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My Tarot Card Images and the Stories Behind Them......more images to be added as I get them scanned!

Zero-The Fool Card: and some thoughts on the Major Arcana.

Turtle Woman's Tarot

I LEARN ABOUT THE TAROT...

A 20 YEAR ODYSSEY

Long ago, when I was married to my first husband; his mother used to read the cards for friends and family. She was elderly; a native of Sonora, Mexico; spoke no english. The way she read cards was very different from what you'd expect. She used a deck of regular playing cards.These seemed to give her all the information she needed. (She predicted the unfortunate outcome of our marriage!) A few years later, when the marriage was over and I was an art student at the University of California,I discovered the work of Carl Jung: archetypes; dream symbols; symbols in general. I became fascinated with symbols. Among the symbols I used in my own art were those found on playing cards - but whenever I used one of them I was always thinking not of the games of chance with which cards are usually associated, but rather of symbols to be divined...

After moving to Tucson I developed an interest in metaphysics in general. I like to "investigate" things and I found myself going to various psychic readers just to see what that was like. I was most impressed by a tarot reading that I got from a local woman. She told me that the cards never lied; if only one could interpret them correctly! All that this woman told me in the reading came to pass. Well, that set me off! I loved the symbols I'd seen on the tarot cards anyway, and so I decded to "investigate" tarot. I am very independent and somewhat of a loner; so rather than continuing to visit readers I began my own independent investigation of tarot. I read every book and publication on tarot I could find, and collected many tarot decks (I've given away many decks I acquired over the years and still have a collection of over 100!). I found that learning the meanings of the cards and combining these to tell a story came easy to me, for some reason. From a strictly esthetic viewpoint, I loved some of the very beautiful and artistic decks various people had created. Content was (and is) equally important to me, 'tho, and I was also very interested to see how certain people had altered the meanings of some cards in their decks because those cards had come to symbolize something other than the traditional meaning for them. That, coupled with reading Mary Greer's "Tarot for Yourself", led me to believe that tarot is individual and personal - it truly becomes a personal symbol system when used often enough for oneself. Something that I "fell out of love" with along the way was the traditional Rider-Waite deck; whose images I came to consider rather patriarchal. The first deck that I felt totally comfortable with for my own personal use was Vicki Noble's "Motherpeace". I liked her philosophy of hope and her innocent but powerful images. A few years later I happened upon Carol Bridges' "Medicine Woman" deck and I found her philosophies to be in sync with my own about tarot also. Over the years these 2 decks have remained my favorites and are the ones I use to read with. I have devised my own layout/system for readings and frequently use both decks for a single reading. In my explorations I found a couple of other "non traditional" (different format) decks that I find appealing also; these are the "Medicine Cards" by Jamie Sams and David Carson; and "The Cards of Winds and Changes" (A Voice from the Earth) by Judith Pintar. I'll probably continue to use all these cards for myself until my deck is complete.

I got pretty good at reading over the years, and for a while actually gave readings to the public. After about 5 years of doing this I decided I didn't want to read for anyone other than myself anymore. My experiences with all the various persons I had read for had only convinced me that the proper and best way to use tarot was indeed for yourself - either as a meditational tool or to come to terms (if one can be both strong enough and objective enough) with the events in one's life.

Realizing this, I knew that I must create my own tarot deck. I knew that it would be a huge project. I began in 1995 with the major arcana. I work slowly, so the deck is far from done; but constantly in progress! I'm exhibiting the images here to create discussion and to hopefully encourage others to create their own cards. If I can do it; you can too!

My Own Tarot Deck...

My Biggest Art Project!

For me, what a tarot deck boils down to is a set of symbols representing archetypes and archetypal experiences that are possible in our lives. In developing my own cards I realized that I needed to set up a sort of cohesive "master plan" for the whole thing before I began. This may be altered somewhat as I go along, especially since I like to work intuitively! But the basic guidelines I set up for my deck are as follows...

The Major Arcana symbolize the various roles we will play in our lives. They are the "big energies", representing divine intervention, if you will. We don't work on them: they work on us! In my deck I am keeping some of the traditional names for these cards; but changing some. For example, I call my card 5 not "Heirophant" but "Judge" because that more readily represents a conventional authority figure for me. For more of my thoughts on the Major Arcana, go to my page "The Fool and the Major Arcana". (link at left)

The Minor Arcana cards Ace thru 10 are elemental cards and depict activities and events that we may encounter in daily life. I call my suits (and there are FIVE of them, by the way!) by their elemental names - AIR: involving swords; knives; blades, and arrows; deals with mental processes and struggle; orientation East; time of day: Dawn; time of year: Spring - colors Red to Yellow. FIRE: involving wands, sticks, pipes; deals with energies/channels (expression, in-spiration); orientation South; time of day: Noon; time of year: Summer - colors Yellow to Green. WATER: involving cups; bowls; vessels: dealing with emotions (love and/or friendship, devotion); orientation West; time of day Sunset; time of year: Fall - colors Green to Blue. ETHER: (my fifth suit...falls in the deep blue time after dark- the dreamtime) involving dream images and dealing with the dreamspace and other non-ordinary realities; orientation Zenith/Nadir; colors deep Blue to Purple. And EARTH: involving discs, stones, beads, shields; deals with the physical/material (resources, livelihood); orientation North; time of day: Night; time of year: Winter - colors Purple thru the Red of a New Dawn. These Minor Arcana form a wheel of experience; the colors a spectral wheel. I have re- figured the traditional "people cards" that appear at the end of each suit (Page; Knight; Queen; King) to reflect personality styles that fit myself better (a woman, childless by choice) - these are Child, Student, Teacher, Elder.

In my explorations, I've run into a few decks created by artists who consciously chose not to depict any negative experiences or imagery. This idea sounds appealing; and for some sort of personal meditational work these may be O.K. The trouble is: life is not like that! And if one wants a true depiction of real life possibilities and events for divination then there will be some negativity involved, and I have accepted this in creating my deck.

As for the physics of creating the images: they are acrylics on unprimed canvas, consistently sized at 18"x24" (A size I feel very comfortable working with). I write and sketch about each image in a special Tarot journal before I begin on the canvas. Each one is truly a meditation for me. I realize it may take me years to complete this deck; at the same time I feel it may be personally the most important work of my life!

TurtleWoman Site Archive: Back to the OLD Home Page
The Sonoran Desert and Her Plants: Onward to the NEW Home Page!
Tarot of Enchantment: Go and see what I'm doing with Tarot now...if you dare!