Sunday, August 9, 2015

INTRODUCING A NEW TAROT DECK IN PROGRESS, "The Marker Tarot," by Roswila (Patricia Kelly)

Actual working copy of design for The Fool in The Marker Tarot

Closer to how final version of The Marker Tarot Fool will look

For comparison: The Fool in the well known Rider/Waite/Smith Deck

It may seem strange to design yet another Tarot deck when I've already got two others in very slow progress (see links to "Roswila's Tarot Gallery & Journal/Found Tarot" & "The Taiga Tarot" in sidebar). But I must follow where the Muses lead. And for some time now they have been leading me back to the first deck I ever designed -- The Tactile Tarot: for the blind & visually impaired. A deck which I completed and produced in a rough but quite usable form, back around the turn of the century.

I kept only one copy of the three Tactile Tarot decks that I made. The cards for all three were cut from oak tag to approximately 4" X 5-1/2". A blind friend brailed the card names and numbers on the top edges. I drew the images on clear plastic sheets (made for this purpose for the blind) using a ball point pen, creating raised line drawings. I then taped the raised line drawings to the middles of the cards, and printed the names and numbers in black marker at all card bottom edges.

However, the Muses have not called me back to The Tactile Tarot as one for blind folk.  I gave up on that focus many years ago. (For details, see "A Note to ... Files" appended below.) What I found on following the Muses to my one remaining copy of The Tactile Tarot was that it began to resonate with ideas for a deck for the sighted, albeit in a very simple line drawing form. I was soon busily revising images right on the Tactile Tarot cards themselves, scribbling on fronts and backs, often taping newer designs over older ones. (You can just see a bit of The Tactile Tarot Fool card braille peeking out from the top edge of the first of The Marker Tarot Fool designs above.)

As I worked I also found I was returning to the earliest roots of the Tactile Tarot. I'd initially come to that earlier deck design process intending to make drawings that indicated the directions in which the energy is moving. This because I had been hoping to make the experience of the deck as kinetic as possible, since vision would not be in play. So at that time I settled on the idea of lines with arrows as a basic component of the raised line drawings. As I developed the deck, though, that idea got dropped in more and more of the card designs when I could not make it work to my own satisfaction. And many times where it did work for me, the resulting drawings were way too complicated for the finger tips of blind folk to make sense of. A design issue I became aware of via direct feedback from blind folk who reviewed my designs in raised line form as a I went along.

So here I am, many years later, coming back to that original idea and having a great good time of it. Drawing lines and arrows -- among other simple things -- to my heart's content for a new deck for the sighted, "The Marker Tarot." And in this process I have discovered what my more personal investment was in that initial idea of the directions in which energy is moving. It's part of a basic need of mine to simplify, to boil things down to important aspects, if you will. (Say I, nattering on at great length!) As I've done for years in my Taiga Tarot (a very simple drawing with a very small accompanying poem on each card), and in my study of haiku and the even smaller monoku forms of poetry.  I also discovered that I like The Marker Tarot more as black cards with white drawings and letters.  Something to do maybe with black representing that out of which all differentiation arises, including of course energies and directions. Also, black can be seen as the unknown surround through which we move and act.

About the name "The Marker Tarot": The word marker refers to how most of the sketches and all of the final designs, names, and numbers will be made: with a black marker. More importantly, a marker is used to indicate a position, place, or route (as arrows do). I'd like to think I'm designing a deck of markers, each pointing toward some essential aspect of a card. Like visual flag words.

And why a blog for "The Marker Tarot"? My hope is that it will keep me focused and energized. I hope to post the rough sketches of these cards in order, starting with the Majors, then each of the four suits. I'll also post the Rider/Waite/Smith version with each card for comparison. Since my usual wont is to get stuck along the way of large projects such as this, I'm hoping that having this blog to post to will keep me from getting mired for too long at any one point.

Now, in the spirit of The Fool above I will take the risk and publish this post. I do feel a wee tug at my heels, however, warning me not to expect too much from this leap. But how can a fool really know until she's jumped?

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Appendix: From "A Note To Tactile Tarot & Marker Tarot Files"
[excerpted and slightly expanded for this post's purposes]

"...The Tactile Tarot I had fully designed for blind folk no longer exists. (Though there are two draft complete copies out there somewhere, that I mailed years ago to blind folk.) ... Why I've scrapped The Tactile Tarot ... is rather complicated to explain. Suffice it to say, I don't think there's any real need for it. E.g., one blind man learned what all the traditional card images and meanings were; brailled the names and numbers on a regular deck; and did excellent professional readings that way. Another blind man expressed interest in my deck only to compare it unfavorably to his own ideas for one. And I think that's the truth of it. It just might be best if blind folk were to design their own unique deck(s). Especially as I learned in the designing process that there are other differences in perception between the blind and the sighted than just the lack or presence of vision. Vision organizes ways of perceiving and understanding that sometimes don't come across via fingertips without a great deal of explanation. And, vice versa.

I hasten to add that blind folk are as capable as any other people of grasping the concepts embedded in the Tarot images. What I'm addressing is that they are embedded in the visual. And, of course, in the case of The Tactile Tarot in my -- of necessity -- greatly reduced versions of those visual images. To boot, I often suspected over the years in which I shared my Tactile Tarot designs with various blind folk that I was not really grasping unique ways in which they perceive; and how and what meanings get communicated, especially for people who are blind from birth.

Since Tarot is first and foremost a visual system, all of this gives me great and permanent pause on going any further with a Tarot deck for the blind. Though it has been a journey I've been delighted to take. I learned a great deal about Tarot. I also learned about the world of some of the blind folk with whom I shared and discussed my designs. I thank them all."

[end of note to files]

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'til next time, keep enjoying The Tarot, in whatever forms it comes to you,

[aka: Patricia Kelly]
****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing, please email me for permission (under "View my complete profile")**** SEE ALSO: United Haiku and Tanka Society (UHTS) (charter member); Roswila's Dream & Poetry Realm for Tarot poetry; Roswila's Tarot Gallery & Journal; Roswila's Taiga Tarot for taiga (illustrated tanka); Trying to Hold A Box of Light for digital photos only.


  1. I love it! The Fool is one of the cards that resonates with me (as you may recall!) About time I dug out the deck you kindly gifted to me and review my impressions from a new vantage. The Tarot is rich with symbols and your insights are a valuable resource to treasure. Thank you, and Blessings to you Patricia

  2. What delight to hear from you, Andrea. And in this venue. I do remember very fondly our days of Tarot discussions. (Which deck did I send you? The brain cell that had the info must be asleep right now. :-D) Let me know how your review "from a new vantage" goes. Many blessings to you and yours.