The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Barbie Tarot: Major Arcana Post 1

Before I post the cards, here are a few notes on the construction of the deck. I used Rider-Waite imagery and parallels for the most part, largely because the images and most apparent meanings are well-known and comfortable for many Tarot readers including myself, and also because in most historic decks the numbered cards of the Minor Arcana are decorated with pips rather than illustrations. I have included links to the Rider-Waite Tarot cards, so named because they were originally illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith at the direction of Arthur Edward Waite for the publisher Rider and Sons.

The majority of dolls in my Barbie deck are from the modern era of Mattel, even though Barbie dolls have been around for nearly 50 years. This is partly because it is so much easier to get interesting and clear photos of the more contemporary dolls, but also because Mattel has provided far greater variety not only in costuming but in the ethnicities and facial detail of the more recent Barbies. And -- purely as a matter of taste -- I prefer the more subtly made up, smiling Barbies of the modern era to the pursed lips and stylized makeup of the earlier Barbies, though it's a shame that such lovely features as rooted eyelashes are now quite rare.

I suppose that, as a feminist, I should justify my interest in Barbie in the first place, since her face and figure have never been remotely realistic or attainable for women and the doll has been criticized as setting poor standards for girls. I think that what gives girls a negative self-image are the barrage of media images of real live women who starve themselves and reconstruct their faces in the name of fashion; I don't think little girls have any more trouble discerning that Barbie does not represent a real woman any more than a plastic blinking baby doll could ever be mistaken for a real baby.

Moreover, despite a regrettable lack of diversity in the Barbie play line until recently and some really stupid marketing choices ("Math is hard"), Barbie has achieved every school and career goal she has ever set for herself; she has attended dozens of universities, played on both college and professional sports teams, become a doctor, lawyer, ambassador, photographer, movie star, teacher, paleontologist, Army captain, artist, dentist, circus star, musician, firefighter and President of the United States, all while helping to raise her younger sisters, carrying on decades-long friendships and maintaining a romantic relationship of long duration. G.I. Joe's achievements have never come close.

All images of Barbie dolls, the background imagery from the boxes and the doll names Barbie, Ken, Teresa, Christie, Stacie etc. are copyright and trademark Mattel Inc. All Rider-Waite card images are copyright US Games Systems Inc. No infringement is intended and no profits are being made; this is a labor of love. If you want to save or print these for your own personal use, wonderful, but please don't repost them or hotlink directly to the images.

0      The Fool      1959 Original Swimsuit Barbie
Traditionally The Fool depicts person setting off on a journey. Here is one of the earliest Barbies, on the beach with her high heels, sunglasses and handbag, epitomizing both Barbie's fashion sense and her refusal to believe that there's anything she can't do. (Rider-Waite)

1      The Magician      Glinda from The Wizard of Oz
Who better for the card of balanced elemental influences, originality, willpower and confidence than Glinda the Good Witch, who sets Dorothy on the path to the Emerald City and keeps watch to protect her from deadly flowers and flying monkeys, ultimately showing her the way home? (Rider-Waite)

2      The High Priestess      Midnight Moon from the Celestial Collection
Traditionally dressed in blue with the moon under her feet, she represents wisdom, intuition and purity of knowledge. Here she is packaged with the moon behind her, holding strings of pure white pearls and wearing a priestess' circlet. (Rider-Waite)

3      The Empress      Empress Josephine from Women of Royalty
An older woman, sometimes associated with fertility and sexual potency, she represents action and accomplishment, though the card reversed can mean indecision or vacillation. This doll portrays Josephine at the height of her beauty, elegance and influence over Napoleon. (Rider-Waite)

4      The Emperor      Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings
The masculine image of accomplishment, potency and earthly achievement. This is Aragorn at the end of The Return of the King, enthroned and about to marry his longtime love, having overcome the reverse meanings of immaturity and indecisiveness. (Rider-Waite)

5      The Hierophant      Sultan from Tales of the Arabian Nights
The Hierophant is a card of orthodoxy -- usually spiritual, often social -- which sometimes can mean mercy and institutionalized charity but sometimes can mean being bound by convention, arrogance or conformity. In this case, the Sultan performed acts of incredible cruelty but ultimately spared Scheherazade and accepted her wisdom. (Rider-Waite)

6      The Lovers      Jude Deveraux's The Raider Set
On the Rider-Waite version of The Lovers, Adam and Eve stand before the two trees of the Garden of Eden, the one with the snake already wrapped around it despite the angel above them. Based on their pose, this Barbie and Ken could be taken as either the romantic meaning of trust and harmony or the flip side: frustration, aggression, betrayal. (Rider-Waite)

7      The Chariot      Secret Hearts and Earring Magic Ken
The card of the journey is often illustrated by a cart being pulled in two different directions or by two different animals, representing willfulness and turmoil as well as resolve and determination. These two Kens have appropriated one of Barbie's cars and are off on their own journey. It would be remiss of me not to note that Earring Magic Ken is affectionately known among Barbie aficionados as "Cock Ring Ken" due to the silver loop on his necklace, and that this image is from a postcard licensed by Mattel and sold at FAO Schwartz. (Rider-Waite)

8      Strength      Navy Barbie from the Stars and Stripes Series
This heroic card quite often features a woman prying open a lion's jaws or conquering wild terrain. It stands for courage and righteousness as much as physical force, though reversed it can mean impetuousness, arrogance or petty tyranny. Here is Barbie representing both the positive and negative aspects of the US Armed Forces. (Rider-Waite)


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