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
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
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.
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
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.