The Lovers in Tarot

Originally written in 2017

lovers-tarot-king-journeyI originally intended to send out this newsletter a few days before Valentine’s day, but a combination of sickness and working on freelance projects delayed its being sent it. I wasn’t kidding when I said I am a one man crew on almost everything i’m involved with.

After creating a few decks over the years, we’ve created quite a few “Lovers” cards of varying themes and looks.

Our first was when I co created a King’s Journey Tarot. This was quite an unusual looking Lovers card in that it was more battle themed rather than a traditional depiction of love.

King’s Journey is a unique deck where we follow one character throughout the entire deck of cards. (With a Spirit suit and two additional Majors the total number of cards are 94 instead of the regular 78). From the Fool, considered our first card, to the World card, considered our last, coming after the minor suits, the Fool character changes in appearance the whole way through (with the exception of his clothing, which was kept very similar in theme and color to be easily identifiable)

In King’s Journey the Lovers card features the young fool character doing battle with his inner demon. Having defeated his “darkness” he has been granted the right to court the Emperor’s daughter (The Emperor appears in the background with his daughter. Similarly in the Emperor card all three appear too)

While it’s certainly a different view of love, it deals with a common theme that is sometimes crucial to confront if a relationship is going to work. Sacrificing or overcoming a part of yourself that brings negativity to the relationship.

A few years later we created a more traditional version of the King’s Journey Lovers and occasionally this has been included as a bonus card.

simply-deep-tarot-loversNext up is our Simply Deep Lovers card. This has more of a Victorian feel to it and is in a picnic setting. It was designed to be a little bit flirty but not overtly so.

Of all of the lovers cards, it’s probably the closest we’ve come to a more romantic feel to the card.

Since being published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd, we’ve also released a borderless version of the deck which is available on our site  along with a Simply Deep mini deck, for those that like to collect miniature versions of their favorite decks.

Our next Lovers card was the military uniformed couple in the Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot, seen below, who are depicted celebrating a marriage.

It’s a very different Lovers card than is traditionally depicted because they are in uniform. It’s more formal and less romantic. Above the couple can be seen spiritual beings, the Phoenix and Chinese Dragon inside a heart.chinese-tarot-lovers-asian

About a year after starting on the Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot, we created our “green mutant” lover in what would become The Twisted Tarot Tales deck. This is probably one of my favourite Lovers cards that I’ve drawn because it is much more wacky and the colors pop making it very comic bookish.

I wrote a few pages about the message behind this peculiar version of the Lovers card in the Twisted Tarot Tales companion book and the fact that looks can be deceiving in the imagery.

horror-tarot-loversI originally illustrated another card for the lovers depicting a wolf type being in love with a woman. It never made the cut even though I personally liked it but maybe one day it will make a return.

horror-lovers-tarot-2One of the great things about depicting a universal concept like love is that there are many ways it can be depicted and they can all be true. The Lovers in the King’s Journey recognizes that relationships can be hard and often need something of a sacrifice to make them work. Sometimes that sacrifice might be our inner demon. The Simply Deep Lovers depicts a secret get away between two romantic partners; that much needed intimate time. The Chinese Propaganda version depicts marriage, I suppose I would say, in a more rigid practical way, a “uniform” way, and the Twisted Tarot Tale green mutant card represents, in my view, the truest form of love; protecting a loved one.

I think for me that aspect of love is worth more because anyone can say they love you, but without any action, without any outward sincere show of affection, especially in the hardest parts of life, then what is there to believe in? How can we be sure that the love is as real as the hallmark cards say it is! lol

tarot-horror-comicsUpon final completion, Christine wanted to depict two crash test dummies in love. To me, this image reminds one of a bit of a reckless relationship. It’s still a relationship. Not perfect, and the couple are, at least symbolically, depicted as being damaged (or about to be damaged). It could be argued that this particular couple are built for it, that’s their purpose, but in a human sense that hurt can still be difficult (forgive me if I am rambling. I have been unwell for the past week and may be making less sense than I imagine).

No doubt about it, this crash dummies card is creepy. It depicts a car crash, and even if it is in a test zone, we are all far too familiar with life and its tragedies. Some people were not too thrilled about this deck for that reason alone; it does not shy away from the horror in life, but for me personally it is more honest that way. I value honestly, and I try to be honest, most importantly to myself and the Lord. If I can’t be honest with myself, how can I be honest with you?

tarot-lovers-chinese-propaganda-artThat goes for readings too. I would only want a reading from an honest person who is able to come to terms with the fact that life has tragedies. Read more about that in my article from last edition called “Foresight” . Again, sorry for my rambling. I have spent the past few days visiting deceased loved ones, looking into NDE and feeling genuinely under the weather but I shall bounce back very soon!

The next Lovers card we created was the Winter Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot (Aka our “Year of the Rooster” version). I see this card as a card where we see the idea of love through the eyes of a child. He’s created an ice/snow creation of two adult lovers. Maybe they are entirely figments of his imagination or maybe they are a depiction of his parents.

It’s been about 6 or 7 years since I illustrated my first Tarot card and since then I’ve drawn about 8 Lovers cards through the various decks and bonus cards. In my own life I like to think I’ve learned a little about love too!


Drawing the Mother Figure Over the Years

King-Journey-Tarot-EmpressThis was originally written a few days before Mother’s Day but due to time constraints, was not sent out. For all of our American and Canadian readers (and possibly others) who are thinking “Mother’s Day, that’s over a month away!?”, I am referring of course to Mother’s Day in the UK/Ireland, which fell on the 26th of March.

Just like we did with the Lovers cards in our Valentine’s edition of the newsletter, this time around I think it would be nice to showcase all of our Empress cards throughout all of our Tarot decks.

Our first Empress card was in the King’s Journey Tarot. It’s a great card depicting an expectant mother being pampered by a group of gnomes. Bringing the salt from the earth, the gnomes cleanse her feet.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I drew the images for King’s Journey, yet if memory serves me it was little over 7 years ago.

Simply-Deep-EmpressThe next card is from Simply Deep Tarot. This card was designed to portray the Empress figure in a kind of peaceful setting. She has air of grace about her as she looks at the butterflies.

Next up is an alternative version of the Empress card for Twisted Tarot Tales (i’ve left the Chinese Propaganda Empress until last, even though it was drawn before TTT, as it’s a card that is a bit more a personal and therefore a more lengthy story attached)

Our alternative Empress is part of the exclusive “movie edition” which was available through our Indiegogo campaign in 2016. It features the Alien xenomorph queen from the Alien franchise. Believe it or not this was the very first card thought up for the Twisted Tarot Tales deck, though not the first one actually illustrated. Christine felt it would be a perfect representation of a mother in a horror format and I totally agree.

Twisted-Tarot-Tales-EmpressIn the movie “Aliens” she viciously fights her human counterpart Lt Ripley. She’s protecting her brood of course, who take the form of what appears to be leathery type eggs, like that of the kind of reptilian eggs one might find buried on a beach left behind by turtles but more otherwordly. Of course these hold the now famous “face huggers”, conceptualized by the great Swiss artist Giger.

I must admit that I was very fond of drawing already existing characters, not because I wanted to rip a pre-existing character off, but rather as a form of showing people another side to my artwork; drawing recognisable characters. This was one my favourite things about comic book art when I was a teenager. You could find a dozen artists all drawing the same character, but their artwork would be very different, so much so that no matter what character some artists would illustrate, you could recognise their work. I’m told all the time that my artwork is recognisable but I am not completely convinced. I think in the world of Tarot art it is; mainly because the comic style is not as common as other styles.

Since then we’ve put together Freddy Kruger, Jason from Friday the 13th and a few others but we’ve never shared them online. Perhaps near the end of the year we may release a small amount of them as cards.

empressOur “official” Empress in Twisted Tarot Tales was inspired by a movie called Cats Eye, written by Stephen King where it features a little girl being tormented by an evil creature in her bedroom. In our card she is playing with her toy doll, with the creatures in the background.

Finally we get to one of my favourite Empress cards;  the Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot’s Empress. it’s a card  that I can relate to on a personal level. The Empress in this deck is depicted as a farmer, which is exactly what my mum was when I was growing up (and still is with my dad). My mum was more a housewife, but was accustomed to helping my dad off and on throughout the years.

All the animals featured on this card have all been on our farm at one point or another; pigs, sheep and chickens and of course the rooster doing the familiar crowing every morning.

Chinese-tarot-empressThe chickens were kept for eggs, the pigs were mainly for pets, and although we’ve had sheep, generally speaking we would have kept an eye on the sheep of a fellow farmer who was renting some of my dad’s fields

I never knew it but my parents were quite poor for many years, especially when we were much younger, despite the fact that they worked long hours on our potato farm. I look back on it now and chalk my not knowing their financial struggles up to the fact that my mum and dad never argued in front of us kids about money issues (in fact I can’t remember a single time they ever properly argued about anything), and they bought us enough things for us to never know that they might not have very much money.

My mum was and is also a big believer in only paying for what you can afford. I’m sure they may have taken out loans etc when it came to their farm business, but my mum didn’t believe in credit cards. It’s the same thing today. That doesn’t mean us kids got everything our hearts desired, but in many ways I am glad. It taught me that life isn’t a shopping cart where everything is handed to you.

My parents worked at building their farm from the ground up and from an early age I enjoyed all the joys that living in the country afforded.

Probably the best years of my life were during the time spent when we were without computer games, internet and all of that kind of thing (all of which seemed to be introduced into my life with my mid to late teens) and I tend to think that had these things been more widely available in Ireland and my parents had given them to us very early on, I may never have taken the time to learn how to draw pictures. (I spent an incredible amount of time learning to draw)

We did, of course, have the TV and I enjoyed shows, mainly American shows like the Fall Guy, the A-Team and The Equalizer. I don’t remember much about The Equalizer other than that my dad enjoyed it and I wanted to be like the main character Robert McCall (played by Edward Woodward).

Life on the farm was great, but as I got older I started to get a little tired of some of the work.

I used to milk cows on my Uncle’s Farm as a teen, and on my parents farm, used to help harvest potatoes.

Probably the worst job when it comes to potatoes was actually gathering them from the field. Sometimes this would take place in winter, and so you’d be out in the freezing cold while gathering them from the ground, and other times from a harvester.

The nicer part about working with potatoes was separating the bad potatoes from the good on the potato machine (I guess their real name is a potato sorting or grading machine) indoors in my dad’s shed.

Sometimes i’d be at the back throwing out the really bad ones before they get to the next person, and of course the more people you have sorting them, the less chance there is that any bad ones will get through. The best job in working with potatoes was taking the full bags of potatoes off, stacking them up and putting a new bag back on.

As time passed however, it was hard to make a living from selling potatoes as we weren’t selling to shops directly but instead working through a middle man. That and there was a continuing growing surplus throughout the country and the demand wasn’t there. Add to that the increase of potatoes from Cyprus, among other countries, along with the rising cost of fertiliser and sprays to protect the potatoes from blight, and it was getting to where we were only breaking even. Not good! Farming potatoes is the kind of thing that takes tremendous time and resources and when you’re working and paying out more than you can make, you have to make a big decision. In my parents case they found a much better prospect

They moved into working with beef cattle. However there was one thing that I felt continually drawn to and that was drawing pictures. When I’d find myself doing everything from hauling hay bales to cleaning ditches I was also thinking up ideas for what I would draw when I get back to the house. It was my only real passion. Sometimes it is difficult to truly know how best to spend one’s time. I suppose I felt very sure in myself that art was what I was “supposed to do” even though I know that certainties can change over time as we change too. So in the recent years I resigned myself to “making it work”. Any money I make pretty much solely comes from doing art. Financially it’s sometimes enough, and other times it falls short. That’s where faith and determination come into play I suppose. It’s long hours but it’s something that fulfills me.

So I look back and I am grateful for the childhood I had. Watching and learning how to plant things, watching how a business is run, (and the obstacles one can face) and looking after and being around animals. It was a good childhood and I owe at least half of it to my mother.


back-esmeralda-oracle_origForesight. If you had it what would you do with it?

There’s a lot of people that subscribe to our newsletter that, through one method or another, claim to be able to see into the future, to have the “gift” of foresight, and for all I know this is completely true. I can only vouch for a few which I know first hand. Yet that wasn’t always the case…

In 2012 I took some time away from the art table and started to put a few chapters together of a book about the spiritual gifts that people claim to have. Unfortunately I was never able to complete the book. Life got in the way. I met Christine and made plans to bring her to live with me in Ireland and so my book got set to the side.

Anyway, I’d taken some time away from doing art and my brother and I would attend psychic fairs, we attended Reiki sessions with an elderly lady who lived near the woods. We even met Sharon Neill, the UK’s only blind psychic medium after reading her book Second Sight. We met her in her home, but also Irish psychic fairs.

tabi_origWe attended Derek Acorah events and even someone called the Native American Princess, who did the local circuits. Silly me, I thought she would, at the very least, be an American. Rather she put on some bronzer and had a thick Irish accent. I even attended the Tarot Association of the British Isles Tarot meet up in 2011 (my first and only Tarot event)

Yet I came away from much of these events disillusioned. So disillusioned in fact that I wondered if I should ever produce Tarot deck imagery again.

I didn’t like the idea of people charging upwards of 50 or 60 dollars per 20 minute reading and not knowing how to even read the cards; maybe even doing more damage than good. I saw elderly women walking away from readings distraught, sometimes even in tears and thought “Should I be contributing to this with my art?” Then again, for all I knew the reader was delivering the truth. Tears didn’t necessarily mean a “bad” reading in the sense that it’s not accurate. Yet going on my own experience with some of these readers, they could not read me at all. Some psychics even felt brave enough to name names of my family members etc, but I never understood this braveness when they must’ve known there was a high chance it would be inaccurate. (Since they always were). I wanted to believe, but I needed to be convinced…

white_origI then met Christine and she told me the story of how there was someone she knew and was quite close to who had secretly planned to commit suicide one night, but who decided to visit a reader by the name of Mrs White in Rhode Island. When Mrs White read in the cards that she had planned to commit suicide and told her not to do it, the person was shocked. Mrs White was able to go into detail about her life, naming the names of the people in her life and so on.

Twenty years later she’s happily married and enjoying life. (Above is Mrs White’s residence in Rumford, Rhode Island) Since then I’ve heard a few optimistic stories like this and I came to the conclusion that illustrating decks of cards can have a noble purpose.

I’ve had readings from a small number of people in my life. A woman called Doire who lives a few miles away foresaw a relationship with Christine a few weeks after I met Christine online (I had not met her in person at that point) She was actually able to give a name.

I’ve had readings from Chanel (co-creator of Simply Deep and King’s Journey) who, with using the King’s Journey deck, was able to foresee that I would meet a friend who I hadn’t met in over 10-15 years and we’d have drinks together. I remember telling her at the time that this was impossible. I’d lost communication with everyone from my school days. She told me that the time frame would be “in the next two weeks”. Sure enough I was at a bar, and a guy tapped me on the shoulder and said “Jimmy, long time no see”. It was my friend James Fleming who i’d not seen in 15 years. I’m not sure how he recognised me as I had much longer hair, facial hair, and had aged 15 years.

emeralda-oracle-5_origChristine herself has given very accurate predictions but doesn’t conduct readings for money (though I wish she would as it would help with the groceries). I am grateful however that she puts all of her Tarot knowledge into the decks we create. She’s predicted a lot of things that shortly afterwards, came true in my life. ​

​Sometimes this is seeing a new client in my freelance business, and where the person comes from etc, new business opportunities.

Where once I was a bit of a skeptic, I’ve become a believer. So it makes me wonder. With foresight, what would you do differently? What would you change?

What fascinates me most of all however, is those readers who decide to give a brutally honest reading rather than one that you think your client wants to hear. How honest should a reader be?

I think this is a question that every reader has to answer individually for themselves, on behalf of their clients. Do you do what Mrs White did and tell the client the horrible news that the client is already aware of? Do you deliver the bad news that they are NOT aware of?

A troublesome question I often see in Tarot forums is whether to deliver the bad news that the person their client is in love with is “just not right for them” or the relationship is destined to fail. I can only imagine that there is a little apprehension about delivering bad news to a client. After all, one’s wish is to always make their client happy. It’s the first thing we learn when we come to conducting most any kind of business. In an ideal world a client would WANT to hear the truth, even if it is not the outcome they would wish to hear.

Looking at this objectively I think many clients seek a reading, not necessarily for an unbiased opinion, but to seek affirmation about a situation. They want to hear their desires and wishes repeated back to them. Romantic relationships, especially, can be sensitive topics and when one is caught up in the feelings of love, they do not want to hear negativity.


Go Easy On The Brew This New Year’s Eve!

Originally written 12/29/2016

temperance-tarot-chinese_origAs we approach the New Year, it will be a time for celebration and like much of the Western world (and beyond?) much alcohol will be consumed in Ireland.

That brings me around to our newest edition for the Winter Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot deck. It’s still a work in progress but is based on our original Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot. Our Temperance card features a man saying no to Alcohol, but could be seen as saying “no more”, as in, no I’ve got to drive home and don’t want to take my life in my hands by going over the limit. Like many of our cards, this one is based on an existing work, but illustrated and made over in our own style. It could also represent abstinence. It’s a card I’m really happy with and I think it’s turned out really well.

As for New Year, I’ll probably have a bit of a quiet one, either sharing it with my siblings, or just a quiet night in with Christine.

110808_asahi_global_new_topChristine doesn’t drink but despite not being much of a beer drinker, I may have a few beers. I tend to prefer cider and whiskey, but I couldn’t resist trying a few foreign beers as they came across my radar a few days ago while having a walk through Sainsburys.

As I write this, I am sampling the Japanese brand Asahi beer. According to the bottle it is Japan’s number 1 beer. Is it Japan’s number 1 beer in fact, or is it fake news? Lol I cannot possibly verify.

tsingtaoI’ve also got a brand of Chinese beer called Tsingtao. Hopefully I am not culturally appropriating too much, though in my case I prefer the term cultural appreciation. That’s what I liked a lot about travelling. Sampling the local food and drink.

So I hope you take advice from our guy in the Temperance card and not drink too much! And for heaven’s sake if you really must drink too much, get someone to hide your car keys in advance!