- Jordyn Schwersky -
Mystic Sister: Did you two know each other before starting this deck, or did you meet when you decided to make the deck? If you didn't know each other beforehand, how did you get together?
Mesquite Tarot: We actually met as housemates, strangers sharing space. We became friends pretty quickly and our morning coffee rituals in the house began to include tarot and conversation about the cards. As our personal tarot practices continued to develop, we noticed a lot of the symbolism and thematic content of the cards spilling into our writing and illustration, and into our friendship. The house became a little den of tarot talks, books, drawings. One of our housemates made a comment about how we should make a deck. At first, we laughed it off. As more time passed though, so much of our energy was drawn in that direction, we felt motivated to speak up and form our collective voice in the tarot conversation.
MS: How did you decide to make this deck? How did the project begin?
MT: We spent a few months exploring ideas and nurturing the little sprout of an idea. It was slow going at first, we were trying to find balance between our work-lives/needing to pay the bills and wanting to spend all our time working on tarot. We realized pretty quickly that if we really wanted to make this happen, we were going to have to get serious about it—and find a way to make it possible financially. We were in the yard of the abandoned house next door, reading cards under the mesquite tree and talking. Bronwyn shared the idea of using Kickstarter as a tool for funding the publishing; the idea that there was a path to making our deck manifest was super energizing. I think that was the moment we really began in earnest.
MS: There are so many different evolutions of the tarot out there. What defines yours?
MT: One of our favorite aspects of the tarot tradition is that there isn’t a singular definitive way to use or interpret it. We love that there’s room for so many incarnations of tarot and we felt drawn to making one that condensed the layers of meaning into welcoming images and descriptions. We also wanted to make a deck that felt relevant to people who don't necessarily relate to the imagery or literal interpretations found in more traditional decks. In short: a deck that feels soft, fresh, and simple; one that extends meaning to the physical, the energetic, and the unconscious planes of experience.
MS: Talk a little about the artistic style of your deck. Why was a more minimalist approach important to you?
MT: Our day to day life, like most people’s, is full of stimulation. We’re subjected to kaleidoscopes of advertising, technology, information—it’s a lot to process and often it can be overwhelming. We want Mesquite to be a space for people to give themselves permission to take a few minutes—to close the screen and hold something in their hands, to open the pages of an actual book. Mesquite is an invitation to find silence and stillness, to turn an ear inward. We wanted the visuals, the words, the presentation to hold space for that simplicity.
MS: Where did the name for the deck come from?
MT: We wanted our deck to have roots. Like all creations, we are a product of our place and time, and we created our name to reflect our connection to nature, to our community here in Austin, and to the moments of inspiration we spent under the mesquite tree in dappled light dreaming and blooming ideas. The more we learned about the tree itself and the ways in which it’s used, the more resonant a symbol it became. Mesquite cultivates deep taproots, healing qualities, softness, tenacity, and resilience.
MS: What do you hope people experience when they use your deck?
MT: One of the most exciting aspects of creating the Mesquite deck and guidebook is knowing that when we send them off into the world, they will live so many lives, find new homes, mean different things to different people. It’s beautiful: We’ll never know the stories they will tell or the connections they will provide. That being said, it’s our hope that people will experience a sense of integration when they use the deckthat they will feel clear relative to their own intuition and knowingness. We hope that Mesquite practitioners might see themselves with compassion and go on to extend that same understanding to others.