I have to retract something I wrote in the Divine Muses Oracle Companion Guidebook about the Eternal Student card that could spread negative perceptions about Sikhs and those who practice Sikhism.
In the Essence and the Shadow section, I don’t write about specifics regarding religion, Sikh or otherwise. However, the last sentence of the In the Card section, I write that the artwork leans towards the shadow side of the card’s definition and that isn’t fair. I can see how that is highly problematic and I’m so sorry I didn’t see this sooner.
In a world where there’s anti-Sikh sentiment and Islamophobia, pointing the artwork in this way misrepresents the historical figure I used in the artwork, and could reinforce negative stereotypes. That was not my intention. However, I see how pointing the artwork towards the shadow could denigrate Sir Rajinder Singh specifically. I will not make excuses as to what I really meant to say because in the end, it can still be misinterpreted and cause harm.
I am sorry for causing offense. I know where I went wrong in writing about the artwork. I will continue to use the card in the deck, but I will be removing that last sentence from the guidebook in all future printings.
I’m grateful to the woman who contacted me and brought this to my attention. She is Sikh and is well-placed to comment about her experience and that of her community. I couldn’t have asked for a more compassionate email. Her kindness and understanding is rare in a world where lobbing accusations online is seemingly becoming the norm. She said that she was really pleased to see Sikh representation in a deck, and explained to me why she thought the description was harmful. When I reread the entry I saw my mistake immediately.
As a deck creator, collage artist, and archivist, I strive towards creating more diverse and inclusive card decks. It can be challenging to find photographs and imagery that I can use in my work. One must be sensitive and conscious when working within the 19th century archives.
Even though I was careful with my work, I still made a mistake. The next course of action is to own it, fix it, and share my mistake, so those of you who have the oracle set are aware of this.
It’s a fitting lesson this should happen with the Eternal Student card.
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Maree Bento is an artist and practitioner of the mystical & healing arts.
She’s a professional tarot reader and veteran deck creator born under a Sagittarius Sun with a Libra Rising & Capricorn Moon conjunct Pallas Athena. She's been deepening her astrology studies the last few years, after a years-long hobby interest in the subject.
Maree was a licensed massage therapist for 17 years practicing various holistic modalities for body, mind, and spiritual well-being & connection.
Her background in the healing arts inspires her present approach to tarot, creativity, ritual, and divination.
She loves traveling, especially to her ancestral homeland, the Azores, and has been relearning her mother tongue. She enjoys connecting with family, friends, & animals, She lives in Portland with her beloved, David, and their huggable hound, Dante where they hike rain or shine.
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