Maps and Tarot

cowmap_origMaps. They guide us where to go.

Surprisingly, the earliest known maps found in the world, were not actually based on the world, but rather the stars. Star maps have been found in the famous Lascaux caves.

My interest in maps started to manifest around my early 20’s, long before I even drew my first Tarot card and certainly before I even knew what a Tarot card really was.

I enjoy collecting maps of the places I’ve been (when I can). In terms of illustrated maps, Probably some of the best maps I’ve seen where from Florida, like SeaWorld. The very worst map I have in my collection, but it is not illustrated, is from Sharm El Sheikh, in the Sinai Peninsula. The map was pixellated to death, but that would have been forgiven if it were not for the fact that it was hugely outdated, probably by almost a decade, yet it was the only map I could find in any tourism shop. Streets were renamed, businesses had faded away; you get the picture.

twisted-tarot-tales-maps-1Since then there have been a few abandoned map projects, two of which are not real life maps, but rather were intended for some of our fictional world Tarot work. One was for King’s Journey about 7 years ago which I never attempted. I had every intention of creating a map for that deck as it was a map in the style of a Celtic Cross that was originally described to me before the actual cards themselves (the cross within the inner circle played host to the “Spirit Suit”) The problem was that the design given to me was so undecipherable that it would have taken the Rosetta stone to figure it out. In the end that map never came to be although the idea of creating a map interested me a lot.

The idea of creating Tarot’s very first map was something that I saw I would twisted-tarot-tales4eventually bring into existence. A few years would pass and although I never heard of Tarot having a map, I knew it was possible it had been done before.

I decided to start plotting out the entire world of Twisted Tarot Tales and had originally planned to add it to the Twisted Tarot Tales companion guide, more or less for the novelty.

When I really started to collate all of the images for the deck I noticed that a lot of the cards could fit into entire “areas”. The Wheel of Fortune, the Magician, The Fool, the 2 of Swords all seemed to belong to a circus type background.

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Then you had the genetic mutations like the Giant frog in the Justice card and the Mutant lovers (the alternative version). The King of Cups with his mutated feet, even the Knight of Wands with the gigantic bee (or depending what way you look at it, a miniature little rider on its back). I envisioned that group coming from a scientific lab with the nuclear power plant not too far away.

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Above: The map as it currently stands, without the “area” markers and the “card” markers. Can you spot the nuclear spill area and also the spills along the coastline?

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The world of Twisted Tarot Tales at night. The map even has a “Should I be offended?” museum, which would act as the back of the 8 of cups card. It was a fun tongue in cheek jab at Dan P for hating our 8 of Cups Cowboy shootout!

I started asking myself “Would anyone really care for a map?” and “Would it ruin the deck?” What purpose did it actually serve? To this day I can’t see a map having any practical purpose other than novelty. Perhaps that is enough.

The Twisted Tarot Tales was postponed last year; only because I devoted my time to writing and piecing together the companion book for the deck to complete the crowd funding campaign. The map idea I had been going to be spread across the entire standard 78 card deck back side, a special edition deck where if you felt so inclined you could piece all 78 cards together to create one huge map (from the backs of your cards).

twisted-tarot-tales-5*As a side note, this is why I decided to swap the Stan Lee Tower card for the new Nuclear chimney tower; to tie into the nuclear disaster area responsible for the wild mutations throughout the deck. On the map you can see the nuclear spill, in the “scientific” quarter of the deck.

As we neared the completion of the companion book, I started to have doubts about my novelty idea. Some of the wackiest ideas are spontaneous and are the most successful, but the “wackiest spontaneous ideas” are sometimes the least successful too, so you have to be careful.

Sometimes they work, sometimes they get snatched up by other people before you have it finally complete (always a danger of that when showing works in progress) and other ideas don’t seem fully fleshed out at that current point in time, but might work at a later date.

I started to think that having a “map edition” of the deck would probably seem a bit pointless to most people. That being said, it is a novelty deck so it may work. One positive, I suppose, would be that it could become somewhat like a Jigsaw puzzle. With being about 70-80 percent complete, I will probably do exactly what I set out to do, at some point, possibly, on some distant Halloween.

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