By Laura LaVoie
When I was in college, I started to read Tarot cards. I found them fascinating and rich with history, archetypes, and symbolism. I eventually collected Tarot decks, at one time owning about 15. However, every Tarot reader, regardless of their love for other artwork, understands the importance of a single deck known popularly as the Rider-Waite tarot.
Except, the name for the Rider-Waite tarot doesn’t tell the whole story.
The artist who created the iconic images on the world’s first mass-market tarot deck was actually Pamela Colman Smith, a woman and an artist whose name was practically erased from history. Pamela was a biracial woman born in London in 1878 and raised by artists.
She was the first popular tarot designer to create individual drawings for each of the suit cards. Previously, like a traditional deck of playing cards, they just had the number and the symbol on each one. Game changer.