Tarot is not so much magic, as the exploration of synchronicity. Archetypes pick up new names and faces on their travels, and Instant Archetypes is a reimagining of the timeless tropes of the Major Arcana for our current climate. While we’ve reinterpreted their meanings, it’s our hope to lay bare their enduring relevance in the present, and in our as-of-yet unwritten futures.
Instant Archetypes is a toolkit to explore the never-ending narratives and multiple perspectives of our new normal: the world of tech-saturated late capitalism.
WHAT ARE INSTANT ARCHETYPES?
Instant Archetypes are a useful tool for designers, technologists, researchers and beyond. Anyone looking for a deeper understanding of the world around them can use the cards to explore their place within it. The cards are a way of shifting perspectives, problem solving, block dislodging, strategy finding: a toolkit for exploring plural futures.
A STORY OF REINTERPRETATION
If you are familiar with the tarot you will recognise Instant Archetypes cards as direct (post) modernised substitutes of the classic Major Arcana. It is a condensed symbolic mythology of the present moment, in the way that the classic cards condensed a symbolic mythology of the past. The old archetypes have not disappeared, they just got new names and new manifestations.
The Fool, who stands as a sort of everyman character, is naive and ignorant and careless in a capitalist context. All adventure is a form of consumption – or is it that all consumption has become packaged as a form of adventure? Either which way, the everyman of capitalism is naturally The Consumer.
The Hacker assumes the place of The Magician, given both the self-image of prominent hackers and the way they’re portrayed in popular media. Think of those stock-photo images of hooded figures hunched over keyboards, screens all a-swim with arcane symbols.
The Chariot embodies purposeful travel, but can also be read to have militaristic undertones, and so became The Drone.
The Empress has always represented fertility and fecundity and cycles of production, so she became Growth, one of the most powerful deities of capitalism.
The Emperor always represented patriarchal authority and hierarchical power, and so he became The State.
The Lovers is a card about difficult choices – those being made and those offered – they became The Designer.
That said, we don’t want to spoil the fun of interpreting the cards for yourself and hope the new cards will make instant and intuitive sense in a way that the classics might not.
WHO CAN USE INSTANT ARCHETYPES?
Cast aside the image of Mama Fortuna sitting under a flickering neon FORTUNE TELLER sign – tarot is for anyone open to active storytelling, problem-solving, insight gleaning... which is to say anyone on earth.
For designers and researchers, Instant Archetypes is a way to stimulate thinking about use-cases, demographics, attitudes, perspectives, contexts, circumstances and consequences. The cards break the world-story into elements that tend to repeat and recur across multiple settings, situations and perspectives.
WHEN ARE THE CARDS MOST USEFUL?
Instant Archetypes are useful whenever you want a creative prompt or nudge, with an element of randomness. Just pick one from the pack and see where your thoughts take you as they engage with the archetype it portrays.
HOW DO THE CARDS WORK?
Tarot is not so much magic, but the exploration of synchronicity. An idea coined by Carl Jung, synchronicity draws on ‘meaningful coincidence’ – there is no distinction between the inner and outer self. Your choice of card is a conversation with your unconscious; a mirror; an exercise for revealing valuable insights. A good tarot reading will affirm your own intuition; opening up more questions and possibilities than you had to begin with.
Struggling to find your way into a story or strategy, or out of a dilemma? It helps if you’re already primed.
The first – and most important – step in working with these cards is to make them a part of your personal lexicon. You can practice by doing things like:
- Mentally tagging everyone at a table with one of the cards.
- Reading a news report and picking out a few cards which you feel captures the essence, shape and weight of the story.
- Comparing notes with friends and colleagues.
Don’t forget to trust your own instincts and your own stories. The cards are really just associative triggers, an interface with your subconscious.
That’s where the magic happens.
Oversaturated with symbols, each card illustrates an archetype or idea: on contact with your imagination that archetype might express itself as a character, a situation, an action, or even just a vibe.
It’s always best to ponder a question or conundrum in your mind while slowly shuffling the cards – physical contact with the cards is important. If reading for someone else, after they explain their question to you, have them do the shuffling while you both consider the question. Next, have the question-asker cut the deck in half. Spread the cut deck in a row. The question-asker can now use their left hand to select their cards, laying them face down in any of the following configurations.
The quickest and simplest form of consultation, a single card reading relies strongly on your having merged the cards with your imagination. In this sense, it can be a little more challenging for beginners but is still a good way to see what your subconscious has to say about something.
THREE CARD TIMELINE
This approach is good for personal workings and consultations because the frame is clear and straightforward. When working for others, communication is everything.
The pattern is simple: three randomly-picked cards in a row (horizontal, vertical, however you like) where each represents the past, present and future respectively.
First card: Identify how this card fits with the past/origins of the question or scenario.
Second card: Use this as a lens to draw the story into the present.
Third card: How might the story continue – or end.
EIGHT CARD TIMELINE
Pick seven cards, lay them face down in the shape of an L. Place the eighth card face-up beside the L – this will be your anchor card – its vibe will guide the reading. Now, imagine the journey from past to future streaming through the L.
First three cards: Describe the story as it relates to the past /origin of the question.
Fourth card: Sitting at the cross-road of past and future, what relationships does this card suggest? How might the two streams be connected?
Last three cards: What consequences for the future are beginning to emerge?
This method allows the space to think through the archetypes as a way of mediating a challenging or uncertain relationship. Consider the selection of each archetype. What meanings lie within the cards which resonate to the subject you’re trying to capture.
Left Card: Identify an archetype which best serves as a proxy for yourself in this narrative.
Right Card: Identify an archetype which best represents the client or person whom you’re trying to build a relationship.
Middle Card: Once you have established a relationship you want to work on, select a card at random. This card will act as a bridge to bring these two archetypes together. What meanings lie within the cards which resonate to the subject you’re trying to capture. If the selected card isn’t a correct fit, pick again until a narrative presents itself which satisfies the relationship.
Of course, use whichever workings, arrangements or spreads of the cards work for you. The cards have no rules – only meanings, of which are mutable. As such, ‘Do as you wish’ shall be the sum of these instructions.
Conceived by: Jon Ardern, Anab Jain and Paul Graham Raven
Designed and Produced by: Superflux
Illustrations: Amelie Barnathan
Size: 140mm x 95 mm
User Guide: Featuring descriptions of each new archetype, including quick reference key words, and four styles of readings.
Special features: Funds will be directed toward printing. Each pack of Instant Archetypes is printed on 400gm Munken with an anti-scuff coating, to help you explore plural futures well into a distant future.
Risks and challenges
This is an utterly risk-free endeavour. If we raise enough money to print Instant Archetypes, we will send it to you.
*For deliveries made in the UK, Superflux will use Royal Mail 2nd Class.
*For deliveries made in the EU and the rest of the world, Superflux will use International Economy.
As these services are not tracked, Superflux cannot assume liability for lost, misdelivered or damaged post.
Our aim is to ship orders by 14th December.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)