The Prairie Tarot

January 10, 2009 § 8 Comments

In my early teens, I went through a phase of wanting to be a cowboy. Which, I’ll readily admit, was a little weird for a middle-class girl from suburban England, but then Young Guns was out and I was easily impressionable.

Anyway… I’d actually forgotten all about that until a couple of days ago when I got a sneak peek at Robin Ator’s new tarot deck. Robin Ator, as I’m sure you know, is the extremely talented person who gave us the International Icon Tarot and the Ator Tarot. This new tarot, however, is something altogether different. I’m going to quote what Robin wrote in his email as it’s far more eloquent a description than I could muster:

“The whole point, for me, has been to do a deck that reflects my own experiences growing up in northern Montana.  It was a high-prairie, bare, sparse place, with its old echoes of farmers, cowboys and, of course, the animals and Indians who were there before any of us. 

The Prairie Tarot is a very personal deck.  It’s made only for myself, really, and is not an attempt to create any sort of universally-accepted canon…It reflects my own experience of the people, and stories of the place I heard and read growing up.”

And here are the images he sent me (which he also kindly permitted me to reproduce here). Quite frankly, they took my breath away:

taw05hierophant02sm    taw10wheel02sm   

 tawacewands01sm    taw02swords02sm    taw5pentacles02sm

It may be a personal deck but, from these few images, it’s clear to me that it will be a highly readable deck. A sign of a good deck I think is when you can instantly connect with an image the very first time you see it – when meaning is conveyed through the image, without any need for explanation or deciphering. These images speak to me that way.

The Hierophant, for example, stands as a living example of ages old tradition and wisdom passed down through Native American culture. His clothes and headdress convey a sense of belonging, yet he stands alone, and his face is in shadow, making him seem distant and austere. It’s a very solemn card, but also strangely reassuring.

The Wheel of Fortune, with it’s full spectrum of colour, shows sometimes the wind blows hot and sometimes it blows cold. Sometimes circumstances complement us and sometimes they oppose us. Even in the 21st Century, when we try to manage our lives down to the smallest detail, the weather is a reminder of forces outside our control – that there are things bigger than we are. The power of the wind can be harnessed and bring us good fortune, but it can also flatten houses and destroy crops, making this card a perfect symbol for the Wheel of Fortune.

So, beautiful and meaningful. Suffice to say, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the finished deck.

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