The journey of the tarot teaches us that everything in life is cyclical. The Wheel of Fortune turns and turns again, and everything old is renewed. This can be said of many things; fashion, art, spiritual practices, political ideas. Drawing inspiration from the past is nothing new. Most beautiful pieces of art made by humanity have drawn inspiration from something that came before. The Pagan Otherworlds Tarot deck continues this long tradition, gathering inspiration from Renaissance paintings while adding their own special twist.
Many of us know the basic overview of the European Renaissance, but I think sometimes we forget just how influential this period was on art. This time sought to gain back what was lost from the Classical period during the Dark Ages, and innovate on top of that. While often painters would include subjects from the myths of Classical Rome and Greece; Danae and Perseus, Zeus, Venus; they developed new techniques to create these masterpieces. Oil paints are thought to have been developed by Buddhist artists in Afghanistan, but the Renaissance (or Flemish Primitive, depending on the art historian you ask) artist Jan Van Eyck developed entirely new ways to use them.
Because oil paint dries very slowly and can be blended out, it opened up many possibilities for sixteenth century painters to come. Oil paint can be laid on in a thick, wide layer; it can be used for fine, tiny details. It can be sheered out to suggest a hazy light in a room, it can help create depth of field. Oil paints can also mimic different textures far better than the previous favored medium, egg tempera. Now it was possible to paint anything from velvet, to jewels, to glistening armor. This allowed for faces, fashions, architecture, items of adornment, and many other things to be immortalized in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before.
While there are many technical aspects to what made the Renaissance so incredible, there are spiritual aspects as well. Churches at this time were incredibly powerful, and often major patrons for artists. This was also the first period we know of when artists attained some level of celebrity outside their own city. Being a patron to a well-known artist would elevate the status of both an individual, and a church. Conversely, some of these artists would sometimes donate time paintings to show their dedication to their faith. Since these paintings could achieve a new level of detail, often they’re packed with symbolism. The serpent symbolized original sin and the supposed evils of women, the swan symbolized purity and often depicted the story of Leda and the Swan, and the chalice showed dedication to serving one’s god. The beautiful objects that fill the scenes in Renaissance art can be appreciated just for their looks, or they can tell a deep story if you care to dig a bit.
It is no wonder that now, centuries later, we are still awestruck and inspired by Renaissance paintings. Upon first seeing the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot deck, I have to admit I had a similar feeling. I had not yet seen a tarot deck quite like this before, and it made a lot of sense to learn their inspiration came from such a splendid period in art history. Their hand-painted artwork has a similar richness, detail, and level of emotion.
Not only is the art style gorgeous, but they’ve also played with the traditional tarot format ever so slightly. They have added another major arcana card, The Seeker, and also five “Luna Cards.” Similarly to Renaissance painters, the creators of this deck have taken an old practice and they’ve given us a way to add some more depth, some more detail. These cards also draw their inspiration from nature, just like a certain jewelry brand you know and love.
We hope you’ll pick up this incredible limited edition deck here.
And while you’re reading your gorgeous new deck, we suggest wearing our Morelia Three Bar Pendant. Maybe it will remind you of the Holy Trinity, and all the gorgeous art made to glorify Renaissance era spirituality.