My Journey Through

the Bearded Tarot

A relationship with this little bearded man began with a painting I created in 2013 called “Descent”. The depiction of a man tossed from his houseboat, and descending into the depths of the unknown, demanded further understanding. 

An exploration of the back story became a series of 12 illustrated panels depicting transformative events, complete with the crossing of thresholds, finding mentors and spirit guides, obtaining power objects, and passing on knowledge with the community. 

The completion of these works, depicting an initiation through water, inspired my research into ancient traditions views of the Elements and their relationships to Seasons, Tarot and Psychology. I found Water was related to (Winter/Cups/Emotions) , Air with (Spring/Swords/Intellect), Fire with (Summer/Wands/Intuition), and Earth with (Fall/Coins/Physical). 

This painted Hero’s Journey continued, into the element of air with a new set of 12 images. Other characters from other series began to show up in the Bearded Journeys: the multi-eyed owl in the element of Air, the flaming bird in the element of fire, the ManDog in the element of Earth. This common storyline through the elements began to form a foundation for these otherwise rogue characters.

Not until the 48 panels were complete and the journey through the seasonal elements came full circle, did I realize I could take that next step and expand this project into the creation of a full tarot deck. 

Traditionally each tarot suit was comprised of 14 cards and I had only 12 each. But that fact served in my favor when I needed to match cards with their specific historical meaning. There was some wiggle room and I could shift the cards and consciously make new paintings for the missing gaps. Somehow, magically, the cards images lined up and traditional meanings were preserved. 

The 22 Major Arcana paintings became the next project to complete the deck. The skeleton for the death card, the merging lovers, and the puppet devil, all characters from prior paintings placed themselves in the tarot deck effortlessly. With this project they were given a second life and could find new relationships within the community called the Tarot.

Its fascinating how a painting that resisted being contained in one panel, eventually became a series of 78 cards of a tarot deck 2 years later.