Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Misha Huntting | American Obscura Tarot | Page of Swords

I came across this deck via Stephanie Arwen Lynch's blog (which you can find down there on the right hand side amongst the other great Tarot blogs on m'blog roll).

Intrigued by the dark imagery in the deck, I thought I'd get the deck's creator, Misha Huntting, to tell us alllllll about how the deck came to be.

Sooooooo, first of all, tell me a little about your Tarot background ;-)

Well a lot of it has to do with family influence to begin with. My great grandmother was an automatic writer and an influential member of the spiritualist community a long time ago. My aunt Yana attended a metaphysical school in San Francisco in the 70s and began to read tarot and give astrological readings professionally. My mother is also a wonderful tarot reader too. I became interested and starting reading tarot around the age of 12 for other kids at school and myself.

Tarot's clearly in your DNA!

What inspired you to create this particular deck?

Well the theme of my multi-media artwork had been, for quite a while, Americana-themed with disturbing and familiar themes and while I was at a vending event, vending my art, a friend who owns a local shop had said in passing that I should make a tarot deck and it just sparked off so many ideas. It seemed incredibly appropriate for me considering my background and every time I thought of a card I could think of a theme that all fit along a dark Americana theme and it got me really excited. 

I love underbelly American history and off beat Americana folk lore and thought the theme was just begging to be introduced into tarot. I love tarot, but I have trouble relating to the themes and artwork of most decks and wanted a gritty, more cut and dry and honest interpretation. I also feel that it could ensnare a lot of new comers to tarot that might have not liked tarot when there was so much emphasis on themes they didn't find particularly easy to relate to.

Note from Alison:  In a previous chat with Barbara Moore about her forthcoming Steampunk Tarot, I asked her about her Page of Swords.  I thought that I'd keep that theme going with Misha too, demonstrating how looking at different Tarot decks can add depth and timbre to your existing interpretations of particular Tarot courts.

This particular court card, the Page of Swords, is blindfolded and a knife-thrower's small assistant! Tell me how you arrived at this image for her.

I got the idea from an old newsreels. I had certain themes before I started that I really wanted to touch on in the deck such as, the circus. I think the traveling circus is an important part of American Culture. So basically the process begins with the spark of an idea and then a lot of research into the idea until it begins to either click for the card meaning and theme or it doesn't and I move onto another idea. After a lot of research for this piece and even buying a set of tossing knives, (which I intend to learn how to use someday! once I have time), I thought it was a theme that fit well with the swords and pages. 

Why did you decide to go for unillustrated pip cards?


To be honest I started to and then figured out how long each piece takes me and I knew that it wouldn't be possible to complete in under 10 years. I completed the deck in 3 years, quit my job the last year and did nothing but. It started out of necessity but to be honest, after bouncing it off of some other people and seeing how my designer, Christa Harden, put together the pips. I like it better, it's more classic and old fashioned to me. It can be harder to memorize the meaning with them that way but I think it's been a healthy challenge for me because I need to really concentrate on the meaning of the suit and number. 


Tell me a bit about your court cards - the Pages are all girls - why did you make them all female?

Well it wasn't really about being female as much as young. As I said, the Page of Swords was inspired by a newsreel I had seen with someone tossing knives at their little daughter for a circus act. I had already created 2 pieces that fit perfectly into the Page of Coins and the Page of Cups and they were both little girls, so for the last piece I made the page of wands an 11 year old girl. I knew that I wanted the point to be that they were young and new to the world but I think I also wanted to capture that youthful excitement and loneliness that comes with being a kid and how many things you learn on your own, on runs to the store or a rickedy playground. It was just kind of a subconscious action that I realized later was probably me, relating to being a kid as well as relating to what the Pages mean to me. If you look at pictures of me as a little kid they look a lot like the pages haha! Not sure I meant to do that. 

Did that change impinge upon the general structure of your court?


Not really. When I was deciding what my spin was going to be along my theme I had envisioned, innocents as the pages and it just made sense to me. It also felt more balanced with the Knights and Kings also being men. 

How do you describe your Page of Swords in your LWB?

The art of knife throwing was introduced in the American Circus around 1870 and was featured in Buffalo Bill's wild west show among others. Competition was fierce with performers always trying to out do one another. One innovation was called "The Spinning Wheel of Death" where a person was strapped to the middle of a spinning wheel while knives were tossed at them, others used children to stand in the target to increase audience tension.

The Page of Swords has a resourceful and detached personality. To allow someone to throw knives at you while barely breaking a sweat takes focus and determination. Keep cool under pressure and trust in your courageous personality. Reversed, this card means that you may be lacking focus and not ready for what is coming your way. 




You can find out more about Misha and her art at: http://theartofmishahuntting.weebly.com/american-obscuratarot-deck.html

2 comments:

  1. Excellent interview. I really love this deck. Just had it in my hands this morning in fact. I like the continuation of the Page of Swords exploration as well. Nice continuity, Ms. A!

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks to both of you for posting about my deck! :) much appreciated

    ReplyDelete

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