A little warning – I get a bit excited in this post and my language gets a little explicite. I’ve definitely been more colorful with my language in the past, but just as a heads up, there are a few f-bombs in here.
I came across this deck a couple months ago—maybe less than, when I was writing a Weird Deck Wednesday post, and using Dystopia and Street Art as a theme. It lead me straight to the Tarot Banksy by Shilo Lewis, also known as CooptyLew.
I thought the deck was pretty awesome, and little did I know, Miss CooptyLew herself thought it was awesome that I thought it was awesome, and long story short, this AMAZING deck found itself into my hands.
This 2018 self-published deck is a collection of Banksy pieces rolled into an 80-card Tarot deck, providing two Hierophants and 2 Judgement cards.
When the deck arrived, I had a Hell of a time getting into the postage packaging. That puppy was snug in wrapping. But when I did, it was like the gift that kept on giving.
Before I even got to the box. I found a white Tarot bag with the High Priestess on it. Once I got into the wrapping for the deck, I found a little wrapped crystal (love it!), and finally, I got to the deck itself, which comes in a tuck-box.
The first thing I did was look through each card one by one. The deck is edged with silver, which makes the deck as a whole feel sturdier, but the cardstock itself is a little light in my opinion. At least, I thought that until I shuffled the deck.
It shuffles like a dream. It is so pleasing to shuffle, I had a really hard time stopping. But I do enjoy a good shuffle. It’s right up there with huffing books.
Speaking of huffing, the deck smells like paint. I don’t think this was intentional from the creator, and is probably the smell of the ink on it. But given that the deck is themed by a world-famous graffiti artist, I thought it was quite fitting.
As I mentioned, there are 80 cards. There are two Hierophants and two Judgements. There are other differences in that the suits are named differently. I had to work it out when I went through it because I didn’t see that there was a booklet to go with it (more on that in a moment).
The Buckets are Cups, the Spray Cans are Swords, the Brushes are Wands, and the Stencils are Pentacles.
The Court Cards differ as well. The ‘hierarchy’ goes Sister (Pages/Princesses), Brother (Knights), Mamma (Queens) and Papa (Kings). I really appreciate this as it brings a more down to earth approach that breaks away from the very old guard way of looking at the figures. Being as the Court Cards can represent actual caricatures, labeling them this way reminds us that we’re all in this together. We’re all brothers and sisters, mammas and papas.
CooptyLew was brilliant with the pieces she picked for card representation. The 3 of Brushes (Wands) is a person pulling back the grey paint that’s covered graffiti. It’s revealing the compilation of graffiti artists that has built and built, and that no matter how much it gets covered over, there will always be that foundation.
The 8 of Spray Cans (Swords) is a woman in an over-turned shopping card, holding onto the bars and screaming to get out. Perfect!
While I know that it’s not the best way to associate it, I find that I can’t help but think ‘what an ass’ every time I come across the Knight of Swords. So I gained so much joy when I saw that the stencil of the cop who pepper-sprayed those handcuffed, sitting protesters during an Occupy protest was the Brother of Spray Cans.
And I think one of my absolute favorite cards is the 10 of Spray Cans (Swords), which shows a kid crying because he has no social media likes, comments, or friends. Fucking brilliant.
I find that because it’s Banksy themed, it comes across as quite snarky. The World, for example, is a map of the world going into the gutter. The Moon is his piece with Cinderella’s carriage overturned. The High Priestess is Princess Leah spray painting ‘Fuck this imperialist bullshit.’ The 2 of Buckets (Cups), which is a card of union and harmony and love, shows two people in an embrace but stuck on their phones behind the others’ back.
The guidebook is a fold-out sheet that was co-written by Shilo Lewis and Loreen Muzik. The cover of it is a man looking at a framed piece which reads, ‘I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit.’ I thought that was quite funny to have as an intro to a Tarot deck.
There is a blurb to the Major Arcana and to the Suits, talking about what they each represent (though the Brushes were forgotten, sadly). Each Card is described by a keyword, but also introduce with a Banksy quite, which I absolutely adore.
The Ace of Brushes (Wands) says, ‘A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.’ The Papa of Stencils (King of Pentacles) reads, ‘When you go to an art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at a trophy cabinet of a few millionaires.’
I appreciate that the book is keywords rather than a full description. It allows the reader to delve into the cards themselves. That being said, I do generally really enjoy a good description from the creator as well, simply so I can get in their heads.
After playing around with the deck for a little bit, I interviewed it, and was pleased as punch with the result.
Go get this deck.
I suppose there’s a little stipulation on this. If you don’t know the Tarot that well, and you’re just learning, this might not be the deck for you. The guidebook is good and if you know Banksy’s art really well, then you might do well with this, but it will take some time.
However, if you’re a seasons Tarot-reader, and you want something that is real as fuck—I promise you want this deck.
The deck is still available, though as I write this, I think there’s only a hundred and something left, so I would shimmy on over to her Etsy shop, CooptyLew, and get your copy while you can. It is totally worth it.
You can follow her blog too at www.cooptylew.com. Seriously, go buy her deck.