April 28, 2010

Du Whacky Du - The Morgan's Tarot Review

The Morgan's Tarot was created by Morgan Robbins, illustrated by Darshan Chorpash and was first published in 1970 by US Games Systems. Three reprints later, this fascinating deck is eclectic and entertaining, whimsical and always deeply thought provoking.

Morgan's Tarot is a black and white deck with simple line drawings, clearly inspired by the '60s, with the images ranging from turtledoves nesting on a branch to comets shooting through outer space, from three eyed aliens to completely unknown objects. There are 88 cards instead of the traditional 78, and indeed seemed at first to be completely random and quite removed from the numerology, suits and archetypal symbolism of the Tarot. Even the order in the booklet was completely random.

The accompanying booklet was a wealth of gems. The card descriptions were only a few sentences each, but added meaning, humor and charm to each of the cards. Another tarot reader that I know said she numbered the cards and the descriptions, in order to make it easier to look them up. This inspired me to not just number the cards, but to color them as well.

Three months ago I received a review copy in the mail, coinciding with the beginning of my 10 week class, Journey through the Tarot.  I made it my goal to finish the deck by the end of the class  - quite a daunting task, since it took me almost 4 years to color the Daughters of the Moon deck. However, I used watercolor for the DOM deck, and for the Morgan's tarot I ended up using quite a variety of media that led to more spontaneity with each individual card.

The cards are printed on quality card stock with a glossy coating. I ended up using a pack of chisel point permanent markers to color the images, which was really fun as the thick tips had me coloring outside the lines quite frequently. I tend to be very fastidious in my artwork, and this was so liberating to be quick and downright sloppy at times. I was limited in my palette of eight colors, which let me have more fluorescent pink skies than I'd usually allow myself.

The tarot is a system, and the way for me to learn a new deck is to apply the system. I lay out all 78 cards of the Rider-Waite deck on my living room floor in order, then lay down each of the Morgan's Tarot on top. I painted the outside edges with acrylic paints, corresponding to each of the suits (Earth, Water, Fire, Air & Aether), using Green, Blue, Red, Yellow and Purple. Having 10 extra cards meant 2 extra for each of the suits, so each one got a Zero card and the royals were numbered 11 through 15.

Now the fun began. For each card I had cut out the meaning from the booklet and glued it around the edges, eliminating the need to "go look it up". I added a variety of fine glitters, bejeweled embellishments, and tiny stickers in order to really personalize each one. The colors began to pop and indeed, the deck is considerably thicker than originally and can no longer fit in the box. To end, I colored all the backs with a purple acrylic with a breath of silver glitter. I did three layers of an acrylic clear coat on each side, waiting 24 hours to dry between coats.

To me, this is what Tarot is all about. I truly PLAYED with the Morgan's Tarot, infusing my own color, meaning and energy into each card. The more I played, the more I appreciated the simple interpretations of life's complexities, the gentle reminders to laugh at life for all of it's conundrums. While seemingly so disparate from the traditional tarot, the Morgan's Tarot is a classic in it's own right.

Blessed Be.