The Spolia Tarot is a collaboration between artist Jen May and Jessa Crispin (author of The Creative Tarot.)
Jen’s work, colorful and earthy, with a feminine vibe and pulling from many historical sources, seemed perfect for a tarot deck. Jessa had been working as a tarot card reader for about six years, and was interested in the history of the deck, the deeper meaning of the imagery, and how the history of not only the tarot but other forms of mysticism and occult study. We thought it would take us about a year to complete. That was three and a half years ago.
Jen works with collage, making the word Spolia appropriate for a title, as it means using rubble as building material. It also felt fitting for the time we are living in, as institutions, gender norms, religions, and ideas about how a society should function are all tumbling down and need to be rebuilt. Jen and Jessa both believe that intuition and spirit are essential tools for guiding us through this process.
“We use images from history, from alchemy and mysticism, from mythology and the natural world to create a lush deck layered with meaning. I have been studying the symbolism of the tarot for years, and we were meticulous about using the colors, flowers, crystals and stones, animals, and other imagery associated with each specific tarot card or its astrological associations.
As one of the decks I learned to read with was a Minchiate, an older Italian deck with 97 cards rather than the more standard 78 card deck, we added a few of the Minchiate’s other cards, like one card for each astrological sign, and one for each of the elements. I find these cards very useful in my readings with clients, and with my own personal readings, and you’ll find instructions on how to use them yourself in the 32 page manual I wrote that is included with the deck.”
- 97-card tarot deck including the 78 ‘standard’ cards, plus the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) and the 12 zodiac signs
- 32-page guidebook
- Presented in a simple custom tuck-box
Content note: As a reviewer below has noted, this deck contains potentially transphobic language in that the term ‘Hermaphrodite’ is used in the description of one card. As the creators explained, this is not intended to symbolise an intersex or genderqueer person, but is a reference to Hermaphroditus in Greek mythology. Though this deck is now discontinued, we are clear that if it were republished in the future, we would request that the creators would either amend the guidebook directly, and/or include a content note to explain the use of the term, allowing customers to make their own decision about whether this deck is right for them.
Who made this deck?
“Spolia Tarot was created in collaboration by Jen May and Jessa Crispin. The guidebook was written by Jessa Crispin, the artwork was done by Jen May, and design was done by Tara Romeo.
The second edition of Spolia Tarot was printed by Hemlock Printers in Burnaby, Canada. We chose to work with Hemlock not only for their high quality printing but also for their focus on environmental sustainability and transparency.” – Jen May