Our latest interview is with Mariza Ryce Aparicio-Tovar, creator of The Gentle Tarot - An indigenous-made, colourful and uplifting, nature inspired tarot deck. Inspired by our natural environment, Mariza explores issues of mental health and self-love with hopes of advocating care for our planet and ourselves so that collectively we may experience our full potential.
Kickstarter - The Gentle Tarot
Where in the world do you call home?
Alaska has been my home since 2014. I presently live in a remote Alaskan community of roughly 4,500 people in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Island chain. We are out in the middle of the Bering Sea. The lifestyle feels different than any other place I have lived and even different from any other place in Alaska I have been. Life has a slow pace, which I really love. The year-round natural beauty and unique, supportive community is why Unalaska is home.
What was your first experience with oracles and / or tarot and when did you fall in love with it?
My first experience with tarot was in college, but I didn’t fall in love with it until after college in 2010. I had quit my job in Seattle and was about to hitchhike solo down the west coast to LA when a couple of close friends of mine offered me a reading. Every card in the spread gave me chills and the energy in the cards and in the room was like an introduction to a new friend. I have since practiced on my own.
What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?
As mentioned above, the energy from tarot/oracle cards has felt like a friend. This friend has always felt gentle, patient, and loving and I had not come across a deck with art that had this kind of energy. Since 2012 I had wanted to illustrate my own deck, but it wasn’t until this past summer while working (even more remotely) on a salmon river far from reception and roads, I finally had the time and space to start. Daily practice this summer, with my sweet friend and co-worker Kanesia, also helped feed the flame.
Aside from your own deck, do you have a favourite deck? If so, which one?
It’s hard to name only one! I absolutely love the Brady Tarot, her craft is priceless.
Do you have a favourite card (either from your deck or just the card in general). If so, why is it your favourite?
The Tower is definitely my favorite. This may change at some point, but it excites me the most. Maybe I am just desiring upheaval or simply attracted to change. I love how a visual that would seem negative is in fact powerfully positive.
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
Being creative is my stress relief. The more stressed or depressed I am, the more I create. Even before the pandemic, the state of the world was a huge weight on my emotional well-being (as I am sure it has been for most of us). Parallel to my stress levels, creativity has shot through the roof. Although I am thankful to have this outlet, I hope our world reaches a healthy equilibrium on all fronts.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
My biggest challenge was starting. It took me eight years to finally give it a go. It’s hard not to feel intimidated or question your right to interpret something so old. After starting though, and I began with The Moon card, I knew that my calling to create a deck was greater than my fear and doubt.
I love that you are so dedicated to the environment and will be planting two trees for every pledge, as well as using a portion of the pledges to donate to ocean and climate change research. Have you always been this environmentally conscious or was there some event that raised your awareness?
As an indigenous woman, having been raised to foster a relationship of honor and respect for our natural environment, taking care of our planet is simply common sense. Our survival depends on ecological harmony. The earth has provided fruitfully for millennia, our out-of-balance practices need to change.
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
I am pretty sure that I will shed celebratory tears. :) I can still hardly grasp what has happened in the past five days since the Kickstarter launched. My ultimate celebration will be when I donate to the planting of trees (as of right now we are at 884!) and to ocean and climate change research.
What is on offer for people who pledge?
On offer is the First Edition Gentle Tarot deck and guidebook! The cards are classic 2.75” by 4.75” with 78 cards on 350gsm matte laminate paper with matte gold sides. The book will be slightly larger in size at about 3”x5” and both will come in a two-part box.
I also have Gentle Tarot earrings, session cloths, limited edition signed prints, tote bags, postcards, tapestries, and stickers. If we reach stretch goals I will be adding cozy wear and maybe even dresses!
In addition to Kickstarter, the Gentle Tarot website will be up soon. Please check it out to grab goodies you want and to stay posted! Also, my Etsy has Gentle Tarot items not offered in the Kickstarter campaign, such as mugs, full print tote bags, tapestries, and biodegradable phone cases.
Thank you so much for having me here! Nothing but love. Mari
To be one of the first to get your hands on this stunning deck, pledge here:
Kickstarter - The Gentle Tarot