Friday, January 22, 2010

The Color of Black and White

Changing the tarot deck we use to do readings can provide a burst of fresh energy in the same way that reorganizing our living space can give us a sense of renewal.

Those of us who like using tarot cards usually have looked over a number of different decks, and maybe we have a number of them, and we usually gravitate to using one deck that becomes our favorite and most reliable tool.

Sometimes, when a person sees a deck it is love at first sight, and they use it for years without even considering using something else because it works so well for them. Then there are others who have a deck they enjoy, but then they see another that sparks their energy and imagination, and they switch to using that one regularly, and they repeat this pattern over and over, a serial monogamy with tarot.

There are some people who regularly switch back and forth between a number of decks that they enjoy using. Some decide which deck to use based on their mood that day,or if they are reading for someone else, perhaps choosing the deck they feel will work best for that person.

I have a larger than average number of decks since I deal in cards as well as collect them for myself, so I have seen a lot more decks than most people. There are decks I can appreciate for the sheer beauty and art, others for the appeal of the concepts.

Most people who use cards have had some instances of buying a deck based on a few examples they have seen, but then are disappointed with the whole deck. And then there are decks which we love, except that there are a few cards that just bother us because we don't like the concept or the execution, so when we use it, we keep wishing that one or those few cards were different than they are.

Sometimes changing a deck can freshen up readings and surprise the reader. With this in mind, I made a radical change. I went from using a very colorful deck with Renaissance type imagery to a black and white deck with a very simple drawing style that projects a lot of primal, earthy energy. This one is also one that has been out of print since 1974, so most people have not seen one like it before.

There have also been a few other black and white decks that I really like and interestingly, I have sold almost all of them, even though the vast majority of decks use full color in their design.

People who have created the better decks in black and white images seem to have imbued them with a very rich energy, wit, originality and boldness. I think that is what people see in these innovative decks because the power of the imagery must come from the form, not the burst of color.

I feel very good about using this deck, and no doubt I will go back to a deck with full color, but for now, there is a burst of freshness that pops out every time I pull out some of these cards.

There are cases to be made for working with one deck deeply and exclusively, and for switching back and forth. For me, for now, switching to the black and white deck from the vivid colors has proven to be a very lively and invigorating dance.

No doubt, I will continue to use decks that have a lot of color, as will most people, but just like with old classic movies, there are some black and white films that do not need color in order to be interesting, beautiful or great. And, of course, let's not forget some of the incredible photographers of an earlier era who did all of their great work in black and white. There are dynamics in the form that become more visible in the absence of color.

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