Often, when being asked about Kapwa Tarot I am asked “What was your inspiration?” “What brought me to create the cards?” and “Why did I decide to create them?” The answer was that it was not a decision at all, it was a necessity- that was amplified by the encouragement of community. And the cards themselves are not just cards, they are not just a deck of illustrations, or words written on a PDF file. Kapwa Tarot is a creation connected to my way of life. I have been answering my ancestral, scared calling for many years now, in truth I have been answering it my whole Life, without understanding the fullness of it, and without the intention and awareness I walk with. 2 years ago the messages were clearly directing me to create Kapwa Tarot, as a way to hold many of the core teachings I had gathered and was developing through my work of re-membering ancestors and practicing decolonization. I didn’t imagine the Divine timing of it all. I just knew I was ready and that they would be manifested through me.
The call was echoed by community and family to create what I didn’t know I had the capacity to and to share it at a time where the “demand” for this work was being made. I could not have created these cards at any other time, but in this very auspicious period when so much that is of Diasporic Divination work is emerging and being made visible to the world. I bring us into awareness of the generations that are rising, that are being born on Turtle Island that are the descendants of those who were, in many ways, forced to leave their Motherlands and brought to be servants to the “American Dream.” That dream was rooted in that servitude, in allegiance to Colonization- Capitalism, Racism, Patriarcny/Heteronormativity- and it is us, and our descendants that are being born in these similar land bases in the Diaspora, on Turtle Island, that are creating a new paradigm, creating radical change, and creating tangible revolution, through the re-membering of Divination and Magic based practices that we seek to re-member. These practices and tools that are emerging through our inception and manifestation, are entryways that are being distributed throughout the global diaspora to help ground our, communities to begin the path of returning to Life as Spiritual Practice.
Individuals and communities are currently seeking divination and magic as means of survival, for guidance, for healing and for creating a relationship with Spirit that can help to heal the traumas of this existence. That is why we see our learning of these tools and these modalities of metaphysical healing and empowerment as practice. What I have understood that the true goal is not to be great at reading cards, or at creating herbal tinctures and oils, or at playing sound bowls, and identifying and working with crystals to elevate spirit- the actual goal is to re-member the magic we can surface in all tangible things, and in all our relations because of the magic that is within ourselves. The goal is to understand the magic of us all, and these tools and practices are there as a reminder.
That is what I feel in this work with Kapwa Tarot and with all the divination tools that are being created in this time. How many decks have you seen emerging from different communities? How many tools of divination, books, crystals, herbs, iconic figures and use of earthly elements configured to support so many seeking spiritual knowing and connection? There is a call, within us, from a place so sacred and beyond this physical world that is asking us to create in line with the greater creations of change that have been built throughout these years in the work toward liberation of our communities. I believe this so firmly. Our ancestral re-membering has brought us here, to this time, where magic is emerging on the surface, and is resonating with everything from what we eat, to what we wear- so much because that is being paradoxically supported by Colonization itself. It is being fetishized and capitalized on, just as it is healing and liberating us.
The powers that be are working to contain the Divination Work that is being interpreted by them as that “demand” I mentioned. And thus Spiritual Capitalism has been born of this intersection. They are looking to be the markets in which we “purchase” our prayer. But what they don’t understand is that our communities are working around all of this in such intentional ways. And maybe even in none intentional ways, but are creating because it is necessary to, because something inside of us as creators is inviting us to embody the Divine in all that we create in this world. And a larger part of ourselves re-members. We re-member what it was to have our magic stripped from us, what it was like to be killed and tortured into shifting our beliefs for reading our cards in public, for praying amongst the trees and open sky, to gather in ceremony and ritual. We re-member the labeling of savagery, and uncivil, the being seen as un-human, unclean and demonic. We re-member how much it took for our Ancestors to adopt the beliefs of their Colonizers, all the death, all the pain, all the trauma to the bodies, minds and spirits of our people.
There is a conflict that is intrinsically arising, the conflict between producing for capital and our relation to monetary survival and the necessity for money to live– and creating in relation to sacred calling and purpose and the survival and liberation tools that are necessary for revolution to come to be. The lines often get blurred because we are only beginning to understand the truth of what it means to be in Radical Imagining and Manifesting. Capitalism still feels necessary to live, and to live in wellness. That has been the most trying part of having brought Kapwa Tarot into this world- and the trying part of all my divination work that is rooted in my artistry, activism and work as an educator- that in relation to ability to create this work for it to be used by community that there has to be a process of monetary exchange that allows for the materials, the labor and the creation fully manifested, to be sustained. In this world everything has monetary cost, we have invested in this as the way of life and bound ourselves to putting price points to all aspects of our creations and measuring demand with whether or not to pursue what may feel like a part of our understanding of what we must create and perform. I think of the many times where I was taught that something was a “waste of my time” because it did not honor me with payment. Negotiating this is challenging.
We have made it our way as human beings, to find necessity in one another, in service- that what we cannot, or have not learn to do for ourselves, we look to others to produce for us, and we’ll pay them, for the convenience, for the ease. So if you have more money, then you have more options, more resources and more ability to utilize the service of others and in turn can then create a greater service and gain greater capital in return. It all is a complex system that was created and sustained by humans all these years and relieving ourselves of the oppressions that it is rooted in is not something that will happen without complete destruction of its structures.
The navigation of this is rooted in the Principles of Sacred Exchange where I am continually working to build for myself and to share with my community. For now, it is a reworking of my relationship to capitalism, but what it is intentionally working toward is a radical shift and dismantling of capitalistic practices and creating practices of exchange within our communities that will not feed into the persistence and growth of Big Banks and Corporations ruling over our survival, our well-being and our ways of living. I share the following with you all as a part of a process that is always being added to, reoriented, reimagined and communally created on the daily. I believe that it is crucial to have these conversations, without it the Powers that Be will take hold and this will be the beginnings of how people weaponize our spiritual movements- through capitalism- by having ego, power and fame lead our creation and practice of divination work.
1) Re-membering the Deep Histories of Creation that Makes My Creations Possible
No thought of creation is to be owned by another. Conceptions of copyrights, patents and other labels of ownership dishonor the truth of how at the core of all creation is the Ancient Divine. Our creations, just as our lives were created by a Great Creator, have lineage, have ancestry, that begin and are rooted someplace Ancient and Divine. If we can recognize and honor this, then we can pay reverence and homage to our work without having the Ego in place. If we see our brilliance as being detached from the brilliance of all, then we run into technicalities created by Capitalism that create practices and procedures of enforcing misguided states of scarcity, competition, glorification and divisiveness. I create with honoring of all that is called in for that creation to take place. Create with the permission and/or the recognition of those before me and those who I am in Sacred Service of in my creation. Honor the lineages of your work. Understand that no idea is ever just yours. It is important to understand and pay homage to how you have created from a space of channeling something Divine, but true Revolutionary Creations, were never just ours to have. Kapwa Tarot yes, was manifested and labored by my hands, and came through me from my imaginings and creations, but I know every image, and every word shared will never be just my own. If the words echo yours, or the images are similar to what you have imagined, it is because they are meant to be ours to connect and hold in union and Kapwa (the Shared Self).
2) Reframing Being “Independent” or” Corporate” as Options that Bind Us to Ideas of Capital Worth and Overall Value in Creating
I don’t consider myself an Independent Artist- I know that all my Art, all that I create, is through the support of community. And to be Corporate is never the goal. I was raised in beginning with this type of languaging and I remember the first time I claimed myself I be an independent artist, how empowering that really was to make a statement that I was doing it all on my own, not bound by a company that would determine how I spent my creative energy and capacities. And then throughout the years, I realized every being an “Independent” artist still bound me to the Master of Money leading the way I navigate my work. I found myself being coached and mentored to “brand” myself, and to be in a position of selling that brand. I was imagining products that would suit my consumers/audience versus imagining limitless possibilities. I was also looking at how to be cost efficient, and how to source materials in order to get the best deal, and make the most profit. That mentality poisoned my space of creation. My Art was losing its depth and connection to the Divine. I began to gauge the value of my work on monetary acclaim. This, became another dishonorable practice. I found myself not taking any exchanges for my art because of it, or taking very little- and at some points not doing any art at all for fear of becoming consumed by capitalistic relationship and value of my Art. It was not until Kapwa Tarot, that I understood in greater capacity how important it was to find a balance in exchange. And so just beginning with no longer consider myself an “Independent Artist” and categorize myself based on how my Art created income, but identifying myself profoundly as a Creator, a Cultural Bearer and a Revolutionary has allowed me to lead by the Spirit and Sacredness of my creations in connection to how they are filled with influence and wisdom of community, ancestry and descendants.
3) Being Right with Materials That I Utilize to Create and the People Whose Labor is Offered to My Work
I have come to understand that no creation that comes from our making will be manifested without the collaborative efforts of other creators and of the Great Creator(s) themselves. An intention from the beginning of designing the cards for the Kapwa Tarot deck was to find a printer that would be equitable and that had practices that felt collaborative and would not make me feel like I was just another customer making a transaction. I went through 4 printers before landing with one, where there was practice of humanized communication and that really saw my deck as work that they were co-creating and cared for as well. It made the process one that felt honorable for all of us, I felt the way they cared for each card as it was processed into their design lab, and there was continuous clarity up until the packages were shipped. I also worked to be in understanding of where the paper was sourced, and sought recycled stock to print on, to pay homage to the trees that gave their bodies for the manifestation of the work. I have been in reflection of all that gives to these cards being manifested, the ink, the steel that cut the cards in processing, every hand that packaged and shipped them. And I imagine all the Earthly Elements and how they gave to the tangibility of these cards. My part was only a portion of a larger scheme of manifestation that I recognize and honor. These days, this a large part of how I am seeking to relate to all objects created by human being- to re-member their sacredness.
4) Considering the Way I Hold the Process of Exchange- The way the Process is Humanized and That Exchange Does Occur
This process of creating the cards and distributing them has been one of the most challenging acts of creation I have ever given my life to. My work has not ended in just creating the cards, it has continued in making Sacred Exchange and taking care of this in the best way I can. Every deck is packaged by me and carried to the post office to be sent to the homes of community that have given of their support and seen this creation as a support to their own Spiritual practice or their re-membering and Decolonization path. I have had so many individual exchanges with those who have been receiving the cards, and inviting them to hold them and their communities with their lessons. Some exchanges have been tough, with the delay of delivery, mistaking of addresses, the damaging of casing, and other unforeseen challenges. And when these moments have occurred I have experienced how much the exchange cards have become an extension of how people relate to me. I work to relieve any individual of these feelings that often arise in us when we make a monetary exchange, that feeling like we are not getting what we paid for- or that the service does not feel sufficient. The distribution of these decks in a good way, does not come from the want for repeated consumerism, or for satisfied customers. The exchanges are Sacred ones, because I know that what I am sending to them is filled with the Spirit of re-membering the divine in all things, of honoring ancestry and descendants, and of understanding Kapwa (the shared self). I fill my exchanges with Kapwa, I seek to connect with whoever it is that has invited these learnings into their home. I am elated with each note sent, each conversation about the cards, with every post tagged in and photo/screen shot forwarded of the cards being used for what they were meant to- in service of Diasporic Divination work in relation to my heritage and ancestry being elevated. I am working every day to make these exchanges more than meaningful, and in this reflection, I realize I am even seeking for them to be more than acts of humanization- I want these Sacred Exchanges to feel Divine, and I pray they have.
This writing is an invitation for all of us who are being called at this time to be in connection to Divination Tools, to create a good relationship with what rituals and ceremonies you are practicing and what you are using to surface and make tangible that practice. Understand the power in your Sacred work, creations and exchanges and be in reflection about the way you honor the tools you work in union with. If you are a creator of any of the tools of Divination that are being greatly manifested, I embrace you from a far and thank you for answering your calling. May you honor the Sacredness of what your work embodies of the Divine. We are together Kapwa, toward the re-membering and liberation of all our peoples