Behind the Deck: The Neo Tarot
Jerico Mandybur is a writer, podcaster, speaker and former editorial director of GirlBoss who believes there’s a spiritual renaissance taking place, and that we should all be paying attention.
With artist Daiana Ruiz, Mandybur has created The Neo Tarot, a 78-card deck with contemporary illustrations based on the original Rider-Waite artwork. In the opening pages of the accompanying guide book, Mandybur tells us that “a tarot reading is a profound act of self-care” and emphasises the importance of accessibility and inclusivity for Neo Tarot: both for the deck itself, and for the concept of tarot in our lives today.
We asked Jerico a few questions to find out more.
The Neo Tarot is a beautiful piece of artwork with a strong message at the same time – what first inspired you to create the deck?
I was approached to write a book about self-care, but for me self-care and spirituality–or being connected to something greater than yourself, in general–are so deeply linked. Tarot is one of the most important methods of self-care for me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid the topic when considering self-care. So, I proposed a tarot book and deck instead and, luckily, the publisher was on board!
Self-care is a persistent focus of the deck. Is tarot practice a form of self-care, or is the relationship between the two less straightforward?
I’m not sure that there’s a necessary relationship between the two, but for me there’s definitely a clear link. Both involve self-development—creating a container of time and space in which to go deeper, to contemplate your life and your identity and explore how you can look after yourself better. In that way, I think tarot is one practice people can securely put into their self-care toolbox, along with other spiritual or non-spiritual practices, like meditation, intention-setting or simple things like drinking more water.
Tarot has seen an apparent explosion in popularity in recent years. Why do you think the practice is attracting so many newcomers?
I think tarot’s newfound popularity comes down to it being an accessible tool for self-care that everyone can afford–as opposed to weekly therapy session, which certainly have their place too–and it’s fun! Millennials have a natural distrust for traditional institutions, but a great desire to know themselves and find meaning and fulfilment, so tarot fits that brief. Practices like tarot have always been there, but social media has made them more visible, which means more people have been able to learn about them.
Do you think there are still misconceptions about tarot, and how would you respond to them?
I think the biggest misconception is that you have to ‘believe’ in tarot in order to practice it, but I’ve found it’s a helpful tool for everyone—even if you don’t buy into the divination aspect of it. Seeing it strictly as a fortune-telling tool is another misconception, although divination is an important part of the tarot story, and should continue to be safeguarded as tarot’s popularity as a self-care tool grows.
What does spiritual empowerment mean to you, and how can we ensure we encourage and foster it in our lives?
To me, it means resisting the oppressive forces of domination and control that would have us believe that we are not sovereign and powerful in our own lives, and as agents of positive change in the world. I think the easiest way to encourage spiritual empowerment is by standing in our power, holding a vision of a better world and a more fully actualised self, and knowing we have the ability to realise it… And then doing something about it!
Finally, which of the cards in the Neo Tarot have you found yourself most strongly resonating with on this journey?
I think right now I would be The Devil, because I’m in my ‘Devil year’ numerologically, and I’m thinking a lot about my body, pleasure, and my decision-making as it relates to my shadow. In other words, why I do the things that I do, or don’t do. It’s not the easiest card to work with for obvious reasons, but that’s all the more reason to explore it!
All illustrations © Daiana Ruiz
Find out more
Jerico Mandybur is a writer, editor, speaker, podcaster, and the author/ creator behind Neo Tarot: A Fresh Approach To Self-Care, Healing And Empowerment (RRP £20, Hardie Grant, 2019). By day, she’s the editorial director of an influential and award-winning women’s media company. By night, she’s a tarot reader, reiki healer, and mentor. She is also a legally ordained minister, and as well as continually studying various esoteric traditions, she has trained with spiritual teachers including Gabrielle Bernstein, Jeff Hinshaw, and Australia’s preeminent intuitive, Paul Fenton-Smith.