Kickstarter Spotlight: Literary Tarot

Vita Ayala, author of The Wilds, pairs the King of Light (Cups) with Homer’s The Odyssey.

Literacy shouldn’t be mystical, but maybe the occult can help change the world through storytelling.

The Literary Tarot, a Kickstarter project driven by the Brink Literacy Project, provides a collaboration between authors and cartoonists that sets up pairings of tarot cards with seminal books to build a deck of 78 major and minor arcana cards.

Major Arcana pairings include:

  • Lev Grossman (author of The Magicians trilogy): The World card with King Arthur
  • Celeste Ng (author of Little Fires Everywhere): The Hanged Man card with T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
  • Rebecca Roanhorse (author of Black Sun): The Death card with Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Minor Arcana pairings include:

  • Margaret Atwood (author of The Handmaid’s Tale): The Queen of Light (Cups) with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
  • Charlie Jane Anders (author of Victories Greater Than Death): The Knight of Light (Cups) with Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones
  • Roxane Gay (author of The Bad Feminist): The King of Parchment (Pentacles) with Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

Recently, Brink Literacy Project announced a new wave of contributors, including fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie, novelist and comics writer Christopher Golden, and writer and illustrator Ezra Claytan Daniels.

Damian Rogers, author of An Alphabet for Joanna, is putting Pillow Book together with the Nine of Parchment (Pentacles). He enjoys how the Literary Tarot brings together images and stories.

“I love the way that this project connects the traditional tarot cards with works of literature,” Rogers said, “because the link between image and story is central to my relationship with the tarot. It’s also an opportunity to support the incredible work of the Brink Literacy Project.”

The nonprofit organization uses the power of storytelling to help people who live on the brink, through education, communication, and publishing. Their goal: to boost literacy rates and empower underserved communities.

“I’ve known the people at Brink for years now and it’s an honor just to support the special, essential work they do,” said Lev Grossman. “But, on top of that, the Literary Tarot is a thing of beauty, gorgeous and fascinating and featuring a once-in-a-generation gathering of authors. It’s an instant classic, a labyrinth that will reward deep wandering. The books illuminate the tarot, and the tarot illuminates the books.”

Lev Grossman

Erin Morgenstern, author of The Starless Sea, pairs F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby with the Five of Light (Cups).

“I bought my first tarot deck in the early 90s at one of those stores in the mall that would appear briefly in a haze of incense and crystals only to vanish entirely,” she said. “It has been both delicious and surreal watching tarot become more and more popular since then. The tarot itself is composed of so many stories for interpretation that a literary version feels like a perfect match. I am absolutely delighted by this project and it’s an honor to be included amongst such a stellar collection of authors. Pairing a long-time favorite classic with a tarot card allowed me to see both of them in new and different lights.”

Erin Morgenstern

K-Ming Chang, author of Bestiary, pairs The Magician with Wu Cheng’en’s 16th Century novel Journey to the West. She sees a clear connection between reading, writing, and tarot: “The process of writing and reading often feels like communing with forces and selves and worlds that are beyond our everyday consciousness and awareness, and I love that this tarot deck allows us to consult and connect with the literary figures and texts that have shaped us, haunted us, and alchemized us. This is such a beautiful storytelling tool, and I’m so excited to be a part of this collaborative process.”

K-Ming Chang

The Kickstarter launched with a goal of $80,000. With just a few days to go at this writing, the project has received nearly $600,000 in crowdfunding.

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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