Hmmm, I knew one day I'd be held to account for all my deviations from the RWS symbolism
Golden Tarot was never intended to be a Golden Dawn deck. I'm not a member of that or any other esoteric group. I have always used the RWS deck but like most people, I've used only the symbolism that seemed relevant to my personal interpretation of each card, and ignored that which meant nothing to me.
When building the publishable version of Golden, I did research every card pretty thoroughly, and in particular the RWS symbolism. I then decided on the relative importance of each symbol to my personal interpretation of the card.
Now, if it had been easy to find ALL of these symbols, I probably would have included them. After all, their presence never bothered me in the RWS deck, so why not toss 'em in - they'll mean something to someone. There was the occassional exception to this - cards that I've changed completely, but those were very rare (eg, Death).
Aaaanyways, so if there were say ten or twenty identifiable symbols in a card, I'd start sifting through my source material looking for those items. Eg for the Emperor, there's a nice little summary of symbols at:
Often I couldn't find the more obscure esoteric symbols within the sources I limited myself to. The artworks I used were largely Christian, and so it would have been pretty difficult to find, say, Egyptian symbols. This didn't bother me hugely, as I figure the whole spin of Tarot being a 'secret book' from Ancient Egypt may have been believed in 1910 but not today. And not in the Renaissance. So a lot of Egyptian type symbolism got dropped for my deck.
Another factor was that I wanted to get in specific themes that were key to the period of art I used. Part of my motivation in making the deck was to promote International Gothic and early Renaissance Art - so themes like the Garden of Eden, the Nativity, God creating the animals, the death of Mary, Satan with a face on his belly - these images were popular recurring themes in the art of the time, and relevant (I felt) to tarot in terms of being universal (western) archetypes.
The Emperor was along those lines. Classical imagery was very popular, and there were quite a few images of Roman emperors. When I saw the painting of Caesar, I thought "That's it!". I didn't care that he didn't have a beard, that he was in profile. I felt that the very essence of what the Emperor card meant to me was expressed by an image of Caesar. Especially when it wa such a pretty painting, with that nice gold tunic
I also thought that by making him look like a (Roman) Emperor, it might be less confusing for beginners, as the RWS Emperor looks quite like a King to me - especially since he's holding things that could be confused with a coin & wand.
So, having decided upon the Caesar thing, that affected the rest of the symbolism. The eagle was a very Roman symbol of power, as it is today for Americans.
I wanted the scene to look less rustic than the original, hence the interior and ornate gilded dais instead of a rough stone one.
I still have mountains (out the window), an orb and sceptre... there are *some* similarities there.
The rams were a Golden Dawn symbol, and although there are certainly a lot of sheep in the period of artwork I used, none looked particularly commanding if you know what I mean. They all seemed to soften the masculinity of the card. Perhaps I should have looked harder for a majestic, macho ovine?
And the lion... Lions are a common symbol of regality in so many cultures. Kings of the jungle (or savannah at least) and all that. It seemed right to include one on this card. My family name was Lyon, too, so I've included quite a few of them when I thought it appropriate
I simply can`t wait for my deck to arrive! I`ve admired what you`ve been doing for a long time now and had actually forgotten to keep checking when I got published. This deck looks so beautiful and the fact that it`s a readable deck is a huge bonus
Can I ask you to give us some details on your next one?
I`m sure I read that you were doing another somewhere.
Geesh, people buy Golden and get bored of it so quickly they want me to do another deck straight away? *grin*
Yes, I'm probably doing another deck. I probably shouldn't say too much, especially considering my long history of being pirated... so what can I safely say I wonder?
I haven't actually started it yet, although I intend to at least have a fiddle about over the 2 week teaching break I have over Easter, that should help me to clarify just what's going to be possible. The limitations are largely based on the availability of suitable material at high enough resolution.
I guess I can say that it will be a lot like Golden, but in some ways more so (if that makes sense?). I want there to be a lot of symbolism, a lot of detail.
I want it to be similar to RWS, and already I've taken on board Mary K Greer's suggestions that a couple of my cards lost a bit of the feeling of RWS: eg, She said my 9 of Wands guy looks 'too laid back' - quite true, he doesn't have that nervous tension of the sideways-looking guy in Pamela Colman Smith's card.
I think I've pretty much exhausted the source material from the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, so my next deck will be based on the High Renaissance. This will give me much more material to work with, and I *might* even be able to get a bit of a theme in there. I'm saying no more about that until I've got a contract to publish it though
Another thing I'm looking forward to with the later period is to use more material from the Northern Renaissance - Dutch, Flemish, German etc. There's a lot of dark stuff there, and also a wider range of themes, it's not all narrow biblical and/or classical Roman themes as it is in much of the Italian material. For example, the Dutch and Flemish seem to have no problem putting cats into paintings. I love cats (of course) but it was SO hard to find any to use in the period of my Golden Tarot - I guess because of the connection with witchcraft? So I'd be very happy if I can find more secular material to use.
Once I've worked on a few images, I'll put in a proposal to the Publishers and see what they reckon. I guess it depends on how well the sales of Golden are going. I'm sure that they're pleased it's getting such positive reviews etc, but at the end of the day it has to sell lots of copies to justify their investment. I'm sure it was an expensive deck to produce compared with a 'typical' deck, and if I do another one it's going to be along the same lines. I don't know if they want another production headache like Golden! You wouldn't believe what US Games went through to produce the deluxe set that's (finally) made it to market.
So, there *may* be another Kat Black deck. I'd love to do one, to correct the things I feel I got a bit wrong, to source better quality digitised images so my collage work is all as seamless as possible, and also to give myself a wider range of source material to draw from. But I'd only want to do it if I could do it well (ie, at publishable resolution) and to do that, I'd need to get another publishing deal and take time off work.
I absolutely LOVED the process of making Golden. I was so obsessive about it - worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, but was as happy as a pig in poo. Now I have a partner, I don't know if he'll be too happy if I work those sort of hours - perhaps we'll collaborate, though. He's a computer geek artist too
If it happens, it wouldn't be available for ages though. I'd take about 4-6 months to make it (fulltime, with 2 of us working on it) and then it would probably take at least a year to get produced. Golden took almost 2 years after handover, but let's assume some of those teething problems wouldn't happen again.
Thanks to us Aecletians, I'm assuming, they must've run dry at Amazon because my shipping was delayed! (sniff)
RetroKat: I've been a frequent visitor to your site, and I totally see the symbolism you've opted for. My 2 pents )) is that your deck doesn't have to be an exact reflection of RWS...isn't that the whole point of having gazillions of decks on the market? RWS might be the most familiar and I appreciate that you haven't strayed too far from it, yet, I've got nearly every version of RWS heretofore recolored...if I want to read with those, I will, if I want to read your version, there you are! I do see the Visconti influence, which is another thing I really appreciate. It fills the gap between RWS and my other fave, the Old English Tarot AND Visconti...so covering these all is WONDERFUL!
Oooo hopefully it will show up in my mailbox soon!