As I write this it’s the evening of a lovely Christmas spent with friends. And that means it’s also Kwanza Eve, the night before Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is probably the most remarkable of the holidays held around the Winter Solstice/end of the year, because it was deliberately, consciously, created by a single person, Dr. Maulana Karenga. Dr. Karenga wanted to create something that would strengthen the African-American community, through a connection to traditional African values. He developed a 7 day holiday, from December 26 to January 1, with each day representing a special quality (see below). Candles are lit, each day a different color.
Being white, I know that Kwanzaa is not directed towards me or my background. But then, I’m Jewish, so celebrating Christmas is not exactly my background either! So the interest and respect I have for Kwanzaa is like that which I have for all spiritual traditions. (I have sometimes described myself as a goddess-loving radical Jewish atheist with a Taoist temperament, but recently, when I wondered what I might put down on a form that asked my religion the term that came right to mind was “heretic”).
A few years ago it struck me that Kwanzaa could form the basis of a powerful 7 day Tarot reading, drawing three cards each day (or however many you want) to answer a key question related to the theme of that day.
I hope it is clear that I mean no disrespect to any people who celebrate this marvelous week long holiday. I have been creating readings inspired by sacred holidays and festivals for many years now (my recent book, SOUL FOREST) contains a reading inspired by the coincidence of Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah occurring at the same time). For me the Tarot is more than anything a tool of spiritual investigation. The issues named and defined by Dr. Karenga are obviously of special importance and power to his own community, the people for whom he created the holiday. But at the same time they are universal values, worth consideration by all peoples.
Here then is the statement of themes of Kwanzaa, and the reading to go with it.
(The Seven Principles)
KWANZAA TAROT READING
Based on the work and inspiration of
Dr. Maulana Karenga
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
¬ Maulana Karenga
To be done over the 7 days of Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan.1)
(Candles may be lit for each day, and reading done by the light of the day.)
How can I promote unity?
How do I claim who I am?
How do I help others with their struggles?
How can I help bring genuine prosperity?
How can I encourage the best in myself and others?
How do I express my creativity?
How do I deepen my belief, in myself and others?