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The African American Tarot

by Jamal R. & Thomas Davis

The African American Tarot
Price: $22.95

Number of cards in deck: 78

Measurements: 2.6 x 4.72 inches, or 66 x 120 mm.

Back of card: Looks like the stylized rear ends of four zebras, stacked on top of each other, with the red/green/black colors framing it. (Red, black & green are the colors of the Pan-African flag, which was designed, in the US, in 1920. The flags of Biafra, Malawi & Kenya are based on it.) May be inverted.

Booklet included: Yes, 64 pages, 2.55 x 4.64 inches, or 65 x 118 mm. Instructions in English, Italian, Spanish, French & German.

Publisher: Lo Scarabeo. Printed in Italy, imported by Llewellyn Worldwide.

Comments: There is a lot going on in this deck. On the one hand, there is a fantasy of idealized African tribal life, on the other, in all the pip cards (ace-10 are pips), except for the aces themselves, there are secondary, ghostly Afro-American images in the top of the card. The pip cards shown above have some of the larger "ghost" images.

The primary image on every card is of some mythical African god or goddess, culled from a variety of African sources. The Magician, for example, is Adriambahomanana, of Madagascar. He is described as The First Man. The delineation:

Light: Initative, organizing skills, strong will. Construction of the Ego. Speaking ability. Shadow: Egotism, swagger, lying & fraud. Psychological manipulation.
On a strictly tarot basis, that's sort of a muddle. Tarot Erotica established, once and for all, the Fool as the First Man, ie, Adam.

Delineations for each of the pip cards identify the secondary, "ghost" image. Here is the delineation for the Three of Cups, shown above:

Mbaba Mwana Waresa (goddess of beer & harvests, Zulu) and Louis Armstrong (New Orleans, 1900, New York 1971) - Abundance, conviviality, good cheer and companionship. Resolution of problems, psychic evolution.
So far as straight-forward card reading is concerned, this is detail we don't really need, and to the extent we have it, tends to muddle things up. We are left wondering what the relationship between the African woman & the jazz band may be. Is she dreaming of a life far away? If so, is she aware of the horror of slavery that stands between her & Mr. Armstrong? It is useful to know her bowl is full of beer. Who will come to drink from her cups?

The Magician is a bit more problematic. Several cards in this deck show nudes. Africans are no more likely to be nude than any other group, including Italian card makers, who happen to love the nude. The occult reason for nudes is that they show the truth, that they have nothing to hide. So what can a naked magician tell us? We are card readers, we note the image on the card is nude, we note that person is a magician, we draw the intended conclusion. We look at his penis. We expect it to be erect. It is not. This is wrong.

With a clothed magician, we do not know exactly how or where he is getting his magic from. Typically one hand points skyward, the other to the ground, there is a belt, there is a figure 8 on its side, there are magical implements. We are satisfied with those, we then look to the next card to see what he does with his power.

All of this is swept away when the magician is himself nude. His power is sexual, else why is he nude? (Again: The nude exists for a reason, it is up to us to puzzle out why.) Such magicians typically fit an enlarged phallus over their groin to emphasise their sexual potency. This would tie the card firmly into the African magical tradition, by the way.

But not the American tradition, with its slave heritage. At one time both white & black slaves existed in the American colonies, and in the north as well as the south. Uniquely, only black slavery was hereditary, ie, I am a slave, my father was a slave, my son will be a slave. White slaves were termed indentured servants. Their children, if they were permitted to have any, were born free.

Hereditary slavery is an ugly thing. Slave owners did not wait for their slaves to pair off & produce children which they could then seize for their own purposes. Slave owners were perfectly well aware that slaves would not copulate under such circumstances, and if they did, and if pregnancy resulted, the women would abort. No woman will willingly give birth to a slave son.

Which is why every slave owner who had female slaves also had white studs who would inseminate (ie, rape) them. Promptly upon first menstruation. Female slaves in the US were kept pregnant until they physically wore out & were then discarded. This is why the South agreed to prohibit importation of new slaves from Africa: They had no need. Slave owners could produce all the new slaves they wanted. They took the children & sold them. Children were a money-making proposition. This is not different, in any detail, from puppy mills.

Male slaves were prohibited from having sex altogether. Which is why, whenever they had the chance, they went after white women, as they were the only ones available. Young white women, for their part, were trapped in repressive, ritualistic courtship roles, and, if I am not mistaken, would eagerly, albeit slyly, welcome advances from black males. Which is why slave owners were so fearful of their male slaves, and why they were so cruel to them. That, and the fact the average black female was forced to bear far more children than the average white female would bear voluntarily. By 1860, blacks outnumbered whites in the South. In so many ways, the American South was ready to explode.

In America, Land of the Free, this ugly, evil system went on for the better part of TWO HUNDRED YEARS. This is how George Washington managed his slaves. It is how Thomas Jefferson managed his. In Tommy's case, we know that he himself acted as his own stud. It explains why all American "blacks" are in fact three-quarters (or seven-eights) white. If slavery had continued another hundred years, it would have been hard to distinguish "whites" from "blacks". (By the outbreak of the Civil War, it was already becoming difficult to distinguish between slave & free.)

The scars are still fresh. It's why black males are so often absent fathers. It's why black females are so savvy & powerful, and why so many of them end up single mothers. Such is the history of every.single.Afro-American. Including the President's wife, and the President's children. But not President Barack Obama himself.

So, Lo Scarabeo, why is the Magician in this deck nude? And why is his penis not erect? What is the message that Afro-American males - or females - should take from this card?

Black Americans are different from Africans. Different in many ways.

The Astrology Center of America

207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

Tarot Home Tarot Decks Tarot Books Astrology Home E-Mail: Dave

Established 1993, The Astrology Center of America is owned & operated by David Roell. Except where noted, this entire site (AstroAmerica.com) & its contents are Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by William R. Roell. All rights reserved. Tarot card images are Copyright © by the copyright holder (generally the publisher).