see the four cards laid out in a straight-ish line. We have the Chariot, the Five of Swords, the Queen of Pentacles, and the Two of Swords. As a reader the first thing I do is look at everything all together. What are my big messages this Yule? In this sample, we have Two Swords and the Chariot, all of which have elements of pain or moving on from it. Perseverance is a concurrent thread, or lack of it as the case may be. I'll note which colors or symbols stand out to me and if I think that means anything. Then I make note (mental or otherwise) of those things and look at the placements and cards individually.

1) What should my Yule focus be? With the Chariot here most likely my spiritual energy is best spent pursuing and going deeper with ongoing spiritual work, and based on the interpretation in this deck, connecting with my body and putting the various pieces of my life into something streamlined.

2) What parts of me need to be reborn? With the 5 of Swords, the parts I'm looking at rebirthing or transforming are the parts of me that are getting trapped by past pain or current fears. So I'd spend some time journaling and thinking about what that rebirth looks like. Do I need to reassess how I process pain? How I use fear? Or do I just need to let the parts of me that have been hurt grow back or rejuvenate?

3) What should I do to plan and store for my future? The Queen of Pentacles likes things nice and lush, but is in a stable place in her life and can enjoy herself. She works very hard and knows she deserves the rewards that come with that. The cards are likely telling me to invest in nicer things so I don't have to replace them as often, and to keep growing my businesses and allowing them to flourish. Likewise, investing in my own companies would be a good idea here. Enjoying myself and sharing with others is also key this holiday season, as holding on to every penny and investing it all will not make me feel confident financially, which will not allow me to grow.

4) How can I use the energy and lessons of this Yule to increase my happiness moving forward? Two of Swords--take all of these lessons in, and clear my mind. This card has trouble seeing what's in front of it and is frequently called on when one needs to make big decisions. So my best course of action is to clear my mind, take the rest of the advice of the cards, and then take that leap of faith. In this deck, that is particularly true if that leap of faith requires letting things go or moving beyond them, which ties in nicely with our other cards. The Chariot wants me to push forward and the 5 of Swords wanted those pain filled parts of me to be reborn.

Hope you enjoy it! I love Yule as a time to celebrate the faithfulness of light, and the more disciplined, determined dieties I worship. Sun dieties especially come to me now, guiding me even when we can't see them. Yule is the same time as Winter Solstice every year, which makes it December 21st this year, but I designed this spread with the idea that you'd use it to prepare for the day. It's also a good end of year spread, but I'll be doing a specific end of year spread a little later this month too.

Another thing I love that people are surprised by is secular Christmas. I grew up in a Christian household and community and still hold many of Christ's teachings close to my chest. ("Love your neighbor as yourself, and love me as I have loved you" is still one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.) Christmas doesn't mean what it used to mean to me as my faith has evolved, but it still represents a time to celebrate hope, love, and time with family. The pressure of buying so many gifts gets really overwhelming for me sometimes, but I genuinely love the practice. I also love receiving gifts and anyone who says they don't is lying! However, Christmas absolutely has its pitfalls. It is SO commercialized, there is SO much pressure to be ON all the time, and so many people are basically forced to spend time with so many people who may not love and support them the rest of the year the way they claim to now. Last year me and my roommate decided to reject those parts, but we are in a place of privilege to have been able to do so. For the rest of us, this is my favorite "dealing with the holidays" spread I have ever found. Seriously, it's SO good. Do it as much as you need to as many times as you get stressed this holiday season. It will help.

In the meantime, Blessed Be!