Free Expansion Pack Course Lesson One: Origin Story

Hello friend, it’s Carrie here. Welcome to this free Expansion Pack course! We originally shared this to our email list and now making it available on our blog.

Throughout these posts you'll learn more about the creation of the Expansion Pack and discover some practical ways to work with your cards. We're excited to go on this journey with you!

As a reminder, the Expansion Pack does come with a paper guidebook. We also have an audio guide available in which we describe how we chose the imagery for each individual card. Some of what we share in this email course will expand upon these resources. Some will be entirely new.



Ultimately, the only thing you really need to connect with the cards is your own intuition and imagination. But we hope these materials will be a useful primer as you develop your own relationship with the 21 new cards the expansion pack brings! As we commence with this course, let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start, as they say).

In today’s lesson, you’ll learn:

  • The history of minchiate; the centuries old card system from which we drew inspiration
  • What led us to create this particular deck
  • Why you may want to work with the Expansion Pack yourself

Minchiate & Tarot: a brief history

The history of tarot and minchiate is interwoven, vast and rich. Entire volumes have been written on the history of these card systems and there is far more to say than we could cover here, but we’ll touch on the basics!

Tarot came to popularity in Italy during the 15th century. Long before their use as a divinatory tool became widespread, the older decks were used to play card games. Tarot decks have evolved and been reimagined for hundreds of years, but modern tarot decks still share many similarities to these ancestors.

Minchiate decks appeared around the same time as tarot, and were used in a card game closely related to tarot. Minchiate decks typically contained the same cards as a tarot deck, plus several additional cards. The specifics of these additional cards varied, but broadly speaking was quite similar to what you find in our expansion pack: the zodiac signs, four elements, and classical virtues (the latter we’ve reimagined as values).

A funny sidenote: when we first announced the Expansion Pack and started talking about the minchiate system, an Italian speaker messaged me to share that this is actually kind of a controversial word in Italian. Per Wikipedia: 

“The word minchiate comes from a dialect word meaning ‘nonsense’ or ‘trifle’, derived from mencla, the vulgar form of mentula, a Latin word for ‘phallus’. The word minchione is attested in Italian as meaning ‘fool’. The intended meaning may be 'the game of the fool', considering that the card ‘The Fool’ features prominently in the game play of all tarot games.”

Anyhow, back to our brief history discussion. Several hundred years after tarot’s origin as a card game, occultists discovered tarot and imagined it to contain great spiritual and mystical secrets. Tarot decks went on to cement a place in popular culture, while minchiate has remained obscure.

This isn’t to say minchiate was entirely forgotten - there’s a small but passionate subset of folks who use the minchiate system in card reading (and many of them know far more about minchiate than I do). But it’s safe to say tarot is by far the more widely known system.

How did WE get into Minchiate?

I discovered minchiate through the Spolia Tarot, a gem of a deck (sadly now out of print) created by Jessa Crispin and Jen May, which contained cards for the zodiac signs and elements. 

Shortly after finishing the Spacious Tarot deck, Annie and I already knew we wanted to collaborate on another project. We’d come to think of our tarot deck as an energetic realm, one we wanted to explore further. I suggested the idea of creating additional cards based on the minchiate system and Annie agreed this sounded like an adventure! So we set off.

We decided to call our deck an expansion pack for a few reasons: first, we both love the word ‘expansion’ as it resonates strongly with the vibe of this energetic realm. Second, many traditional card games release ‘expansion packs’ and I’d never heard of anyone doing this with tarot and we thought it was a fun concept. And third: although our deck is inspired by minchiate, it isn’t meant to be an exact replica of the minchiate system and we wanted that to be apparent in the title. 

You may already know that creating the expansion pack turned into quite the journey on every level. It took longer than we planned to create the art. Then we faced several printing issues and delays (explained in depth here).

Self-publishing decks is a lot to take on (in fact, this is why the Spolia Tarot is no longer in print). But it’s worth it now that we finally get to hold the expansion pack in our hands and share the new cards with you!

Why try the Expansion Pack?

We acknowledge that not every creation resonates with every person. Our hope for both the Spacious Tarot and the Expansion Pack is that they will find their way to the folks who they’re meant for. If that’s you, that’s amazing! Simply put, the reason to try the expansion pack is if it speaks to you. If the cards pique your curiosity, if the imagery evokes something within you, if your intuition says yes.


We think this deck is a great fit for anyone who wants to literally expand their tarot practice. Incorporating new cards is a great way to add vitality to your readings, no matter your level of experience. Through my own experience with the additional cards in the Spolia Tarot I was able to move out of my 'tarot comfort zone'. The new cards are an opportunity to both connect with an ancient system, while also finding space for completely fresh possibilities.

Just like with tarot, there’s no right or wrong way to use the new cards. Think of this as an opportunity to PLAY!

That said, we know many of you are interested in specific activities, spreads and methods to try with your cards. Stay tuned.

Our next lesson will delve into the zodiac cards - it's gonna be a good one! See you there.