Tarot Talks Volume II: An interview with Jason Gruhl & Andi Todaro of the Fountain Tarot

Hello beautiful souls! I hope that your summer is closing with love, laughter & fun! It continues to be an eye opening experience to connect with the artists who have created decks that have truly found a place in my spiritual practice. As we leave the water age, to enter the Air Age of Aquarius we are all trying to find that tiny line of illumination that lights our pathways. This time also continues to birth new light to old traditions. I hope you enjoy Volume II of my Tarot Talks series.

-HERU JEROME

Interview

Jason Gruhl & Andi Todaro, creators of the Fountain Tarot

I waited a long time for a deck like this! It is filled with wisdom, sacred angles, shadow & light. These cast of characters work together to spread messages that anyone will carry for the rest of their lives. Jason Gruhl, Andi Todaro & Jonathan Saiz have teamed together to “Compare hundreds of elements, distilling them down in terms of: visuals, meanings and reversals, archetypes and symbols, story arcs, design elements, typography, booklet length and features, quality of paper and packaging, and many others.” This deck is its own beautiful language that everyone should become fluent in. The packaging is mesmerizing, as beautiful as it is functional.


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


Andi: I’m a Colorado native originally from Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, out in the plains. I now live in Denver, Colorado. The landscape here is so variable – forests, desert plains- that it’s a connection with nature I appreciate most about living here. The landscape informs a certain pace, people operate comfortably, and so crafts of all kinds keep me occupied, as I am very home-bodied. Colorado has a spirit that is earthy and grounded and health-minded. I’m not really any of these things, so it’s nice to have as an environment- like a perfect partner to keep you from being to frenetic. I love to carve dead aspen from places I’ve visited and they take center stage in my home décor. I like to work with small businesses for design, and it just ended up being that I work mostly with clients who are involved in yoga, education, acupuncture, and eco-conscientiousness. It seems pretty natural to work on this project as it encompasses many of these tenants.

Jason: I am currently in Denver, Colorado, USA, though I lived about half my life in Minnesota and was born in North Carolina. Jonathan and I lived in Mexico and France for the past year and a half as well. I think growing up in the Midwest was such an amazing influence on me. There are a lot of Lutherans and Scandinavians where I am from, religion and spirituality were never heavy-handed, but always present in the background. They were focused on kindness, community, and a lot of introspection around who I was as a person. I think that lack of heavy dogma really instilled a need for and a connection to spirit, in whatever form that takes. At this point in my life, I’m obsessed with that question of who/what are we REALLY? At the core of our existence. Mexico & France were great experiences for me (and I can’t wait to go to many other places) because it forced me to really see what parts of myself I brought along, what parts got emphasized and what parts got left behind. Many behaviors, beliefs, etc. are place specific, I think. Travel boils you down to your essence.

 Jason Gruhl, Jonathan Saiz, & Andi Todaro creators of the Fountain Tarot

Jason Gruhl, Jonathan Saiz, & Andi Todaro creators of the Fountain 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?


Andi: Tarot drew me to it when I was at a loss for guidance in my younger years. My first deck was the Aquarian, as I am an Aquarian also, and was comfortable with astrology as an alternative to prayer. Spirituality, and the sheer importance of it, as well as its commodification and institutionalization, has always been a serious question to me, as I’m usually in the throws of a philosophical battle with myself and the world. The idea of concocting your own rules and path and truth is paramount in a mentally unhealthy time. My only wish is that the energy that we brought to producing this deck will allow people to use it as a tool for their own self-discovery, and that it performs the same miracles that the Aquarian Tarot did for me when I needed it most. The Fountain Tarot taps into a force of energy that I don’t know we can name, as it takes many forms, but its “our truth”- the thing that unites life as we know it. I didn’t know that we had the ability, as it is all a practice to really understand new concepts not only intellectually but emotionally, to manifest an object with a connection to this idea. When you set out on a path, you don’t know where you will end up, just that you are going, and simultaneously you are in the process of arriving, over and over, at a new Whoa! moment. Well, at least it’s what it feels like to make it, and mostly to use it when I do, so I think that is what makes our deck special.

Jason: I’ve always liked Tarot, but it wasn’t until we decided to make a deck that I LOVED tarot. What draws me to it is its ability to reflect anyone. It has an incredibly nimble quality about it that lets one identify with all of these instances and themes in life, and it allows the unspoken, or the suppressed, or one’s possibility to flow freely out into reality. I like the potential that Tarot reveals in each of our lives. I gravitate towards Buddhism, collective consciousness-type energy and the oneness of all things, and that comes through in my writing I think. I also don’t like to traffic in the impersonal, so I tried to write conversationally. Barbara Moore was a big influence for me when I read her Steampunk Tarot manual. It felt so personal and real. I wanted my writing to feel like that so people could use it right there in the moment. I don’t know if that makes my intuition unique, but I think the voice in the book is unique from other things I’ve read.  

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?


Andi: I absolutely feel this. I'm an Air sign, I feel like I'm always at odds with it, mostly because I'm probably the big gust pushing everything out of the way. Groundedness is so attractive, but I'm understanding more and more that fluid movement and thought and vulnerability are what manifest an existence with the most lightness. It was a challenge to make The Fountain Tarot sheerly because of the undertaking in a material sense, but then the emotional and spiritual challenge for me is its tone- one that has neither masculine nor feminine but both, neither heaviness or lightness but both, and neither modernity nor conservative reflection but both. This is one of those arriving moments I was talking about- when you are in the process you cannot choose these things actively, they just appear as a reflection of your own energy. I am personally very heavy and factual and efficient, and it was important to have these qualities but also let this creation arrive into its own as an abundant and expansive expression of not only our three energies but of the larger spiritual world- one that is evolving, timeless, non-discriminatory, enlightening, uniting and definitive in its unyielding knowingness. I can sense what I wish the world to be, I can only express that in what I make, and what I do, and who I am seen by, this is an extension of that will, to see a deliberate focus paid to the improvement of ourselves as a species, to see people make effort in personal internal development, and see that effort be a transforming force in how we live.  


Jason: What a beautiful context you just painted, Jerome. The Fountain Tarot was made decisively for this age. Our research was extensive across the history of Tarot to really get the essence of each card as a human experience or theme, but then all of our attention went into making this something that was relatable on a human level with as many people as we could right now. We paid close attention to the usability for real-world Tarot folk, but we also paid a ton of attention to making it relatable to the Wilsons down the street, or the cashier at Wal-Mart, the teacher at the local school, or the Executive at Apple. We tried to have it speak to the everyday circumstances we ALL find ourselves in, and to open up people's hearts and minds to what their world could look like. When we see possibility in ourselves, we can see it in others. And when we see our power, our choices, our connection, and even our sometimes ugly ways of being, we begin to see the way out, and that opens up the way for everyone. 


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


Andi: I am very inspired by sacred geometry and color, implicit in those things is math and science. I appreciate the interconnectedness and patterns of storms and flowers and animals and rocks and chemistry and sound, and how it appears that everything came from a single mathematical blueprint. The rainbow foil is in abstract a representation this spectrum of forces and how it changes as it is in different environments with different light on it. I could never decide on one color for The Fountain design, because it is all colors, it feels like now it could have never been anything else than how it turned out. Of course the details were chosen, but it was all internally informed by the art and the writing and the conversations we all had about what it could be.  
 
Jason: People inspire me. I wake up every day so excited for interactions with people. I find us as humans very beautiful in all of our imperfect perfection. We're dynamic, emotional, reflective, unpredictable beings, and that makes our journeys so exciting. I also have a ton of respect for people, and even more respect for people who are really trying to be aware. I think that respect comes through in my writing. I believe in people's abilities to create the lives they want, and in their ability to always go deeper.   


If you could use a film, artists, novels to make your dream Tarot deck what would that be? (I have a couple NeverendingStory Tarot, Pippi Longstocking Tarot, Julie Heffernan Tarot like please now!!!!)


Andi: Milan Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being in how he describes the plain richness of interpersonal relationships, Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 in his graceful approach to the whimsical and Richard Feynman's knowledge and descriptions of the material world, physics and quantum mechanics, Francis Bacon's and Charles Bukowski's raw emotionality and the torment of a temporary physical form and the dark underbelly of existence. Those are all abstract, I know. I'm obsessed with sci-fi, and would love to see more of that.  


Jason: What a great question. Maybe a Donna Tartt Tarot, an Andrew Wyeth Tarot or Carl Larsson Tarot, and a Quantum Theory Tarot. Oh, and some kind of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Tarot! :) Oh gosh, now I want all of these Tarots!!


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


Andi:  I have to defer to Jason's answer on this one. I'll add that it would be nice to do the 'dark' version of The Fountain Tarot. I'm not sure what that looks like. :) Also, we do want to do the expanded book, but also do some prints and scarves etc.  


Jason: Haha! Well. I'd have to ask my partners about this one because I couldn't do it alone. The collaboration was what made this deck so beautiful, both spiritually and in terms of an actual product. I'm so happy with this deck right now that I want to just be with it for a number of years, I think, and connect with how it is impacting people. But we've talked about doing an expanded book, special editions of The Fountain, and other goodies I can't talk about yet over the next few years, and that excites me. I'm open to other decks for sure.


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


Andi: Fountaintarot.com! Yes, please let us know if there is a recommendation you have for a place local to you that would love to have The Fountain Tarot in stock and also, if you have any ideas about what you would like to see us do next! 


Jason: We are currently trying to expand our presence in stores and boutiques around the world, so first tell us where we should be calling in your area to make sure it is stocked locally! But you can buy the deck immediately on our website at www.fountaintarot.com ☺.