Occultural art and artists.

The Mutation of a Tarot Deck

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The Mutation TarotIn association with The Mutation Tarot.

The Idea

It all started with a dream, literally. Dreams can, of course, be a great source for creativity and insight. In this case, Mario Rosa dreamed of The Fool from the Rider-Waite Tarot, but this was a fool unlike the innocent and somewhat aloof looking guy about to step off a cliff. This is a character that seems pieced together from a montage of animal, cephalopod, and insect, yet somehow, it still reads as The Fool in the context of the tarot.

“The Fool was the first card I created after the character appeared in a dream”, says Mario. “Once I drew that one out, I knew I couldn’t stop there.”

Having grown up with a Rider-Waite deck, he had always been fascinated with the cards and their symbolism. “I always saw the tarot as representing a timeless collection of the human experience covering everything from life, death, love, struggle, etc. I wanted to see if I could capture the same human concepts and symbolism depicted in the cards, using non-human subject matter.”

The mutated creatures do give an imaginative interpretation to the deck. There is a hint of a human element hidden within the art, but the figures borrow genetics from plants, animals, insects, and aquatic life. They could be aliens who evolved on other planets, or they could come from alternate realities (or alternate evolutions) right here on earth. And that’s what makes this mutation of the tarot interesting. It may have all the symbolism of the Rider-Waite, but the artwork and these dream creatures put another spin on it that could be very interesting in a practical divination sense — for instance, the many eyes of Judgment.

Detail from Judgment, The Mutation Tarot

Detail from Judgment, The Mutation Tarot

The Creation

After The Fool, Mario slowly began to illustrate the rest of the tarot cards. He says, “Once I knew I needed to make the full deck, I randomly chose the next card to do. Often times, I would actually draw a card from my old Rider-Waite deck to see which one I would do next. For some reason, that’s the way it wanted to be done.” And did he get any more help from his subconscious? “Absolutely! Between dreams and my imagination, the mutated creatures themselves came pretty easily.” The artwork took 18 months to complete. And then, about 2 years of life and other projects happened, preventing the Mutation Tarot from becoming an actual deck.

A few months ago, Mario started showing the card art to a larger audience, including professional readers, tarot deck collectors, and even sci-fi and fantasy art fans. With a positive response, he decided now was the time to try to make the deck a reality.

After researching printers and doing a couple prototypes, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to cover the costs of printing the decks. When more feedback started coming in that some people wanted to see more of the art on the cards and a thinner border, a second size deck (2.5” x 6”) was created. So the deck will be available in standard size as well as this alternate size. The Kickstarter backers will be the first people to own The Mutation Tarot.

“I hope that people see it as an imaginative interpretation … a mutation of the old tarot deck. After all, we are all changing, every minute of every day. We might not even recognize ourselves in the future.”

Support the Kickstarter, and learn more about the Mutation Tarot.

  • The Fool, The Mutation Tarot
    The Fool, The Mutation Tarot

Spirit and symbol in the art of Michael Parkes

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Detail from Water Music, by Michael ParkesA kind of prophet of the imagination, Michael Parkes fills his paintings with beasts and landscapes that, like dreams, seem too real to be fantasy, and too fantastical to be real. In his worlds, one can find the most intense conversations happening on tightropes and ledges, in skyscapes that hearken to the artistic styles of Maxfield Parrish and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Here, pompous gnomes with pointed shoes watch over tiptoeing dancers, while eyeless jesters strum silent melodies on violins. Each artwork is an adventure; each figure a wormhole into an ocean of chimeric secrets. Continue reading

A visit to the Museo Dei Tarocchi

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Museo Dei Tarocchi, photo by Stacie NoelIn September 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the Museo Dei Tarocchi (Tarot Museum) in Bologna Italy.

Nestled in the mountains of Riola stands a beautiful 400-year-old building restored by Morena Poltronieri and Ernesto Fazoli. The museum is filled with treasures including original esoteric artwork contributed by Italian and international artists, a plethora of tarot decks old and new, rare and unusual texts, mini art installations, and a gift shop to purchase decks made by local artists.

Morena Poltronieri taught me about the history of tarot in Italy, while guiding me along on an informative tour throughout the museum. Tarot artifacts filled the room, from the bottom to the top; an esoteric enthusiasts dream. Continue reading