Inner Whispers

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Inner Whispers

Fountain Tarot Overview

BF-FountainTarotCollageIn describing the Fountain Tarot (self-published, 2015) the first thing that presents itself is the packaging.  The box is sturdy, with a magnetic lock, and sparkly, holographic-style lettering.  This matches the luxurious feel of the silver edges on the cards, and the nice little companion booklet that lifts out with the aid of a silver ribbon.  The booklet gives a full page to each card, both Majors and Minors.  It also contains a few simple spreads: variants on the three card spread, a Fountain Tarot five card spread, and the Celtic Cross.  Altogether, the deck screams quality, and this is echoed in the accomplished paintings that have become tarot cards.

That being said, there is a cold, hard edge to this deck which puts me off just a little.  It has a masculine feel, from the preponderance of male images on the cards, to the angular lines of the geometric designs found on most of the cards, to the light, yet somehow muted and cool, colour palette.

BF-Fountain-OverviewThis isn’t so apparent in the Empress, though it would be a poor artist indeed who made this nurturing, feminine card feel angular.  Even so, there is a coolness, even here, with the predominant blues and purples of the card.

A woman stands in a lily pool, illuminated from behind by an almost harsh white light streaming from a pale purple sky.  Her feet are in the water, and the pink cloak or blanket she wears dips in the pool, too.  This is the warmest part of the card, a pink material decorated with red and yellow images or patterns: what looks like a wheel with stars, and maybe a teepee below it.  Her hair is golden brown, and she looks at us over one partially turned shoulder.  And while her hair is a warm golden colour, her clothes beneath the cloak echo the blues of the pool and plants around her.

Despite the coolness, I like her.  She speaks to me of feminine wisdom, more than abundance.  She also knows about nurturing, wrapped in her cosy cloak.  Though brief, the descriptions in the companion booklet always tie the images in to their traditional energy.  For example, the Empress’ description begins: ‘Standing in her lush, fertile garden, the Empress invites you to water your new creation with love and patience.’

Moving on to the Courts, we have the King of Cups.  I was quite surprised by my reaction to this card, a little shocked by having someone wearing glasses.  Of course, there are other decks where people wear spectacles.  There’s a funky dude in shades in the World Spirit Tarot (OOP), and at least one person in glasses in the Gaian Tarot (self-published, 201o).  Yet, the latter deck is very realistic, the people are real people, large and small, of all kinds of ethnicity.  The Fountain Tarot, with its angular geometric patterns, is rather Caucasian, young and slim for the most part, and so the glasses came as a surprise.

On reflection, though, I quite like the symbolism.  The King of Cups feels his way through situations, being comfortable sitting with emotion, rather than seeing and analysing everything.  Sometimes a little myopia can be a help rather than a hindrance!

BF-Fountain-Overview1The Aces bring the angular geometry of the deck to the fore, as you can see in the Ace of Wands.  However, this crystalline wand with its yellow background feels almost sword-like.  While there is plenty of energy here, it feels rather sharp, and not very warm.  This is a sense I get more generally with the Wands, once again showing up my own prejudices and preferences.

From the Minors, I drew the Five of Pentacles.  I notice the cold, harsh, perfect lines of the stone of the church behind them, an angularness even in the face of the circularity of the Coins’ suit emblem.  Still, the golden light pouring from the window behind them does add a touch of brightness, if not much warmth, to this grey and dismal card.

This deck is of a very high quality, in both artwork, packaging and companion book.  The images add interesting touches to traditional symbolism, and the geometric shapes are fascinating, though not explained in the booklet.  In my readings with it this week, both here and on instagram, I have found it to offer new perspectives, while still being easy to read.  It is a deck that is sure to make an impact in the tarot world, and one I find intriguing, even if also cold.

16 Responses to “Fountain Tarot Overview”

  • You described this deck as very Thoth-like in your earlier comment to Carla, and I think that is a very accurate description of the images in this deck. While beautiful, it is not for those who are looking for warm and fuzzy! Still, I like it a lot. 🙂

    • Yes, it’s a funny thing. On the one hand, I find it a little off-putting, beautiful but cold. On the other hand, I have had some really interesting and helpful readings with it… 🙂

  • You have described beautifully why I am not so keen on this deck: “a cold, hard edge ..angular lines of the geometric, colour palette.” The artwork is stunning but not for me!

    • Always good to know a deck isn’t for you, though I saw you have given into temptation with the Soul cards 🙂

  • Chloe, I’m glad to hear your references to the masculine feeling of this deck as that hasn’t come up in any of the reviews or comments I’ve seen around the web. And yet that’s what struck me immediately upon my initial look-through of the cards. I don’t mind the geometric shapes but I did find myself resisting the gender imbalance. Nevertheless the deck has artistic merit and clearly a lot of thought and effort went into it so I shall be curious to see how I get along with it.

    • For me, the geometric shapes and the colour palette add to the male bias, as the cold, angular lines are “masculine” in feel. It’s odd, as I have often been told I am very masculine in my approach (and for instance I love the Fradella Adventure Tarot, which is pretty “manly” lol), but this particular aesthetic does put me off. Beautiful, but not one I’ll love.

    • Yeah, I kind of wish I hadn’t dived into the kickstarter. But I do love supporting self-published decks, and it is lovely. I guess if I can help others make an educated choice, then it was worth it 😀

  • What a great overview- thank you for that!

    I do want to say something about the perceived “coolness” of The Fountain’s temperature though….
    When we were creating this deck there was was conversation that came up over and over again- it was about our shared consciousness and spirituality that exists far outside of our warm-blooded humanity- not at all the same as our physical and emotional experience here on this Earth. That often times when relating to spiritual concepts we pass our shared innate deeper knowledge through the limited filter of our specific human experiences. (for example, in Christianity- comparing hell to the physical burn of fire- can you think of anything more flatly physical and also such an inadequate description of pure energetic negativity?!?)

    So with the Fountain we sought to create a voice that existed outside of our familiar comfortable temperature zones- something that could speak to us clearly with no warmth OR coolness- but a piercing objective compassion AND beautiful indifference that reflects that everything is made of the same everythingness and nothingness. A mirror wiped completely clean so our bigger issues could reflect back purely on us.

    Sometimes when I hear people describe The Fountain Tarot as “cold”, what I really think they are seeing/feeling is the absence of temperature all together. It’s a vacuum, which can feel detached until you step fully into it and feel your own warmth or coldness reflecting back on you.

    And yes… there are a few more men than women… We tried our best to reflect a wide range of genders and ethnicities throughout it but reminded ourselves constantly that being a man or a woman, or something in between, didn’t really matter at the end of the day. The stories are the same, the energy is the same regardless of the specifics of the character. (besides, on a personal artistic level, I think the female cards are way more energized and dynamic in this deck because they feel special and rare amongst the men- they have their own unique power!)
    xo, Jonathan Saiz (artist/creator of The Fountain Tarot)

    ps- I think I’ll end this with the writing (by Jason Gruhl) for the Fountain Card itself:

    The Fountain exists outside and beyond the cycles of birth, death, time and form. It is the nameless, changeless, source of which everything is a part. It is the waking from the dream of separateness and identity, and the recognition of one’s “Self” as not only connected to all things, but ALL things – divine nature. When The Fountain appears in your reading, relinquish all illusion of control and remain quiet. It invites you to observe, master less, and to just be – effortless and indistinguishable from life. You are the voice and the breath of universes.

    • Thank you for your very thought-provoking comment, Jonathan!

      One thing it highlighted for me is a difference in spiritual perspective. As a pagan, for me spirituality is not separate from our earthly existence. Rather, is is about finding the divine in the muck and reality of life. So, the “non-temperature” does not ring true for me at a personal level. If lots of people say a deck feels cold, then that is true for them, no matter what your intention. That being said, there is room for many perspectives and approaches, and as I say, I have found a great depth to all my readings with this beautiful deck.

      Another question is that of the maleness. I agree that any gender, or lack of, can represent the experience of any human being. However, if you wanted to represent male, female and the in-between, there are plenty of decks that have ambiguous/androgynous/queer figures, rather than just having lots of men and saying the women are powerful in comparison. Having a rather “male” deck is not a bad thing, and may create a certain balance overall in the market (there are plenty more “female-centric” decks than intentionally “male-centric” decks). Trying to claim that having a preponderance of men will not affect how a deck is experienced is simply naive.

      Please understand, I think the deck is beautiful, both in terms of artwork and presentation. The companion book is well-written and interesting. However, telling me I am misperceiving the deck does not honour that everyone will bring their own perception to anything created, and that perception is just as true and real as the intention that was put into the creation.

    • Jonathan, I do appreciate the thought and intention that went into this deck but I must respectfully disagree with “…but reminded ourselves constantly that being a man or a woman, or something in between, didn’t really matter at the end of the day. The stories are the same, the energy is the same regardless of the specifics of the character.”

      The life events may be similar–joy, connection, loss, awakening, hunger, desire, stillness–but the filter is infinitely different. As a woman my interface with world diverges from a man’s by leaps and bounds, add in qualities such as sexual orientation, color and economic status and the experience deepens in the complexity of its differences. Having a womb and breasts shapes the way I view and experience the world in ways that are completely outside the male experience both personally and politically. That’s what makes the ‘gender divide’ so compelling. It’s one of the gifts inherent in having a precious human body.

      To tie both genders and those in between into a bundle of ‘sameness’ does a disservice to the beauty of texture, spectrum, degree and ambiguity of the human experience. I am looking forward to exploring your deck with all this context in mind.

  • Jason Gruhl

    Hey everybody,
    Loving this dialogue and all of the parts of life that Tarot touches. 🙂
    I have a slightly different take on The Fountain Tarot than Jonathan (though his passion and execution of geometry and spiritual essence is amazing, I think). We’ve all got a filter and everything that comes into our lives runs through that filter. The comments on this thread, the words I wrote in the booklet, Andi’s design work, and the images Jonathan painted are nothing more than opinions and experiences expressed by each of us. Jonathan and I are both gay men (and married) and that absolutely colored the deck in a particular way – no doubt about it, but like all of us, we’re also way bigger and complex than any identity, Chloe, I love your comments a lot because they show the complexity of the deck – you can appreciate a lot of things about it and even the readings you’re getting with it, and yet it can still leave you feeling a little cold. That can ALL be true. I totally get it. We’ve had other people use this deck and say it is the most personal, warm deck they have ever experienced. We had a review the other day that said the deck just plain confused someone because they kept switching their opinion about its maleness and femaleness, lightness and darkness, warmth and coolness – all in a matter of minutes! haha. It’s so perfect.

    The hope I think for all of us was that it would become a deck that was accessible for MANY people (even those outside of the typical Tarot world), and that it would help them find themselves, look at life differently, or find possibility where maybe they were stuck, and the images and the text were meant to bring it into a modern context. I wanted the writing to feel like a conversation with a friend, and I know Jonathan wanted people to be able to see themselves and people they knew in the world of Tarot to increase relatability (in contrast to traditional queens and knights and symbols that might detract from really connecting with it) while keeping it a bit magical through the geometry.
    But again, ALL our filter. We own that.
    It would be really odd if everyone loved this deck without question. I’m just happy you all were able to separate out the parts that you do like and the things that you don’t, and to have those co-exist. I think it shows your depth.

    Rose, I totally get your comments based on what Jonathan wrote. And, knowing Jonathan, I think he was trying to paint an IDEA with his comments about “neutralizing” gender that maybe didn’t quite convey what he meant. The actual process of making this deck was so far removed from an erasure of gender and uniqueness it’s not even funny! Everything I wrote, and everything he painted, and every design decision that Andi made was so thoughtful around, “How will this really land for people, in their actual lives?” We tried to think about if someone picked up a card for the first time and knew nothing about Tarot, what emotion would we want each card to conjure, deep down? And then we compared the paintings and the writings to make sure they spoke to each other, etc. But the real motivation was a human connection with people of all kinds at the level of soul and consciousness, not to erase the beautiful features that make us all unique in terms of gender, identity, race, etc. So I’m sorry if it came off that way. Consciousness includes all of those things seamlessly, and maybe we missed the boat on conveying or celebrating uniqueness more. It’s definitely something we need to think about for future work.

    Hope that gives you a little background on our thinking, process and biases, If that adds to the conversation…awesome. If not, just toss it out. 🙂 Much love to you all, and thanks for everything you do for the community in keeping it diverse, honored, and talking!

    • Thanks, Jason, for expanding on some of the themes that have come up in this serendipitous dialogue. And Chloe, I’m hoping your blog isn’t feeling taken over by this fascinating discussion.

      Part of my response to Jonathan was motivated by a visceral sense that awakening for a woman is exquisitely and cellularly different than it is for a man. Of course this is partly conjecture on my part but there is also my informed and lived experience. Because awakening always includes the body I sense a different set of rivers to navigate there. It is an ongoing question I’m living with. I’m enjoying the openness with which you both are receiving our comments. It makes my work with your deck something to anticipate with real curiosity.


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