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Tarot Reflections

 September 1, 2004


Interview: Lorena Babcock Moore
Debbie Lake

Debbie Lake is a cranky, opinionated Tarotholic who was born and bred in Hell's Kitchen, NYC. She has been married for 15 years (which explains the crankiness) and just loves working with Tarot, reading and driving friends and family crazy with her know-it-all-ness. She's also the FRN Assistant Manager of Readers. Visit her at her website at

(This is a photo of Debb with the Strength card from the 1910 RWS deck purchased on eBay by Stuart Kaplan. Taken at the Chicago World Tarot Congress.)


DL: What first drew you to Tarot?

LM: I was given a Giant RWS in 1989. I didn't like the deck but I was drawn to the structure of the Tarot for creative inspiration as well as divination. Eventually I put the cards aside, but a lot of Tarot ideas stayed with me and even turned up in my art. A few years later I bought the Thoth deck and a few others, and continue to use them along with several books.

DL: Do you read or collect decks?

LM: I am not a collector, but keep a few decks to read for myself. I have one copy of my own deck for personal readings, and another to use with other people, including (but not limited to) formal readings.

DL: What inspired you to create your deck?

LM: A few years ago I dreamed about using four iron objects that were much larger than anything I make, but enough like my own work that I felt I had made them. I recognized them as the four Tarot suit symbols, though I hadn't touched the cards for several years. (My Magician card is based on this dream.) In 2000 I taught a one-month blacksmithing class as an artist-in-residence at a private high school, when a friend asked when I was going to draw a Tarot deck. I came up with the outline of a deck related to blacksmithing, emphasizing its geological, creative, and spiritual aspects. When presented in this way, working with iron is empowering and exciting to many girls and women (not just because it is traditionally a male craft, but for its own sake). I saw how the images reflected that half-forgotten dream, and thought about how I might use such a deck with my students and others. It became a serious project that changed as it grew but remained faithful to the original inspiration. I chose scratchboard because I enjoy using it, and it is perfect for the sharp detail and formal symmetry that I wanted the deck to have. I didn't consciously exclude male images, but it was born as a "girl baby", probably because it is so personal. Its first title was the Womynsmyth Tarot, but I rejected this as being too contrived and having a little TOO much sister energy.

DL: What attracted you to geology and rocks to begin with?

LM: I have always been hopelessly fascinated with nature from scientific, artistic, and spiritual viewpoints. It is who I am. While I was growing up I spent most of my free time in the woods, watching, collecting, drawing and learning.

DL: How do you feel your personal & spiritual beliefs impacted on your deck?

LM: I have followed a shamanic path since early childhood. It has become more intense and serious in the past few years, and I wanted to use Tarot for personal work but no deck seemed to fit. Most shamans come up with their own system of divination anyway! I designed the cards to combine spirit, art, and science as they are integrated in my life. That is why there is such a strong emphasis on the Four Elements. As I worked on the deck, the drawings energized my blacksmithing as working the iron inspired the images. Forging is a shamanic activity in itself, requiring concentration and endurance and producing what some would call an "altered state" of consciousness (but one that feels "normal" for me). Drawing is a way to balance and express this experience, as well as a way to interpret nature.

DL: When you began creating your deck did you have any intention of publishing?

LM: No. It was a personal project. As I worked on the deck, I received odd requests for shamanic help in very public ways that forced me to become more open about my spiritual work. The cards became tied in with these experiences and I realized that the deck would not have any real power unless I used it with other people and published it so people could use it on their own. I have no idea whether it will be of lasting interest or use to anyone but me.

DL: How have your ties to the Tarot community (online or in the real world) impacted on your creation of this deck?

LM: The Comparative Tarot e-list has been a source of support, inspiration, and online friendships. Creating cards for two CT Collaborative Decks taught me a lot and made me look at my own deck more objectively. In the "real world", my husband has been a wonderful help. I got interesting and insightful comments from a few "non-Tarot" friends. Unfortunately two of these friendships fell apart because the women connected strongly with the deck but the attraction scared them.

DL: What other Tarot decks are you drawn to?

LM: I like decks with clean, hand-drawn graphic art that speaks to me, like the Hermetic, Norse, Greenwood, and Swedish Witch Tarot. I enjoy the sincerity and energy of the OOP B&W feminist decks such as Amazon Tarot, Poet's Tarot, and Thea's Tarot. I see these as the ancestors of a new generation of "women's" decks that are deeply personal, yet reach out to people in much-needed ways, such as Tarot of the Crone, the Mary-El Tarot, and the Maat Tarot.

DL: What advice or suggestions would you give to others out there interested in creating their own deck?

LM: Create it for yourself first, and understand why you are doing it. Work from within your theme, not just about it. Not all decks are (or need to be) deeply serious. What do you want to say with yours? What effect do you hope to have on others, and what are you looking for in return?

Death and Two of Bells from the Ironwing Tarot, self published by Lorena Moore


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