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Tarot Reflections

April 15, 2005

Sneak Peek: Monument Tarot
Trish Carter


Trish Carter

Trish Carter is a graphic and multimedia designer, fine artist, and Tarot enthusiast living in Chicago. Currently a freelance Art Director, illustrator and Flash designer, she has also been an instructor in Flash and Illustrator at Mac University. In her former life as an independent art consultant and/or curator, Trish consulted for several Chicago galleries; as an individual artist, her paintings, computer work and installations have been featured in over twenty art shows and are represented in individual and corporate collections around the country. Trish is a professional Tarot card reader, and the creator of The Monument Tarot. She is also an active member of Make Poverty History and the One Campaign.


An angel stands guardian to The Wheel of Fortune, a large timepiece engraved with ancient alchemic symbols and the face of a cherub. The Wheel of Fortune's domain is an endless, reflective hall, inhabited and guarded by a sphinx, an eagle, a wolf and a griffin (winged lion); symbolizing the elements and power of Earth. Anubis - ancient god of death and judgment watches over the angelic guardian. A snake, mercurial symbol of all that is changeable, curves around the Wheel, while eight swords act as a barrier to anyone tempted to change fate. The Wheel of Fortune is all about the nature of fate; of great, cosmic sweeps of fortune and luck over which we have no control. Time is cyclic, and The Wheel heralds a cycle of good luck, success and a feeling of "Well, where did THAT come from?" We are helpless to call forth the various cycles of life, but when we enter a new cycle, we can look for opportunities within that cycle, and search for our own calm center of the storm.

For me the Wheel of Fortune has always been about chance encounters, and unexpected twists of fate blasting into our lives from out of the blue. Creating this card was no different. When I began this piece I wasn't intending to create a Tarot deck. To be honest, I'm not quite sure just what I was intending, but about half-way through creating this piece, I knew that it was The Wheel of Fortune, and that I had just begun the largest art project of my life.



The Empress, a beatific angel, stands in her throne room, a verdant forest, symbolizing her domain, the Earth herself. Crowned with the stars themselves, she holds the scepter and shield of her office. She is Queen of all Earth, Mother of all living things, and creator of all beauty, passion and art. The epitome of radiant femininity, she emits a glowing light; her mere footsteps illuminate the ground upon which she walks. Confident in her power and majesty, she looks to the heavens in contemplation of her next act of creation. The Empress, gentle but firm ruler and embodiment of the realm of the Earth, symbolizes love, devotion, creativity, passion, harmony, fertility and comfort.

The creation of The Empress took place very early in the process of The Monument Tarot, and I think it is my personal favorite of all the cards in the deck. During the time I worked on this card, I decided the theme of the deck was to be Chicago funeral monuments. I also decided to give each of these cards its own atmosphere; give each character their own realm, if you will. It required going over and redoing several rather abstract concepts I had for several of the cards, especially The Hermit.

The Hermit, caped and hooded, the embodiment of mystery and seclusion, traverses his domain, the dark, hidden and secret places of the underground. He holds a lantern, symbolizing his hidden and illuminating knowledge. The Hermit avoids the light of day, for he looks inward for his knowledge and wisdom; he uses the tools of meditation and withdrawal from the outer world to obtain wisdom, insight and inspiration. The Hermit represents a period of withdrawal from, and caution towards, society. A time of retreat from the hustle bustle of everyday life; a time to reevaluate, reflect and gather inner strength.

The original concept for The Hermit was quite a bit more abstract, featuring very sad eyes staring out of a hood, mostly obliterated by the lantern, the most prominent object. But after seeing a picture of this monument, I made a trip to Bohemian National Cemetery, my favorite of all the Chicago graveyards I've visited. Although it isn't really isolated, it seems to be as it is situated in a rather dark grove of trees, and is quite a bit larger than you'd expect. It looms above you; there is no other word to describe it. To be honest, the thing kind of scared me, the only time I've ever been "creeped out" in a cemetery.



Wands symbolize fire, action and the quest for spirituality. In the suit of Wands, we ask ourselves questions of life and death - who am I, and what do I believe in? Here is the Queen of the Realm of Fire and Action: The Queen of Wands. The Queen stands in the garden outside her castle of night, tending the fires of her domain. She is beauty, kindness and generosity itself, when unopposed, that is. She stands for family, honor, spirituality, and the innate dignity of all things on the Earth. Like her element, fire, the Queen of Wands is good, gentle, and giving when treated wisely. Treat her badly, however, and she can become the destructive force of fire, destroying all in her path with vengeance and tyranny.

One of the first pictures I took at Bohemian National Cemetery, this angel was one of the few monuments that I knew who she was going to be the minute I saw her. Bohemian National is a sublime place, the only spot I know of where one can stand alone in the middle of hundreds of acres of angels. It was cold and had snowed the previous day, and the name on this monument was covered. But even with her feet buried in snow, I saw this beautiful girl crowned with flames, and tending her fires.

To see more of the Monument Tarot and Trish Carter's other multimedia artwork, please visit her website,


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