Big Edie Beale as a young woman
When I started thinking about the inspiration for my Hermit card I knew right away that I wanted her to be a hoarding cat lady. It's a perfect modern representation to me. The next thought I had was the subject of a 1970's documentary that is probably one of my favorite American riches to rags stories of all time. It's the story of 2 beautiful, well bred, wealthy, educated and free spirited women born to a life of aristocracy.
After the passing on of Edie Beal's husband she retreated to their summer home in the Hamptons, Long Island indefinitely with her daughter also named Edie. Ill equipped to take care of themselves, having never held a job or paid their own bills before, the ladies had trouble maintaining their home on the stipend they were allowed. "Big Edie" refused to leave the house or give up the house for a more practical place to live, hanging onto the past, who she was and refusing to succumb to the reality of her situation. Singing old songs, looking at old pictures, while raccoons and many many cats climb in and out of the holes in their estate.
Big Edie holding an old picture of herself at home in Grey Gardens
Eventually the prestigious neighborhood attempted to evict the 2 women for being an eye sore on the neighborhood. Once the press got a hold of this story it drew enough attention to inform Big Edie's Niece, former first lady, Jackie O, who assisted financially in bringing the house back up to code. Big Edie finished her days at Grey Gardens and her daughter little Edie was able to finally leave the house and perform, as she always wanted to.
The Hermit is an isolated character, but isolation can be a great time to get things done! Being alone can contribute to personal productivity and spiritual growth. When the card is up right, there is nothing wrong with taking some time for introspection and emerging wiser and more self aware than before. When the card is Reversed, counter-productive isolation can be the result of your immaturity, delusion and mistrust of others. Sitting in a room of old junk singing your favorite tune from a party you went to 30 years ago might sound like fun, but doing it every day is unhealthy and unrealistic. That's that! by the way, here is my very first treasury I made on etsy :) Etsy Treasury
Happy Monday everyone! As promised I am writing a 2nd weekly blog discussing the artwork, history and meaning of a tarot card from my deck. Hope it is helpful! and again, if you have a card you would like to request for next week, let me know!
Card Inspiration and History
When I began the theme and the artwork for the Empress I'd already been thinking about doing a beauty queen piece anyway mostly inspired by the following-
I was watching an old Vincent Price movie from the 60's and kind of fell in love (artistically speaking) with this one woman who looked evil and hot in a big black beehive. I wanted to know who she was! I found out that she had been crowned Miss USA in the 50's but had the crown taken from her because it was discovered that she was A.) too young B.) married and C.) had many children already. I thought it was a fun idea for a piece and when I started the deck, looked at more reference photos of beauty queens I had to use the idea for my Empress.
When I consider "American Royalty" in a modern and twisted Americana sense, I think of Beauty, queens, celebrities, ceos, tycoons and mobsters more than I do politicians. We are all loyal subjects to only an idea and a dream of totally unrealistic proportions and lowering taxes does not fall in that category. A beauty queen is something to worship for sex appeal, beauty and sparkle and an idea for the woman in question to worship as well. So naturally with that comes big highs and lows. I feel that the Empress embodies both abundance and bitter retreat depending on the card orientation. Which brings me to the card meaning and why I made the Empress handless (since it seems to be a common thing people ask me)
The light and dark side of the Empress
The Empress is about fertility and abundance. Love of oneself and feeling beautiful. The woman in the front of the card represents the woman I mentioned in the last paragraph and the confident side of the Empress. She is pregnant and feels beautiful. She is deformed and a little more sinister than the other woman but she is confident, she has won the pagant and she is beautiful to herself. The other woman represents the upset, dark, brooding and lack of abundance that the Empress can feel when things do not go her way. I used the same model for both the women because we can all be both open to abundance and confident or doubtful and self loathing depending on the attitude we have. The Empress does not, not have hands to SCARE you or UPSET you. She is waving with her nub confidently and she is scared and traveled a hard road and made it through everything to this. Scars and deformity are a part of life and honestly, a large part of American culture in the mines, factories and adventures we all have. There's nothing that anyone should be ashamed of in these things especially if there is a good story to attach to it ;)
card meaning Straight from the book
This card is all about beauty, sexuality and fertility. Yes that's right fertility-although apparently the Miss USA judges didn't think so. The figure portrayed resembles venus, the goddess of love, more than she does a chaste Virgin Mary. She represents everything that is creation. The creation of life, love and art. Upright this card signifies abundance, whatever that might mean to you. She celebrates beauty, life and abundance. However, a word of caution. She can take wealth or other abundance away as easily as she gives it if her feelings get hurt.
Reversed, the card might mean that you are putting too much emphasis on the negative attributes of the Empress. If so, it is important to see the world as a big place full of opportunities and just be yourself! The right things will come if you are open and embody all that is the Empress. Negativity and jealousy could get in the way of getting what you want. The world is your oyster if you can let go of the reins a little.
I've decided that I will be posting one card every Monday on my blog and talking a little bit more about the process of creating the artwork for it, the meaning to me and the inspiration behind it. If you have a card you would like me to tackle next week or you wish to have a discussion on it, I'm more than game! I hope everyone finds this informative and interesting.
Knight of Wands
Card inspiration and History
When I was considering what I wanted the knights to be in my deck I had decided that I wanted men that were tough and resourceful but not exactly SOLDIERS or the HERO. I wanted seedy underbelly American men that had both good sides and bad. This piece was one of the first ones that I did for the deck and my immediate visual that came to me after learning more about the card and looking at the rider waite deck image was a gang with wooden bats or referred to as billy clubs. The next question was, what era resonates with the decks look and feel and something I personally find fascinating. The stories in "The Gangs of New York" a book written in the 1930's filled with 2nd hand accounts of the violence of 19th century New York City captivate my imagination and paint a realistic picture of what immigrants would be met with when they arrived here. I also have a fair amount of family history in New York City on my father's side so I find it particularly interesting with that in addition.
I began by drawing a boarding house that existed in the 5 points where only the extremely poor lived one on top of the other, that I had read about. I then drew 5 gentlemen, some from pictures I had found of men I thought went well with the theme and the 2 men in the front I felt compelled for some reason to draw from a couple of family photos I have. The man on the right was drawn from a photo of my great uncle in 1920's New York. I simply increased the size of his hat to look more era appropriate and the young man on the left is drawn from a photo of my grandfather with an increased snarl on his face and an era appropriate hat.
The texture photos I took for the factory smoke and bricks are from an industrial city called Tacoma to the south of Seattle. The skin textures are from my boyfriend, Joel and my friend Cameron. The texture on the wooden bat is from my friend Cameron's, Grandfather's club. When it comes to my texture contributions I'm superstitious and the more history and authenticity to the items I take the texture from, the more I feel it contributes to the piece and the card's power.
This is taken directly from my booklet that comes with the cards
" New York City has always been a hard place to live but most especially during the Civil War era. Irish fleeing their homeland because of famine and runaway slaves escaping to the North were not treated much better in the harsh, streets of the Five Points neighborhood than they were back home. Gangs and criminals ran rampant in the streets and poverty was so pervasive it was enough to shock English writer, Charles Dickens. Survival was dependant on being resourceful and tough.
This card deals with being energetic, courageous and tough but the Knight of Wands can also be unpredictable and fly by the seat of his pants. This card reversed means you should exercise caution before action and be careful not to be aggressive and ungenerous. Resourcefulness and bravery are very admirable qualities in a person, but being violent and boastful can get you into trouble"
This card doesn't come up for me in readings too often and I think it really depends on the placement it has in the deck but it usually indicates a youthful exuberance to be that is somewhat careless and naive. I think if this card comes up for a person a lot that it's a wonderful indication that their personality will go far in life but that they need to keep themselves in check and have realistic goals. Besides, a lot of those things come with age, when someone graduates to the King! of Wands :) and who am I to suggest anyone cut their youth short. That's no fun!
I just wanted to let you all know that I will be ready to begin selling my tarot decks again very soon! They will be listed on my etsy store first thing the morning of Jan. 15th!
Follow this link to see where it will be available.
Also there will be a few changes with this run compared to the last. I have mentioned to people that the last run of cards was going to be an introductory price and that the price would have to increase on the 2nd run to cover cost. These cards will be $45.00 with $5.00 shipping and handling in addition. The cards are going to continue to be a beautiful gloss with rounded edges but they will come in a sturdy black jewelry box with a product sticker on the front and a unbleached cotton sack on the inside for the cards to sit in :) It's a little more rustic and has a more personal touch to it.
Please let me know if you have any questions at all I'm happy to answer them!
Walking down the street yesterday, about 2 minutes before an onslaught of what I refer to as Chinese water torture, or the rain in Seattle, which is never enough drops, lightning and thunder to be interesting but just enough to make everything soggy and irritating. I saw this little beat up, wood, round end table in the street. It has cracks and chips and all around character, just the way I like it. I thought it would be a great table to read on. So I dragged it home and scrubbed all the Vincent Price style cobwebs with large, dead a long time cockroaches stuck in them (which is confusing because we don't even really have giant cockroaches in Seattle) and took it inside. As you can see from the picture, it's perfect for a 7 card reading and I feel like it was the perfect find....wellll almost perfect. I suspected it had some bad vibes on it and when a lot of my readings came out SO negative that it was almost impossible and intentionally spiteful (My deck isn't supposed to talk to ANYONE that way!!) I decided to give it a good saltin' and sagin'. Of all these sorts of activities I remember from my childhood, saging something is the one I hold strongest to. Perhaps because my mom and my aunt were saging me from such a young age that the smell triggers feelings of safety and security or it's as simple as I believe it, but either way I think strong intent and belief in something can manifest just about anything. The table is warming up a little and I'm excited to take product shots of the new deck with the new packaging with it later this month.
Today I did all the ordering for my next run of tarot cards. It was a little nerve racking and there was a lot of budget balancing and careful attention to detail as to not make any catastrophic mistakes but all in all I think it went okay and I look forward to seeing it all put together.
There will be a few changes with this run. The packaging will be a sturdy, 2 piece black box with a sticker label and the tarot deck will include a little rustic, unbleached cotton sack for you to use or until you find a bag that suits you better. I felt like the simple cotton bag was perfect honestly. It reminded me of a potato sack and I'm not a big fan of super purple, velvety, moons and stars tarot bags. They just don't fit my theme. I know it might seem odd to some veterans but I want a meat and potatoes tarot deck where things are surreal and helpful but not overly mystical.
Hello Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Winter celebration. I definitely did! It was a great to relax but now it's time to get back to work!
I wanted to let all interested parties know that I worked out the kinks and logistics printing wise and I'm planning on having the deck ready to ship towards the end of January. I will be putting back order listings on etsy on January 15th if you would like to order your deck in advance. Look out for more info soon. I'm planning a tarot party where people can all get readings done for the beginning of the year too! It's in the works.
Also as a side note, my artwork that is hanging at The Highline here in Seattle will be over, starting tomorrow, and I need a new home for my art for a while! So if you know of a place I should take it, let me know :)
Enjoy New Years Day! It's been an amazing year for me, full of progress, met goals, visiting wonderful places and meeting wonderful new people!