Tarot, Sex, & Hoodoo: A Black Girl’s Guide to the Underworld

The words "hot trans summer" in pink and orange gradient.

Hot Trans Summer‘ is a series of essays documenting the complicated pleasure of being trans, curated by our trans subject editor Xoai Pham.

The Moon. La Luna.

When the moon is full, I do not have to wear fuzzy socks. The feel of wood, carpet, or crisp sheets beneath bare skin does not send electricity up my spine, through the soles of my feet. I rub the soles against my legs and feel naked. I honor my senses and do not push past them to become normal. I am not a normal girl. I am a feeling one.

I make offering and the nectar of a peach drips down onto my fingers and clings to my wrists.

The fan blows noisily in the background. It reminds me of summer visits to the city, far away from my Grandmother’s swirling quilt. Its patterns are printed like diamonds of acid trip. Red, yellow, green, black… that melt into hands steepled into a roof praying her children will never leave. There are far too many monsters beyond church walls and rows of planted greens.

On the road, two men are barking like dogs and blocking the path.

Sometimes, when the tide is low, I am afraid of loud men.

I take a bite of collard-soaked cornbread and it warms my body, like liquor, causing me to finally drop my shoulders. Was I holding them tightly all this time?

The Sun. El Sol.

Floodwater. Stained cement. A challenge: one I often only meet when there is something bigger, or at least more luxurious, than the fear.

A hug, the hair on a peach, an ice cream cone, or a song pulls me back inside and demands the attention of the nerves on my skin, the taste on my tongue, the pressing of my lips, the need for my gaze.

I take the senses and walk to a woman at the edge of a forest glowing in Sun.

I ask her “Why is it so hard to love me? And why can’t I stay inside of my skin?

The card turns to an image of a man riding a white horse dressed in black, like a shadow touching flesh as dark as my own.

Death. La Muerte.

Women like me love the question: “Why?”

Like, “Why did you wrap my body inside of your country’s flag and call it love?”

Ace of Swords.

I’m in love with a boy I made in my dreams. When I turned sixteen, I traded imaginary friends for lovers.

There were no pink skirts or dances with my Father.

The Devil. El Diablo.

I closed my eyes and left my body when he made love to me.

The worst part was, he thought the sex was good.

Queen of Swords.

Sometimes, I wish that I was the kind of pretty that the world thought worthy of protecting.

I try not to sweat out my edges when we dance and I do not sigh too loudly when you touch me. I check my makeup and prepare myself for a money shot that never comes.

The truth is, the sex is better ugly.

Seven of Swords.

Dear God, please do not tell my secrets. They pour from the knot in my throat when your lips linger across my breasts and when my dark nipples roll softly between your teeth. Love me until the lies I tell are real. They are merely a wish.

Just reach between my legs and pretend you are surprised when you find a cock.

Los Enamorados. The Lovers.

Where are you?


A band of men cut a tightrope.

I fell to Earth with black wings on a dance floor.

One of my feet touches a sacred lake, the other is blessed with dirt of the First to walk it.


God answers.

Page of Cups.

You listen to God, but like a dream, the words recede when you wake.

Three of Swords.

A person can never seduce you if they are too afraid of becoming you. Do you remember what it felt like to be seduced? Has anyone ever tried?

“No kissing.” He holds hands over his lips as a ransom of human, something that maybe he will give back to you if you meet him in secret. The lines between his hands and mouth form a border, like countries, between “you” and “woman.” “Only humans may cross.” Women who are not real shift back into hunger and many more reaching hands.

Do you remember seduction with love on the other side of it, instead of fingers through a gate? When it wasn’t you doing all the work to be loved, like a promotion for bleeding? Do you remember what it is like to be sexy, instead of missing parts reserved for human?

The Fool and the Knight of Wands.

I search for the missing parts, until I find a man with a big voice who promises me the world if I dress in the right pair of shoes. He is inside, tying my mouth closed with the corner of a white flag and waving the other end of it across the window in surrender.

There are others outside shouting for demands from criminal bodies on bullhorns. “Step outside of the bathroom with your hands up! You are in the wrong body.”

I search in books for the terms of engagement within the hostage situation between my own pleasure and the fetish the world wants to dress me in.

There is a cliff.

I jump.

The High Priestess.

What is behind the curtain of shame and names that no longer belong to my shedding skin?

I pull this veil and find pomegranates seated behind a door to the Underworld and a book with the secrets of how to travel back from Death & fetish to “woman.”

La Reina de Copas.


The water finally stops rising and swirls into glass.

There is a reflection in the mirror and I stare until she moves. Now the girl humiliated into quiet is trapped inside with the man who thought he could pull her into Hell. He holds onto her doll-like limbs as she drowns him in the current of leaving flood.

I fix my hair and I laugh at the things on the other side of glass.

The World. El Mundo.

I paint a mask with monsters and stitch feathers to my hips.

I stitch the beads into a prayer I wear to hide the knot in my neck & throw it to your lover in the crowd.

I dance and when people call my dead name, I spin in place of turning, because the memories they have of me were never my own. They belong to the wrong side of a mirror the world tried its best to trap me in.

To them I leave their nations and pass beneath the garland of my Mother’s crown, naked…

A Lenten Summer. A needle in an arm. A text message. A carnival release.

A Hot Girl Summer.

A woman, or something like it, breathing fire as she lifts her wings from Hell.

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Shaadi Devereaux

Shaadi Devereaux is a writer, poet, and community member. In her art, she explores the themes of desire, colonialism, Blackness, and Indigeneity.

Shaadi has written 1 article for us.


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