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The making of my Inner Compass Oracle deck in 2018 was a magical experience which initiated a wondrous creative journey into the world of oracle and tarot iconography!
It gave me a voice as a visual artist who is fascinated by Jungian Psychology, Archetypes, Astrology and Mythology.
Almost 2 years later I find myself ready to create my first Tarot deck – or rather the 22 trump cards of the Major Arcana to be precise – the core of the Tarot. No small feat – I have been quite intimidated to be honest…
Creating a Tarot deck is quite different from making an oracle deck, where I got to choose my own themes and symbols in a free sequence of my liking. A Tarot deck on the other hand has a traditional set of symbols, numbers and sequences. Nevertheless, I intend to integrate my very own artistic and philosophical approach and apply my personal interpretation to each card and the deck as a whole.
But before diving into the creative process, I put together a brief overview of the Tarot and where my inspiration for how I approach the cards comes from.
Origins of the Tarot
The origins of the Tarot go back to medieval France and Italy. Some also connect the Tarot with ancient Egypt and the Jewish Kabbalah. During the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church condemned the Tarot as ‘The Devil’s Picture Book’ mainly due to its original use as playing cards in gambling. Because the earliest Tarot cards were hand-painted, the number of the decks produced was probably small. It was only after the invention of the printing press that mass production of cards became possible. In the late 18th century, some Tarot decks began to be used for divination purposes via Tarot card readings.
Probably the most well-known deck in the English-speaking world today is the Rider-Waite deck created by the scholarly mystic Arthur E Waite and first published by William Rider in England in 1909. It is still in publication today. Waite commissioned the talented American artist Pamela Coleman Smith to illustrate each card. He is said to have provided detailed instructions on the symbolism mainly or exclusively for the Major Arcana.
The Major Arcana or the Journey of the Fool
The Major Arcana is the name given to the 22 trump cards of a standard Tarot deck which consists of 78 cards altogether. Each card of the Major Arcana (meaning Major Secrets) represents a different stage of our human journey through life with all its lessons, blessings and challenges until he reaches enlightenment and wholeness. The Journey is taken by “the Fool “who stands for each of us as we begin our journey of life. He opens the Major Arcana with the #0 which means that he is not part of the journey, but the one who takes the journey and symbolically goes through the different experiences reflected in the following 21 cards. C. G. Jung describes the process of becoming an actualized individual in his concept of Individuation which is reflected in the Major Arcana.
Cards 1- 21 can thus be positioned in 3 rows of 7, each row symbolizing different planes of experience:
- the worldly/material plane (cards # 1 – 7)
- the plane (cards # 8 – 14)
- the spiritual plane
Why I am fascinated by the Tarot & how I approach it
as a former student of art history and recently Jungian art therapy I have always been particularly interested in iconography (the visual images and symbols used in works of art) and the secret language of symbolism (the language of the unconscious) in the light of Jungian psychology and the archetypes. As an Artist I am also intrigued by using or creating powerful images that act as a mirror to reflect what is going on inside us.
In my opinion, the Tarot combines fascinating visual story telling with cultural history, psychology and something magical that has to do with the Collective and Personal Unconscious. It can connect us to our own as well as a a universal intuitive knowing and higher guidance and make something tangible that cannot be expressed through words and the logical thinking mind. I love the synchronicity and supernatural sense of interconnectedness with the Universe that happens each time I work with the Tarot.
I believe that the Tarot is at the same time a very personal tool and the meaning of the cards or combination of cards comes into the full picture when regarded within the context, intention and imagination of the person consulting the cards. This approach affects how I will create my own deck: I do not feel restricted by the traditional symbols and archetypes in each card but will apply my own intuition and imagination as I dive deep into the intuitive creation process. My own psychological state and spiritual awareness will play as much a role in the creation of my deck as does my artistic style.
Inspiration & Resources
My main inspiration and resources come mainly from the approaches of C.G. Jung and and his theory of the Collective Unconscious and its Archetypes and the writer, scholar and Tarot expert Rachel Pollack.
These are three books I keep going back to for inspiration and knowledge:
- Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, who is a highly respected expert on divinatory tarot
- The Book of Symbols – Reflections on Archetypal Images – the Book of Symbols illuminates how to move from the visual experience of a symbolic image in art, religion, life, or dreams to directly experiencing its personal and psychological resonance.
Another great online resource is this website:
And of course, my own experience with active imagination, intuitive art making, meditation and studying foreign cultures, symbols and archetypes play a large in role.