Sunday, November 14, 2010

Science Tarot

My sister-in-law, Terri-Anne, first introduced me to tarot cards. She's really into it, has a few decks & gives me a reading about every 6 months, whenever I'm home. My readings are usually pretty accurate with the situation I'm in at the time, helping to clarify some issues & suggests some directions to take.
So when one of my MSOE team members declared that they were putting together a Science Tarot deck, I just knew I had to get myself one. It came in a few weeks ago. First, I must say, the quality is superb. The box, booklet & deck are all top quality.
The artwork on each card is gorgeous too.
The minor arcana (the suits: wands, pentacles, swords & cups) & the major arcana are each illustrated by different artists:
Now that alone would be pretty awesome, but there's way more to this deck than that. There's a whole story behind the deck that makes it pretty amazing. Each of the 4 suits tells an individual tale but when you put them together, you get the big picture.

Let me try to explain...

For each suit, there are 10 cards (Ace to 10) plus the 4 face cards (page, knight, queen & king). The 10 cards tell a story using a typical plot found in the myths & fables of most cultures: "the hero's journey." Step 1 is a call to adventure, step 4 is the threshold marking the beginning of the adventure, step 8 is using knowledge gained to defeat the dragon, & so on. In this way, the 10 steps or cards brings us along a journey of scientific discovery.

The face cards are leading scientists in the field (each suit deals with different fields of science): the page is an explorer, the knight an innovator, the queen a storyteller & the king is a visionary. Each of these face cards is associated with a symbolic neurotransmitter that chemically represents its personality (the page is dopamine, the knight is serotonin, the queen is oxytocin & the king is testosterone) - the chemical structure of these transmitters are incorporated into the artwork on the cards!

We start with the suit of wands:
This suit is the story of creation: it tells of the formation of stars, using concepts in astronomy & cosmology.

The next suit is the suit of pentacles:
Pentacles are about exchange: they tell the story of the formation of planets through molecules. This suit incorporates ideas from chemistry & geology.

We then move on to swords:
This is a suit of observation - from matter emerges consciousness. This incorporates physics, mathematics & the scientific methods: ways we observe & try to explain our world.

This suit has some of my favourite artwork:

Finally we end with the cups:
This suit is one of integration. This suit deals with biology & ecology, exploring how we interact with the world.

So as you can see, each suit tells its own story, but together, they tell us how the world was formed: from the big bang to evolution. Each topic was picked carefully & thoughtfully. Definitely a huge undertaking for these scientists / artists!

Now let's take a look at the major arcana. In the typical tarot deck, these are people / concepts, such as the lovers, the hermit, the sun, the star, etc. Each one has been carefully associated with a powerful & significant scientific moment or story in this science deck:
So for example, the wheel of fortune becomes Schrödinger's cat (a thought experiment on quantum theory) & judgement is natural selection (the ultimate judge). The fool? He's the student.

As you can see, there's a lot more to this deck than just a few pretty pictures of scientists! Each concept was carefully chosen to reflect the original deck & tell us science's story. This deck is definitely an heirloom work of art & so much more. I know I'll be turning to it again & again over the years, discovering something new each time.


Jill said...

Wow, this is an awesome deck!!!

Nicole's Homemade Treats...The Blog said...

How wonderful - the artwork is awesome!

Katherine said...

I'm a Tarot fiend as well and about made a mess in my pants when I saw it. Could you link to the shop, please? I don't know if I can go and find the right thread again!

Amanda said...

there isn't anything in shop right now, but here's the link (it was hidden in text at the beginning):

Katherine said...

Oh! I should learn to read. I swear I looked up and down for a link and couldn't see one. ;-; Gracias!