Ghetto Tarot

Created by Alice Smeets and Atis Rezistans

As soon as I saw the Ghetto Tarot deck I absolutely loved it. However, it is a controversial tarot deck because of it’s name, the use of the word Ghetto and how it is perceived. There have been a lot of thoughts and comments wrote about this deck, some so strong that they had to be removed from posts and forums. So I did a lot of research before I purchased it.

Alice Smeets is a Belgian photographer, filmmaker, artist and teacher. Since 2007 she has been a regular visitor to Haiti and has lived in the country for 2 years. Alice had known the group of artists callled “Atiz Rezistans” for a long time and wanted to work with the group.

Together they created a photographic interpretation of the traditional Rider, Waite, Smith (RWS) deck. The group of Haitian Artists, performed in the Haitian slums using only the materials that they could find or create locally.

It’s the interpretation of the word Ghetto that has caused so much conflict which ranged from slums to Nazi concentration camps but I also think it’s down to your own perception. The deck is clearly not about Nazi concentration camps. In fact Alice states that ‘Our idea behind choosing the term “Ghetto” as a name for the deck, is to provoke a discussion around the topic, to stop people ignoring the poverty or just pitying the poor and to question their own assumptions about what the ghetto really is. The name of the Ghetto Tarot is inspired by the “Ghetto Biennale”, which is an invitation by Atis Rezistans to visiting Western and non-Western artists to come to Haiti and create art in collaboration with them to produce a show at the end.’

Alice has gone to Haiti repeatedly for photo documenting and charity work. She has also made a film documentary called “aidependent” about the foreign aid given and seems to be working to help the fight against poverty in Haiti. Someone did ask the question that had she been black would there be so much discussion? However, I do not want to debate this I am just laying some background to the controversy of the deck.

I see a great deck, I see a lot of work that should be appreciated. I see beauty, humor, creativity and yes I see poverty. I see a group of artists that have come together to make something special. I believe that the intentions behind this deck are good and I hope that they had a whale of a time making it. I love this deck.

There are 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana.

Major Arcana have the same names as the traditional RWS

The Suits are Cups, Pentacles, Machetes (Swords) and Brooms (Wands)

The Courts are Page, Knight, Queen and King

I think this is a very readable deck. For a beginner? if you are brave, naive or foolish enough to get this deck, then go for it. But be prepared for some backlash, I haven’t used it for any clients yet.


Love & Light

Mystic Fox


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