Meet the Mardi Gras Major Arcana
Tarot cards do not define the future. They guide you and give you the tools and information to inform introspection, reflection, and self-discovery for the future ahead.
Introducing the Mardi Gras Major Arcana: Ten community legends as ten tarot cards.
The first, and always the first, The Illusionist holds the power to unlock the potential of anyone they meet. Peaches Rosé (they/them) is a Drag Artist originally from Tasmania. Proudly coining themselves ‘Triple A Threat: AFAB, Aboriginal & Autistic’, they moved to Sydney in pursuit of drag success, wanting to use their platform to prove that anyone can, and should do drag. They use social media to educate their audience on queer history, with a focus on queer women, non-binary people and Indigenous culture.
Drag is and has always been a way for people to express their inner-self and step into a spotlight of mirage. The Illusionist card is made for Peaches as they magically transform themselves to entertain an audience. Inspired by the tarot card ‘The Magician’ they are the first in the Mardi Gras Major Arcana and represent the cardholders’ talents, capabilities and resourcefulness.
The Illusionist represents resourcefulness, inspiration, transformational energy and magic. The Illusionist is a performer, an entertainer and can convert pure energy to matter. The traditional tarot card sees the magician in a white robe and red cloak, standing behind a table of four objects representing the four elements, and surrounded in a landscape of rose bushes. With this as inspiration Peaches designed their own costume with the red cloak being turned into an Aboriginal Flag. Peaches, who is from the Mouhenneener Mob, worked with us to create the finished product saying, “tarot cards are very beautiful in a traditional way, however if we can use this costume as a way to bring my mobs’ culture into it, I think it would be an important aspect to the campaign”. Going further as to express, ”the Aboriginal flag is still under copyright laws and owned by a colonised country, I want to wear it in full power and claim it back”.
The Illusionist is surrounded by a wonderland of iconic queer symbols and native florals, with a pink triangle representing queer liberation, and importantly to Peaches, a border of native wattle flowers and eucalyptus leaves as a nod to the land on the Illusionist stands on. Peaches’ Illusionist embodiment is powerful and ready for change, the manifestations are strong and a queer future is approaching.
Our future acknowledges, respects, and has an open space for First Nations People’s voices.
Bravery, strength, control and determination are four things our Protectors possess in full force. Since the early days of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, the Dykes on Bikes have been our communities’ fearless protectors. The Protectors are inspired by ‘The Chariot’ in which stand two warriors in a sphinx drawn chariot, dressed in decorated armour, alchemical symbols and a laurel/star crown. The warrior appears unbothered by the battle ahead of them, seemingly driving the chariot without reins thanks to the strength of his will and mind. Receiving ‘The Chariot’ in a reading is symbolic of a personal victory, the receiver has spent years fighting and taking action, but now it is time to recognise your strength and emerge victorious, but don’t forget to remain focussed and determined, your struggle may not be over.
Depicted is a modern chariot lead by community Protectors from Dykes on Bikes, Kendal & Sarah. In 1988 partners Kimberly O’Sullivan & Sue Perry arrived home in Sydney after visiting San Francisco pride in 1987 and begun promoting their newly established club, Dykes on Bikes. That year 8 bikes were ridden through the Mardi Gras festival, the number rising to over 250 on the 10th anniversary in 1998. They work to strengthen the knowledge of Queer women and non-binary people, and continue hosting events to support the community, and each other. Dykes on Bikes have become regular figures at the annual Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade thanks to their protective nature over our community. Each year the group begins the parade by riding their bikes through the street, revving their engines to intimidate bigots and anyone that may hold ill-intent towards our community.
Seeing the pair ride onto set on their impressive Ducati was a moment of glory for all, and we were sure to capture this fierceness within the shoot. Alongside our Dykes on Bikes were Pups; PupBoss & Shin Yoshida. Power from overcoming adversity is shown within the image with members from the Queer-female, Pup, and BDSM communities, who are often under-represented in Queer spaces. The addition of bondage, leather, and chains in juxtaposition to the LGBTQIA+ progress pride flag adds a unique aura of power over the card.
Our future is full of limitless possibilities.
Our future is real.
The source of all life, light and energy as it radiates optimism and positivity, Joy is the most powerful of all cards.
Tyrone embodies vitality, warmth and abundance in every space he enters. A proud gay Papua New Guinean and Torres-Strait-Islander man, Tyrone has created a devoted following on his Triple J radio show along-side co-host, Abby Butler, and has dedicated his platform to amplifying Queer, First Nations and POC artists.
Joy is considered the most powerful of the Mardi Gras Major Arcana, with the sun, the fire element and is the source of all life and energy behind Tyrone as he beams the innocence and joy that comes from connecting with your inner-self. The cards nuances echo the original card, with Tyrone draped in gold, atop our Mardi Gras stallion of strength and vitality. Pulled from our Mardi Gras archives, the glittering stallion is an icon of our organisation and a figure often pictured at Fair Day every year.
Tyrone perfectly captures the vulnerability and passion felt within the card, showing faith and courage in the face of adversity, exuding confidence after years of involvement in Queer POC education. He as Joy, with the power of the sun behind him combined with the power of being his true self – is unstoppable.
Our future is fluid, accepting and comfortable in its own skin.
As the layers peel back and his true essence is revealed, Yvngcweed is Rebirth. A proud trans-man and well-known DJ, Yvngcweed has been working at myriad events around Sydney for over a decade.
Pictured in a queer paradise Yvngcweed is kneeling, pouring vessels of blue and pink glitter into a reflective pond – representing the fluidity and freedom of gender expression. With the passing of time, you will eventually recognise the person staring back at you.
Symbolic of a new sense of hope, renewed power and strength to carry on, Rebirth, based on the traditional Tarot ‘The Star’, is a moment of reprieve after a time of turmoil and destruction. Despite the challenges and limiting beliefs that held him back, it is the dawning of a new era – the era of Rebirth.
“I was raised in a very religious and strong cultural background, and with knowing little to no English, I struggled to feel that I belonged. For years, I hid behind a façade that was accepted by society until one day I finally found the courage to live my true self.” Fast forward to now and Yvngcweed is surrounded by his chosen family and has found love and acceptance from within. “Although, like a lot of my fellow Queers, it hasn’t been easy. But the huge amount of support from friends, family and the Queer community has helped me get through so many challenges in life. This, I will always be grateful for, and I could never take for granted the freedom to express who I am.”
Yvngcweed is a strong, confident figure, not backing down from the challenges he has faced, and instead almost saying to the camera, ‘I am here, trans people are here, our revolution has begun.
Our future is fearless.
Family. Power. Community. Loss. Remembrance. David Polson was told not to plan for old age, they said he simply would not make it, but David was truly Courageous and has been fighting for HIV+ visibility for over 39 years.
If you have ever been lucky enough to meet David Polson, you would have felt his immense warmth radiate from him and sensed his strength despite immense challenges. In 1984 David was among the first 400 men diagnosed with HIV in Australia, and has since taken part in 28 HIV drug trials, putting his body on the line, determined to help find a cure. During his battles with the disease David became close with his doctor, David Cooper, who helped Polson to push through the drug trials and come out strong, as well as becoming a close friend. Dr Cooper passed away later in life, inspiring Polson to become the Founding Chair of Sydney’s first Queer museum; Qtopia, in honor of the doctor’s hard work and advocacy in helping his patients.
For these reasons and many more David is the hero of The Courageous. The card represents family, power and community, but also loss, remembrance and hope. It is a symbol for inner strength and fortitude during moments of danger and distress, as well as a reminder that when one overcomes a battle, they emerge stronger.
Focussing on the meaning behind the card, rather than the visual appearance, David is our heart and soul of the image. He is captured on a simple burnt orange frame, draped in red silk, representing the AIDS ribbon, standing tall and strong, tying back to the cards forceful meaning. The red ribbon became an ideogram of support for people living with HIV in 1991 and has been a universal symbol ever since, giving power back to survivors and anyone else affected. David’s conviction is breathtaking, you see a man that has faced what no one should, proud of being gay, and a hero within our community.
Our future is where we are able to stop, listen and learn from each other, making our community stronger and more resilient to outside forces.
David Polson (he/him)
This is the world where harmony, unity and connection are the source of all life. Unity is what holds our community together and comes in many forms of affection. The sixth card in the deck, Unity depicts two figures naked and vulnerable to one another, seemingly asking Raphael, the archangel of healing for guidance in their journey as lovers. They stand in a serene landscape basking in The Sun, a reference to the powers of Tyrone’s abundance and warmth. Including both an apple from The Tree of Knowledge and a flame from the Tree of Life, the original card encourages us remain mindful, as theAdam and Eve figures contemplate each other.
Sexy Galexy, our archangel and self-professed Glamourboi, began the art of drag as a form of self-expression and has since used their platform to prove that the joy of drag and self-expression comes from being true to oneself.
The real-life lesbian love story sees Charlie and Nikita become our Adam & Eve in their powerful queer partnership, femme and butch in love. They stand close, holding hands to convey their true love for each other. They stare into each-others eyes in an intimate moment of peace, safety and queer love. Sexy Galexy stands behind them as a powerful and fiery force, blessing the duos devotion, as if to say “I am the angel of love, I bless and celebrate their union”.
Our future thrives when our community supports each other.
Our future is uncertain but our today can be cute.
Charlie (she/they) & Nikita (she/her)
Ready to see life from a different perspective? Mama Medusa is The Acrobat. The Acrobat hangs, suspended in time and knows their position is a sacrifice to gain knowledge and power. This is an opportunity to see life from a different perspective, take a breath, nurture this moment and be prepared to be flexible within yourself.
The twelfth major arcana in the tarot deck, The Acrobat, based on ‘The Hanged Person’, is a figure vertically suspended from a living tree by their left leg, balancing between passion and strength, whilst tied to a calm embodiment of knowledge. To receive The Acrobat in a reading is to know that you are in need of being flexible and open to change, you may indeed need to become an Acrobat.
Mama Medusa is a well-known Australian burlesque and cabaret performer, and is the creator of popular night-club event, Buxxxom Soiree, a night of sensual performances to celebrate all bodies.
Buxxxom was created in an effort to spread recognition of plus size performers that she says “are often not taken seriously” and bend pre-conceived rules of societies expectations and limitations. Mama also possesses the talent to suspend herself from silk rope whilst retaining her flawless expressions, a talent of which we knew we had to utilise in our campaign as we reimagined the hanged person, into The Acrobat.
Mama is seen hanging from red silk, in a gorgeous diamante burlesque costume and a head crown to represent the figures halo of knowledge and dangling flora above her. Mama’s effortlessness to hang was incredible as she emerged as the true cabaret goddess she is. Her presence is your reminder that not everything is as it seems. Now stop, wait, and look into Mama’s eyes, as Our Future is set to begin.
Our future will come from our heart and our soul.
Mama Medusa (she/her)
Victoria Anthony is an icon within the Australian queer community for her trans activism, joyful energy and kindness. If you have had the pleasure of meeting her you may also remember her luscious long hair, a personal accomplishment she says has become a symbol for her life as a proud trans-woman.
From the past, through the present and into the future, New Beginnings is considered the most important of the Mardi Gras Major Arcana. The card is representative of moving forward from the past and choosing your destiny, Victoria’s face is resting on her arm but her body is moving forward, exuding new found feeling of lightness and freedom as she passes through a portal to begin her new life.
The card is also connected to The Illusionist, as Peaches Rose’s arm stands high to manifest a new world, Victoria’s is also raised symbolic of completing the spell. To encounter New Beginnings is to encounter unity and wholeness, symbolic of your inner and outer worlds (or inner and outer self) becoming a single unity, having life affirm what you always knew and opening oneself up to change.
For Victoria’s transformation into ‘New Beginnings’, you’ll see her goddess like beauty and transcendent energy shine through. Her hair wraps around her, flowing beautifully down to her own garden of Eden.
The card of completion, accomplishment, balance and harmony, Victoria is guided by Maui, Millie, Telford and Yummei – representative of the four fixed Zodiac elements, four seasons, four corners of the Universe, four compass points and the four suits of the Tarot.
Our future is trans-proud, inclusive and visible.
Victoria Anthony (she/her)
It sure is better the devil you know, and our satanically sexy trio of Clara, Dimitri and James are here to welcome you to the wondrous land of Desire. Desire represents the shadow self, holding back from your desires, living in fear of your true self being revealed. Queer people, and our sexual desires have long gone misrepresented and suppressed.
Dimitri, Clara and James are here to welcome you to the world you’ve been dreaming of.
Dimitri is a Queer event promoter travelling the world to create safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+SB community and is our Baphomet. Based on the tarot card ‘The Devil’, you see Baphomet, a vampire wing bearing, half goat/ half man, known as the Horned Goat of Mendes, with his once enslaved, now supporting, followers at his feet. Baphomet was once recognised as a representation of the balance of; good & evil, man & woman, and human & animal, however, more recently has been used as a symbol for the occult. Our trio of Desire represents giving in to your inhibitions, expressing sexual desire, and casting off the label of ‘evil’.
Clara, Dimitri and James, all are Sydney-based creatives, proudly representing a wide-range of communities. James (he/him) opening up about his cultural background, speaks to his family’s refuge in Australia during the East Timorese/Indonesian conflict. The trio share a talent for expressing the ‘dark’ passion portrayed in the card through fierce expressionism, James noted “I feel my most powerful when I’m on stage, I love connecting to my sensual side and feel that this gives others permission to fully embrace themselves and their own sexuality”. Clara of who has amassed over 138k TikTok followers is a travelling performer with Dracula’s Cabaret, taking her talents of singing, burlesque, and cabaret, around Australia, New Zealand and now Europe.
We worked with the group to bring all the small, but important, nuances of the card to life. Notice the way Clara and James are physically chained to Dimitri, however once looking carefully you may notice the chains are easily removed, they want to be there. They’ve chosen the dark side, because let’s be honest, it’s more fun.
Our future is progressive, kind and humanitarian.
Our future is electric.
Our future is open-minded
Things around you are not what they appear to be.
The Wisdom card is a sign of intuition, sacred knowledge and divine femininity, depicting a strong figure sitting between pillars marked B&J, for Boaz & Jachin, the two pillars that stood on the porch of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, with the black and white colour of the pillars symbolising the duality between masculine and feminine.
Sister Salomé joins us from Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. HIV+ advocate and inspirational speaker, Sister Salomé has been a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence since 1992. The Sydney sisterhood, of which is the second oldest of the international collective, is a not-for-profit existing to challenge ‘bigotry and hatred in the hearts and mind of people taught to fear difference, rather than rejoice in similarity. Our common aim to make the world a better place to live – one possessed of equality, respect, patience and tolerance.’
The Sister is our moon goddess of Wisdom, see the power in his eyes, despite facing adversity in his years, he’s come out strong. The queer revolution is coming, and we will be centre stage. Sister Salome’ sits wearing his traditional habit donned with the queer liberation triangle, the revered red ribbon, a red and silver pin that represents his sisterly name, and finally a Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence pin gifted to him during the 2nd World Conclave of the Sisters, in San Francisco in 1999. Wise above all, his foot rests on a crescent moon, representing is connection to the divine feminine, his intuition, and the phases of the moon. The veil of pomegranates, a reminder that things may not always be as they seem and abundance awaits those who choose to see the world in their own way.
Our future builds on the commitment and efforts of those who came before us; may the future be strong and may it bring us all pride and joy.
Sister Salomé of the Ninth Mystic Rhinestone (he/him)