Since sometime in 2016 I have been working on drawing up a tarot deck. These decks are 78 cards- each with a different image and meaning- so it’s been taking forever! Not to mention, I know I often forget about it and go long periods of time with out working on them. So, in the same line of thought as my Weekday Sketching series, I’ll be updating this post with a new card each week.
Because this is the first post- here’s a little about how a tarot deck works.
There are 4 Minor Arcana suits: cups, pentacles, swords, and wands. The suits have generalized meanings which the 10 numerical cards and 4 face cards all draw from. Cups have the element of water and deal with our emotions and spirituality, loves and passions. Pentacles have the element of earth and speak of stability of family and finances, and the material aspects of our lives. Swords have the element of air and revolves around the mental and intellectual aspects of our lives particularly in situations of change and decision. Wands have the element of fire and express energy, motivation, inspiration and creativity.
In addition to the Minor Arcana cards, tarot decks also have 22 Major Arcana cards. These cards are archetypal in nature and relate to the human journey through life.
Tarot is commonly thought of as divination and fortune telling, but in practice it is an intuitive and introspective lens to view and see our personal lives, hopes and dreams and the world around us more so than anything else.
While there is no set imagery for a card or deck, the Rider-Waite deck originally published in the early 1900s is one of the most popular decks to use. The set I’ve been working on for the last little bit often draws on the Rider-Waite version with my own interpretative twist. One such twist is it’s all in black and white- designed to be a coloring book. What better way to meditate and concentrate on each card to better understand the story and meaning behind it than by spending some time coloring it and making it your own? It’s very similar to how I’ve greatly deepened my understanding of all the cards in making this deck by taking time to research the story and imagery of the card and then deciding upon how I wanted to interpret it in drawing.
This week I’ll include the first few Major Arcana cards as I’m starting this series where I left off all those weeks ago.
Aptly first is the Fool, a card of new beginnings, innocence, imagination and potential. The Fool is a traveler. The rising sun is the start of a new day, a beginning of her journey. She carries a bag for her travels, but it remains closed and untapped. A cat plays at her heels to push her curiosity but also keep her aware and focused to not completely fall off the sheer edge of the cliff as she pushes the boundaries of her courage and motivation.
The Magician is a card of creativity, power and resourcefulness. He has all the tools on the table in front of him, represented as the suits of the Minor Arcana: cups, pentacles, swords and wands. The Magician represents the connection between the real world and the spiritual. He underlines our ability to harness our own creative power and possesses a sense of concentration to fulfill any difficult or complex task at hand.
The High Priestess is an introspective card. She represents our intuitions and subconscious knowledge. The library behind her is curtained off and she wears a veil, pointing to aspects of hidden knowledge and mystery. She is associated with the moon and the pomegranate, a symbol relating to the tale of Persephone, who lives in the world of the living for half the year, and the underworld for the second half as the world turns to winter. The High Priestess calls us to slow down and listen to our inner voices.
Next up is the Empress!