Tarot play is a form of storytelling that begs a seeker’s interpretation to imbue card ingredients with meaning. Artists lace the cards with symbolism they deem significant to humankind. When encountered these elements can become catalysts for “Aha!” moments. Tarot cards are used in countless ways, but to me their most enjoyable utilization is for self-reflection that derives clarity and action. Engaging with tarot can reveal unconscious thoughts or spark new visions. I will highlight some of my favorite cards, with brief interpretation of the meanings I have gleaned from them.
These cards were pulled from the Hanson-Roberts deck, endeared to me since my first tarot exposure. Mary Hanson-Roberts’ passion for tarot shows in her thoughtful renditions of armory, gowns, ornamentation, and symbology. The four cards shown here are a good taste of how provoking her designs are (sartorially and sketch-wise).
Inarguably a powerful card to encounter, Death depicts an armored skeleton on horseback carrying a flowered black flag. Put simply, this card has to do with change and the process of letting go that must occur before new growth takes form. A child, a young woman, and a crowned man lay in Death’s midst to represent the multitude of those affected by change during life (hint: it’s everyone). Notable to me is the helmet’s pink plumage and the skully ornament on Death’s spaulder (I feel like that little guy has a story). Hanson-Roberts doesn’t shy away from color – purple skies support a glowing sun. Whether it is rising or setting depends, I suppose, on which leg of the journey you are experiencing.
The lion and the lady! Tangerine skies and a rocky terrain border their calm embrace. Both lady and beast indicate comfort in one another’s presence through closed lids. Their union represents the harmony of reason and instinct. With gentle confidence the lady wins over the lion and unrestrained impulse becomes checked in the balance of high and low emotion. The trust between the pair symbolizes the ability to tap into our potentials and handle them. The lady’s threads are particularly memorable. Her shift is partially structured with ribbons tied across her sleeves, yet the overall appearance of the garment is unfinished and raw – her neck covered by a formless, lopsy collar. Most enviable are those red gloves, flecked at the cuffs with scales. Dewy gems the color of blood pricks adorn the lady’s chest.
Nine of Rods
Gird your dream. That’s what this hunky pacifist is telling me, beneath his layered assemblage of colors and medley of trims. The playfulness of his garb tempers the seriousness of his lesson. The rods are a-blossoming, as should your courage in the face of naysayers (even those with cherished faces, like your own). Echo his focus and swallow your self-doubt, oomph!
IX The Hermit
By inquiring into the cards at all, the querent and reader simultaneously personify the Hermit archetype, as they are both knowledge seekers. Atop icy mountains the Hermit reminds of our constant engagement in the process of learning. Often beckoned upon reclusive reflection or solitary wandering, the quest for understanding is ignited by curious impulses. The Hermit card embodies stimulation of the mind and demonstrates how wooden staffs can elevate your coolness. I love his white mane and the drape of the blue tumbling fabric which forms his robes. Note the on-trend gold tasseled belt and green accents.
Tarot is inescapably tangled up in thorny connotation, but if you’re able to get past the stigma, tarot cards offer a distinct activity of play. Whether or not the interaction is personally edifying tarot is rife with representations of human ethos that can arouse poignant reflection on human experience.