If I listed a set of topics that would never appear as a tarot deck, The Regretsy Tarot would definitely have been on it. Consequently, it requires some introduction before proceeding to the actual deck review.

Some of you who do not access the interwebs regularly may not have heard of Regretsy (www.regretsy.com), an online community created by April Winchell that parodies the handmade crafts that are shown on Etsy. Its motto, "Where DIY meets WTF," describes it perfectly: It takes products on Etsy and makes fun of them. Please note: If you are easily offended, Regretsy is NOT the place for you to visit. It is littered with naughty words, phrases, and concepts, and is completely and totally politically incorrect. Some of its categories of products include "Dead Things", "Dirty Hippies", "Don't Ask Me",  and "Whimsicle F***ery, which is almost a second motto for the site.

I am a huge fan of this site. I think what I like most about Regretsy is that it doesn’t hold back.  Despite its detractors—and there are many of them, some of which are former Regretsy fans who "flounce" (i. e., end their affiliation) with Regretsy in a dramatic, ranting style—the site is extremely popular and has tremendous cultural influence. All of the "flounces" are posted for folks to read and, of course, comment on.

Cut everything away and it's a thriving, snarky, opinionated, and downright sarcastic social network. People join the community to see what Etsy products are next in line to be mocked. There is something here for everyone to find absolutely wet-your-pants hilarious, and likely at some point in time you will be offended.

Many Etsy artists who are featured on Regretsy have embraced it, probably because "there is no bad press" and it drives people toward their products. I suspect, however, that many other Etsy crafters are extremely upset with the skewering they receive. I can totally understand that, too;  if someone took your creation and virtually bashed it with a verbal baseball bat and urinated on it, and then left it up for anyone on the web—which is these days pretty much anyone with an electronic device—to do the same, imagine how you would feel.

For what it's worth, it sounds like many of the crafters whose works are featured do indeed get over it. April Winchell says in her Regretsy book that people seldom write to ask her to take their items down, and many have embraced the site as a way to gain new legions of fans. Regretsy also raises money for charity.

The deck is based on the "social movement" (social network seems to not convey the amount of influence that it has for me!) that is Regretsy. The cards depict the vocabulary and culture of Regretsy; therefore, it is essential to download the PDF guide even if you are one of the "fat, jealous losers" that haunt the site.

The card backs appear normal at first glance; certainly, from a distance, this could be any tarot deck. Black and white diamond and square patterns on the top and bottom of the card surround what seems to be a flower/kaleidoscope image in the center. Look closer and you'll see one of Regretsy's most popular and prevalent themes: Human genitalia, which actually is an entire suit in this deck.

The images were done by the "April's Army Artist Collective", a group of creative folks from all over the world who designed the cards for little more than their name and website address at the bottom of each card. They did a fantastic job translating the feel of Regretsy into this tarot deck, and it's clear that a lot of thought went into it.

The 79-card deck follows the standard pattern of many tarot decks and is divided up into Major and Minor Arcana. According to the guide, the 22 Majors represent recurring significant themes to Regretsy folks. The four suits are Genitalia, Tools, Whimsicles, and WTF, and each contains an Ace through Ten, as well as a Page, Knight, Queen, and King. There’s a title on each card, which is extremely helpful.  The cards retain some of the RWS imagery, so tarotists should feel fairly comfortable with them once they learn to speak Regretsy.

The one card remaining? Towel Mike, a gorgeous man who is surrounded by many well-loved Regretsy symbols: A cupcake, octopi (whose tentacles are "waving in a lascivious manner"), and more genitalia, with the letters "CF4L" ("Club F***ery 4 Life") and the Royal Flying Goatse symbol.  (Note: Google "goatse" at your own peril, folks.  "Once you see it, you can't unsee it." It is most definitely NOT suitable for the workplace. If you dare, use your home computer, and then clear the history. You'll thank me later.)

And speaking of the Majors, they do indeed represent many major Regretsy themes. The octopus appears several times: as the dog's replacement in card I. Cupcake (traditionally, the Fool), a Regretsy term used to describe a person who "praises everyone and everything but cannot take criticism at all", as well as the head of the XV. The Reseller (traditionally, The Devil).

Card XIV. The Flounce (Temperance) shows a group of animals sitting around a table in the forest, laughing heartily, while a cat turns its back on the group and sticks out its tongue. (Read my earlier paragraph for the description of the "flounce".) One of the well-known tarot meanings of Temperance is "good health"; I could see "laughter being the best medicine" as part of this card, provided you can also laugh at yourself.

Other majors include X. Steampunk (Wheel of Fortune)--"what is old becomes new again", complete with octopus; and a very appropriate--if anything in Regretsy could be called appropriate--use of the female genitalia in III. Vagoo (The Empress).

I figure you probably can guess what adorns the Genitalia suit, so let's talk about the least controversial card in the suit: the Two. It has a plain brown background--like what they used to wrap pornographic magazines sent through snail mail--emblazoned with big black letters saying, "OFFENSIVE REGRETSY MATERIAL" and a huge red "REJECTED" stamp on it. The "M for Mature" rating logo is in two corners of the card, and if you look closely at the one on the bottom left, you'll see the words "Disclaimer: Not suitable for ANYONE".

The "Whimsicles" suit showcases a very famous misspelling that represents part of Regretsy's raison d’être. So many people on Etsy could not spell "whimsical" correctly that Regretsy folks borrowed it and use it regularly. According to the guide, when a pre-publication search for "whimsicle" was done on Etsy, there were 722 occurrences. It also says that things that are "cute" or have become "Regretsy memes" have been included in this suit. .

One of the more interesting additions to the Whimsicles suit is the Six of Whimsicles, entitled "Gumball Clown". The item sits on a black background above roaring flames, holding six sharp knives, under a crescent moon. The guide gives the following as upright and reversed meanings, and while the guide bluntly states that "all of the cards can mean whatever the hell you want them to", this quote exemplifies the guide's style of presenting the card meanings very nicely:

"You are going on a journey far, far away from this hideous nightmare, as fast as your legs will take you. Don't stop to pack; you don't have time! You are surrounded by all sorts of danger. There is fire. There are sharp, pointy things that can cut you. There are horrible candy "treats" that will rot your teeth and give you diabetes. Get Out NOW!" Reversed: What you thought was only a bad dream, is, in fact, reality. Nothing sucks worse than your life at this moment, except possibly if you WERE the Gumball Clown."

The Suit of Tools mocks the tools of the crafters trade: glue guns, cameras, glitter, gears, sewing machines, and, of course, six-legged octopi. The suit’s matriarch, "The Queen of Gluing S*** to Other S***", brandishes a hot glue gun, which also appears on the Ace of the suit.  Her caramel-colored hair becomes the glue that fills nearly the entire card. In her other hand, she holds an undoubtedly upset cat covered with shells and other items that have been affixed to its fur with the popular crafting adhesive.

As you can imagine, the WTF suit is the most difficult one to put into words. If the Regretsy folks "weren't sure how to categorize this stuff" then it ended up here. I have to say, however, that I'm really fond of Cosmic Yak on the 9 of WTF. Psychedelic colors are combined with the simple yet powerful message in a nearly illegible 60's font: "Greetings, people of earth. I am Cosmic Yak." Personally, I think the designers chose the right category for this card, as well as for the (Alan) Rickman-Head Fish on the Ace.

One concept that is introduced in this suit is the Alchemy Request, which appears on the Knight of WTF. As I understand it, these requests were custom works of art commissioned from Etsy artists by individuals, some of which are, shall we say, rather bizarre. The Alchemy request used on this card is a horse rearing back on its hind legs, sitting on a rainbow in the sky with the sun and moon looking on in benediction. (Sadly for Regretsy fans, Etsy no longer does Alchemy requests.)

While this deck is an absolute collector's item--I believe that no tarot collection is complete without one (and you should probably buy TWO and keep one in its box to hold the value!)--it can be used for divination. The guide did not give suit correspondences to the traditional elements or suits in the guide. However, based on what I've seen here's how I would interpret them:

Whimiscles = Pentacles (the guide says it sounds like pentacles)
Tools = Swords (the 3 of Tools looks like the 3 of Swords with the bleeding heart)
Genitalia = Cups (suit had both male and female, but focused on the feminine)
WTF = Wands (the cutting edge, "creative" nature taking the fore here)

I was thrilled to get this deck and I hope you will buy at least one as well. It would make a great gift for any Regretsy fans and I plan to trot it out when I read for friends at home, or for Regretsy fans in my professional practice (in private). Hopefully many of their “fat, jealous losers” will invest in a copy.

~Review by Rev. John Marani

Author & Artists: Wendy Sheridan and the April's Army International Artist Collective
www.caboosterkit.com
$25.00

First published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Spring 2012 issue

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