Tarot cards have been part of the human experience since the fifteenth century and are very popular in The City Different. Santa Fe’s local Tarot Meetup group has 157 members, some of whom have been meeting twice a month on Zoom since the beginning of the pandemic.
While tarot cards are often read with the hope of seeing the future, they can be a tool for understanding one’s circumstances in life, says Santa Fe tarot card artist, reader and Tarot Meetup group member Lisa de St. Croix. “Tarot is the visual encyclopedia of the soul,” she says. “It helps find answers to big questions.”
De St. Croix does readings for clients using Tarot De St. Croix, a unique deck she created and published in 2014. Like other tarot card decks on the marketplace, it has seventy-eight cards, each with its own imagery and iconography, symbolism, religious allegories, historical events and story.
The twenty-two Major Arcana cards, which portray archetypes or mythological figures, represent life’s karmic and spiritual lessons. The fifty-six Minor Arcana cards reflect the trials and tribulations, such as health issues and finances, that people experience on a daily basis.
“A lot of people come to me with questions and issues,” de St. Croix explains. “I don’t prophesy but use Tarot more as a psychological tool to understand ourselves and our position in the world.”
De St. Croix’s interest in Tarot began when she was eleven years old and living in her native country of South Africa. Her mother went to a tarot card reader and found that predictions during the reading came true. She got her own deck of tarot cards and used them regularly. “At first, I was afraid of my mother’s tarot deck,” de St. Croix recalls. “But I watched her put a lot of faith in readings. When I was eighteen years old, she gave her old deck to me.”
De St Croix ended up giving the deck to a friend. Many years later, when it was returned to her, she became keenly interested in exploring her mother’s passion.
During a ritual ceremony about a dozen years ago, de St. Croix had a vision to paint a tarot deck. She started the process by creating oil-on-board paintings. What eventually emerged was Tarot De St. Croix that features images from ancient legends and contemporary stories and includes multicultural figures, such as the Dalai Lama, Shiva and a Japanese empress. Many years’ worth of research is behind de St. Croix’s work.
“While some people make variations of traditional tarot decks or create decks on a particular theme, my images have been guided by my spiritual experiences,” she says. “I love the messages in the cards, which I see as a tool for passing on meaning.”
Inspiring creativity is the goal of the deck of tarot cards created by Santa Fe artist Alexandra Eldridge. Eldridge’s journey into Tarot began twelve years ago when poet and Whittier College professor Tony Barnstone showed up at her door one day.
“Tony and I share a mutual friend,” Eldridge explains. “He asked me if I would collaborate with him on a Tarot book project that would include my artwork and his poetry.”
As Barnstone and Eldridge talked about the project over time and Eldridge did quite a bit of research about Tarot, a different vision for the book began emerging. Instead of creating one poem for each of Eldridge’s images, Barnstone decided to incorporate descriptions of the images and his own musings as well as astrological information about each card.
In March 2020, a literary agent approached Barnstone and Eldridge about publishing their work. Eldridge spent four to six hours every day, from March through the fall, completing the seventy-eight images for the tarot deck. Many of them are animals, a recurring subject in Eldridge’s paintings.
“The creation of The Radiant Tarot: Pathway to Creativity was born from years of working with archetypal images, the universal symbolic language,” Eldridge says. “Sentient animal and plant kingdoms animate my art, honoring and acknowledging the interconnectedness of all life.”
To help stimulate feelings of creativity, Barnstone added “exercises” to the book. “The exercises were initially academic in nature,” says Eldridge. “Now, they’re about meditation, movement and lifestyle.”
The Radiant Tarot: Pathway to Creativity will be featured during a 2021 fall show (date pending) at G2 Gallery (702½ Canyon Road) that also includes Eldridge’s original artwork for the tarot deck, 18” x 11” prints of the tarot cards and decks of the cards.
To learn more about Lisa de St. Croix and Tarot De St. Croix, visit lisadestcroix.com.
To learn more the Stephanie Alia of Etz Chaim Productions and her tarot deck featured in the images, visit etzchaimproductions.com.
Emily Van Cleve is a Santa Fe-based freelance writer and journalist. Since 1994, her work has been featured in local, regional and national magazines and newspapers.