Category Archives: The Tarot of Bones

The Tarot: Major, Minor and Me

Over the past few months, as I’ve been working on the Tarot of Bones, I’ve had the opportunity to reassess my relationship with this particular divination system. Like many newbie pagans, back in the 1990s I was eager to jump into all sorts of exciting topics of study and practice. I found I had a halfway decent affinity for divination, and so between the Shapeshifter Tarot and a set of elder futhark runes I carved from natural chalk found in a Missouri creek, I began practicing this ancient art. Also like many new diviners, I found myself sticking pretty closely to my books as I parsed out meanings of card and layouts and queries. Then in 1999 I discovered Ted Andrews’ Animal-Wise deck, and thus began a love affair that lasts to this day. I left behind traditional tarot, and delved into a more organic, nature-based form of divination.

When I was preparing last year to start creating the Tarot of Bones, I took the opportunity to revisit my relationship with the more traditional aspects of the tarot. What I found surprised me: even though I hadn’t been actively reading tarot in over fifteen years, I found my personal interpretations of the cards to be deeper and richer, as well as more personal, than they had ever been. All those years doing totem readings with the Animal-Wise deck had vastly improved my pattern recognition and intuition skills, and so I could focus primarily on reacquainting myself with the tarot as a specific system.

Not surprisingly, the Major and Minor Arcana each have distinct personalities and bailiwicks. I think of the Major Arcana as a sort of pageant, with actors in specific archetypal roles, telling the Fool’s Journey through trial and triumph. Death and the Tower bring about massive, sometimes terrifying changes, but these are integral to moving the story along so that the Star and Judgement and others can even things out again. I don’t see the Majors (or the Court Cards) as representing individual people so much, though I know that’s a common way to interpret them in readings. Rather, I see them as the grand mythical forces that run through the lore and cultures of people worldwide. They are the experiences shared among a species, grand and poetic and given a stage through epic tales. They rock us to sleep every night as children, and they see us into our dreams–and our deaths.

The Minor Arcana, on the other hand, are the everyday people watching the pageant as it proceeds through its stages. Once the Fool has greeted the World and all the players bow for applause and roses, the audience goes back to lives as artisans and lawyers, retail workers and cooks, tech professionals and musicians and students. The Minor Arcana includes the cards of the individual and the intimate. We’ve all had sleepless nights full of worry, and we’ve all had joyous moments of celebration with others. We know the small, petty conflicts that can blow up into great drama, and the seemingly enormous accomplishments that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t make a lot of difference to anyone but ourselves (and that’s okay.) The Courts, in particular, refer to states of being I can aspire to (or avoid!), rather than telling me to look for a dark-haired man (I only have to go as far as the next room in my apartment to find one of those. Hi, honey!)

So what’s the difference between the Majors and Minors in my readings? The way they’ve been lining up lately is that when a Major comes up, I look outward, into the greater patterns and machinations of humanity. Turn over a Minor Arcana card, and I look inward, or very close to me. Rarely will the reading bring up an individual person; mine tend more toward patterns and situations, often involving other people, sometimes myself alone. Of course, these are generalizations. There are always exceptions. Sometimes a Major will want to get up close and personal, and sometimes a Court or Pip will remind me that those deep moments of isolation or bursts of inspiration speak to much larger social or species-wide currents.

Of course, this is just a discussion of the strictly tarot-flavored elements of my readings. As the Tarot of Bones develops, the animals themselves are speaking up, particularly in the Major and Court cards. But that set isn’t finished yet, and so our conversation is still ongoing.

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203%! WOOHOO!!!!

Final IndieGoGocomicsans

 

Well, folks, we did it! The Tarot of Bones IndieGoGo campaign ended at midnight, 203% funded at $10,147! Considering I was just hoping for a couple thousand dollars for materials, and a bit more to defray operating costs, and I wasn’t even expecting it to get funded in the first place, the final tally is pretty damned astounding. Almost 250 of you believed enough in the project to back it over a year out from release, and more of you have contacted me telling me that if finances and other factors had been different you would have jumped in, too. (Don’t worry, there will be other preorder opportunities in the future.)

So now what? Well, IndieGoGo needs to take care of all its behind the scenes magic, which means over the next couple of weeks they’ll be charging everyone’s cards and Paypal accounts. No doubt there’ll be at least a few that are declined, just from sheer statistics’ sake, so I don’t know whether they spend part of the time asking those folks to try again or not. And of course both IndieGoGo and Paypal will want to take their cuts of the money that’s raised, so I’m definitely not going to end up with the entire $10,147 in my account. But theoretically in two weeks I’ll have both the deposit that’s left and a final list of those who successfully backed the campaign. After that I can contact my backers to find out perks details (what books/etc. they want, etc.), any address changes, and so forth. I’ve already begun asking my sources to arrange the last skulls, bones and other materials I need for the rest of the assemblages, so once the money arrives I can place my orders.

In the meantime I’ll keep working on the assemblages. I have 37 done at this point, which means I’m almost halfway done! In fact, I made ten of them in a two-week period, which is just absolutely crazy–so I’m taking a few days off to work on a few other projects on my work bench. I can’t stay away for too long, so expect more assemblages soon!

And, finally, though I’ve said it many times over the past six weeks: thank you. Thank you to everyone who helped me ramp up the promotion leading up to the campaign, thank you to everyone who promoted it through podcasts and interviews and reblogs and shares. And, most of all, thank you to everyone who’s believed in me and the Tarot of Bones so much that you invested in a nascent project fueled by creative insanity and a love for natural history. I hope that when Summer 2016 rolls around and the deck and book are in your hands that you find it was worth it all.

The Tarot of Bones IndieGoGo campaign ends TONIGHT!!!

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Okay, folks–THIS IS IT. This is the LAST DAY for the Tarot of Bones IndieGoGo campaign! It will end at midnight PST tonight (right when May 19 turns into May 20) That’s just a little over thirteen hours left.

Right now, it’s at $9,470, 189% funded. Please remember that I don’t get to keep all the money–IndieGoGo takes a percentage, and Paypal takes a chunk for every person who’s paying with Paypal instead of a debit/credit card. But every dollar I do get will be paying for all of the materials I need to complete the assemblage pieces for the Tarot of Bones (as of today I have 37 completed, almost halfway there!) and the rest will be put toward other expenses, from printing and shipping costs to perk fulfilment. This campaign won’t cover all my costs, but the more money raised today, the less I’ll need to pull together going forward, and the more time I’ll have toward completing the deck and book on or ahead of my production schedule.

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!!!! And if you’ve been putting off backing this campaign, now’s your last chance! We’re so close to $10,000–that would make this campaign 200% funded. Let’s make it happen–and, as always, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tarot of Bones IndieGoGo: Stretch Goal Unlocked, and Five Days Left!

(Here, have a picture of where I’ve been the past few days.)

Well, I just got back from my adventures in the Oregon desert last night to find that the Tarot of Bones IndieGoGo did indeed reach $9000 and is 181% funded! That means that after the decks and books have been sent out Summer of 2016 I’ll be doing an exclusive Livestream class on how to use them, just for campaign backers. (Those who can’t make it will have a video emailed to them, and it’ll be a month before I make the video available for public consumption.) HUGE thanks to all of you who have backed the campaign so far–but we’re not done yet!

The campaign ends in five days, on May 19, 2015. And there’s another stretch goal outstanding–if the campaign reaches $12,000, I will record an audiobook version of the Tarot of Bones book. It’s something I really want to do, but it’s also time-consuming, and although $9000 is a LOT of money, it’s not enough to cover all the expenses for the Tarot of Bones deck and book PLUS all the perks and shipping and other expenses. (Keep in mind this campaign was originally just meant to bring in the funding for the materials for the remaining assemblages, which it did with gusto!) So the more this IndieGoGo campaign brings in now, the less money I have to fundraise later on–and the more time I have for things like audiobook recording.

$3,000 in five days seems like a lot–but remember that the campaign hit its goal of $5000 in under 100 hours! Four days! So let’s shoot for that goal of $12,000 by next Tuesday, and get that much closer to the Tarot of Bones being a reality. Here’s the link for the campaign itself–even if you’ve already backed it, please let others know about it as word of mouth is very important. ALL of your support is greatly appreciated, whether financial or not!

Now pardon me–I have assemblage pieces to create!

The Tarot of Bones IndieGoGo is Live!!!

Magician

AAAAAAAAAND HERE IT IS!!!!! THE TAROT OF BONES INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN IS LIVE!!!!!!

Here’s your chance to get THE best price for the Tarot of Bones deck and book set (due out Summer 2016), AND get lots of neat perks! What kinds of perks?

  • A handmade (by me!) leather pouch for your Tarot of Bones deck
  • Copies of my other books on paganism and nature spirituality
  • Prints of select cards
  • Original assemblage pieces used in the creation of the Tarot of Bones
  • A thank you in the Tarot of Bones book and website
  • Other perks to be revealed if we meet the goal of $5,000 and get into stretch goal territory

Plus you’ll be helping me acquire the rest of the materials I need to complete the card art as well as offset some of the other costs. While this isn’t my only source of funding, the campaign will help me stick to my production schedule for the project.

What is the Tarot of Bones? It is a natural history-themed divination set I am creating. I’m making 78 permanent assemblage pieces, one for each of the cards, featuring animal bones and other natural and reclaimed materials. These assemblages will then be photographed for the card art, and the deck will be released with a full-length companion book (not just the little white booklet). You can find out more about it and see photos of completed assemblage pieces at the official Tarot of Bones website.

And if you’re in the vicinity of Portland, OR, don’t forget about the Tarot of Bones party at Paxton Gate this Friday evening from 6pm – 8pm! You can see some of the assemblages on display, listen to me talk about the project, and sign up to back the IndieGoGo campaign! More information can be found here.

For just $5 you can help make the Tarot of Bones a reality! And even if you can’t contribute, please reblog/reweet/share the IndieGoGo campaign so others have the opportunity to be a part of it all! And many, many thanks for your support and help 🙂

Announcing My Newest Project: The Tarot of Bones

Happy New Year, all! For the past several weeks I’ve been dropping hints here and there about a big, super-secret project I have in the works, and now I’m doing the big unveil:

After almost twenty years of practicing nature-based spirituality and creating art with natural materials, I am creating a tarot deck. The Tarot of Bones is an ambitious project combining the nature-inspired symbolism of animal bones with the tarot’s well-loved archetypes to create an unparalleled divination set for the 21st century. As animals exist within vibrant and complex ecosystems, the bones will be ensconced in permanent assemblage artworks using natural and reclaimed materials reflecting both the animal’s habitat and emblems of their respective cards.

The Tarot of Bones will be a complete 78-card tarot deck with both the Major and Minor Arcana, each card featuring a full-color photograph of the assemblage piece I create for it. A full companion book will also be available, detailing the symbolism and potential interpretations of each card, as well as sample layouts and other material of use to the reader. The Tarot of Bones will be self-published to allow me the greatest amount of creative control; I will be organizing a crowdfunding campaign later in 2015. If you would like to support my creative endeavors in the meantime and get access to exclusive work in progress photos of the artwork for the cards, please consider becoming my patron on Patreon.

For more information and updates please refer to the pages and other links at the official website; you may also wish to join our Facebook page (make sure you turn on notifications!) I’ll be posting pictures of the assemblage art for each of the 78 tarot cards in the deck-to-be. The first one will be up later in January; in the meantime, I invite you to take a peek at some of my other artwork on my portfolio; you can also see specific samples of my work on the main page of the Tarot of Bones website to give you some idea of the style I will be using for this deck.

And please share, reblog or otherwise pass this post on to anyone you feel may be interested; as I will not have the promotional power of a publisher behind me on this project, word of mouth is going to be a really important component of making it happen. Thank you!