The idea of expanding the Wheel of Fortune Tarot Project into a full 78 card deck was always hovering around since the very beginning. While the 22 cards of the Major Arcana continue to be the beating heart of the series and the art installation, the potential of a full deck with the 56 minor arcana cannot be overstated.
When we first conceived of the series and installation, the original plan was for the Wheel of Fortune, like many art installations at Burning Man, to be a one-time event. However, once we were on the playa and we saw the impact the Wheel had on our fellow citizens of Black Rock City, we knew that the journey of the WOF was just beginning.
After a year of touring around the country in 2015, we took a long look at the road ahead. We've since expanded our team, revamped our web presence, and taken the project to the next level. The most exciting part of this new plan has been the decision to create the full deck.
This is not a decision we take lightly. There are many Tarot decks made by artists who are interested in the imagery and they end up creating a series of beautiful and fun illustrations. However, it takes more than pretty pictures for a deck to fully awaken into the narrative landscape of symbolism that is required for truly powerful divination. The production of the Major Arcana was full of unbelievable magic and synchronicity. This next chapter will be an even deeper dive, full of intense research and divinatory experimentation.
For the entire process, the cards will be our guide. We are drawing a card each morning as a daily source of reflection. We also recently held a series of sessions for each suit of the Minor Arcana, exploring the cards one-by-one. The Tarot is a family tree of characters and symbols that have evolved and expanded over hundreds of years, and as we conduct our research, we are comparing and contrasting the cards of multiple decks: The Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Thoth deck, Jodorowski's Marseilles deck, and Kim Krans' The Wild Unknown deck.
Although we are taking inspiration from all corners of the Tarot world, our primary reference is, of course, the existing 22 cards. We've decided on 3 "unbreakable rules" for the new cards in order to hold the container that has been set. While there will be leaps and bounds of experimentation in the new images, we will continue to shoot an all-female cast, in black and white, using camera-based multiple-exposures.
Possibly the most important decision in creating a new deck is the decision to characterize the suits. While the most widely accepted tradition is to label them as Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles, there are infinite possibilities. A more universal characterization of the four suits is through the four alchemical elements: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth.
These four can in turn be reduced to subatomic particles of symbolism, the building blocks of Sharp/Blunt, Subtle/Dense, Mobile/Immobile. All of this and more will be studied and considered as we decide on the names of the four suits. We are going deep! It's too soon to announce any final decisions, but the photo above might be a clue :)
There is much more to tell, and we look forward to seeing you soon.
Until then, keep spinning
Jill & Anne