Cards for Change: The Tarot for Social Transformation


For some years an idea has been rattling around my head. Can we create stories of a positive future, a vision worth aspiring to? I see a world in Transition, with forces pulling in multiple directions. Some desire greater control, or would maintain their interests, others work to distribute resource and equalise opportunity. But there is little in the way of vision. However what I have alway struggled with is how to weave multiple narratives. The Tarot (or simply cards) offers the opportunity for multiple narratives and even exploration of new narratives through a shuffle of the cards and engaging the imagination. Note: Whilst the Tarot is our launch point for exploration, Cards for Change may further evolve as the prototype develops.

For some the Tarot will seem an unusual vehicle for exploring these stories. But I urge you to set aside your stereotypes and prejudices as I have, and consider the below as one means of mapping the landscape of our emergent future and a launch point for further discussion.

We are co-creating a Tarot for Social Transformation, and we invite you to contribute.

The idea at it’s core is to collect the Archetypes, Behaviours, Technologies, and Memes that are Transforming our world, and to use them to build a story of Positive Social Transformation. As well as telling this story the cards can be used for Brainstorming, Forecasting, Generating new lines of intellectual inquiry, and mapping change within your community.

Why the Tarot?

The Tarot has at it’s core a story of Personal Transformation – the Fools Journey. The Archetypes the Fool meets and events that befall the Fool on his way result in his personal growth and spiritual transformation. Despite this linear narrative however, the shuffling of the cards, or conscious use, combined with the opportunity for interpretation of the images, allows for multiple narratives and paths to emerge. The cards offer a point of provocation for us to create patterns and pathways for Social Transformation.

Many stories are being told of our future. These Meta Narratives are mostly either of Technological Salvation, Financial Collapse, Ecological Destruction, or outright Armageddon. It is necessary for us to find new stories, stories that are both positive and inclusive if we are to create a world worth inhabiting.

The Tarot offers a good working structure to help create new narratives and explore these in a distributed and non-linear manner. The associated rituals also provide a fun and meaningful framework for telling stories of our future.

The final deck will be offered for download under a cc-by license and maybe printed and offered for sale, however if you do profit from the cards and their use, please donate a portion of the profits you consider to be fair towards a socially beneficial project of your choosing.

The final deck will not be edited or curated by us, where cards are duplicated you can choose which you want to include. You may also choose to exclude cards, although first we invite you to consider carefully how you would interpret the card, and if it should really be excluded from the deck (as an example when I saw the “Castration for Rape” card I had a strong urge to remove it, my wife pointed out it was created by an Indian Woman. The card now represents for me Mob Justice, Violent Retaliation, Oppression of Women, Violence Against Women and a whole host of complex interconnected social issues that should not be ignored in any transition narrative – we must recognise the dark sides of our nature if we are to embrace the light).

So please contribute to the discussion by:

Download and print the template, or upload into a draw program (although we would rather you engage your hands).
Create a card – please only draw in black and white (for some consistency of aesthetics).
You may create your own Archetypes, Behaviors, Technologies, Memes, or anything else you consider necessary for consideration in the path to a better future.
If you wish to use the existing tarot for a launch point, generate a random card here, consider it’s meaning and how it translates to social transformation.

Finally send us your card here and we’ll add to the deck, feel free to share online #cards4change


Note: We have prototyped this exercise at DMY with mixed results, you can find the first cards here (we will clean up for deck printing later). I would like to see more archetypes relating to real world archetypes, and emerging trends in the deck, but some are already a good start.

See gallery below.


Update: New additions and second event

2014-06-23 18.08.15

It was our pleasure to participate in a festival at Klien Hundorf, a small community in North Germany. You know you’re in Paradise when the food served is picked from plants within 5 minutes walking distance. There weren’t so many participants, but those that did were worth it. See below for the latest additions.


Update. At present the project is on hiatus, whilst I focus on Betabook.co.

We’ve collected at least 20 additional cards to process. Here’s a couple.


Stewardship, by Lauren Lapidge

Who are the stewards of the future?

Who is responsible for the resources of the future?

What can we learn about the past and now on ‘stewardship’?


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