The Pen Tarot is the result of the development of a fascination with tarot that began with completion of The Mystic Rubáiyát,a set of meditation cards based on Edward Fitzgerald’s creative translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam. Having spent many years on this project, I felt ready to begin an artistically original tarot that featured the traditional archetypes, and so began a tarot centred around my magickal novel, The Golden Web. But, as sometimes happens, a drawing I made somewhat casually sparked more urgent inspiration, and set me on a completely different course. The Pen Tarot is the fruition of that inspiration and my new obsession, both artistic and historical, with All Things Tarot.
The images for The Pen Tarot were mostly drawn from life and made with a Pilot 0.5 pen, followed by diluted ink applied with a brush. The colour was created with Caran D’Ashe aquarelle crayons. Texture, extra form where needed, and the black backgrounds on some cards were done digitally.
When The Pen Tarot was first conceived, I intended that the cards should be without titles or numbers and feature only the quotations, having some idea that I could choose quotations that contained the titles and so make these superfluous. However, having finished the images, the actual task of finding the words and combining image, quotation and title, whilst adding another dimension to the traditional tarot meanings, yielded results too concrete, far less subtle than seemed right. I’d imagined The Pen Tarot as a tarot of depth and hidden layers, one that would reveal its secrets gradually rather than state them outright, so the concept had to be rethought from the beginning. the choices I made were governed more by instinct than by the standard tarot meanings, and sometimes by the images themselves, images that at times seemed to fall fully formed from the pen. Some will be familiar to the reader, others less so. I’ve broadened the quotations in the little booklet that accompanies the deck to reveal perhaps more than should be revealed, making some less appropriate than they’d otherwise have been with only the words on the cards, but nevertheless feel that this was the right and only course to take, and that instinct is a sense one should learn to trust.
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The Bible (Book of Revelation)
Abstinence sows sand all over
The ruddy limbs and flaming hair,
But Desire gratified
Plants fruits of life and beauty there.
William Blake: 1757-1827
The images are professionally printed on 350gsm silk card, 9cm x 14cm, unlaminated, and with a smaller line-only version of the little owl on the reverse. There are 24 cards in each set - the 22 archetypes of the major arcana plus the title card, which is signed and numbered on the back. There is one extra card - The Artist. There is some resemblance, although it's admittedly closer to the spirit of the artist than to her actual appearance.
Each set comes in a plain black box with a titled version of The Artist on the lid. The quotations are expanded and given their attributions in the little white booklet that comes with each set. A black felt square, aprox. 20cm x 20cm ensures that the cards are safely tucked in.
This unique signed and numbered edition is limited to 100 sets. Each set costs £30 including postage/shipping and insurance worldwide, and is available only from the Fig Tree Press website.
The Pen Tarot is now SOLD OUT - Many thanks to all who bought a deck.
After studying at what was then Brighton Polytechnic, Pen lived and worked in Southern Africa, where she specialized in studies of tribal Africans and the indigenous wildlife, as well as teaching pottery. Returning overland to Sussex via India, Afghanistan and Europe, a journey lasting six months, she resumed her study of art, etching, lithography and silk screen printing at the University of Brighton whilst exhibiting regularly both locally and in London and Birmingham. She was a member of the National Acrylic Painters Association and the Association of Sussex Artists for many years, and has exhibited with the Society of Women Artists and in various open exhibitions. Her work is in private collections in America, Southern Africa and Great Britain, and her paintings have been published as limited edition fine art prints. Penelope works in a variety of media including oil, acrylic, watercolour and pastel, as well as etching and silk screen. Most of her work is figurative, a continuing concern being to convey the brilliance, colour, luminosity and magic of light. She is drawn to locations and occasions rich in life in all its kaleidoscopic diversity and is fascinated by those places where myth and legend, magic and arcane knowledge cross and mingle. This is her second set of meditation and tarot cards in what promises to be a lifelong journey. In her other incarnation as Nell Grey she has published short stories, poetry and the odd review as well as three novels: Solitary Pleasures and the magical The Golden Web and its sequel, Three Magic Women. One day her set of tarot trumps based on The Golden Web may be finished, or she may, yet again, be led astray on a completely different tarot adventure.