One of my favorite tarot decks is the Full Moon Dreams Tarot by Lunaea Weatherstone. The images are collages that Lunaea created, and what I love most are the contemporary figures she chose to include.
Take the four kings in the deck, for instance.
Joseph Campbell is the King of Air, the suit that represents thought, reason, and intellect. But Joseph Campbell was not just a scholar; he was a man who thought deeply about how we think about ourselves and see ourselves. He was a man whose intellect was used in service to humanity. He was an excellent listener and a fascinating person to listen to. He was inquisitive and insightful, and his mind was open to a wide range of possibilities.
I’m not sure if the King of Fire (the suit of intuition, energy, creativity, and passion) is Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart or William Wallace as portrayed by Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Both are known as men of passion, fiercely dedicated to their chosen work. Each is renowned for fearlessly pursuing his vision and bringing enormous energy and creativity to bear in that pursuit.
The King of Water (the suit of feeling, sensitivity, empathy, and compassion) is the Dalai Lama. Although he is a deeply caring person, he is also a self-contained and disciplined person. Emotion does not rule him or seem to run amok with him; his heart is balanced. He does not indulge in cheap and easy sentimentality, choosing instead a more difficult path of compassionate service to others and the world.
The King of Earth (suit of all things physical, sensual, and structural) is Henry J. Wilcox of Howard’s End, as portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins. Sir Anthony often plays characters who find their identity in place or station, as servants, land owners, patriarchs, etc. Henry Wilcox represents a material and physical existence that arises from and is deeply rooted in connection: to property, work, family, and society.
Finding these familiar, and in some sense beloved, faces on the cards makes them more intimate and immediate because they are more than archetypes: they are real people, with whom I associate memories and events in my own life. Working with them is like running into old friends — I’m delighted and often surprised, I thoroughly enjoy the ensuing conversation, and I always come away with the feeling that I have met something of myself in them.
(All images from the Full Moon Dreams Tarot by Lunaea Weatherstone, 2005.)