Welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop! Our wrangler Ania Marczyk asked us to consider which cards need to be updated, removed or added to the deck to reflect our modern society. What a great question to ask the artists and authors of the Denver Tarot Convention Deck Creators Panel! Several of them were able to respond, and here is what they have discovered as they worked to reflect, respond to or react against the 500-year old tarot tradition.


Spring Fling

“Devil and Death” by Toney Brooks, author of the Chrysalis Tarot

"Bella Rosa: XV. The Devil" from Chrysalis Tarot by Holly Sierra and Toney Brooks, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

“Bella Rosa: XV. The Devil” from Chrysalis Tarot by Holly Sierra and Toney Brooks, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Painting by Holly Sierra

Artwork for “Ariadne: XIII. Death” from Chrysalis Tarot by Holly Sierra and Toney Brooks, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

When Carl Jung defined the Collective Unconscious and the archetypes that populate it, genetics was believed to play a far more significant role in determining who we become than it is today. We know now that epigenetics and morphic resonance fields are preeminent. For this reason, and others, we deemed it important that Chrysalis Tarot not tether itself to dogmas that eschew new knowledge and evolved awareness. Consequently, our candidates for replacement are the Devil and Death. Both exude negative energies that engender fear, which is sufficient for the old heave-ho. Additionally, a Tarosophy survey determined these are the two most despised cards, so they’re unlikely to attract newcomers to tarot. As archetypes, neither has anything relevant to contribute to an evolved, modern and secular worldview that advocates personal responsibility and regards death as the unprejudiced transmutation of energy.

“Three of Swords” by Erik C. Dunne, artist of Tarot Illuminati and the upcoming Tarot Apokalypsis

Three of Swords from Tarot Illuminati by Erik C. Dunne, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Three of Swords from Tarot Illuminati by Erik C. Dunne, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Three of Swords from Tarot Apokalypsis by Erik C. Dunne, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Three of Swords from Tarot Apokalypsis by Erik C. Dunne, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Although the 3 of Swords has always been one of my favorite cards, visually speaking, in the Tarot, I have come to realize over the years that for most, the traditional RWS representation is too foreboding, dour with no apparent “up-side”! I have never felt a sense of hopelessness from this card, but realize many do. When creating my new deck, Tarot Apokalypsis, I wanted to portray this card as I really see it, although it confirms the reality of one’s misery, a foundation of sadness…..redemption does indeed exist, shown here in the form of the White Rose……all is not lost, Hope springs eternal even when it seems the emptiness has lingered forever!

“The World” by Jason Gruhl, author of The Fountain Tarot

"The World" from The Fountain Tarot by Jonathan Saiz, Jason Gruhl, Andi Todaro. Self-published.

“The World” from The Fountain Tarot by Jonathan Saiz, Jason Gruhl, Andi Todaro. Self-published.


“The Fountain” from The Fountain Tarot by Jonathan Saiz, Jason Gruhl, Andi Todaro. Self-published.

The Fountain Tarot is a contemporary deck, influenced by the images of the RWS, but re-envisioned to increase relatability for today’s readers and querents. Our most obvious update was adding a 79th card called The Fountain. We believe that Tarot is a living, breathing, and evolving tool, and we also see the tradition as sacred, so we didn’t make this decision lightly! The World card has often been used to express the eternal, but arguably, it is more closely associated with mastery and the completion of cycles. For us, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. Because our inter-connectedness has never been more accessible, and because of the growing consciousness of people on the planet, we really craved a card that clearly and purely represented the force outside the cycles of birth and death, beginnings and endings, time and form. We wanted something that expressed the nameless, changeless source of which everything is a part. To quote from The Fountain Tarot booklet, “It is the waking from the dream of separateness and identity, and the recognition of one’s Self as not only connected to all things, but all things…” We’re excited to see how The Fountain impacts readings…and from the feedback we’ve already gotten, it resonates with a lot of people.

“The Seven of Wands” by Beth Seilonen, author and artist of more than 90 decks including the Dream Raven Tarot and the Bleu Cat Tarot

7 of Wands from Tarot of Leaves by Beth Seilonen, published by Schiffer Books.

Seven of Wands from Tarot of Leaves by Beth Seilonen, published by Schiffer Books.

"Seven of Wands" from the Dream Raven Tarot by Beth Seilonen, published by Schiffer Books.

“Seven of Wands” from the Dream Raven Tarot by Beth Seilonen, published by Schiffer Books.

In reflecting upon which card is the most out-of-date, a number of them jump out at me. Personally speaking, I have noticed that I have twisted around the Seven of Wands most dramatically. The Seven of Wands traditionally speaks to a time to competitive situations, defiance and aggressive natures. The abusive stance in the imagery suggests attacking others or warding off physical or perceived attacks. I found that this type of energy was concerning and depreciating to the modern progressive nature of people.

The more I considered the wands and the fiery creative energy it has bound to the suit, the Seven of Wands needed to be redefined.


Now throughout my decks the Seven of Wands has consistently taken on the meaning of a redefining moment that the querent needs to process through on their journey.

“The Hierophant” by Lisa de St. Croix, author and artist of Tarot de St. Croix


“V Hierophant” from Tarot de St. Croix by Lisa de St. Croix, published by Devera Publishing.

When I pulled the Hierophant to paint while creating Tarot de St. Croix I found out that it is one of the most unpopular cards of the tarot deck. I thought deeply about the meaning and opened myself, as was my method, to let synchronicity guide me. All that week in the media were stories of the Dalai Lama traveling from University to University giving graduation speeches. He was met with standing ovations. Here was a spiritual authority that was respected and loved. His gentle teachings of compassion and love were greeted with enthusiasm. I painted the Dalai Lama and his teacher Buddha as my Hierophant giving a much needed makeover to this card.



Learn more about the Deck Creators Panel and about TarotCon Denver 2015. You can also visit our Speakers page for the full line-up of presentations and workshops.

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11 thoughts on “Spring Fling

  • Pingback: Archetypes—Spring Digging into Tarot - Cosmic Whispers Tarot

  • March 20, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I think it’s interesting that cards might be given ‘the heave-ho’ simply for being negative. They don’t reflect anything in the modern world at all, no sir.
    The same applies to the 7 of Wands, describing situations that are all too common throughout history and today.
    Just because we close our eyes to something doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.

  • March 20, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    What a nice post, and I love every representation of card depicted here! As I focused my own post on the Hierophant, it’s particularly nice to see Lisa de St. Croix’s work on it, using the Dalai Lama as the symbol. It is beautiful and totally appropriate.

  • March 20, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    My reply to people who believe that cards should be removed simply because they are negative cards is, “Life is unfair.” Personally, I have a couple “all positive” decks, and they sit in a bin unused. But then again, I must admit that I am happy little cynic. *wink*

  • March 21, 2015 at 2:06 am

    How bizarre. You can’t heave out Death and the Devil – that is just burying your head in the sand and avoiding reality. I wouldn’t go near any fluffy bunny deck that excluded those two – we need to be mindful of the brevity and fragility of life and how easy it is to lose control.

  • March 21, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Ditto what Vivianne said…
    And in my mind, if a piece of paper with a picture on is evoking such reactions… them it’s even more reason to keep it there as surely it’s the reaction that needs examining… Just what is it about the Devil and Death than makes you so uncomfortable that you despise them… Interesting that Temperance sits between them…
    I view Death as very positive… But I may be biased in that I am married to a Sexton and Death puts food on our table and keeps us alive…

  • March 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    While I appreciate the alternate views and new perspectives I get from experiencing a redefined Tarot, I also am disturbed by the fear of confronting fear and the avoidance of the distasteful that I see in this post. On one hand, it attempts to create the kind of reality we would like to see—affirming the potential for well-being. But, could it also be an expression of a priviledged and self-indulgent mindset? A refusal to engage with the deeply disturbing aspects of life? I see a whole range of life being made taboo— hidden away in a dirty basement. What would Jung or Freud say about that? Speaking of which, synchronistically, the post I looked at just before this one addressed this very issue in a comparison of the covers that Time magazine presents to their US audience versus what they show to the rest of the world, who appear to be more willing to see what is actually going on:

    We live in a world of duality and every point along the spectrum between the poles. How can one see the light if we don’t know darkness?

  • March 22, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Materialism and addiction are two things I see in the Devil, which are undoubtedly still relevant to our modern world! As for Death, being able to accept endings is never going to be unimportant.
    I like Eric’s version of the Three of Swords, as I think it highlights the change that can come if we can sit with our pain or reflect on why our thoughts are causing us distress.
    Love Lisa’s Hierophant, exploring where and how religion can inspire, even with fixed teachings.
    Thanks to the Denver Convention for an interesting post.

  • March 23, 2015 at 5:38 am

    Oooooh nooooooo! You cannot get rid of Death and the Devil!!! I still find them extremely relevant in readings today. Sure, you might want to take the divinatory meaning of each card and partner it to a less fearsome image – like Bella Rosa – for example, but the interpretations would need to remain! 😀

  • March 23, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Although I do love and respect Toney’s philosophy for his deck, i don’t think that all decks should lose the reality of experience by ditching cards that make people uncomfortable. People often adapt and grow in positive directions only after being challenged by negative circumstances. That’s why I think that death and the devil are still important for th challenging circumstances they illustrate.

    On the other hand, that doesn’t mean we need to be restricted to just the interpretations of these archetypes from 15th century European sensibilities and mythologies. And thanks to the many themed tarot decks, we have lots to choose from. In this post, I particularly like Erik Dunne’s Three of Swords. It combines the reality of pain with the purging transformation it can bring.

    Excellent perspectives all the way around!

  • March 24, 2015 at 9:17 am

    We’re doomed to victimization if we fear reality. Most of us can afford the luxury of a view of life where The Seven of Wands, Death and The Devil are dismissed, but the real world never forgets the impact of what these images can represent. It’s also possible that the inner meanings of these cards aren’t understood fully, or at all. The 3 of Swords reveals the exact nature of certain situations and the deck would be useless without it. Why not use this philosophy and remove beams from your home, or take confusing bits of metal out of your car’s engine? “Flinging” a card presumes an inner understanding of the nuances of what Tarot is and is not. It’s a fun game to play, but it borders on the dogmatic and dogma can lead to nastier games. Tarot is a history of The Universe and is timeless. In its best forms, it explains exactly what it means to be a human being on this planet. It teaches us about compassion and the lack thereof. Tarot warns us to guard against ourselves and shows us brilliantly what the pitfalls of being inhumane are. We’re taught the principles of courage and drive and are reminded that the world is hurtling through space at 66,000 mph and that time waits for no one. I probably shouldn’t have written this without my morning coffee, but I’m an old man and am not sure caffeine would change my views. I certainly mean no insult to those who embrace the idea of changing the deck to be less this or that, but I will say that it’s a slippery slope, one that misses the immensity of our Art. I really need some coffee.


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