My friend and I bought each other a Tarot deck – the same one. It was the Anna K Tarot, and mine came today. Hurrah!
I’ve spent many hours virually thumbing through the deck on Anna’s website, loving so many little details and overarching features. The colours of Anna’s drawings (done in colour pencil) are bright and beautiful. There are plenty of women. The Aces are in a class of their own (I blogged about this here..) There are particular interpretations of traditional cards which just make me shout ‘YES’! (Death, the Wheel, the Eight of Swords, and others…) The period costumes are extremely sweet. The are friendly and warm, but they also hold a very subtle strength. The images aren’t overly dramatic – even the majors feel like representations of human emotions and experiences. And I hope it’s not rude to say that Anna K has a beautiful backside. So many decks have dull, uninspiring or just plain ugly backs, it’s so lovely to have a deck where artistic/design talent and care has gone into the image you actually see most often.
The best bits, though, are the facial expressions of Anna’s characters (they don’t feel like mere ‘figures’, but real fleshy people with emotions and desires). As Anna writes on her website:
it was one of my main concerns that the people depicted and their emotions look real. I’ve never liked decks in which everyone has to look beautiful and calm and thus meaningless, vacant. With my cards, if someone is angry, sad or happy, you’ll see their face contort with this emotion, just like a real person’s face does when they’re feeling that way.
I also think it’s wonderful that Anna has published her entire deck online, including the contents of the booklet that accompanies the deck. This very generous act meant that I felt I was beginning a relationship with her cards long before I actually got to hold them in my mitts.
So what can I learn from these cards? I’d like to use them to read for a friend this afternoon, but before I do so, I should spend a little time thinking about how I’m going to relate to this particular deck. And humming ‘Getting to Know You’ from The King and I (we did it at school, okay?) (And hey, wasn’t her name Anna?!), I shuffled the cards and laid them in a line. They feel good in my hands – a nice size, good thick card, I like them.
1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic? Page of Rods
This page represents curiosity and eagerness to act. The image of a little boy peeping over a wall, looking to where trees are filled with blossom and a bird flies, whilst he himself is (for now) trapped behind a concrete wall, suggests potential, beginnings. He tells me that this deck is about curiosity, open-mindedness, willingness to look and learn, and see beyond one’s own limitations.
2. What are your strengths as a deck? Ten of Pentacles
This is the card of material fulfillment. Not only financial, but bodily. It’s about having a stable and comfortable home, enough food, friends and family close by, security and warmth.
3. What are your limits as a deck? Eight of Swords
This was one of the cards that first drew me to this pack. The image shows a woman looking into a mirror, and instead of seeing herself free, beneath the blue sky, she sees grey skies and earth, a blindfold, her arms and legs bound, penned in by swords. It’s about perception. The limits of this deck are only those I impose on it myself.
4. What are you here to teach me? Three of Cups
Three women share wine and food – holding hands, they celebrate their freindship, they are rich and happy because they have each other, because they can rely on each other. They have community, solidarity. Anna K wants me to remember the value of community, and to teach me more about being a good friend.
5. How can I best learn and collaborate with you? Knight of Pentacles
This Knight takes it slow and steady – he learns at his own pace, and he’s in it for the long haul. No fads and phases for him, he commits himself to the task and gets the job done. He tells me that if I wish to collaborate with the Anna K deck, I need to make a commitment. This shouldn’t be one of those decks I shelve and don’t read with – I must put in practice, study, and let our relationship develop over time. I’m up for that.
6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship? The High Priest (Heirophant)
This card represents acknowledgement of old wisdom, a relationship with spiritual teachings. According to Anna, he represents ‘deep trust, protection and good advice’. I have a mixed relationship with this card – but as Anna is willing to bring out it’s positive qualities, I’m really happy to see these qualities as outcomes of our relationship. It’s almost as if this card says here “don’t worry, I won’t let you down – trust me.”
So trust these cards I will. I’ll put in the time they ask me to, and keep an open mind and a willingness to learn from them. For all the cheery colours and friendly faces, I reckon they’re going to touch me a lot deeper than I at first realised.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.