The Spolia Tarot is a collaboration between artist Jen May and writer Jessa Crispin.
Jen's work, colorful and earthy, with a feminine vibe and pulling from many historical sources, seemed perfect for a tarot deck. (Also she is a Scorpio.) Jessa had been working as a tarot card reader for about six years, and was very interested in the history of the deck, the deeper meaning of the imagery, and how the history of not only the tarot but other forms of mysticism and occult study. We thought it would take us about a year to complete. That was three and a half years ago.
Jen works with collage, making the word Spolia appropriate for a title, as it means using rubble as building material. It also felt fitting for the time we are living in, as institutions, gender norms, religions, and ideas about how a society should function are all tumbling down and need to be rebuilt. We both believe that intuition and spirit are essential tools for guiding us through this process.
We use images from history, from alchemy and mysticism, from mythology and the natural world to create a lush deck layered with meaning. I have been studying the symbolism of the tarot for years, and we were meticulous about using the colors, flowers, crystals and stones, animals, and other imagery associated with each specific tarot card or its astrological associations.
This deck is a variation on an older Italian deck called the Minchiate, which had 97 cards rather than the more standard 78 card deck. We added a few of the Minchiate's other cards, like one card for each astrological sign, and one for each of the elements.You'll find instructions on how to use them yourself in the 32 page manual that is included with the deck.
The design work on the deck, manual, and box was done by Tara Romeo.
Jen May is a Scorpio and artist living in Brooklyn, NY. More of her work can be seen at jenjmay.com
Jessa Crispin is the author of The Dead Ladies Project and the editor and founder of the now defunct Bookslut.com. She currently resides in Kansas City and can be found at jessacrispin.com
Tara Romeo is a creative director living in Brooklyn, NY. Find her on instagram @ok_romeo