Created by the South African tarot reader and spiritual teacher Robyn-Anne Pollard, the iTongo Tarot pays homage to the rich Southern African spiritual and cultural traditions. The deck creates a syncretism that combines the Rider-Waite Tarot format with African culture, proving the Jungian archetypes thesis.
With the symbolic richness of the animals and natural resources that characterize the African continent, these cards present us a new perspective that enriches our imagination and divinatory capacity, while paying tribute to the South African values and traditions.
Ancient legends and visuals of the rainbow nation compose this deck, highly praised for its beauty and fidelity to the ethnic peculiarities of the region. On the official website, you can even find maps with the location of the communities present in the four minor arcana suits displaying their traditions, beliefs, and rituals.
Robyn-Anne Pollard is a Multi-camera Television producer and director and as expected the visual value of her tarot reinterpretation is fascinating. On her spiritual journey, we find that she has studied and practiced Reflexology & Aromatherapy, Meditation, Tibetan Buddhism and even met the Dalai Lama during his visit to Cape Town.
Her path has been enriched by numerous studies and tools that led her to create this wonderful compendium of images and meanings that give life to the iTongo Tarot. Her deck is a tool for transformation, an art that she has accomplished in a career full of variety, complementarity and passion.
iTongo Tarot Deck Review
All the work carried out by Pollard seeks to reflect South African cosmology and imagination through its folklore and traditions. Therefore, in the tarot review, we find obvious syncretisms between the legends of the Rainbow Nation and those images that we consider traditional in the Western world.
The iTongo Tarot for transformation comes with borders that reflect the affiliation of each card to its suit, including the major trumps. On the back of the cards, you’ll find the Ouroboros, a snake that bites its tail as a symbol of transformation and infinite renewal.
From the major trump arcana, the card that most captivated our attention was The Empress, Inkosazana the Zulu Goddess of agriculture. Also known as Queen of Heaven, this figure is a shapeshifter that can adopt the appearance of a mermaid, a rainbow or a snake. A water deity, she lives at the base of waterfalls and rivers. Her skin and hair as bright as sunlight, she shows herself only to those who are pure of heart.
In this Tarot deck review, we find that like most of the Rider-Waite Tarot reinterpretations there are five suits.
Firstly there is a Major Arcana suit formed by the 22 trumps, which reflect the great tarot lessons through the universal archetypes.
For example, the moon in her most benevolent aspect gives shelter to a village; A majestic elephant that is revealed as the jungle’s Emperor, and a trickster spirit called tikoloshe stairs at you with his huge yellow eyes to let you know there’s no escape from our hidden shadow.
Also, Robyn-Anne Pollard chose to follow the Marseille’s tradition and returned the Justice Card to its original position, number 8, placing the Strength Tarot card in the eleventh position. This subtle difference originates in the decision of Arthur Edward Waite, member of the Golden Dawn, to change the original cards order to set correspondence with astrological signs, since The Justice corresponds to the energy of the sun sign Libra.
Then we will find the remaining four suits that make up the 56 cards of the minor arcana, in which we’ll see the stories, experiences, and values of 4 southern African “regions”. Through their folklore and legends, Pollard portrays the lives of Southern African tribes by gathering information from the pre-colonial era.
Also known as the air suit, related to ideas, communication, logic, and wisdom is called Assegai depicting the Zulu people and symbolized with spears.
The fire suit is called Isibane or torch, and reflects the life of the Xhosa people. Their passion, drive, and courage.
The water suit is portrayed by drinking vessels, receives the name of Moritsoana and shows us the emotional, creative and sentimental world of the Sotho/Tswane people.
The world of the concrete, the material plane in which reality prevails to flourish and provide the fruit of our work, is the earth suit, starring Pedi / Venda / Ndebele people and symbolized by Mavhele or maize
iTongo Tarot for Transformation Readability:
In addition to our own interpretation and analysis for the realization of this Tarot deck review, we found that several buyers value the beauty of the system created by Pollard even though they miss a detailed explanation of every deck symbol.
In previous tarot deck reviews we’ve posted we found that the set explanatory books vary from 200 to 300 pages, while in the iTongo we have only 144 pages. Of course this doesn’t affect the intuitive ability of each reader to connect with the symbols presented in each card, but for those who are starting in the art of spreading cards, it will be necessary to look and research simultaneously in the iTongo book and other information sources, thus creating their connections that may or may not be in line with those of the author.
The iTongo Tarot for transformation, is on sale in the africantarot.com official website. It comes in a beautiful box that includes the 78 full-color cards of 80mm x 120mm and the iTongo reference 122 pages book.
In the department of culturally-specific decks, the iTongo Tarot for transformation fully meets all the requirements to become an iconographic piece of South African culture and traditions. To the experienced tarot reader, the iTongo will represent an entertaining reunion with the meanings and symbols of each card as well as a discovery of the cultural wealth of the South African people.
NumerologySign Tarot Deck Review Score: 5/5