Tarot as a Blind Date

My romance with the Tarot started out as a blind date.

In 2004, I created a conceptual art project that explored the nature of proximity and meaning; I wanted to design a computer game that would randomize the titles to paintings that I had already created. I decided to model my game on the Tarot since it contains cards with pictures on the faces. I designed The Transformational Tarot as a virtual deck of 116 cards; some of the cards contain an untitled image while others display only a single word. When you “shuffle” the deck, the program creates a spread of randomly chosen image and words.

Screenshot of the Transformational Tarot interface

My experiment was very successful, but not in the way I intended. About halfway through the project, after I had programmed the game and created the cards, I realized that I had somehow made the transition from creating a conceptual art project to creating an actual tarot deck. I tested it on myself and found it was eerily accurate. Then I ran it online and asked for feedback. The results were surprising: my game was reviewed in a magazine and endorsed by the editor. People loved it; many readers said it was the best reading they had ever had.

At the time when I created this computer game, I thought the images and symbolism of what I called the “traditional” tarot were uselessly archaic; I did not resonate with the images I saw in the Rider Waite Smith deck or other traditional decks. Years later, when a traditional tarot deck came into my hands, I found myself studying it in earnest.

Learning the Tarot by studying what others think the cards mean was very dry and difficult for me. The meanings traditionally assigned to some of the cards didn’t jibe with my interests or intuition. I had just written my first book on creativity, and I intuitively saw that the Tarot, like art, is a tool for personal evolution; a way to access your intuition and higher guidance.

Over the years that I worked with the cards, I developed a blended reading technique called the SEER System™ —described at length in my books, The Tarot Key, and Do It Yourself Tarot—which makes it easy to interpret the cards at a glance.

My passion for the cards is the same thread that connects and informs all my work; a seeker’s quest for the answers to the questions that haunt all of us: what is the hidden reality that lies behind all things?