A guest post shared by Jo.
Jo Offduty is the creator of not one but three decks: the Fool’s Journey Tarot, the Luscious Lenormand and the Behind Closed Doors Oracle. These deeply personal decks explore themes of spiritual, psychological and gender identity within Jo’s own journey and life experiences. In the short piece shared below, Jo introduces her decks and some of her favourite cards!
Ever since I can remember, divination has been a central part of my life.
I grew up in a Caribbean family where divination was a big part of our religion, and when I discovered tarot, I was drawn to not only its divinatory aspects but the artwork, too. And as English was not my first language, I began using art to express myself at a young age. I also used art as a way of expressing and release the physical and mental abuse I endured over the years.
I started to collect tarot decks – all of which had their special meanings – but I always came back to the Rider Waite Tarot, created by the great Pamela Coleman Smith. I wracked my brain trying to understand the different tarot decks’ meanings, the symbols, etc…until one day I decided that if I really wanted to understand the Fool’s journey, I would have to put myself in the Fools shoes.
And I did. I created my own, personal tarot deck.
I started from zero and worked all the way to the final 78th card. I made it something truly personal and I put all my life’s experiences into each and every image. I became so involved in my deck that I didn’t notice the time go by …two years later I had complete the Fools Journey Tarot.
But I didn’t stop at that! I wanted to make a difference and add my people into all of cartomancy, people of color and different sexual orientation, which I think is so important to an individual’s identity. I continued the trilogy of the fool’s journey and created my own Lenormand deck called The Luscious Lenormand, followed by an oracle deck, the Behind Closed Doors Oracle.
My decks differ from the usual tarot decks because they show raw, fierce images that are non-filtered; images that I believe should be brought to light, that show the good, the bad and the ugly. For example, one of the most powerful cards for me in the Fool’s Journey Tarot is #12: Sacrifice (also known as the Hanged Man). In my deck, this card signifies sacrificing everything in order to continue and stay alive, seeing the world at a different angle. The Nine of Cups is the “Sittin’ Pretty” card, and represents seeing all your wishes coming true.
My decks also feature my religion, Santeria (an Afro-American religion of Caribbean origin). You will see the main character wearing her colored Elekes, representing her saint, Yemaya. Elekes are the beaded necklaces an individual wears in the Santeria religion to represent and honor their saint.
In the Luscious Lenormand, one of my favourites is card #28: She/Man. I designed this individual different from your usual Lenormand decks, not only is he/she of color but an in-between sex individual, which reaches out to my LGBTQ community. I also love card #13: The Child. This child is my child, a child that I miscarried in real life, but I gave birth to through my art. The Child signifies innocence, newness and beginnings.
In my most recent deck, the Behind Closed Doors Oracle, one card that I find especially striking and not for the faint of heart is #23: One Love. In the e-book that comes with this deck I explain that I named this card “One Love” because these two individuals don’t care about anything but loving each other; love is love & has no gender or opinion, it just is. Another striking card is #32: Exposed. In my e-book I explain this card as “a woman exposing and expressing herself without an inch of care or worry about what others might say, while others are watching and passing judgment.”
I shed blood, sweat and tears into these decks and only wish to help others in this journey called life, just as it’s helped me.
Love & Light always,
You can view (and purchase!) all of Jo’s artwork and explore decks in her Etsy shop.
Jo is a New York-born, Virginia- based artist working on mixed media. Her work centers primarily on topics of spiritual, psychological and gender identity, both individual and collective. Recurring themes are power, vulnerability, sexuality, domestic violence and the sway between them.
Alongside her fine art practice, Jo has worked as a freelancer since 1999. In addition, she has been on the Washington Blade magazine in reference to her fine art work and Tarot deck that she has created. Jo collaborates and works closely with The D.C. Center located in Washington, D.C.
Catch her on Instagram @Jooffduty7
PS: Interested in the ideas and processes behind tarot deck creation? Here are all of our posts on this topic!