When I wandered into the wild world of internet tarot two years ago, Marianne of Two Sides Tarot was one of the first cardslingers I discovered.
I was scrolling through Siobhan’s tarotscopes when I came upon her contribution, and it was immediately apparent that she was talented. I’m always delighted to discover a taroist who’s equal parts wordsmith–so much of what we do relies upon the nuanced and thoughtful use of language, so a reader with a strong writing background is quite the force. As I got to know the woman behind the words, I realized that the powerful kindness, insight, and honesty so prevalent in her writing finds its source in her. I just knew I had to interview her for this series, and to my absolute and utter delight, she accepted.
When and why did the idea to stock tarot decks in the shop come to you, and what did manifesting that goal require?
It was really inspired by my own desire for all the gorgeous indie, artist-published decks that we’re so blessed to have at this time in tarot history. Most creators are based in North America and Europe, and being in Australia, I was dropping US$20-$40 in shipping fees every time I backed something on Kickstarter or bought a deck from Etsy. I knew this was an expense other Australian collectors struggled with, too, so I thought, since I had the platform and the community already, why not build a bridge between all of these amazing artists and the diviners who want to put their art to work?
From idea to execution it probably took me about a year, but to be honest, much of that time was spent grappling with the fears I had about expanding my business. Logistically, it’s not too hard to contact creators and arrange wholesale, and throw everything up in an online store. The tricky part – at least, I found – was being brave enough to step up and make my business (and myself) more visible. I was pretty abashed at first, reaching out to tarot legends like Kim Krans and Mary Elizabeth Evans, but once I gave myself the psychological permission I needed to own the direction Two Sides Tarot was taking, all of that fell into place.
The tricky part – at least, I found – was being brave enough to step up and make my business (and myself) more visible.
It helps that pretty much everyone in the tarot space is a delight to work with, and I’ve received so much support and encouragement from my customers, suppliers, and peers. Beth over at Little Red Tarot in particular has been such a champion of mine, and offered me so much support, advice, and inspiration. I even have international customers now who say they’d rather have decks shipped all the way from Australia in order to shop with me, which is a total thrill!
I say that I wanted to help Aussies save on shipping fees, but at heart, all the joy of this work comes from community. It’s really an honour to be able to support deck creators, and I love getting to kiss my parcels goodbye when they go in the post, knowing that the recipient is definitely going to have at least one life-changing card reading in their future, thanks to my efforts! Tarot people are a special bunch, and it’s a pleasure to serve them in this way.
As someone who pours over fabric samples before deciding which to purchase for my tarot bags, I have to ask–what criteria do you use to choose the decks?
I imagine at least one of our methods are similar – sometimes when you see a deck, you just know you’ve got to have it! My own taste is, of course, a big part of it, but I have other considerations, too. I’m always on the lookout for decks that are interesting and unique in some way, whether in their artwork or their philosophy. Decks that are LGBTQ+ inclusive, and decks that aren’t solely populated by skinny white people are also always on my shop wish list. Variety is important, too. If I’ve only got about 20 decks in my shop, I want to make sure they represent a broad range of aesthetics and ideas.
Decks that are LGBTQ+ inclusive, and decks that aren’t solely populated by skinny white people are also always on my shop wish list.
I also make choices based on my knowledge and appreciation of a deck’s creator – for example, I’ll take practically anything Mary Evans or Marcella Kroll do, sight unseen, because I trust their work will be resonant. Popular demand is also a factor. I try to keep on top of which decks are coming out and getting a lot of buzz, and my customers will often contact me with requests for forthcoming titles, which I do my best to accommodate. Getting to pick and choose is definitely a fun part of the job!
What first drew you to tarot?
It’s funny you should ask, because I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my tarot origin story. It’s going to be a letdown, because honestly, I can’t exactly remember! It certainly wasn’t a cataclysmic moment, more like a slow dawning. I came to tarot in my mid-20s, so I wasn’t one of those witchy teenage goths who’s been reading since high school slumber parties (although I was definitely a witchy teenage goth!). It was around the time that I finished my master’s degree, I was a bit at a loose end, and I’d read a bunch of fantasy novels that used tarot as a plot device. At that stage, I was still dedicatedly “un-woo” so when I picked up Robert Place’s Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination, I maintained it was purely for academic purposes. Naturally, about two pages in, I was hooked.
The funny thing is, though, once tarot arrived, it thoroughly took over my life and it was like it had always been there. I’d always been bookish (and in fact, I’ve worked in the book industry for nearly 15 years), and my academic background is in literature, so reading texts of all kinds is my jam. Interpreting tarot cards is not dissimilar from interpreting a novel or a poem, so reading tarot is a natural extension of the interpretive skills I’ve cultivated my entire life. It feels like the perfect confluence of so many things I’m passionate about!
Your writing is gentle yet raw, honest, yet stylized—in other words, you’re an awesome writer. How does this interest/ability relate to your study and practice of tarot?
That is very kind of you to say, thank you! I might have jumped the gun and partially answered this above, but my tarot practice is very much informed by my studies in English lit. Obviously, my tarot readings are not academic in style, but I think many years of essay and thesis writing have given me a few transferrable skills. Also, they say that one of the best ways to make yourself a good writer is to be a good reader, and that’s something I’ve diligently practiced since the Babysitters Club days of yore!
What I didn’t expect was that writing would become so much a part of the intuitive process for me. It’s rare for me to read cards in person; most of my readings are done in writing via email, and it’s through the act of writing about the cards that I’m able to best access my intuition. Often, when I sit down to do a tarot reading, I don’t immediately know what the cards are about, but once I start making notes the messages become clear.
What I didn’t expect was that writing would become so much a part of the intuitive process for me.
I don’t think this is an act of channeling so much as it is just the best method for me to organize my thoughts and listen to my intuition. I can uncover connections and draw out stories by putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) that my mind couldn’t otherwise retrieve. I’ve been an avid journaler since I was about 12, too, so I think writing has always been how I’ve figured things out. I’m glad I now get to use that skill to help others figure things out, too!
I’m basing this question off of a series of hashtags on one of your Instagram posts—is Sydney really a feminist utopia?
Haha! Sydney is by no means a feminist utopia, but we’re very lucky to have Australia’s only women-only ocean pool, McIver’s Baths, where I swim a couple of times a week. It’s so beautiful, I can rarely resist taking a picture for instagram, hence the #feministutopia hashtag! A friend introduced me to it over last summer, and I can’t believe that all this time, the thing ruining the beach for me was men! Obviously, I’m kidding, but it has shown me how precious and magical women-only spaces can be. We’ve referred to it as our feminist utopia ever since.
The baths have been women-only since they were developed in 1886, but many sources – including local women – suggest that the rock pool was used prior to European invasion by Aboriginal women. I’m acutely aware that it’s because of my unearned privilege as a colonizer that I get to experience this beautiful place, and I always try to do so respectfully (which isn’t hard when it’s evidently such a special and sacred space). If any of your female-identified readers find themselves in Sydney, I definitely recommend a visit – you might even catch me in my smalls on the rocks, doing my morning tarot Weather Report!
Be sure to visit Two Sides Tarot to learn more about Marianne and her offerings!
Much Love Beauties,