I’ve noticed that each deck creator has the challenge of taking their vision for a Tarot deck and fitting it (at least somewhat) to the existing structural tradition for the Tarot. We do have more than one tradition to work with (Thoth, Rider-Waite-Smith, Marseille, etc.), but to be a Tarot deck, we still need to work with something like the 22 cards of the Major Arcana and at least four suits for the Minors.
I’ve taken on the challenge of working with existing abstract images from the cosmos (because I can’t create like Van Gogh) to create a deck (check here for earlier examples), and I ran into a creator’s block over the past several months because seeing recognizable patterns that match a Tarot card has become more difficult.
I’ve been tempted to move into collage, much as the Quantum Tarot did, in order to introduce shapes that would make a card look more immediately like a traditional Tarot card, but I resisted. I really do believe that all the right shapes and colors can be found if one looks and crops/rotates the images in the right way.
But a good friend of mine, Jean Hamilton-Fford, told me recently to try being less strict about seeing the pattern in the image so clearly, and allow the viewer/reader to take a little more time to figure out why an image has the shape it does to illustrate the theme and symbolism of the card.
Yesterday and today I took her philosophy to the NASA website and gathered some more possibilities for cards.
The Knights are associated with men on horseback and the idea of swift movement. Although the idea of a horse is not obvious with this flying knight, an irregular galaxy still shows the almost-human form and the visual of sword moving swiftly across space. So, the Knight of Swords he is.
I’m using “disks” for the traditional Pentacles suit in Tarot. Still trying to decide about how much brown and how much green to use in this Earth-centered suit, but planetary nebulae (out-gassing from a single star) like the Eskimo Nebula create a great single round shape to use for this Ace, with brown colored dust that is consistent with an Earth element. Of course, I could transform some of the color to green to make a better fit to my theme for the Disks, but we’ll see.
Normally in the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition, this card depicts a young man on horseback returning victorious from the wars and enjoying the accolades of the populace. He usually has in hand a long staff or lance with a pennant on it. Also, in accordance with the association of Wands with the element of Fire, I’ve been looking for images that produce a red color (there are lots of these in NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope infrared imagery). I found this one at the bottom of an image of the NGC 1333 star cluster. Lots of assertive young stars burning in this region of space.
Let me know what you think of my choices for these cards!
To see how the Tarot can guide even the most mundane of tasks (if you are brave enough to allow it!), check out my friend Katalin Patnaik’s contribution to the last Tarot Blog Hop in September. We had a foodie theme and many of the contributors came up with great recipes. But Kati’s was unique: she asked the Tarot for the recipe and used the “random” draw of the cards to decide what ingredients and quantities to use for the recipe. The results were much more coherent than you might think. Magical!