Emotional Flashcards: Creation Story

In the Beginning There Was Anxiety

The creation of the Emotional Flahscards deck, an alternative interpretation of the major arcana of the tarot, has essentially been a process for me to work through the stress and confusion generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. During March of 2020, as the threat of the global Covid-19 pandemic became a reality, I found I was unable to focus on the creative work I had before me at the time. This created a kind of Catch-22 loop: I was stressed and anxious, and needed to spend time on creative projects to engage with the healing flow state of creativity, but I was too stressed and anxious to focus enough to engage with the healing flow state of creativity. We were all there, in that dog-chasing-tail reality, in one way or another. Even now, those feelings still linger.

What I found was that I was able to work out some of this stressful creative conundrum by making small paintings about what I was feeling. I had done two or three of these paintings earlier, which involved identifying a feeling I was experiencing, naming it, and then allowing an image to come into my mind to illustrate the feeling. Since my early pandemic experience was all about these types of raw emotions, I started working again in this way, without any specific plan, creating a series of images I referred to collectively as Emotional Flashcards. Instead of learning my multiplication tables as I had as a child, I thought I could use these flashcards to learn how to navigate my emotions.

Once a few of these images gathered together as finished paintings, I started noticing some similarity in the themes of my paintings with the archetypes present in the major arcana of the tarot. These little forays into my subconscious were spontaneously coalescing themselves into a set of tarot majors while I was busy soothing myself with thoughts of color and line and watercolor effects. With this realization, I made a thin outline of a plan, careful to avoid left-braining myself away from what was magical about this process. I then set about pulling the remaining paintings out of the dark corners of my emotional mind to form an alternative take on the themes of the tarot.

This project was an enormous help for me – the combination of exploring and naming my feelings, the creative outlet, and the process of embodying the archetypes of the tarot – all helped me manage the many stresses of the pandemic. The project gave me a grounding I needed, and an outlet for processing some of my feelings about this global tragedy.

I painted these images as they came to me, in a range of styles and a variety of materials. Collectively, they are varied and eclectic, but in the interest of just letting this series of paintings emerge I allowed each image to find its own visual representation rather than worrying about creating a collection of stylistically similar images. This is something completely out of my comfort zone, but the pandemic essentially eroded any ideas I had about what I considered my comfort zone, so it was easier to just let this set of images have its way.

Creating the artwork for these cards helped me process some of these emotions, and working with the painted cards in my tarot practice extended that effect in ways I never imagined. I was inspired to take the leap, of the Blue Jay feather floating into the unknown, and I have turn these images into an actual usable printed deck of cards. Now I am able to share these cards with you, and it is my hope that they are as helpful to you as they have been to me.

This creation story starts with In the beginning there was anxiety, but happily, it doesn’t end that way. That is the magic of the tarot, providing us with intuitive symbols as tools to access and understand the swirling mystery of our own inner process. It is my privilege to be able to share that process with you through the Emotional Flashcards deck.

You can purchase the Emotional Flashcards tarot majors deck on the Ninth Wave Designs Etsy shop by clicking HERE. Thank you!