"The fate that the Supreme Being has beforehand ordained, a human being does not alter." - Ashanti proverb
In the domain of the five senses, it is very easy to be drawn off course from ones true north and dismiss the sixth in the process. Simone Bresi-Ando created the Adrinkra Ancestral Guidance cards with that in mind, sat with me recently in a tranquil New York loft on a Sunday evening to break down exactly how the 44 card deck materialized.
You don't necessarily need to be a clairvoyant to effectively utilize the deck, just approach her with an empty cup, ready to be filled.
AR: How did the concept of the deck come about?
SB: Came to me through life, the journey that I have been on...I needed to understand what were my ancestors doing before me to thrive and survive. We are the first peoples of this earth so any kind of systems we created sustain life and were still not wiped out, even though there were many attempts. Also how can I honor that and bring this teachings, those processes, those rituals into my present day, share them with others. So that was the energy behind why I was looking for something to help me navigate my way around these systems. It wasn't just about navigation, it really was about freedom...freedom is a very important thing to me.
The Adinkra is one of the first language systems we've ever had as humans and all the sayings we have now such as the 'Third Eye', 'Mother Nature', all of these concepts are directly from the Adinkra symbols.
I thought what a precious thing that Ghanian people, the Gyaman people of Ivory Coast and Ghana have created and I want to protect it, honor it and want people to use these symbols not as pretty little things that they adorn their bodies with tattoos and prints on clothes, but they understand that there is a philosophical meaning behind them and it's actually a power behind them that can harness to manifest what they want.
AR: What is the origin of the word Adinkra?
SB: Adinkra is the name of a body of symbols, which have meanings. Adinkra actually means 'goodbye' in Twi and it was only used for royalty, chiefs. Chiefs or a King in the Ivory Coast had mimicked an Ashanti stool. The Ashanti tribe heard about this, got very irate, went over to Ivory Coast, killed the King and found all these Adinkra symbols, cloths and loved it, brought it back to the Ashanti kingdom in Ghana and added to this language system that they had seen. That's why it's an amalgamation of these two tribes which are over this landmass.
AR: Can you elaborate more on the symbols and what they represent?
SB: These symbols were to help people understand and navigate life. That's why you have the philosophy, the sayings behind it. Nyame Dua means 'God's tree'. It's about an altar, a tree which splits into three and this was usually at the start of a compound, your estate. This is where you summon spirits, where you get protection, where you communicate with your ancestors in the cosmos.
AR: For the neophytes who are just coming into these concepts, how does the Adinkra differ from the tarot and how they can be utilized with different needs one may have?
SB: This deck can help you with any odd question. You're gonna want to get questions on things you need, not things you want. It's about deepening your intuition, your intuition is your forcefield, protection zone, your alarm system. When you meet someone, something is not quite right, that's your gut, your ancestors.
That's all the things they've given you to protect you. It really is about quieting yourself down and to hear it. The cards are gonna help you confirm a lot of things you probably feel. You're not gonna be drawn to shell out money on this item unless you're like "okay, I want to know more".
AR: Since creating the deck, what kind of reaction have you gotten from users thus far?
SB: The kind of feedback I've got about the cards is that they are grateful for me giving them a portal or a vessel for them to have this communication stream. A lot of people came into these cards, the story of how they found them in a shop. How just last week someone came into the shop and said "I've walked down this road for two years, I've never seen this shop but today I had to come in." Something said come in, then they found me then I gave them a reading. I'm really proud that I'm enabling people to do this deep listening.
AR: In the manual that accompanies the deck, there are spreads laid out differently, what is the purpose of each spread?
SB: These spreads come from you trying to hone down a messages, the spirit world likes specificity, they're allowing you to drill down on the points you want answered. I thought about how I use cards and what are the most common things I'm trying to find out about - love, money and who I am as a person.
We have an ancestral lineage spread, which tells us about our ancestors, who they are, what are the things they want us to do, why it's important about who they are as a people and how that informs our identity. We have love, soulmate, new love spread.
AR: What particular card(s) are speaking to you at this time?
SB: It would have to be Asase Ye Duru, it speaks to me so much. It says "Mother Nature has weight", and it means the earth has weight. This is really the providence...the divinity of Mother Earth. The way we've been treating Earth, our environment and particularly women is disgusting. I very much want to salute the feminine, it is divine, it is where we create...femininity has been devalued so much because of these systems like Christianity and Patriarchy, which have basically been brought about to devalue and erase the feminine.
And what I've done as a Black woman who rose this earth that is incredibly aware of the many ways that people that people try to extinguish like myself because of my race, that I'm reclaiming a piece of this earth that's always been mine, that no one else can have.
Tap into the force with the Adinkra Guidance cards here.