The Biblical Tarot
The Biblical Tarot
Tarot origins are veiled in mystery. Is there a connection with the Bible and the church? Join me on a magical journey of discovery.
Tarot origins are veiled in mystery. Is there a connection with the Bible and the church? Join me on a magical journey of discovery. Read more
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.
- (30 days)