Here’s one I thought I’d never have. It’s the Chalice Tarot, a 22-card Majors-only deck by artist Lynda Stevens. I first saw this deck on Adam McLean’s site, he had published it in a limited edition. Since he has quit producing decks, I thought I was out of luck, but I eventually ran across the Chalice Tarot page on Facebook, where I mentioned to Lynda how I had wanted this deck. She then said she thought she had a couple of extras floating around, we settled on a price, and she mailed the deck, along with a collection of files, essentially the book to go with it (comprising some 45,000 words) on CD. If anyone is interested, my copy is #3 of 100. I’ve chosen to show the Death, and the Emperor cards (my birth cards, according to The Tarot School).
The Death card is the only black & white card in the deck, the rest are drenched in color, although I have to say the scans are looking darker now than when I initially scanned them in. Having a little trouble finessing them.
At any rate, the artist definitely has her own views on Tarot, not all of which mesh with traditional interpretations. She has depicted the Emperor as a Hitler look-alike, and based on the writings of a John Michell (with whom I am unfamiliar) equates the swastika and the number of the beast, 666, in the Book of Revelation. Although this may not be a unique viewpoint, I have not encountered it in regards to Tarot. The swastika (pictured in the upper right corner) is a very ancient symbol, dating back at least 3000 years to Sumeria, and Indian Vedic documents, although it’s precise origins and interpretation are lost to time. It’s often seen as a sun symbol, and used in protection mandalas. Only in the 20th century was it appropriated by the Nazis. As most know, Hitler was fascinated by the occult. The swastika as a mystical symbol, was probably irresistable. One theory holds that a very wealthy German woman, who was very much caught up in the spiritual movement of the times, suggested it’s use as the symbol of the Nazi party. In India it’s worn on jewelry as a symbol for luck. Further, it is a Buddhist symbol of peace. It’s unfortunate that it has come to be associated with a violent, oppressive regime.
The entire take on the Emperor card is quite dark, all of the associations Stevens draws are of power-mad dictators. She also suggests that the placement of the Emperor following the Empress in the Major Arcana follows the pattern of the ancient goddess religions being overpowered and supplanted by the war-like patriarchal faiths. She does point out that the tendency to control is not always bad, there are circumstances when it’s necessary. Still, she is unapologetic for portraying the Emperor as an entirely negative ‘jackboot in the face’ manifestation.
The Chariot is another unique card. The use of a mask stems from the artist’s trip to Venice, where they are a centuries-old tradition. As Venice is ruled by the watery sign Cancer, as is the Chariot card, she draws the parallel with Jungian-based thought of the masks we present to the world. (masks-Venice-Cancer-water-Chariot-Cancer). Let that sink in for a minute. To simplify, Stevens posits we often need to suppress our true selves to fit in, and don a mask to find acceptance, which is often true. Traditionally, the Chariot is seen as harnessing opposing forces within oneself, illustrated by two horses (or creatures of some sort), one black, one white, pulling in opposite directions (Will against Emotion, physical and spiritual, etc.).
I haven’t read the entire book provided, skimming through I see some of the others seem to follow more conventional interpretations.
Stevens appears to have finished the full 78-card deck now, but I don’t know if it’s available for purchase.