The magic in-between: Exploring tarot and non-binary identity

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This week features another interview, this time by someone I know very well: my partner Kori Doty. I’m very excited to introduce Kori’s work to the Little Red Tarot community. Kori is a non-binary trans person, long time activist and community educator, and an experienced harm reduction front line worker. They use tarot in their work as personal coach and they’ve written below about how they utilize the tarot as a tool in their path as a non-binary spiritual leader.

Kori, can you describe your work for the LRT readers?

Part of how I understand this question and my work in general is related to growing up in the church. My early understandings of spiritual leadership and formal structures of spiritual and emotional support fit within a clergy model. I think a lot of what I do now is a reflection and refraction of that calling, where-in I facilitate learning opportunities and provide emotional and spiritual support to people who feel called to work with me. I organize a community of people with shared values to collaborate on community resilience and collective liberation. People won’t necessarily see me as a priest or a pastor, but if they understand what that job is they can understand what I do, I just do it outside of a formal dogmatic institution.

In my work I offer community education opportunities including my online course Resilience Building for Trans Folks and Our Allies, workshops like Glitter Rebellion and Gender Liberation for Everyone. I do creative coaching and solution mapping with individuals and families to help them through times of transition. I also write a blog and produce a community radio show about harm reduction and community wellness.

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How do you use tarot in your work as a life coach and community educator?

I use the cards of the Collective Tarot when helping folks map out stuff they are working on. The cards are helpful because the story and art of the tarot helps whatever we have been talking about, and strategizing about, land on a different level of their consciousness. Talking through things or writing or drawing them out is great, but it has some limitations. When you can connect words and experiences to larger archetypes through someone else’s creative expression I think that helps speak to a level of our subconscious that our intellectual brains can stand in the way of.

Do you have any specific cards you have found helpful in your work?

Yeah, one of the cards that continues to come up for me when I’m looking at what my services are and how I approach them is the 6 of bottles. The card has this very doting nurturing energy. Something that this card references, that I think is important in my work with individuals and groups, is that solutions may lie in the past as opposed to the present. I think that frame of reference is important. A  big part of how I approach the support that I  offer is about helping place the issues that are facing us today within larger structural and historical contexts. I help people understand their experiences within the context of transphobia, misogyny and other systems of power. And more importantly I help people see themselves as connected to long lines of resistance against these systems. I think the 6 of bottles speaks to this understanding with a gentle and wise energy.

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Can you describe your gender and how you think it impacts your skills as a card reader?

I am a transcendently gendered being who occupies the space between the binary poles. I have navigated across the spectrum and found balance through the process of combining opposites. I was socialized to be a woman, I pass conditionally in the world as a man, i’m flamboyantly trans in a way that often inspires confusion and awe in the people around me. I manage potentially dysphoric feelings by creating an intentionally cacophonous discordance of gender fuckery.

In my work and my life I’ve challenged the defaults that we have been socialized in. The defaults of our toxic society. Trans people have already lifted a least one layer of the veil, in terms of being able to understand the systems that we live in. Systems which have been created and which are taught to us to maintain certain structures of power and order. The experience of personally challenging gender assignment and transcending expectations allows trans people a helpful perspective in seeing through the bullshit.

The first time I ever had my cards read it was with a really traditional deck in the back room of some occult store in Olympia Washington. I remember that parts of that reading just didn’t make any sense in my life because the cards that were read and how they were interpreted was very prescriptive to the binary gender system. Working with the collective tarot deck is a really good fit for me because of the intentional choices that were made to move away from replicating those structures. The deck utilizes the archetypes of the tarot in ways that feel relevant and applicable to trans and queer radicals. The ways I use the deck do this as well.

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You also do work with harm reduction and psychedelics. Do you have any advice for people who wish to combine tarot and psychedelic exploration?

I’d recommend reading this article where we delve into this topic more deeply. In short, the things to keep in mind are set, setting and dose. Set refers to your mind set. Its very important to be able to get your head to a place where you want to be working with it, or outside of it. You can do this by having clear intentions. Using tools like the tarot can help map the experience. You can also work with a buddy or a trip sitter to help keep you on track. Setting is about knowing the when and where that will work best for you. Venturing from a physical space where you feel comfortable and your basic bodily needs can be easily met, can be very helpful. Dosage is also of crucial importance. Many people have developed a tendency (which I perceive as a response to prohibition) where in we go really hard. Utilizing tools like psychedelics can be fruitful with micro to light doses. Tarot is a tool to help maintain mindset and it can work as a grounding map to help explore your subconscious.

If you are interested in learning more about Kori’s work you can check out their website here. You can also follow our farm, the homostead, on instagram.

All cards in this post are from The Collective Tarot.

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  1. Oak says:

    Andi, Beth, Kori–thanks for being in the tarot world and saying awesome things! I super appreciate this article. It feels really good to see my non-binary self reflected in the larger tarot conversation.

  2. This is so fucking fantastic! Thank you, Kori for sharing! <3

    I try to be mindful of how I do my readings, especially since I took Beth's Alternative Tarot Course to learn tarot, and how to interpret the Court Cards and Major cards. Any cards with people really. I don't really read them as a specific gender and tend to use the pronouns "they and them" when interpretting for clients. (Unless the client has told me specifically what gender to use!)

    I am still learning non binary, gender fluid, and gender queer identities and how they differe and apply ( i know everyone still applies it different to their lives, as any identity does the same!) and I really appreciate this post, this website, and for this fantastic community where we are all safe to do so.

  3. Lu says:

    I want affirmations about the World card. Is it not a card depicting a trans woman who is the cosmic mother of souls? Can we celebrate that??

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