The Ghetto Tarot

The Ghetto Tarot



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It’s colorful, it’s provocative, it's avant-garde, it’s stunning: It's The Ghetto Tarot!

The Ghetto Tarot is a photographic interpretation of the traditional tarot deck in the ghetto. The scenes are inspired by the Rider Waite Tarot deck (originally designed in 1909 by artist Pamela Colman Smith) and are replicated by a Belgian photographer together with a group of Haitian artists called Atis Rezistans (resistant artists) in the Haitian slums using only material they were able to find or create locally.

While the cards were designed many years ago with the situations of the time when the world was very different, they resonate today with timeless symbols that can be applied to our busy modern world. And not just our modern, western world, but also to any other continent, country or culture, including the Haitian Ghetto. So here comes a temporary, provocative and vivid tarot deck!

On several cards we used the artists art, that includes symbolism from the Voodoo religion to embody the important meaning of the cards original symbols.

The cards are size 9x13,5cm (3,45x5,3inches) and come with a handbook that includes a description of the cards.

The Haitians receive 20% of the proceeds, 80% goes to the Belgian non profit organisation Consciousness Rising who also organises the sale and shipping of the deck for zero extra costs. The mission of the organisation is to raise our global consciousness, teach emotional healing as well as teach the permaculture principles to restore balance on earth. The organisation currently supports projects and leads efforts in Haiti, Brazil and Europe.

Why call it Ghetto Tarot?

There has been a lot of controversy around the chosen name for the deck. The reason we chose the name is described below.

African Americans have reached out to us to let us know that the choice of the name hurts them. While many other African Americans love the choice of the name, we do want to listen to those who feel hurt by it and have decided to bring out another edition with a different name, which will be published at the beginning of 2021.

Here is our explanation about why we chose the name Ghetto in the first place:

According to the common definition, the ghetto is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure. The term was originally used in Venice to describe the part of the city to which Jews were restricted and segregated.
Today, a commonly used definition of a ghetto (especially in the United States) is communities distinguished by a homogeneous race or ethnicity. Additionally, a key feature that continues to symbolize the demographics of American ghettos is the prevalence of poverty. Poverty constitutes the separation of ghettos from other, suburbanized or private neighborhoods. The Haitian people have long ago adopted the word Ghetto into their own language Creole and use it to name the poorest neighborhoods of their cities.
Our idea behind choosing the term "Ghetto" as a name for the deck, is to provoke a discussion around the topic, to have people question their own assumptions about what the ghetto really is and to change the often negative connotation that the word implies in our culture into a positive one. 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. Atis Rezistans use trash to create art with their own visions that are a reflection of the beauty they see hidden within the waste.
Our intention is not a glorification of the life in the Ghetto, but to feature the Haitian Ghetto and poverty in general in another light. I have observed over and over again that those, who the world calls "the poor", are full of strength, full of life, joy and creativity. I believe we need more people in this world to start looking at them that way and stop seeing them as victims of a deserted and hopeless situation. A desirable consequence of this imagined situation is a reintegration of the lost self-trust into their own original ideas.
Since generations Haitians have witnessed people telling them that they are poor and that they need western "solutions" to their problems and many have associated themselves with this idea a long time ago.
Our objective is to highlight the creativity and strength of the citizens of the Ghetto and we are certain that inside of them lays a treasure of innovative ideas to dissolve the circle of dependence and victimization, that will break through if the world starts looking at their skills and capacities instead of their deficiencies. That plays an important part of the objective behind the photographies of the "Ghetto Tarot": reaching beyond cultural walls of prejudice and ignorance to achieve a much needed transformation of the collective conscience perception of the Ghetto.
Atis rezistans are claiming the word “Ghetto”, free themselves of its depreciating undertone and turn it into something beautiful. Their act of appropriating a word loaded with unfavorable sentiments by altering its meaning is an act of inspiration. This undertaking of the Haitians made me realize that it lies only within us to assign value or judgment towards a tangible or intangible thing, which creates a positive or negative emotion. If we realize that we can choose if we look at destruction and see despair or if we choose to see the start of something new, we can change the meaning of every word, action and emotion. That is something I learned from the Haitian artists and we are sharing it together with the world through the Ghetto Tarot.
And isn’t the confrontation of our inner feelings and emotions what tarot is all about?

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126 reviews

5 out of 5 stars

Buyers are raving!

Multiple people gave 5-star reviews to this shop in the past 7 days.


Terry Dec 3, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

Thank you Alice, for speaking your truth and honoring the artists of Atis Rezistans in this incredible deck! The images reflect a pure sense of pride and love among these beautiful people. The deck reflects humor, as well as sincere enjoyment and devotion to the project. The cards are large for even my big hands. So, I won't be shuffling them like playing cards. I wouldn't do that anyway because I want this deck to be with me for a long time. Do I have favorites? The Sun is just beaming! I love the Ace and Four of Machetes and the Ace of Cups! Every card is so true to Pamela Coleman Smith's imagery in the RWT. Therefore the deck is easy to use if you are familiar with that format. The LWB is also very cool! The Shadow spread looks very interesting. Here's my Shadow spread. Very excited to get this deck!

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kerrie o reilly May 15, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

This deck is uplifting, raw, emotive and powerful. So powerful! So moving. There is beauty in every image, in the people, the upcycled artwork, the photography and the quality of the cards. The theme of the deck is turning negativity into positivity, as the Haitian artists have done with their found art materials. I am in awe of this incredible creation, this important contribution to the tarot world. I want every reader to have this deck. I always work with a deck for a week before writing a review because I insist on knowing how it actually reads for me. I then file the deck away and move onto the next deck. I did not file this deck away. I had a very hard time not continuing to use it for my daily draws. I had to drag myself away. It now sits always within arm's reach, at home among my favorite decks.

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Sarah Welsh Mar 8, 2021

5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful, high-quality deck that really speaks to me. I appreciate the fast shipping and the excellent box it comes in for storage!

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Melinda Butler Mar 26, 2021

5 out of 5 stars

Love this deck ♥️ its one of my new favorites!!!!

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