Deck Interview: Everyday Tarot

The Everyday Tarot by Brigit Esselmont (Biddy Tarot) is a handy little deck. I absolutely can’t stand the hard plastic of its box, but that just encourages me to keep it in a little bag (designed for my GoPro of all things) that I can easily carry around because it’s so pint-sized. That said, the cards are really sturdy and well made: I can shuffle them “casino style” without having to flip them over every time to unbend them like some decks. And you can bet I love a metallic edge, even if this one is like a dusty brass rather than a liquid gold. I’ve found that it’s really a good deck for beginners because it’s simple, modern, and logical. But this is an interview, not a review, so let’s get to the interview. As always, I’m using the @matchatofu Tumblr page’s spread for interviewing your tarot. I don’t link to the page because it’s not there anymore, but you can just Google it if you want to see it for yourself for whatever reason.

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INTERVIEWING THE everyday TAROT

Tell me about yourself. 10 of Pentacles.

What are your strengths? The Emperor. And your limitations? Five of Cups.

What are you here to help me learn? King of Cups (reversed).

How can I work with you most effectively? Seven of Cups.

Where is our partnership headed? Queen of Cups (reversed).

When I first did this deck’s interview, I was surprised at some of the cards but not overly taken aback.

If you look at my Instagram interview of this deck, you’ll see I got it confused with the Fountain Tarot spread, which I’d done almost at the same time. There’s no point in fixing it since no one would think to go back and read it except for my drawing attention to it here, and it serves as a useful reminder to have a clear mind and keep all your ducks in a row. Trying to go back and interpret cards in between readings is not part of great tarot practice, even if it is a necessary reality for many readers.

I always like to look at how a deck orders its minor arcana, what’s first, and what’s last. As a result, the dominance of the Cups wasn’t that surprising, but what was strange was seeing two “good” Cups reversed and the only upright cups were two potentially “bad” Cups card. This gave me the initial interpretation, also because of my recent Fountain Tarot interview, that the deck would not be great for intuitive or spiritual readings or emotion or romance readings, even though the creator’s process is actually all about intuition, and I use it for romance readings all the time. (Admittedly, I don’t often use it for personal development and shadow work. See “What is Shadow Work?” if that phrase scares you.) I loved seeing those royal merfolk though. They really sold me on the deck in the first place (I especially loathe Smith’s King of Cups), so seeing them reversed was a sign I was going to be learning from the deck beyond the superficial appreciation for its great design. That the only major arcana was the Emperor was also surprising given the feminine vibe of the deck, but the other associations with that card also make quite a bit of sense. My own feelings about the Emperor have changed over time with this deck and the Fountain tarot, so I’m glad to look back and see him appear.

Both from the old interview and what I’ve learned about this deck through practice, I see its clear ties to the Smith-Waite/Rider tradition and where it updates some things in useful ways. Looking at the 10 of Pentacles, we have a clear sign not so much of money but of established traditions and a development of legacy. Everyday Tarot’s creator (Brigit Esselmont, aka Biddy Tarot) has a tarot reading empire with an incredibly influential website, an online tarot school and community, a now retired (but still very useful) PodCast, and a deck and books. This deck is drawing on the Smith-Waite/Rider legacy and bringing it into a new generation as part of the Biddy Tarot legacy. The Emperor signals that the deck is bringing strength and order to the deck, with the interpretations of the cards much more in line with their images and a consistent theme, tossing out seemingly irrelevant details from the Smith-Waite/Rider deck. For example, the Two of Pentacles doesn’t reference writing in this deck, and really why should it? It’s one of those via-via interpretations taken from the merchant ship on the card to messages to then written things. Esselmont also has a clear and preferred way of reading reversals that are built into her card interpretations, something I appreciate even if I don’t always follow them. Still, that structure is part of her brand and the deck’s ease of use.

I love the simple art and clean lines of Eleanor Grosch’s images, but looking at the Seven of Cups, there are clear signs of where the simplicity of the images differs from the nuances of Smith’s images, and what I’ve had to do to adapt to its use. In Smith’s Seven of Cups, the cup holding the laurel wreath has a skull embossed on it, and I actually see that as a powerful reminder that even the “good” cups can be double-edged swords. The mask in the cup also makes one of Smith’s more ambiguous cups “clearer” in meaning. I never knew what the figure covered by a sheet was supposed to be, but it seemed vaguely holy to me with its outstretched hands, palms-up. I certainly never got the impression of secrets, duplicity, or illusion, which the mask strongly implies. Recognizing that this deck is not simply an update to the Smith-Waite/Rider deck is an important part of working with it: it has its own interpretations and images, and there are certain strategies that work better for drawing meaning out of the cards. And in the end, I think that our future relationship isn’t necessarily on course for any one thing just yet, reversed Queen of Cups or no. It is a very practical deck, and I use it in that way (I can fit it in a pants back pocket), sometimes differing to it because of convenience rather than anything else. But it’s still an all-around useful deck.

The cards shown here are, appropriately, from the Everyday Tarot by Brigit Esselmont and illustrated by Eleanor Grosch © 2018, published by Running Press Miniature Editions, Hachette Book Group.