Behind the Scenes of the Snowland Deck - Wilson Bentley's Snowflakes
Writing Advice (and Writer Quirks!) from Chris Brogan

Tarot is Broken and How the Snowland Deck Hacks Tarot

To Hack
2. To break up the surface of (soil).
3. a. Informal To alter (a computer program)
b. To gain access to (a computer file or network) illegally or without authorization

When it comes to Tarot, let's not confuse obscure for profound, nor historical minutia for depth.

But, confused it has been.

In fact, one could argue that Tarot is broken.

Judging from all the questions I've fielded over the last decade and all the frustration I've seen over understanding Tarot cards, it would seem that something is broken...and it's not the valiant efforts of the newbie.

Broken carIf Tarot is a symbolic vehicle for navigating life, understanding ourselves and illuminating answers...then why can't most people get in the damn car and drive it? I'll tell you why: the "car" of Tarot has built-in planned obsolescence that requires the "driver" to continuously "buy parts" (Tarot books), get it "serviced" (pay lots of $ for someone to teach the cards) or trade it in for a newer model ad infinitum (endless deck buying). 

Seekers look at Tarot cards and have no idea what they're looking at, especially if they're using the popular Rider-Waite Tarot or the Thoth Tarot. Why? Because the creators tried to make the images enigmatic and esoteric for their respective "special" groups (Golden Dawn and A∴A∴). Sorta like how the Catholic church kept the mass in Latin for so long so the masses couldn't get their hands on scripture to learn, and understand, for themselves. 

It is high time to bring Tarot out of dry, confusing esoterica. To yank it off the dark Kabbalistic alleyways, snatch it from the astrological heavens, rescue it from decrepit "scholars" who can't see past Gabelin's pseudonym, Uncle Al's cobbled world view or Pixie's backside. 

Censorship smallerIt's time to depict what Tarot cards REALLY mean. And that's what we set out to do with our Snowland Deck.

Considering the plethora of Rider-Waite-Smith clones, one has to wonder if that kind of hacking poses a threat not only to Tarot institutions, but also to the revered authors and deck creators/illustrators whose obfuscation has been confused with profundity.

With our Snowland Deck, Ron and I "hacked" the Tarot to make it accessible for everyone.

Instead of enigmatic images shown in the popular Rider-Waite and Thoth decks, our cards actually PORTRAY what the cards mean. For example, the 6 of Cups card in the Rider-Waite shows an elfin boy giving a little girl flowers in a garden. Traditional meanings ascribed to this card are "nostalgia" and "blast from the past"...but nothing in that image indicates this! This is true for MOST of the images in traditional Rider-Waite style Tarot decks.

But in our Snowland Deck, the 6 of Cups shows an elderly grandmother leafing through a sepia photo album while a child points at the pictures. We SHOW "nostalgia"! This is just one example of how we hacked the images.
Joseph Campbell did tremendous work on the power of myth and the Hero's Journey. Myths and archetypes are central to storytelling, and storytelling is a powerful way to unlock your innate intuitive and psychic abilities. In fact, universal symbols ARE psychic short-cuts, which is why Tarot and oracle decks are such powerful tools. (Make no mistake: powerful universal symbols that dot literature, music, art and culture aren't the same as esoteric symbols created by a few--for a few--just to have a secret, little, special group).

And this, dear reader, is why we wanted to set Tarot free with our
Snowland DeckIt's why we've purposely embedded SEVERAL of these powerful UNIVERSAL, modern symbols in EACH card: to facilitate  YOUR brainstorming, creativity, communication, psychic ability and search for answers.

Stories help us make sense out of life, as well as understand ourselves and others.

Commander Cropped 300Here's another example from our deck. In our Commander card, aka The Emperor in most Tarot decks, we show a blocky ice general sitting on a recliner with a remote nearby. He's being held up by an "army" of snowmen, while pointing straight ahead. The recliner and remote are symbolic shortcuts to "armchair quarterbacks", those guys who yell at the TV and think they can do it better...all while sitting on their butts.

Like a general, our icy commander uses the strength of others to his own benefit, much like business owners do with their employees. We chose to make him "square" because he's often resistant to change...a true "square". He likes things neat and tidy, and relishes containment, organization and boundaries. Fences.

He is partially in gray because gray is made up of black and white; The Commander (bureaucrat, institution, authority figure--insert your own term for "father archetype") has a very limited color palette. It's either/or, my way/highway. There are no "legitimate" outside options because The Commander can't see the rest of the color spectrum.

Until the lightning hits...

Emperor Cropped 250Oh, and the above? Pretty much in line with the meaning of the traditional, Rider-Waite Emperor card. But you wouldn't glean all that from just looking at the Rider-Waite image. What's he look like, you may wonder? ::points to the right::

Could you get those meanings from that static image? I didn't think so.

In conclusion, Ron and I have broken up the dry, inscrutable, dusty surface of Tarot--admittedly, riddled with perplexing symbols intended to make you think you're in deep territory, hopelessly lost--and dug until we got into the dark, rich, fertile soil teeming with life and ready for our storytelling seeds to be planted.

We didn't need the permission of the ATA or Aeclectic Tarot or anyone else to create our groundbreaking deck. We went through the back door and picked ourselves. We didn't need their Emperor-like authorization.

Do you want to understand Tarot? Unlock your innate intuitive abilities? Understand yourself and the world around you? Brainstorm more possibilities? Consider more options?

Then get out of the broken vehicle that's Tarot, grab a watering can and order our Snowland Deck so you may grow in wisdom and understanding. Visit to begin your adventure.


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