Tarot Talks Volume V: An Interview with Peter Rotin, creator of the Rotin Tarot

Hi my beautiful souls! The season of The Pentacles is in full swing here in the Tri-State Area. It has brought with it much understanding as we approach the stillness that the Season of Swords brings! Peter Rotin has created a deck that will stand the test of time. The Rotin Tarot pushes the boundaries of Tarot by encouraging the reader to examine the concepts of balance, by using sacred geometry and the use of black and white to view how opposites pair. I am tremendously lucky to have this deck in my collection as it is not produced anymore. It was such an experience getting to know Peter and how he works. I hope that you enjoy this volume of Tarot Talks!

 Cards from the Rotin Tarot

Cards from the Rotin Tarot

Peter Rotin creator of the Rotin Tarot

Peter Rotin has created a deck with a special fingerprint that is very unique in the world of Tarot. Reading statements such as, “The Magus, The High Priestess & The Empress, one can see the genesis of energy, the introduction of duality by the existence of a singularity and the eventual balancing act that this duality brings into the equation.” One can see the science & mystery that went into his deck.

Worthy Tarot: Tell me about yourself, where are you from & where are you currently? How have these locations influenced what you do creatively?

PR: I am from Malta, a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and now part of the European Union. I was born the youngest after four girls in a sea side village called “Wied il-Ghajn” (literally translated as “Valley of the Eye”). The customs and traditions of the Malta I grew up in where very much centered around the Catholic church and by the age of 7 I was an altar boy, which was a very common thing for young boys at that age. What was not common was the fact that my mum used to send me to help the local priest with the funerals (it seems that no one else wanted to do that). So, at a very young age, I was already well used to dead bodies in coffins, the smell of mortuaries and to the gothic beauty of cemeteries (in fact, one of my earliest ventures in “art” was a poem I wrote about being an altar boy during a funeral).

I was a very quiet, shy and introspective boy. I used to play a lot in my imagination, not with toys, but actually imagining different scenarios (usually taken from the cartoons that I used to watch) and literally immersing myself into a character and play/act for hours. As a child I also used to have very vivid dreams. In fact, I remember imagining myself getting into this submarine/spaceship before going to sleep and prepare for the “film” to start. I guess that from an early age I was more interested in the inside world of my imagination rather than the outside world.

Today I am married and have a 2 year old daughter who absorbs most of my energy. I have been teaching Personal, Social and Career Development to adolescent students for the past 17 years. 

Worthy Tarot: What drew you to Tarot, what aspects of your energy have found their way into your deck? How does this make your deck unique?

In my fourth and final year at University I felt completely empty. On the surface I was getting good grades and I was nearing the completion of my studies but deep down inside I was feeling broken to pieces and lost. It was as if I was living beside myself and I was getting episodes of what now I can identify as depression. One day I was looking through the book shelves of a newly opened book store on the university campus when P.D. Ousepensky’s “The Symbolism of the Tarot” found itself in my hands. The particular book had the Raider Waite deck in full color as the book cover. The images where looking at me as if they wanted to tell me something. For some strange reason my attention was drawn to the image of a young man inside a chariot driven by a black and a white horse with city walls far off in the distance. I opened the book to see what the author had to say about this image and I was completely shocked when I read that this was the image of one who has achieved but who has not achieved with the force of his will alone and that he is not in complete control of the chariot and that at any moment the two horses can leave him. It was as if this image was mirroring exactly what was in my soul at that precise moment. It goes without saying I was totally taken by the book and I read and re-read it all over again, spending hours looking at the images and reading Ousepensky’s incredible explanations. From then on I started reading all the books about tarot that I could get my hands on. At this point in time I had already been reading lots of Jung, Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky, was very keen on Buddhism, reading about relativity and the laws of physics and spirituality and had been reading loads of books on film. Without my knowing back then, all that I was and all that I had absorbed up to that point in time had started gravitating slowly towards those 22 images on the cover of that little book. One of the main strengths of my being and which I believe has influenced deeply the way I imagined the Rotin Tarot is that my mind has a tendency to take complex concepts and simplifies them. 

For example, let’s take The Fool. On one level I see the concentric circles as the frequency of the first sound that started creation, the om, expanding through the whole universe still undifferentiated, and thus, soundless. When seen with The Magus, The High Priestess and The Empress, one can see the genesis of energy the introduction of duality by the existence of a singularity, and the eventual balancing act that this duality brings into the equation. On another level, one can see the emergence of the concept of zero. The zero that is the basis of all the other numbers. Like the Buddhist concept of emptiness, which in itself is the root of all being. Closer to the surface meaning of the Tarot, one can see the concentric circles representing the path of each one of us, shackled by our own psyche and unconscious self, going round in circles over and over again. All of this in a couple of black and white concentric circles emanating from the center of the image space. One of the most important things to learn about the Tarot is that every image makes sense within itself but also acquires more meaning when interacting with other images. The Rotin Tarot tries to do this within itself, and more importantly, with other Tarot decks as well.

 Peter Rotin

Peter Rotin

Worthy Tarot: We are entering an Air Age which is associated with thought. When you examine air it can blow everything around that is not tethered. People are trying to find their footing and light as they enter this age and are drawn to the magic and spirituality of the Tarot. The face of the tarot just like our new age is changing, how do you feel your deck lends to this revolution?

PR: I must admit that I am not a big fan of “thought”, in the sense that I do not agree with how we elevate thought above all the other aspects of the human being. I believe that one of the greatest lessons hidden in the path of the Tarot is that we come face to face with our animal/instinctual/feeling sides. This is parallel to Jung’s concept of individuation of the Self, where the person undergoes an inward journey in order to explore the unconscious functions and thus becomes more complete. The path of the Tarot leads us through the death of our sense of self and brings us face to face with our own demons on through to the destruction of the tower of our own ego before it allows us to reach the garden of our libido where the fountain of life can be found. From the age of the Renaissance onwards the human race has elevated thought above all else. Historically speaking I understand the importance this had after the dark ages, but we also need to be conscious of the fact that the path that led us to the industrial revolution also led us to butcher each other industrially in two world wars, on through to a cold war and ultimately to a techno society led by greed and social injustice, where the excess of some is paid for in blood by others in order to worship the gods of our time: money, power, success, ego etc.

I truly hope that the Tarot can help people leave the outside world for a while and guide them in an inward journey of self-discovery. I believe that this journey can be very difficult and painful because it puts one face to face with one’s own anger, fears and all those negative feelings that are repressed deep down inside. But if one can face those feelings one can also reach to a deeper fountain of love, compassion and life that is at the center of our source as human beings. I do not know how my interpretation of the Tarot can help. The Rotin Tarot was the fruit of the creative/imaginative/visual side of my unconscious. They are what they are. My hope is for the Rotin Tarot to reach out to people and help them build bridges between their conscious and unconscious sides.  

Worthy Tarot: What inspires you and how was that inspiration incorporated into your deck?

PR: This is a difficult question because more than 10 years have passed. Dreams were one of the main inspirations. Strength for example was inspired directly from a dream, and music. I used to hear lots of music back then. Artistically speaking I was inspired a lot by M.C. Escher and I used to study a lot of optical illusions. I used to read a lot as well. I was definitely inspired by many Buddhist readings and by the link between modern physics and the teachings of Buddhism. I had read a lot about relativity and black holes and how it is believed that our universe came into being. In fact, in the first cards (from The Fool to The Emperor) I tried to come up with the concept of how energy becomes matter. I was also inspired a lot by Papus “Tarot of the Bohemians” and was very much aware of the concept of theosophic numbers, where the fourth card is the last of one series and the beginning of another. That’s why both The Magus and The Emperor have a 1 at their centre. The back of the cards and the drawing on the box was inspired by a hall of mirrors.  

Worthy Tarot: If you could use a film, artists, novels to make your dream Tarot deck what would that be? 

PR: I don’t know. The one thing that comes to mind is a Batman comic book, I think it was called Arkham Asylum, where Two-Face is taught how to use the Crowley Tarot in place of using his coin. I thought it would have been cool if he would have drawn his own set and come up with the Rotin Tarot. They kind of fit him. The Devil would have to be Batman or the Joker.

Worthy Tarot: Would you ever create another deck, think about this one as I know 78 cards are a huge undertaking!

PR: No, I think not. The tarot came to me at that point in time, became part of my being, and then came out as you see them in that deck. I don’t think that in my lifetime this can happen again.

Worthy Tarot: If someone is interested in your deck how would they get a hold of you?

PR: The Rotin Tarot was available as a limited edition of 100 copies and they are now sold out. If someone would like to contact me they can find me on Facebook and message me. Or else they can email me at rotinpeter@gmail.com.