I am currently focusing on the Tattoo Tarot, making its debut across the tarot universe. The Tattoo deck is close to my heart, since I was fortunate to work on a team with its illustrator, Megamunden and publisher, Laurence King, in writing the booklet for the set. Where needed I also brought my tarot knowledge to support the card designs. During this three-way process, I could check with the illustrator for clarification, whenever any questions arose about the symbols drawn. More often than not, the symbols were clear already and the cards spoke to me straight away.
Tattoo Tarot Journey
Meanwhile, to create the booklet content, I busily researched, as well as drawing on my own understanding of tarot across several decades of study and practice. As the Minor Arcana cards, in particular, had a distinctly ‘Marseille Tarot’ basis to their design, it struck me that meanings from the oldest tarot understandings would be important. Alongside more familiar words and phrases, then, readers of the Tattoo tarot may sometimes find something quaint and unusual. Yet also modern ideas, in tune with current developments in tarot and tattoo art, since the team felt sure these cards would reach across to younger generations!
I have always thought it makes sense to approach tarot cards in the ways that feel most comfortable and natural to the person reading them. It can be a little daunting, at first, trying to put meanings to cards, if you have had hardly any exposure to them before. Then again, it’s not necessarily that hard if you are a visual person and if you think about how you have previously responded to any kind of picture, whether that’s a photograph, a painting or an abstract print or design. Our brains are wired to make sense of patterns as a survival instinct – something to do with the primal need for a baby to be able to pick out a face, so baby can be cared for by that person (hopefully a kindly someone!)
With a modern understanding of diversity among learning styles – from areas such as education, psychology and NLP – we are also now aware that some people can have one sense more predominant than another. It might be the auditory sense, for example, where words have much more impact than pictures. This applies foremost to the heard word, obviously. But, even when we read words, we can ‘say them’ in our minds – within internal thought processes, where they may trigger special meanings. Words also work like symbols, in this way.
Visual and auditory learning styles can both be a boon when getting to know tarot. They are super useful when reading cards for ourselves which, arguably, is easier in that each of us knows our own set of stories well. Yet it can be oddly challenging, too, because we may be less objective about situations we are deeply involved in, perhaps looking inward, not having access to a lens that can reach out, wide, to see the bigger picture. We may have a bias, too – positive or negative – finding it hard to witness anything but a ‘good outcome’, or fearing fear the worst and only seeing catastrophe, in some of the cards!
This is where words and symbols can come in handy, if used with commonsense. We can reference them as spiritual check points and see what messages we pick up, aligning with the truth the reading offers. With this in mind, I drew the Major Arcana card XIV Temperance, emphasising healing and balance, in the two vessels the angel holds. A pitcher in her left hand pours liquid into a goblet in her right. Readers of Rider Waite Smith style decks may be used to duality shown through two identical vessels, and the angel with one foot in water and one on the ground. In the Tattoo Tarot duality is shown more through the distinct colour scheme of red and green on the angel’s dress and wings.
To me, these are like traffic lights – stop and go. We need to heed those signals, knowing when to put the brakes on, and when to become alert to going with the flow. Words for this card include moderation, self-control and patience. Harmony, co-ordination (of angel wings!) and recuperation also apply, along with the seasons and friendship (note the flower, bottom right – both horticultural and a kindly gesture).
Thinking about my current situation, the messages seem so appropriate to having just learned that I need to adjust my diet and increase exercise routines, to help my health. Apparently, I am predisposed towards diabetes and have already had a taste of possible symptoms – if I want to avoid the full blown condition then I must be disciplined and moderate, shaking up any bad habits! This is all within my power and will – Temperance busily uses both arms, connected to her heart, to find the right measure – and the wings allow for elevation out of the heavy, overly earth-bound situation of the body.
The card also speaks of a need to go with my writing ‘flow’, stopping when I feel blocked. I cannot force the perfect mix of words; sometimes time is needed so the brain cells can warm up and bring ideas forth. Now and then my wings divert energy to other tasks – editorial consultancy, mentoring other Mind Body Spirit authors trying to finish their books; editing manuscript drafts already written, and spending time with clients for booked tarot and astrology readings. Lately, I’ve been writing astrology column sections for The Mountain Astrologer magazine, and blog posts here and for the tarot publisher. Temperance will no doubt find a way to prompt me when it’s time to switch attention. The stars around her suggest it won’t be too long before a needed escape into holiday land! Meanwhile, the Tattoo Tarot becomes available for purchase next month; I will keep people posted about developments and promotions. Please feel free to register your interest if you think this is a deck you’re going to want your own copy of!
Diana McMahon Collis has worked with tarot and astrology for more than thirty years, as a way of helping people connect more deeply and move forward in life; she offers deeply insightful readings with a practical focus, bookable via Email or Skype at: http://mindbliss.co.uk She also works as a professional writer in the Mind, Body, Spirit field; recent projects include consultancy and booklet writing for the newly launching Tattoo Tarot: Ink and Intuition set (Laurence King Publishing), and project management of the Book of Music Horoscopes (Flare Publications), which also includes her essay on David Bowie and Iggy Pop’s friendship (more details on her Author page at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07FK8896B. At The Mountain Astrologer she writes a bi-monthly lunation column on the New and Full Moons and eclipses, and, for the Astrological Journal, has written on subjects as diverse as music star Prince, ABBA’s Agnetha Faltskog, and the activity of the brain in divination. At https://Jerichowriters.com she works as an editor and author mentor, assisting other authors on their publishing path, and, at http://celestialspot.blogspot.com/, posts reviews of tarot decks, astrology books and articles on celestial and symbolic themes. She can be emailed (diana@) via mindbliss.co.uk.