Tarot origins are veiled in mystery. Is there a connection with the Bible and the church? Join me on a magical journey of discovery.
The Biblical Tarot
I’m Sue Senden and I am creating a Tarot deck with an unusual twist that I believe harkens back to its origins. When I first learned to read the Tarot I felt that there was a connection between the Tarot and the Bible, especially in the Major Arcana. It was an idea that resurfaced in my life many times.
THE QUESTION: What if Tarot was an early teaching tool of the Christian faith?
Other examples of teaching decks have survived from the 1400’s, so I looked into the idea a little deeper, and kept finding connections.
Whenever I talk about a Biblical Tarot people ask me to say more, to show them some of the cards I have sketched out, and to my surprise, they want to know how to get a set. Sadly, it has been an incomplete project on hold until I have enough time to devote to its completion.
So we come to today and the journey that I embark upon right here and now. If I do not do this now, I may never have another chance.
I have given up my job, so that I can delve into this project and devote my full time attentions to it instead of stealing a few hours here and there inching closer to that goal. Much like the journey of the Fool I am at the beginning.
The funding goal will include the printing of the initial set of limited edition decks, the booklet with explanations, art prints, canvas, paints and the supplies needed to create the original artwork for each card. None of these will be insubstantial costs. I will be pushing myself to complete these cards within the next six months, but believe it can be done.
I begin this project full of excitement mixed with the fear of stepping out on my own journey through the creation of this deck. I invite you to join me to see where the Bible and the Tarot intersect.
We begin today, right now, with you and your generous support. Thank you for being a part of this journey and for making it happen.
THE PREMISE: The origins of the Tarot have been lost in the shadows of the medieval world. At that time, the center of life was the church. Most people could not read or write. One of the best teaching methods for the church was through story, pictures and miracle plays. That is how I believe the Tarot came into being as a teaching tool to the masses. The cards were created as a portable means of telling the story of faith, simple wood cuts printed on cloth since paper had not yet come to Europe.
THE CARDS: Some of the oldest decks were commissioned by the Sforza family of Milan, Italy in the 1400’s. They are beautifully illustrated, painted in tempera and gilded on gold and silver. The Major Arcana cards have a hole in the top where they may have been hung on a nail so the image could be studied and the meaning meditated upon.
It is from these earliest examples that I base the creation of my deck. There are differences in these early decks in the illustrations as well as the cards that have been preserved. It is interesting to see that a few of the Major Arcana Tarot cards changed very little over the centuries while others have changed drastically and their original meaning muddled.
For some of the changes there are more easily referenced reasons for the changes. In the 1700’s the Tarot underwent the most drastic alterations when occultists wanted to tie the Major Arcana to the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and to hidden truths of the occult world. At that time some cards were eliminated.
The fool is destitute bitten by dogs as he moves through a ruined landscape with broken buildings and dead vegetation. In his hair are seven feathers symbolizing ignorance. It is bleak. The Fool is impoverished materially and spiritually. This card is the seeker. It locates the hearer in the story, and shows them their spiritual poverty at the beginning of the story.
The listener is taken through the stories depicted on the cards to at last reach the World, the culmination of what is available to them if they follow the Christian path in life. The World card depicts the Kingdom of Heaven and it is theirs for following the path in life that the cards illustrate.
This card has changed the least down through the centuries. The meaning is what has shifted drastically. As the Church grew across Europe and the British Isles the Pagan beliefs were difficult to overcome. One in particular was the Cernunnos, the Pagan god of fertility and the Forest. The gods of one religion become the demons of the next, and Cernunnos became the image of the devil. Cernunnos had antlers; the lower part of his body was goat-like in furry hair with cloven feet.
The seeker is challenged to give up the old Pagan ways, to take the chain that is about their necks and toss it aside.
In the modern decks the Hermit has a lantern that he holds high for all to see. In the oldest cards he stands with an hour glass. He is the keeper of time.
I hope you will join me on this journey into the place where the Tarot and Faith intersect. And thank you for your time and your generous support.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
pledged of $10,000 goal
seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on June 1, 2012.
May 2, 2012 - Jun 1, 2012 (30 days)
Pledge $10 or more
My deep gratitude and a thank you in an e-mail for taking the first small steps on the journey with me.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $25 or more
For helping me prepare for a journey, assisting in gathering some of the basic necessities for the trip, a thank you note and an electronic copy of a Trump card with explanation of the Biblical meaning and interpretation.Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
Pledge $100 or more
For the one who stands upon the precipice, ready to venture forth, fearless and brave with the new energy of adventure and discovery you will receive a signed copy of the booklet and one limited edition deck.Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
Pledge $250 or more
For the seeker of wisdom, the one who will find themselves on a journey of discovery only to ask should I keep going? And the answer echoes back, yes, yes of course, there is still so much to learn, your reward is a limited edition of the deck with booklet signed by the author and artist.Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
Pledge $500 or more
Only by risking to we obtain wisdom and knowledge. For the one who is willing to step out there and take risks a signed copy of the booklet, a limited edition of the deck and a cloth bag for your cards.Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
Pledge $1,000 or more
For the one who is willing to fearlessly go where no one has gone before on an enterprise worth exploring, you shall reap the harvest of knowledge, experience and wisdom. You will receive two limited edition decks, two signed booklets, two cloth bags for your cards. And if you want, your face will be used on a card and an electronic copy emailed to you of your card. Pick the card you want to be, as they are chosen, they will be posted, so there will be no duplications.Estimated delivery: Jan 2013
Pledge $2,500 or more
For the truly adventurous one who is willing to take a journey in time and space you will be rewarded with an evening of lively discussion, meal sharing in Omaha, Nebraska (for you and one friend) with the creator of the Biblical Tarot, three copies of the deck, three signed booklets and three cloth bags for your cards. Your face can also be featured on a card of your choosing and an emailed copy of that card. Pick the card you want to be, as they are chosen, they will be posted, so there will be no duplications.Estimated delivery: Sep 2013