New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - the ONES - my take

Little Baron

Have been making notes in a 'notebook' this morning, as Umbrae has suggested many a time [with a pencil], and found it enlightening.

But wanted to bring them here and discuss them with you guys, if [and that's a big 'if'] any of you actually use this deck.

The aces seemed to open up much more in a 'foursome' than they do when I pick a card, one at a time, randomly.

The 'ones' are as follows -

Damballah Wedo, who is a serpent of air

Ayida Wedo, a serpent of water, who is married to Damballah and is shown in union with a person.

Damballah la Flambeau, who is a serpent of fire.

And from the religion of Santeria, Oludumare, who is a spirit of earth.

All four are linked to the first vessel of the Tree of Life in Kabballah, Kether.

All four are energy in it's purest. Pure fire. Pure air. Pure water. And pure earth. In this, for example, I need to remember that in pure fire, there is little room for emotion. Each element is focused and is a pure influence. Each one creates. Their attention is not wavered.

I have always seen the number 'one' as a new beginning, so it seems appropriate, also, that we have a serpent or snake to stand for three of the aces. A snake sheds it's skin. This shedding could be seen as re-birth or some kind of healing or new start, which is uncompromised by the burdens of past influence any longer.

Damballah la Flambeau is pure fire. He is a flame. He is active and masculine energy. And this card lets you know that what he has got, is available for you to use. However, in the wrong position in a spread, as opposition, you might be up against a bumpy ride, for he can be strong and antagonistic.

I see him as will power and drive. He might, at worst, represent anger and rage, if his energy is used inappropriately. He might be raw ambition.

Fire has always had sexual connotations for me. And so does the serpent. Here, I see his as sex, without love. He is the thrust. He is a f*** without emotion.

Ayida Wedo is pure water. In what we know about the elements, she is therefore pure emotion and creativity. I have always seen the 'Ace of Cups' in traditional tarot to be about pure emotion without a background plot. May that be laughter, tears, tenderness or hate. And here, in it's purest form, the snake mounts the dancer in the same way as emotion can take us over. We can just cry hysterically. Or scream with laughter. It is the laugh or the tear, and not necessarily what provoked it.
Even though each element is pure in the cards, in this one, it does join with the human. Or at least, it shows a human at a point where he and emotion/water become one. In that sense, even though love is often something that develops further into the suit [usually, in traditional Waite-type tarot], this card 'could' indicate the feeling or rush of love that one person has for another, whether it is reciprocated or not. It might not be foolish then, to also think of this card as a new beginning in the realms of relationships, as much as one that just offers the raw possibility of feeling emotional for another human being.

Damballah Wedo is married to Ayida. Infact, he is married to another loa as well - Erzulie Freda [who also has another couple of husbands]. This loa hangs in a tree. The tree is shown as a crossroads and Damballah Wedo is perfectly still. In his stillness, he is contemplation, thought, meditation and consideration. Unlike the fire-dragon Damballah la Falmbeau, he does not just take action; he thinks about it, and it is that thinking point we see him at in the card. He might be making a careful decision. He might be receiving a moment of inspiration.
In the 'ones', we have a feeling of purity running through the four. And in Damballah Wedo, this fits with his personality. Damballah Wedo likes things to be clean and tidy. He does not like cigarette tobacco or alcohol. He doesn't like cursing. He does not like blood. His colour is snow white. And in this, we can connect to the pure and shiny image of the sword that we have referred to in other decks. Mixed with air, we have clarity of the mind. A stillness that omits confusion or self-doubt.

Finally, we look into Santeria at our 'Ace of Earth', Oludumare. Oludumare is a physical spirit, and his creation, unlike the outpouring of emotion, a clear thought or a brash movement, is a real-life birth. Oludumare, in Santeria, gives birth to a spirit known for it's purity and peace, called Obatala.

In the picture, we see that the spirit is constructed by three tears. These tears are linked to the sorrow of a previous creation that went wrong. But here, they still create the intended. In a way, you could look at Oludumare [the eye] as a parent, giving birth to a child, as the three tears [like sperms] fertilise the egg-like ball. This is a physical manifestation. It would not be silly to have this card predict conception and pregnancy, perhaps in readings.

I like this card a lot. It brings out both the upright and reversed interpretations in one image. We can understand the beauty of creation, and regret of loss, all in one go. The eyes bring life through the tears, but also mourns death as well. Generally, I would say, this is a good card though, because in it's purest essense, all it does is create. And in that, it gives us an opportunity to create with it. To make something from something else. To use money as an investment, perhaps. To bring love to life.

I have typed my notes here for a few reasons. Firstly, I find the book that goes with this deck can often be a little confusing, so I have moulded what I have found in there with information from other resources and my own 'simple' ideas. And looking at the 'four' has made this process 'a lot' easier. I can see how the four spirits are all so alike but also having their own unique energy. From this little study [even though it is simplistic in itself], I think I will be able to read these four cards a lot better than I have been able to previously.

Hope it helps you too.


Little Baron

Here are scans of the cards, for convenience.



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  • Ayida Wedo.jpg
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  • Damballah la Flambeau.jpg
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Grip Dellabonte

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot

This is a deck that I was instantly drawn to. Yet, I am stuck when I work with it. It seems like a really powerful, almost aggressive deck. It puts me off a little.
But your description of the cards eases a lot of that for me, Little Baron.
I appreciate the work you've put in to studying the cards.
I'm gonna go get the deck and study it as I read your posts!

Little Baron

*LB faints ... someone actually replied to one of these threads?*

Thanks very much Grip. I am so pleased that it has helped you. I was struggling for a long time, but now, as I study and 'read' with the deck, doors are opening and it doesn't seem like the maze it once was. Infact, it is extremely interesting and the reads feel much deeper than what I was getting from other decks I was using. Some of the characters and stories are fascinating, and worth researching away from the book as well. In another group I work with, which is set up for the New Orleans Voodoo, a member recommended another book written by Sallie Anne Glassman about the deck. She said that it was superior to the one that accompanies the pack. So when I get it, I shall add snippets of info from that.

Today I did a larger read than I have been doing. I looked at the six cards and thought 'what in the hell do they mean?'. And then I stopped, took a deep breath and really looked at them. Asked myself how they made me feel. I was reading them in mood and things started to stand out. The loneliness of cards in some positions. How the conclusion looked brighter than the present. And then I read up on some of the lwa and orishas and I got those moments when you think 'oh yes, now I get it'. It proved to be a very interesting read and I have just scribbled my notes into my journal.

It is a surprise because I never thought I would be able to read with this. But the more time you invest in it, the more it gives back. It has been a very enlightening surprise. I hope you continue to read .. and please comment if you feel a need. I would appreciate your take as well.


Grip Dellabonte

Well now we can't have you going around fainting like that...I'm just going to keep coming back to these readings so you won't be all by yourself!
I would have anyway because I like them (the way you describe things).
Buuuut.....okay, well. IF I jump in it may be slow at first. Or maybe not. I don't really know at this point. It may turn out like you just keep working with them and they they begin to reveal themselves to you. And then commentary is easier.
I hope that happens.
I have a brand new (well he's almost 6 mos now) baby snake and I named him LOA after this deck. You'd think that would have lit a fire under me to start using them but it didn't!

Little Baron

Hi again, Grip

I think these cards slowly take a hold on you. When I first saw them, I knew I wanted them, but had a little resistance, regarding my ignorance over what Voodoo really is. The cards made me a little uncomfortable, which is why I held out for so long in buying them. But I am so pleased that I did, regardless of the stories that their power caused major havock in other member's lives.

Initially, I jumped in. And then jumped out. My first impression was 'what is this all about' because I could not relate the cards to anything I had already learnt in the past ten years. But then I realised that the key was to try and forget all that stuff and just trust the deck as it presents itself to you. There are some cards I can see obvious tie-ins with the RWS or Thoth, and I use that knowledge. In a book on Voodoo that I was reading the other day, the author actually associated a specific loa to a specific card, which was the same that Sallie Anne Glassman has married together in ther deck - The Seven of Cups and La Sirene. But in other cards, I just let the spirits work, without the limitations of other modern traditions. I have to remind myself that the RWS and Thoth are just other 'ideas' and 'interpretations' and not the 'be-all-and-end-all' of tarot either. Infact, working with this deck feels a lot more like using a Marseille, due to the fact that I am thinking about numbers and numerology again.

I am looking forward to any kind of comment you make here. I am just a beginner with all of this too, so we can explore in our ignorance together. As the saying goes, 'Voodoo includes, not excludes'. Even if your comments on the cards are relating to just how the image makes 'you' feel, that is a very good and constructive start to study. Colour and mood is very important in tarot. A lot of people want something a bit more basic than this, and without the dedication, drop it aside, which is a great shame, I think.

What I have found to be a great help is actually reading with them. Not big readings. Just little ones. And for now, I am doing them with the help of other resources. But I am getting there. Maybe you and I should pull out a few cards and diuscuss them in either the Your Readings section or Exchange. What we don't understand, we can work through together in discussion.

So I hope you stick around. Say hi to 'Loa' for me.


Grip Dellabonte

Little Baron -
Loa says "hi" back.
I did not like the cards when I first saw them on this site. But one of my kids and I were watching a documentary on playing cards and tarot and at the end this woman from New Orleans started tossing around these cards. I recognized them as soon as I saw them. Somehow, her ease with them made me want to buy them.
But once I got them, like you said, my ignorance of voodoo had a lot to do with why I put them away.
Reading the way you work with them takes the reticence away. So, I am going to jump in.
I may not be too astute at first, but it's the only way I'm going to learn! And your other suggestions sound good, too....the Your Readings and Exchange sections. I don't recall ever contributing to those but I'm up for it. Just let me know what you wanna do!
Not Loa but it looks pretty much like him!

Little Baron

That's a very pretty little snake, Grip.

You know, I think jumping in, a lot of the time, is the way to ago. And also, to trust. I was hesitant about the deck for ages because it had pretty much snatched my comfort blanket. It was like being somewhere with no familiarity or point of reference that I could understand. But when you start to work with it [and even the smallest little interraction is doing so], you begin to build up the layers and depths. If you get to know just one loa a little, then that is one more than you already was familiar with. I know a little bit about a quarter of the deck, I would say. And now, I can remember the names of about two thirds, without having to check. I know bits and bobs more than I did two months ago. Consistancy os also a major factor. Keep using it, and your connection will grow.

In terms of readings, maybe we should start very slowly. Maybe ask the deck 'Which loa wants to come forward and what do you have to tell me as we begin study' and pull a card. Would you like to try that? We can post together and I will set up a thread. In your read, you can look at what is happening, how the card makes you feel, whether you feel comfortable or uncomfortable, does it remind you of an experience. You can wonder about what you think the message is. And you can look in your books to find out what the history of the loa is. Maybe that would be a start? Should I start a thread for us to both discuss our draws?


Grip Dellabonte

Wow! That sounds really good! I would love that!
I don't have any other books - just the book that came with the deck. You think I'll be fine with that or do you think I need to pick something else up?
Plus, I'm going to continue to read your take on the cards and see if I can contribute there, too. What do you think?

Little Baron

I don't think you have to pick up any other books, Grip. There is some really helpful information here on the internet. There are some really good sites about all different themes of Voodoo on the internet to pick through. But as time goes on, if your interest is still strong, a few books might be a benefit. But I wouldn't say a necessity. It would be great if the study group here too off again as that was very interesting. There are some good threads in existance already though, and might give you some ideas about some cards covered.

I look forward to your input. I think that once you get involved in the deck and start finding things out, both your knowledge and enthusiasm will greaten.