I have been a fan of Nikkie Stinchcombe, also known as Little Paper Forest, for some time now, so in October 2017 when she announced that she was starting a zodiac illustration project, I was rather excited. I had planned on posting about the project when the last illustration was completed, but she implored the internet to leave the pictures alone, since they were still being revised. Then, in late January 2018, Stinchcombe announced that the illustrations were being made into tarot-style cards, and I immediately hit “add to cart.”
The cards feature feminine interpretations of each sign of the zodiac, plus Ophiuchus, the so-called 13th sign. Many of the figures feature looks from high fashion/couture, such as Iris Van Herpen, who I adore. I also like that the cards have a uniform color scheme of black, grayscale, and bluish-lavender. It’s unusual and very pretty. This is a more modern deck, in lines of a Labyrinthos Academy, more than a Lo Scarabeo, for example.
Uusi is an independant tarot and oracle card maker extraordinaire, and their latest release is the “Supra” Oracle, which include 56 unique cards. From their website:
“Supra” is an oracle deck loosely based on Jungian psychology and how it mingled with Gnosticism. We loved the melding of physics, psyche and ancient knowledge in Jung’s practice that inspired an artistic leap at the dawn of the 20th Century in how Man relates to the world around him. It was a process of soul making in an era of growing preoccupation with the Machine and a return to our mystic roots that nourish and enliven our essential selves – our individual identities – within the immeasurable expanse of the cosmos.
With a world very much in play and running more and more at a machine’s pace, we need objects and practices that ask us to stop, to reflect, and above all to allow us time to be human – to listen to what is in our hearts as much as what is in our minds.
I am very intrigued by the idea of a Jung-inspired oracle deck, and the archetypes are pulled from various (presumably Western) traditions. I believe the aim of this oracle deck is to sort of mimic a sort of collective unconscious and to pull advice from that system of “mystic roots”. My first reaction is that this deck would be potentially very useful for shadow work.
I recently stumbled across a set of major arcana tarot cards by Japanese artist Aya Takano and immediately added them to my collection. Part of the Superflat movement, Takano’s work is done in an intentionally juvenile style, while still addressing the prevalence of sexuality and consumerism in post-war Japan. Takano has been on my radar for a long time, but I had no idea she had released a set of tarot cards until recently. Below are some images of the cards and my thoughts on the deck; a gallery can be found at the bottom of the post.
Above, clockwise from left is The Fool, the card back, Fortune, The Hanged Man, and The Magician. Takano uses reddened joints that appear as sunburns to indicate that the figure is still growing. Her subjects are usually nude or only partially clothed, which creates an intentional juxtaposition of innocence and sexuality. The back of the cards are bright pink and feature flowers, peacocks, rabbits, planets, and what appear to be eggs. All of these make me think of Hera, but I am sure I’m just reading way too much into the card back.
Indie tarot and oracle decks are having a renaissance at the moment, allowing new interpretations of classic cards to crop up in such variety that it seems impossible not to find one that strikes your fancy. The most recent to cross my path is the Mystic Mondays Tarot by Grace Duong, which is on Kickstarter until June 30, 2017.
This version of the tarot deck is focused on reinterpreting the cards, favoring intuitive readings that are still based on the Rider Waite tarot. From the Kickstarter: “Since the Mystic Mondays deck is based on the Rider Waite, it maintains the integrity of the meanings, while keeping the illustrations simple to get to the heart of the matter.” It’s worth noting that the image she shows as an example is the Quick and Easy Tarot that is illustrated using the Universal Waite. Duong explains that her own experience with tarot fell a little flat because of the way the meanings were written, and I completely agree, as I am not a fan of the Quick and Easy Tarot either.
I toyed with the idea of making my own tarot deck a good ten years ago, but it dropped to the wayside. Then recently I felt the pull again, so I made this collage of the High Priestess, my favorite card in any tarot deck. If you’ve been inspired to make your own tarot or oracle deck then perhaps you will find this post helpful! Below I explain the meaning of each item in the collage card.
The High Priestess traditionally sits between the pillars of alpha and omega, situated in the realm of all knowledge. I replaced the pillars – which are a Biblical reference – with two crystal pillars to maintain the symbolism.
Trusting intuition and what I think of as ‘soft power’ – the power of silence or inaction – are in the High Priestess card. If there is gossip, the High Priestess tells us to turn away from it, signaling a time of trusting one’s inner voice and intuition. Because of this I used an image of a woman who is turn away, to indicate the powerful silence of this card.
In the Rider-Waite deck the High Priestess is strongly associated with the Moon: she wears the triple crown of Isis and has a crescent moon under her foot. I feel much more drawn to goddess of the Sun, so I replaced the moon association (Moons, blue) with Sun associations (gold, glitter).