Oli Starfrosting’s Talisman Tarot: A monoprint tarot inspired by magic, cartomancy, & the Marseille

This is a guest post by artist Oli StarFrosting, who’s new deck, the Talisman Tarot, is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

I chose planographic printmaking as my method because I wanted the cards’ production to enact their power: the cards themselves as stamp & seal, where each cut counts & makes an indelible mark.

Tarot has been experiencing a boom in popularity lately, but to me Tarot transcends trends: it’s about distilling power, clarity, & insight into talismanic images that unlock practical wisdom.

Following up on the success of my Jewitchy deck the Hidden Light Tarot, my new Talisman Tarot deck is inspired by magic, cartomancy, and the Tarot de Marseille.

Channeling blazing emblematic stamps of power via entranced monoprint, pen & ink, & paint, the deck delivers incisive, potent doses of power & discernment.

A queer descendent of the Tarot de Marseille, the Talisman Tarot participates in its iterative tradition – passed down over the past few centuries via woodcut runs, artists’ innovations, & printers’ errors – riffing on the TdM and shooting it through with raw subtle magic & cross-pollinating its visual vocabulary with the straight-shooting language of cartomancy.

Ink sketches for the trump cards.

The trumps began as sigils drawn in pen & ink while in an entranced state. The aim was to allow their powers to come through in a recognizable riff on their established forms, yet with an aleatory looseness doing justice to their numinous arrival. Brought through in inspired ink strokes initially, the cards could then show themselves more fully through the cut & stamp of monotype printmaking.

I chose planographic printmaking as my method because I wanted the cards’ production to enact their power: the cards themselves as stamp & seal, where each cut counts & makes an indelible mark. Though the deck is stylistically unified, attentive eyes will notice some subtle differences as the trumps blaze through cutting their way from ether into ink, the court cards subtly comport themselves according to their station & style, & the pips array the kaleidoscopic ebb & flow of their respective suits.

Blazing portals, the powers of the Talisman Tarot trumps are bold, stark, shining: macrocosmic, archetypal if you’re into that, anchoring you in particular qualitative states if you’d like. But the important thing to remember is that like all powers they are relational, contextual: you read them not by fixed meaning but according to what they’re activating in a particular context, what their power implies there, in this pattern, in this sequence, in response to this articulate or unuttered inquiry. The Talisman Tarot invites you to get to know the trumps as individual, ineluctably relational, powers.

The pips sip from the stream of cartomancy, where suits boil down into black (spades & clubs) & red (hearts & diamonds), court cards boldly figure their constitutive powers, & simple intervals of number account for the incalculable intricacies of lived experience. So the swords & wands are figured in indigo, the cups & coins in ruby red:

The Talisman Tarot folds in cartomantic tradition as a way of honoring the earthy roots of divinatory inquiry. If divination is a practice of discernment, alignment, & attunement, getting good at it entices you to become impeccable, clean, razor’s edge sharp, even if only in that interval of reading. Ultimately the aim is increasingly impeccable action— otherwise, why bother to inquire? The Talisman Tarot invites you to engage divination as a practice of honing practical wisdom.

This deck and accompanying booklet will be crowdfunded so I need your support to bring it to birth! (Possible special bonus goal: a very limited reprint of the Hidden Light Tarot.)

Please contribute as you’re able and spread the word. Support the Talisman Tarot on Kickstarter here!

Oli Starfrosting (photo credit- C.A.S.)