Enikő Vághy: As the proud Director of Digital Outreach here at Agape Editions, I am no stranger to social media’s ability to put one in contact with the inspiring and intriguing. However, sometimes—by a blissful stroke of serendipity—it introduces you to something or someone truly splendid and your perspective is forever changed. I am happy to say this interview is the result of such an experience. When I had the fortune of finding Kristina Dolce’s Instagram account @redthreadtarot, I was immediately moved by her generosity, social awareness, and devotion to the Tarot. In my brief time following her, she’s completely transformed how I perceive the cards and it’s a real privilege to have her in this series. So, without further ado, Kristina, I’m going to let you introduce yourself to our community and then we can get into some fantastical questions.
Kristina Dolce: Thank you very much, Eni, for that generous introduction! I’ve been reading Tarot for ten years. I wish that I had a magical origin story, like an ancient deck passed down through the family line, or spirits entering my dreams and inviting me to become a reader—but the truth is my friend simply got me a deck for my nineteenth birthday. We had both worked at a tiny little toy shop in our hometown, and they carried a few tarot decks. He picked out Kris Waldherr’s “The Goddess Tarot” since I “like women and magic and stuff.” He was right—I do like women and magic and stuff! I started with that deck, and I never stopped. Tarot became a touchstone for me as I navigated young adulthood.
I practice what I call reflective tarot—I believe tarot doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. Tarot is the art of being present and sitting with our experience—shutting down the noise and palaver of every day, and honoring our own holiness. Tarot is the guide to the next level of our own intuition. I invite my querents to frame the experience however they feel comfortable; the cards can act as messages from the universe, ancestors, spirit, God, some higher power, or their own intuitive or higher self. I love being a tarot reader because the practice invites me to remain grounded, humble, and in awe of the depth and resiliency of others—humans can be amazing!
EV: Some witches have an altar where they cast spells, make offerings to their preferred deity or deities, meditate, and/or charge their crystals and Tarot decks. Do you have an altar? If so, what objects, statues, crystals, etc. did you decide to include and what types of rituals does your altar assist you in performing?
KD: I do have an altar! I have a small rotating collection of sacred objects. I reject the idea that witches have to purchase a lot of special items in order to practice (my favorite spell book, Burn It All Down by The Yerbamala Collective, suggests that you: “FIND TOOLS ALL AROUND YOU // MAKE TOOLS OUT OF THE AIR: YOU ARE A WITCH & POET”) and so many of the offerings on my altar are gifts or things I’ve found. I use coins or rocks to represent earth, candles for fire, and a letter opener as my athame. For water, I needed silver cups “given freely by one who loves [me] unconditionally,” and fortunately for me, my best friend is a vintage home goods seller! She was happy to give me some beautiful silver cups.
Sometimes I put books that I consider sacred texts on there as well, like Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown or the poetry of Rumi, or the spellbooks I mentioned by the The Yerbamala Collective. Another very special item is a small, glitter femme Madonna carved out of volcanic rock from Sicily. My mentor brought it back for me when she finally visited her ancestral homeland, which we share! I perform a few rituals at my altar—I cleanse my tarot cards, I pray, I meditate, I cast spells for the new and full moons. When I pray, I ask for the gods my female (and/or femme!) ancestors invoked. That could be the Madonna, Jesus, Venus, Vestra, Freya, Frigg, the Christian God, the Lares and the Penates, or gods whose names have been lost to us.
EV: Though you’re known for your Tarot abilities, you have another magickal talent: reading beer foam! Whenever you post a beer foam reading, I’m always blown away. Could you tell me how you were exposed to this type of fortune telling and how you go about interpreting a reading?
KD: When I was a graduate student, myself and the others in my program would often head down to the local bar for a drink or two after work. We started “reading beer foam” as a joke—I was always talking about astrology or pulling out my tarot cards, and so it seemed natural to start peering into our beer foam to see what we could see. I would Google traditional meanings of symbols used in tea readings, but then I figured that since there are no constant symbols across time and cultures, I was free to make my own intuitive associations. This is my process for reading beer foam: first, order a beer! Next, cheers with your pals and take a few sips. Blow lightly across the surface of your beer. What do you see? Mountains, a skull, a swirling cosmos, a heart, a dolphin…what does it mean to you? What comes to mind when you peer over the edge of the glass? Try it next time you’re out having a drink!
EV: One of the first things that drew me to your relationship with the Tarot was the hashtag you included in your Instagram bio:“#mywitchcraftwillbeintersectionaloritwillbebullshit.” On Instagram as well as your blog, you continuously express and demonstrate your commitment to promoting intersectionality. Do you view witchcraft and the Tarot as methods of encouraging intersectionality? How do you incorporate the Tarot into your personal brand of activism?
KD: I came to tarot and witchcraft through a commitment to specifically anti-racist feminism, instead of the other way around. I had the joyful experience of being radicalized while at university, in the special collections library of the women’s center. As a young queer woman, I had already experienced a great deal of sexism and homophobia, but as a white person growing up in a predominantly white area, even thinking about racial injustices outside of slavery was new to me. As a cis person, I didn’t have to think about trans-ness, and so on and so forth. I read, listened, and learned my way straight into social justice work. I was so lucky to be part of a diverse and vibrant community who felt called to teach others about intersectionality history, justice, privilege, and oppression. I had so many amazing teachers who helped me to understand what kind of world I want to work toward living in.
What does this have to do with witchcraft? Well, justice work is not for the faint of heart! I leaned into magic and prayer and ritual as a way to stay resilient, hopeful, and joyful in the movement toward a radically just and peaceful world! The witch is a figure who dares to exist outside the structures of society and also one who values intuition, emotion, and connection in addition to “rational” empirical evidence. I embrace the witch as a feminist who values the truth of our bodies, values time taken to dream and wonder, and who isn’t afraid to ask questions. Community and collaboration are anathema to capitalism, which demands that we be too busy competing and hoarding resources to connect meaningfully with each other, especially outside of an idealized nuclear family set up. Magic, on the other hand, invites us to connect deeply and authentically with ourselves, and one another. Magic is diffusive and radical because anyone can tap into their own spirituality—intuition is a free resource!
I don’t think that witchcraft or tarot is inherently intersectional—there is so much racism, cultural appropriation, and spiritual bypassing present in pagan and spiritual communities. White folks especially love to dismiss conversations about race or other power structures by claiming that they don’t see color, or that we should be inviting “good vibes” only. I use my hashtag as a reminder to myself that witchcraft, like feminism, is not an ideology that’s above white supremacy or heterosexism. Tarot is a central part of my activism—in a very tangible financial sense, like when I offer readings as part of fundraising for social justice organizations, and then in a more emotional sense, in that I use tarot to reflect on my own actions as a witch, activist, teacher, and tarot reader so that I can continue to grow and practice joyful, liberatory justice work.
EV: In an earlier interview you gave for Radical She Tarot, you discussed your love for the Slutist Tarot deck (which I also adore) created by Morgan Claire Sirene and Sonia Ortiz. You stated that the deck made you “feel seen,” and this caused me to return to a subject that I and many other Tarot lovers have been contemplating—representation within the magickal and Tarot community. It seems that on top of being an important tool for divination and personal discovery, the Tarot can introduce people to communities that are different from their own or make them feel closer to the community they have chosen. Could you share what the Slutist Tarot deck means to you as well as your opinion of the current state of representation of oftentimes marginalized communities within the magickal community? What do you think is being done correctly, and what do you feel needs improvement?
KD: The Slutist deck is very close to my heart, because as a femme—there I was! Me and my entire gorgeous, diverse community: my femme friends, the butches we crush on, the trans man I fell in love with—here we were, together in a tarot deck, looking fierce and magical and larger than life. What a gift, and what a joy. I’ve been reading tarot for ten years, and yet when I got the Slutist deck, my readings really took off. I felt invigorated and excited, and investing in reading tarot in a way I hadn’t in a long time. That’s the power of feeling seen! I am so excited for the new edition—I’m also really looking forward to the “Modern Witch” tarot deck by Lisa Sterle, coming out someone in 2019 and featuring all kinds of people. I’m hesitant to comment on the “state of representation,” since, as a white cis woman, I can find myself represented in most tarot decks. Every reader deserves decks that reflect their community—and mainstream publishers can certainly do a better job of picking up decks illustrated and authored by people of color and other marginalized folks. The Hoodwitch’s “Modern Mystic Tarot Shop” curates diverse decks by independent artists, as does Little Red Tarot. Etsy and Kickstarter are also great resources to directly support artists producing decks without the support of a publisher. I’m still upset I missed out on the Slow Holler tarot—don’t be like me, and jump on supporting the tarot decks you want to see created!
EV: On your blog, you explain that you underwent multiple eye surgeries in the past and that, at times, you were worried that you might lose your sight. During this difficult time, you found the strength to ask, “What am I supposed to be learning to see?” Do you feel this philosophy has carried into your relationship with the Tarot? What does the Tarot represent for you in relation to sight and/or vision?
KD: I went through a series of eye surgeries starting in my early twenties, and I’m (hopefully) finished now. I did end up losing some vision—I can’t read out of my right eye, and I’ve lost some peripheral vision as well as depth perception. I have a lot of plastic in my head holding my eyes together. This experience deeply influenced my relationship with tarot because it deepened my relationship with myself; I had to find reserves of courage and resiliency I didn’t know I had. I really leaned into my Scorpio moon at that time. Also, I had to spend a lot of time laying on my face to recover, so I had a lot of time to think! This is when I realized that for me, Tarot is about seeing what is already within you. Tarot is affirmation and support of your vision—tarot can be a revelation, if you’ve been hiding from the parts of yourself that see. We all have that intuitive power within us, it’s just a matter of pausing long enough to bring it to the surface. My friend always tells me that at least my third eye is strong, if not my actual eyes!
EV: What is one piece of advice that you feel has positively influenced you in your journey with the Tarot?
KD: The work of Beth Maiden of Little Red Tarot helped me to realize there is no one “right” way to practice tarot, and that’s huge. A big moment for me with tarot was when I finally put “the little white book” away. I used it for many years, and when I finally realized that I had a good foundation and could just talk through the cards with a querent, it was amazing!
My advice to any other tarot reader is: don’t feel like you have to do what any other reader is doing—for example, I don’t read reversals. Every card carries an invitation and a warning, and I like to read the card in relationship to the cards around it and the querent’s questions. I also don’t like long spreads—I prefer three to four cards. Forget the Celtic Cross! You are on your own tarot journey, and you absolutely can and should follow your own intuition about how to read tarot.
EV: Kristina, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for participating in Cards on the Table!
KD: It’s been an honor and a pleasure to speak with you! Thank for inviting me.
Kristina Dolce is a teacher and tarot reader in the greater Boston area. Kristina practices radical anticolonial pedagogy and reflective tarot. She loves black coffee, red lipstick, and skipping small talk.
Enikő Vághy is currently a graduate student at Binghamton University, studying English Literature and Creative Writing. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Street Light Press and Paterson Literary Review, among others. A proud descendant of immigrants and factory workers, Enikő uses poetry to share her personal history and bond with people from various walks of life. She firmly believes that when women unite, anything epic is possible—to her, Agape Editions represents this power perfectly.