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.