A Deck of My Own

The Emperor, The Hanged Man, The Hermit

There is literally nothing more "art school" than drawing up a set of tarot cards. It's the most generic and banal project I've seen again and again- as an undergrad, as a grad student, and as a T.A.

Therefore, I am designing a deck of my own now because I am a hypocrite.

Listen, a project like this was bound to happen. The logo of this site is based on the Moon card, the same card I pulled six years ago when I first arrived in Italy. It's a feminine card fitting for an anxious artist, howling lunacy one minute and enlightenment in the next.

The Two Parts:

I. Execution, reasoning, and background

II. Today's reading


I'm not going to design the whole deck at once. Instead, every now and again I'll do a three-card reading and draw the cards as I go along until I've drawn the 22 Major Arcana. Full disclosure, however, I don't so tarot readings for myself in connection to any spiritual purpose. It's like reading your horoscope- you get what you put into it. Life is confusing so what's the harm in finding a little aspirational advice here and there.

During my time in grad school, my friends and I started to get really interested in tarot. The access to truly unique decks is common in Italy as the history of tarot is quite Italian-centric. In the 15th century, one of the first decks was devised in northern Italy; used as playing cards as well as divination.

The most spectacular examples of artesian tarot decks can be found at Il Meneghello, a shop in Milan. My friend and I went to visit and made a day trip out of it in our final weeks before graduation, just as Spring began to settle in. Il Meneghello is in a trendy district of Milan and has the feel of an indie bookshop. The narrow store is stocked ceiling to floor with books, prints, and stacks of tarot cards packaged in decorated cardboard boxes. The various shaped boxes contained original and notable decks unique to different regions of Italy and several countries in Europe. Most of the tarot cards on sale are printed by hand and some are even historic, reconstructed decks that had remained incomplete for years until their current edition.

Over time, the cards and their symbolism has varied from country to country and century to century. Yet, for the most part, it's common to find decks in Italy that are based on the Tarot of Marseilles, a base for many other popular decks. Like my deck for example. It's a 22 card deck of just the Major Arcana, however, the cards are made of leather and the images and words are branded onto the surface.


Three-Card Reading

Today's consideration is about the health of my father-in-law and how to keep stability and calm in my house especially during the lockdown.

Reading in order: the situation, how I feel, how I should act.

  1. L'Imperatore (the emperor) - Upright

  2. L'Appeso (the hanged man) - Upright

  3. L'Eremita (the hermit) - Upright

1. L'Imperatore - the situation

On the nose. The Emperor represents structure, authority, a fatherly figure.

I don't need to read into this much further. Elia's dad isn't doing so well. Since the beginning of the pandemic, his cancer treatment has been suspended and even just the passage of time itself has made the situation serious.

Covid-19 is the insult to injury in this case. Obviously it's not safe for Elia to visit his immuno-compromised dad with the coronavirus still very present in Italy, but as the situation has evolved it seems that time is short and Elia has visited his dad a couple of times regardless.

I'm a bit of an outsider in this situation. As is the case in most instances when someone close to you is grieving it's hard to know what to do or say. Currently, the grief is trapped with us in close quarters and is nigh inescapable save for the temporary distraction of Netflix and alcohol.

2. L'Appeso - how I feel

The hanged man, in the card, the fellow is plainly suspended in a powerless situation. This card is about surrender and enlightenment even for the sake of the greater good.

I am suspended in time and in a powerless situation. I do feel like the best thing I can do right now is to let my needs and life take the back seat. Instead, I've been consciously putting my energy into preserving a calm atmosphere in our apartment so Elia can have the space and support he needs when he wants it.

3. L'Eremita- how I should act

The Hermit embodies aloneness, introspection, and soul-searching. If Elia was a card he would be The Hermit.

Basically I feel like this card is telling me to read the room. As a generally introverted person, Elia will reveal his needs when he wants to and I'm fine with keeping a low profile in my studio-cave and leaving when he's ready to talk.

©2019 by Hexed-Patriot