Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Haitian Vodou Tarot Deck

I am working on a new tarot deck. I am tentatively calling it the Haitian Vodou Tarot, with the Major Arcana reflecting the Rider-Waite dynamic of an initiate's journey - only in mine, it's about Kanzo (the final initiation in Haitian Vodou and the ordination rites that make one a priest.) I am pretty happy with the Majors here - a few tweaks for color and style, but the images say what I want, and I am grateful to everyone who gave me permission to use their image or photos.

My Minor Arcana is hung on the Qabala, with four elemental association per sphere. And in place of the court cards, I used the Four Elements as nations of West Africa, illustrating the rites related to each one. Simple, right? Wrong.

I am not a 'drawing' artist - I sculpt. I worked as a graphic designer for 30 years, before I hung up my protractor permanently. And these days I am more of an assemblage worker than sculptor, per se. But still, form is my medium, my muse and my focus. Working in visual medium on this deck is a challenge to me - not that I don't like a challenge. I am a Scorpio after all...

But it has been real job finding the images that say what I want to say, and then getting permission to use them or buying the images outright. I've probably spent close to $500 on royalty free images from Deposit Photos and Dreamstime. Excellent sources btw, but still a huge out of pocket expense for a deck that might not be published until next year. I also dug deep into our own national treasure chest known as the Library of Congress. They are amazing folks down in DC - they take online requests, do all the leg work and best of all - it's free! Their online digital collections are extensive, so if anyone is looking for vintage whatever, I heartily suggest checking them out.

And of course, I am writing the essays for each card; a major under taking in and of itself. No deck gets out there today without a book attached, so I am in fact doing two projects at one time. And I just found out I am presenting a panel on Haitian Vodou in the USA at a very prestigious conference in Montreal this fall.  Therefore, I will not be taking on any new work while I dig into these three projects.

But -- I thought I'd give y'all a sneak preview at the Major Arcana images, since I am probably a year from publishing the completed project. Please, any and all comments, criticisms and compliments are welcome at this stage. Just curious what all comes this way. Ayibobo!

No artwork is ever done in a vacuum. Many hands lend ashe to the work. Here are the folks who helped me make my vision a reality:

Photography Credits:
Bon Houngan, Gro Mambo, Tambouye, Possession, Hanged Man, Jete Dlo, Z'twal were photographed by Kirstin Brug
Empress, Emperor, Justice, The Devil, The Tower, Brule Zin, Asogwe Kanzo were photographed by me, Mambo Vye Zo
Suleliye, Leve Kanzo from my private collection of my 2003 Kanzo in Jacmel, Haiti

Composite Photos:
Wheel of Fortune's sugar mill wheel was licensed from Dreamstime, with the Wheel of Fortune's "Elder Mambo" used with permission from the Riguad estate.
The Hierophant is a composite from a photo by Patrick Souvenir (with permission) and background shot in our yard in 2007.
The Lovers is a composite photo with the couple shot by by Jake Price for the Broward News Times (with permission) and our Petro altar shot by me.
Holy Death is a composite photo with the Red Capped Man licensed from Dreamstime and the background Carnival on the street in Jacmel, Haiti, shot by me in 2007.

La Ren Luminiere - TBD

No comments: