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The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot
by Louis Martinie and Sallie Ann Glassman

I read with the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot all the time; it remains an all-time, personal favorite of mine. I use it for simple one card questions, as well as questions about complex issues. It helps remind me of a deeper spiritual path, and keeps me feeling in touch with my ancestors, and the spirit (or Other) world. This deck has been with me for many years now. I found it quite by accident (if you believe in accidents) at a used bookstore in Montpelier, VT I had stopped in on a whim while traveling south through the area, when I was first feeling drawn to Vodoun, or Voodoo.The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot It was on sale because the box was battered and torn - the cards themselves were fine and unused. It served me as an early guide into the mysteries and beauties of Vodoun. I have learned much in these years, and this deck remains a message of truth and vision.

The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot presents teachings from West African derived religious traditions, namely New Orleans Voodoo (which differs somewhat from Haitian and West African Vodoun) and Santeria. These two traditions differ, but are both derived from West African spiritual roots, and many people working in one tradition find understanding and wisdom in the other.

The deck is not exactly a traditional tarot format, however the author does make parallels. The Major Arcana consists of twenty-two cards, plus a "Wild Card" - Les Barons. In my opinion, the Majors in this deck work well, but of course take on additional meanings. These additional meanings enrich readings and give us deep insight into the Voodoo tradition. Indeed, they are very keen in helping us grow within.

The Minor Arcana is divided into four suits. This is where many people have difficulty with this deck. Three of the four suits (Petro, Congo, and Rada) are branches of Voodoo, yet the fourth suit (Santeria) is its own individual religion. I personally don't have a problem with this. The spirits of Voodoo are called Lwa, the spirits of Santeria are called Orisha. They are not the same spirits, although similarities can be noted. I have worked with both Lwa and Orisha, so I enjoy this deck as is. Truly, the cards themselves feel "alive" - deeply spiritual, and the deck really has a sense of connection to it. This is an interactive deck, unlike any other. In my own use, I have put aside any flaws in the format simply because I love the deck, and after all, it really works.

The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - Rada 6 - LegbaThe New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - Santeria 7 - Oshun The text itself is generally very well-written, informative, and quite enjoyable. The book offers substantial insight into tarot, divination, Kabbalah, concepts of Voodoo, and other esoteric lore. The author's insights on Voodoo are good ones, and will help a beginner understand such aspects of Voodoo as possession and sacrifice. The squeamish topic of animal sacrifice is given a good introduction here, and I share the author's feeling that unless one regularly slaughters his/her own animals for food, animal sacrifice is unacceptable and unnecessary*. The book offers many good suggestions for non-animal offerings. In addition, there are some terrific suggestions for ritual and spell work, working with ancestors, and meditating on or connecting to Lwa or Orisha. Each card is given several pages of introduction, explanation, and interpretation. Spreads offered are mostly unique (except the Celtic Cross and the Tree of Life), and are valuable for divination and spiritual work.

I have used this deck for all kinds of issues, both mundane and highly esoteric; for myself and for others. It is an immensely powerful deck (perhaps too strong for some), has a strong character, a sense of humor, and an uncanny accuracy. I would absolutely recommend it for anyone who is interested in the Lwa or Orisha, as well as those who might like to deepen their understanding of tarot and Kabbalah, expand their spiritual or ritual work, or simply feel drawn to it. I would also recommend a book written by the illustrator, Sallie Ann Glassman, titled Vodou Visions. It is a great way to further your work with these cards.

An excerpt from the book...

Rituals for Use with the Deck
"The ultimate purpose of this Tarot is to assist both the curious reader and the confirmed voodooist in exploring or deepening their relationship with the loa. These rituals are well suited to this purpose but by no means necessary for everyone who wants to use the cards," author Louis Martinie
"In ritual, who we believe we are unwinds much like the spring of a clock...

"If you are new to the use of ritual, the underlying process is simple. To begin, it is best to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief, a state in which all doubts and reservations about the effectiveness of ritual itself are held at bay through an act of will during the time of the ritual activity. If the actions, sights, and sounds of ritual are far removed from an individual's everyday activities, then the practice of ritual may seem fantastic and foreign in the extreme. The question "How can I be doing this?" destroys the concentration necessary to begin the ritual activity.

"... The underlying procedure of these rites is similar to that of most ritual work performed in any system. During the rite, there is first a period where power is accumulated, a means for focusing that power, and a method for releasing it. Accumulation of power is closely tied to mental concentration; focus is a matter of narrowing the attention to the object of the ritual; and release is achieved by a sudden, and at times jarring, letting go of power. This is the underlying unstated structure."
The cards of the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot:

Twenty-two Roads & the Wild Card
0 World Egg
I Dr. John
II Marie Laveau
III Ayizan
IV Loco
V Master of the Head
VI Marassa
VII Dance
VIII (or XI) Possession
IX Couche
X The Market
XI (or VIII) Secret Societies
XII Zombi
XIII Les Morts
XIV Ti Bon Ange
XV Courir Le Mardi Gras
XVI Deluge
XVII Z'Etoile
XVIII Magick Mirror
XIX Gros Bon Ange
XX Ancestors
XXI Carnival
Wild Card / Les Barons

Forty Spirits
The Four Aces: Kether
Fire / Damballah La Flambeau
Water / Ayida Wedo
Air / Damballah Wedo
Earth / Olodumare

The Four Twos: Chokmah
Fire / Nan Nan Bouclou La Flambeau
Water / Gran Ibo
Air / Nan Nan Bouclou
Earth / Olofi

The Four Threes: Binah
Fire / Guedeh La Flambeau
Water / Manman Brigitte
Air / Guedeh
Earth / Oya

The Four Fours: Chesed
Fire / Agwe La Flambeau
Water / La Baleine
Air / Agwe
Earth / Obatala

The Four Fives: Geburah
Fire / Ogoun La Flambeau
Water / Ogoun Bhalin'dio
Air / Ogoun Ferraille
Earth / Oggun

The Four Sixes: Tiphereth
Fire / Legba La Flambeau
Water / Shi-Li-Bo Nouvavou and Dan-i
Air / Legba
Earth / Eleggua

The Four Sevens: Netzach
Fire / Erzulie La Flambeau
Water / La Sirene
Air / Erzulie Freda Dahomey
Earth / Oshun

The Four Eights: Hod
Fire / Simbi La Flambeau
Water / Simbi d'l'eau
Air / Simbi
Earth / Shango

The Four Nines: Yesod
Fire / Masa La Flambeau
Water / Madame La Lune
Air / Masa
Earth / Yemaya

The Four Tens: Malkuth
Fire / Azaka La Flambeau
Water / Gran Bois
Air / Azaka
Earth / Ochosi

Sixteen Temple Cards
The Temple Cards: Court Cards

Fire / Petro Houngan
Water / Congo Houngan
Air / Rada Houngan
Earth / Santeria Santero

Fire / Petro Mambo
Water / Congo Mambo
Air / Rada Mambo
Earth / Santeria Santera

La Place
Fire / Petro La Place
Water / Congo La Place
Air / Rada La Place
Earth / Santeria Oriate

Fire / Petro Hounsis
Water / Congo Hounsis
Air / Rada Hounsis
Earth / Santeria Yaguo

*I do support the right of legitimate houses of worship to conduct such sacrifices.

The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - XX - Marie Laveau The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - Petro 1 - Damballah la Flambeau The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - XX - Ancestors

Card artwork by Sallie Ann Glassman; excerpt by Louis Martinie

Read user reviews or purchase online at Amazon:
The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot at Amazon

You might also be interested in my reviews of:

Afro-Brazilian Tarot
by Alice Santana and Giuseppe Palumbo

Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti
by Phyllis Galembo

Tarot review and photos by Nellie Levine

Publishing tarot deck reviews, original tarot spreads, articles, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts, practitioners of the intuitive arts, and followers of alternative spirituality since 1999. Woman owned.
All writing, reviews, and photography © Nellie Levine, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2022