I have received today my new deck, the Mountain Dream Tarot. Designed by artist Bea Nettles in the early to mid 70′s, she saw it in a dream. In it, she recreated the images in the Rider-Waite deck, with real people. Back in the so called real world, she set off to do just that, by asking friends to pose for her camera. She re-enacted all 78 cards on black & white photos, between 1970 and 1975. The result is a strange, enigmatic deck where ordinary people in ordinary clothes, or sometimes, in improvised costumes and props that use everyday objects.
The photos are not beautiful in a conventional sense, but their air of urgency and immediacy is very inspiring. The people reenacting the meaning in cards, look like a group of penniless amateur actors rehearsing for a play, or a70′s avant-garde performance or happening. Kings sit on doorsteps with a table cloth for cloak. Knights wear jeans and the Empress, a cheap flowery thrift store gown. But I love the imagery created, because it defines art and also magic: the act of turning the ordinary, into something extraordinary. Curtains become cloaks; a hilly billy in dungarees is the 9 of Cups; Pentacles are food plates with a star painted on them; the man in the 4 of Swords takes a nap on an old couch. Because the cards are not about fantasy realms, but about our current, present circumstances, for ordinary mortals.
The Mountain Dream Tarot is strangely both contemporary and timeless at the same time. It reenacts the narratives in the Tarot in your back garden. Brings the magic into the everyday, and the everyday into the magic realm of art and endless possibilities. Which, in my opinion, is what the Tarot does: offer choice and possibilities that are no airy fairy dreams, but always within your reach.