My name is Emily Francis Clare.*
To get the labels out of the way (especially since things are always more complicated than the labels make them out to be): Seon/whitebread American Buddhist, queer, vegan, INFJ, catmom. I am a cissexual/cisgender woman (or maybe a demiwoman–haven’t figured that one out yet), a white USian of mostly Scottish and German descent, and temporarily able-bodied. I have a Ph.D. in British literature, and I specialize in literature about the environment from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. When I grow up I want to be an environmental educator who helps adults connect to the earth through arts, literature, and spirituality.
After discovering tarot in early 2015, the study of it has become one of my main hobbies. I love working with the cards and at this moment equally favor the Waite-Smith and Thoth traditions. As I move further into my studies, I also hope to become more familiar with the historical traditions of Tarot de Marseilles and Visconti-Sforza.
The more comfortable with tarot I become, the more I am beginning to relate it to Buddhist teachings, since that is the framework through which I make sense of things. For me, this means that, like many others over the past few decades, I am moving away from more traditional systems of studying tarot, such as the occult, and toward a psychological/spiritual framework. (This is not to impugn the occult–it’s just not my style.) I am also beginning to figure out ways of detaching tarot from its traditionally rigid gender roles.
When I read cards, I focus on how the cards interact through elemental dignities and numbers, as well as visual symbols. I do not consider myself psychic, although I believe I am gifted with intuition (being an INFJ and all.) Buddhist perspectives always leak into my readings, as you will find out quickly if you read any of my blog posts.
I am beginning to figure out the ways in which I can use tarot as a tool of both personal and social liberation, which means coming to terms with how it can be used appropriatively or oppressively. I work seriously within the tradition of Seon Buddhism that has been handed down to me and am sensitive to exoticizing or exploiting it. Likewise, in my tarot practice I avoid doing things that I have not acquired through proper avenues of cultural exchange and I feel would be culturally appropriative if I practiced them, like smudging cards or doing chakra readings. I love buying decks, but am pretty picky, both aesthetically and politically. Although I do work with historical decks (Waite-Smith, Thoth, Marseilles, and Visconti-Sforza) most of the modern decks I own either lack people entirely (Wild Unknown Tarot, Wooden Tarot, Earthbound Oracle, Druid Animal Oracle) or feature highly stylized humans (the William Blake Tarot, for example.) I’m always on the lookout for decks with diversity of race, sexuality, gender expression, and body type, as well as those with a non-anthropocentric focus, like the Wildwood Tarot.
At this time, I do not offer readings but am enjoying sharing what I learn on this blog and on Instagram.
*Yes, this is a pseudonym, in case it wasn’t obvious. The “Francis” is for St. Francis of Assisi and the Clare is for–not St. Clare, as you might think–John Clare, my favorite poet.