Although snow, ice, frost, frigid temperatures and Northern Hemisphere winters underscore our Snowland Deck, make no mistake: there’s some heat in this deck!
Such heat manifests in a steaming train funnel (The Train, aka The Chariot), bright theater lights (The Sun), a fiery arm melted through truce (10 Mental, aka 10 of Swords) and the cozy fireplace behind two intimate mugs (2 Emoting, aka 2 of Cups).
Yet, the churning heat that fuels passionate action, ambition, self-propulsion, vocational fervor and willpower resides most powerfully in the Energy Suit of the Snowland Deck (aka Wands), which I associate with the element of—surprise, surprise—Fire.
In the Snowland Ace of Wands, no mere stick is offered to our snowman cowboy. I mean, what can you do with a mere stick? No siree, a bona fide lighted match extends from the cosmic cloud. Even better, the cowboy has a tidy, prepared circle of stacked wood, ready for a bonfire—as well as a bag of marshmallows, with one already on the stick, just waiting for roasting!
Aces favor the prepared and ready.
If not, the hand from the clouds extending a gift is usually met with surprise, doubt and fear. The hand retracts, the potential is lost, and you don’t move onto the 2s.
Speaking of Tarot’s 2s, our Energy 2 card depicts the numerological effect of when the “other” is introduced to the single. In combination with the fiery, willful Energy suit, we see a literal “butting of heads”—in the Snowland Deck’s case, two macho, albeit purely instinctual, bighorn sheep. During mating season, the strongest, most dominant males vie for the right to the females. These aggressive rituals find the rams charging at one another at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. In fact, the resultant clash may be heard up to a mile (1.6 km) away from the clash site.
As humans, when faced with an aggressive other—or, perhaps, with interested onlookers rooting for a fight amid a proving ground—what do we do? How do we engage the “other”, while still maintaining our sense of Self? What might happen if we lock horns? Will there be collateral damage…and at what cost?
Moving on to the 3 Energy card, we chose a different take on the “waiting for your ship to come in” theme—although it’s still present within the ship in a bottle. Inspired by the song “Message in a Bottle” by The Police, Ron painted a bass player singing at the North Pole, aided by a magical amplifier. The 3s of Tarot are an amplifying, multiplying energy. Beyond the clash of the 2, the energy has successfully mated into a new creation. Unlike the rams in the 2, this musical artist doesn’t need an audience to belt out a tune or showcase his talent.
The masses tend to reward art when the artist isn’t paying attention—or when rewards don’t matter. And so, thousands of messages wash upon the North Pole shore. Many heard his broadcast…and responded.
Numerological, the 4s are stable, even sedate. The number 4 corrals, fences, organizes and subdivides. So what happens when you combine the harnessing of the 4 with the vigor of the Energy suit? Contained heat! The most obvious symbol of contained heat (and light) is a house. When we put a bunch of houses together, we have a community. This microcosm serves as a playground for personality clashes, neighborly intrigue, warm greetings, holiday gatherings, social events and more. Thus, we chose a rustic, old-fashioned town for our 4 Energy card.
Moving on to the decidedly unstable 5s, I’m reminded of a familiar saying here in the United States: “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” This phrase points to the fine line between horseplay—rambunctious fun—and injury, offense and hurt feelings. The Snowland Deck’s 5 Energy card takes place in Japan, and depicts a snowball fight in progress. Looking closer at the image, we see a snowball headed right for the ear of an unsuspecting boy who’s loaded up with his own about-to-be thrown snowballs. In the workplace or at school, the equivalent of this image might be good natured teasing, practical jokes and repartee that, if not kept in check, could quickly escalate into embarrassment, intimidation or even bullying.
The 6 of Wands card often translates into victory and triumph, so for our 6 Energy card, we chose a triumphant gingerbread man, thrilled to bits that his gingerbread house has won first place in a competition, signified by a blue ribbon. In modern times, we don’t often have victorious leaders parading into a town with laurel wreaths atop their heads—but winners and champions? Ah, yes…that we recognize!
A fierce-looking blue Yeti towers above a cliff, while a hapless hiker holds on for dear life in the 7 Energy card. Brutal winds and snow buffet him, and the rock he’s clinging to is breaking. Is the “abominable snowman” a friend or foe? After all, his hand is extended. The hiker experiences a literal Catch-22: he’s caught between a (crumbling) rock and a hard place! Will the hiker trust this creature, despite appearances? Could he be a “friend in high places”? How much of our struggle is a matter of perception and assumption?
In the Energy 8 card, Ron decided on a young Buffalo Bill during his Pony Express years. Because the 8 of Wands often indicates speed and quick messages, what better way to depict these meanings for the Snowland Deck than via a dedicated young rider delivering mail during the mid-1800s in wintry conditions?
The Energy 9 card was inspired by a true story of prisoners escaping the horrific Soviet Gulag in an arduous trek spanning from Siberia to India (and the movie The Way Back). It’s a card of grueling circumstances, survival, endurance and perseverance. Life hardships may “beat” us in various ways, leaving us rough for the wear. Out of sheer survival instinct, the passionate desire for something better, or because of the encouragement of other travelers—we make the final push. Yet, we’ll never be the same as we were going in.
The 10s indicate the fulfillment of a suit. When pairing the 10 with the powerful Energy suit, we become overloaded. Burdened, tired and stressed, we face a choice: carry that bundle of sticks to our destination…or just dump them on the ground, counting our losses. In the Snowland Deck version of this card, we chose to embed several hopeful symbols in an otherwise “maxed out” card. A Tibetan woman is greeted by a boy with a prayer wheel. Is he praying for her? Offering her the prayer wheel? Is prayer and appropriate response to her burden when he could just as easily grab a few of those sticks off her back? On the other hand, why doesn’t the woman just add her load to the yak’s? Perhaps she’s made a special pilgrimage and the wood signifies far more than “just” a bundle of sticks.
So it is when faced with our own workaholic tendencies, shouldering of burdens and need for blessed relief.
In our Snowland Deck, we decided to call the Court Cards “Approach Cards”. Depicting figures from history, mythology and literature, these ones exemplify a specific approach to life. The Pages become Youth, Knights become Questers, Queens become Nurturers and Kings become Directors.
The Youth Energy card shows the Little Match Girl, the character from Hans Christian Anderson’s heartbreaking tale of the same name. This is a card of optimism, hope and innocence—of looking towards the light and longing for heaven. Although the girl perishes in the story, she is ushered into the Other Side—finally reunited with her beloved grandmother and freed from the cold, abusive environment, stepfather, society and peers that shamed, hurt, taunted or ignored her.
For our Quester Energy card, we chose Australia’s Sir Hubert Wilkins. Although New Zealand’s Sir Edmund Hillary may be more familiar, we chose Sir Hubert Wilkins as our fiery “knight”, largely because he was more accomplished. A true Renaissance Soul, Wilkins was a photographic correspondent, an aeronautic pioneer, naturalist, polar submarine explorer and consultant on arctic problems for the U.S. Army. He was knighted in 1928 for making a 2,100-mile flight from North American to the European Polar regions—largely over unexplored Arctic waters.
Lucia, also known as St. Lucy, graces the Snowland Deck’s Nurturer Energy card. Her tale is one of internal power, self-trust and clarity of vision. Dedicated to a virginal life, she refused to marry her unwanted suitor. Differing legends surround Lucia, but the one we chose to depict involves her gouging out her eyes as an offering. We see this as symbolic of a more powerful sight: that of the “inner eye” or Third Eye. Appearing to be made of flames, Lucia is a Way Shower that overcomes darkness, encourages purity and trusts clairvoyance. In many ways, she exemplifies the power of a Light Worker.
Lastly, we come to our Director Energy card, the literary great Charles Dickens. What some may not know is that in addition to being a renowned storyteller, Dickens was also an orator, publisher, social activist and philanthropist. When the Directing energy combines with the fiery Energy suit, we have a self-made person who channels passion into the arts, as well as towards the betterment of humankind’s state. Dickens did those things not only in his stories—that highlighted both social injustice and humanity’s capability for extraordinary kindness—but also through his public speeches, activism and philanthropy.
I hope you enjoyed this tour through the Snowland Deck’s Energy Suit, and found yourself warmed by the thought, attention to detail and passion we’ve put into our cards.
The Snowland Deck is a co-creation between the husband and wife team of Janet Boyer (Back in Time Tarot; Tarot in Reverse; Naked Tarot; 365 Tarot) and Ron Boyer. Ron painted each image on specially prepared, hand-cut, sanded wood boards using gesso and then acrylic paints. To find out more information about the Snowland Deck, including how to order it, please visit SnowlandDeck.com.