Interview With Morgan Claire Sirene, Creator Of The Slutist Tarot

Slutist is one of our very favorite sites on the web here at New Jack Witch so when we found out they were creating their own tarot deck, we knew it would be something special. According to their campaign site: "This deck is meant to be both erotic and representational — not just for daringly promiscuous sex witches, but also for those who devote themselves to monogamous relationships or abstain from sex all together, because we acknowledge that “sexual liberation” is an all encompassing power to make choices about one’s own sex life. The Slutist Tarot aims to put a woman’s voice behind eroticism, and to create images of people on the feminine spectrum in a way that we believe honors their sexualities." 

The Slutist Tarot, currently fundraising on Kickstarter was created by Morgan Claire Sirene and she chatted with us about it and shared some of the amazing artwork.

What is your background with the tarot and as an artist? 

When I was 18 I made a friend named Jennica while living in Tucson Arizona who told me about the tradition of gifting tarot decks. In this tradition a person should never buy their own tarot deck (this isn't an absolute truth, but it is something I believe in and encourage) she used to read my cards and was a really inspiring young witch with a die hard obsession with Prince, an active interest in Santeria and herbology and a shared obsession with Hedwig and the Angry Inch. She gave me my first deck, The Hermetic Tarot, and I've been giving and receiving since then. My hands have turned over about 20 decks at this point. I got into witchcraft when I was 13 with 3 of my friends (whom I am still friends with today) because of the movie The Craft (duh), Sailor Moon and a deeply imbedded love of the fantasy genre and since then, despite all the conflicts that an interest in witchcraft in a conservative family and city caused, my interest in magick and mysticism has grown into a lifestyle. Though I've been close to many witches who practice divination, I didn't get serious about it until I became close to the woman I consider my eternal sister, Sarah Bradley, who was my tarot mentor while I was living in Chicago. Along with the book, Tarot: Dictionary and Compendium by Jana Riley, Sarah taught me everything I know about divination.

As an artist I've been doodling since I was 1. My parents encouraged my artistic interests, while I generally fucked up in every other category of my life, and paid for me to take art lessons from a very young age. My main focus was in realism with watercolor paint, but I really don't enjoy any art practice that requires a lot of time and patience. I need to exorcise whatever demons I have in the span of a couple hours. Prior to college, everything I made was in a sketchbook with a black ballpoint pen or very very bad oil paintings. At The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I was enrolled for visual and critical studies rather than fine arts, I took a couple fashion illustration courses which I loved, and where I learned about using markers. I felt like I was finally excelling at something artistically, and then my professor who is a retired fashion illustrator, was like "yeah...this isn't a thing anymore." I turned my focus to curating art events, hosting Drink n Draws and writing instead of making art myself until I started to entertain the idea of creating comics and illustrating tarot cards, which is what I do now. 

What is the inspiration behind the story of The Maiden’s Journey?

Sarah taught me the Fool's Journey, she told it to me like a classic fairy tale. I started to see those archetypes and that story line in all of my favorite children's classics; the tales of Camelot, Alice Through the Looking GlassLabrynthThe Never Ending Story. Stripped down, the Fool's Journey is the blueprint for every great young adventurer who is forced to grow and change through the experiences and people they meet on that journey. I'm really into stories that flip the script on the cis male hero, and I gravitated mostly to some self imposed themes on Alice of being "too curious," growing up, leaving childhood behind, and accepting the sometimes harrowing and other times ecstatic new life as a woman. 

How does it differ from The Fool’s Journey?

The Maiden's Journey is about sexuality specifically. How sex and sexual trauma changes you, your perception of yourself and how you deal with humanity. It doesn't have to be a woman's narrative even though I am telling it from a femme perspective. I can't speak for all woman identified people, but for me and many women I know, having your life defined by sex is kind of inevitable, so it makes sense to me that this is The Maiden's gift and curse. 

Who inspired the figures on the cards?

Soooo many people. Some of my best friends, the witches I grew up with, inspiring radical sluts I met in my early twenties, lovers, people I met in the sex industry and fetish/goth communities and of course, the untouchable idols of my youth - rockstars, authors, pornstars and infamous witches. 

What does the word slut mean to you? 

Slut means sexual agency. Slut is a threat to cis hetero patriarchy, sluts don't obey rules of sex and gender. Sluts can have a million partners or none at all, it's all about personal power and pleasure. Never letting anyone dictate what that means to you, and never letting anyone tell you that you are worthless or should be ashamed of your body. Also, sluts don't shame other sluts!

What is the importance of the Divine Whore archetype in witchcraft and femme spirituality?

The history of misogyny, in my opinion, derives from the fear of female sexuality. Evil whore archetypes were created to condemn female sexuality, and to control it. The Whore of Babalon is my favorite example, and the god figure elevated and revered by Aleister Crowley and Jack Parsons. When I was younger I got really into Lilith, and what it means to be the Anti-Christ, which I interpreted as a woman or someone who does not conform to gender norms, and I began to see that as a sexual and mystical power. I've always been into Satanism (despite it's history of being misogynistic and libertarian) and I loved how Satanism directly reverts Christianity, and in doing so regards the sexualities of non cis-het-males as power not weakness - The Satanic Temple pulls this to the forefront of their very feminist doctrine. As a woman who is high femme, very sexually open and a sex worker I know that my enemies and oppressors are those who think female sexuality doesn't exist (as in, women have no interest in sex so consent doesn't matter, and that the vaginal orgasm is a myth), and that nympho behavior is a sign of mental illness, and that sex work is filthy and criminal. Sex work for me (as a person of privilege) is reverting the power dynamic of most service oriented jobs, and selling a service that doesn't involve the exploitation of anyone else's labor or land nor is it contributing to any corporation. That's anti-capitalist, which is another misogynistic foundation. Witchcraft isn't totally at odds with Christianity since so much of the Bible was adapted from pagan traditions and mythology, but in the way Christianity has been used in the Western world since the Middle Ages, it is absolutely anti-witch, anti-sex and oppressively patriarchal. Capitalism is anti-witch and anti-feminist. So in this sense, the Divine Whore is the god figure that challenges the cis-het-patriarch of Christianity and capitalism - two systems that also perpetuate systematic racism and genocide - and everything witches are oppressed by and fighting to change. SJW= Social Justice Witch?

Morgan Claire Sirene, photo by Claudia Kent

Morgan Claire Sirene, photo by Claudia Kent