Tarot Talks Volume IX: An interview with Mary Evans, creator of the Spirit Speak Tarot

Hi my beautiful souls! I hope that you are reading this surrounded with the most beautiful love and light! It continues to amaze me how many talented artists are working with the Tarot to bring their unique visions to make this tradition timeless. No matter who you are, your path or experience there is a deck for almost everyone, some are truly beautiful. The Season of Aces (Spring) is in full swing, take the time to enjoy new things budding. Put your cell phone away while walking and take a look at all the change!

Mary Evans creator of the Spirit Speak Tarot

Mary has created a deck in black and white that is far from being sparse. It is filled with images that are traditional but also help to elevate her deck into an energy all its own! She primarily works in pen and ink and “is inspired by ritual and the occult” which tells very clear stories when laid out! I had the pleasure of interviewing Mary about the love and care that has gone into this transformational deck!

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

Mary: I grew up in Franklin Tennessee, a small town right by Nashville. As a child I spent a lot of time outside roaming around. There was a small creek behind my house and that’s where I spend most of my days. When my parents wanted to find out where I was playing, they would call for my dog Molly who would follow me on my adventures. I believe that’s where I started to believe in magic. Maybe not believe, but more, I was a part of this magical world. My neighborhood was built on a civil war site, around a plantation that served as a hospital during the war. The house is now a museum, with a graveyard for the soldiers and the family that lived there. I think my relation to that place is where I was first attracted to the idea of spirits, or the feeling of them. As a teenager, I hated living in Tennessee, I couldn’t see all that it had to offer. Now I see it as a sacred site, it has a special magic, unusual, a little dark. I also never quite fit in with the community there. Some of my artistic work in the past has focused on my place there (or lack of place), in religion, tradition, & gender roles. Not only has the spirit of my hometown influenced my creativity, but I think that the surrounding folk art affected my style as an artist. 

Currently I live in Oakland California, something I recently feel torn about. The areas surrounding Oakland are breathtaking, the nature here is incredible. However more and more the greed from the tech industry infiltrates communities here. People here seem to always be working, going, doing, I think that energy has definitely become part of my creative practices. Where as in Tennessee I didn’t see much hope for a life as a female artist, here the community embraces that. I find many like-minded people here, people who have similar goals, and we help each other out. The city takes its toll, the nose and lack of space is a lot to handle psychically. I do miss nature, and my family, so sometimes it’s hard. Most importantly I feel like this is the best place for me right now to create the work I need to be making.

Mary Evans, creator of the Spirit Speak Tarot

Mary Evans, creator of the Spirit Speak Tarot

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

Mary: I used to live in Olympia Washington and befriended some ladies who were also interested in practices of the occult. I grew up religiously, and even though I had been interested as a child, I never felt comfortable being open about it. Spending time with those people was the first place I felt comfortable experimenting with the Ouija, tarot, spells, & rituals. I was like oh, witches are real, and I think I am one. After that initial experimentation, my journey with tarot continued to grow. When I made the Spirit Speak deck, I tried my best to let go of my attachments to it being “beautiful art”. It was more about intention, I wanted it to be easy to read and easy to use, mainly for myself. I do think that you can feel my personality and voice through the images. Love is so important to me, working from your heart, and I hope that people who use the deck can sense that. I am pretty childlike, and I think that element of my spirit talks through my artwork a lot.

I guess what is unique about my deck is that I do feel it is truly my voice, from my deepest heart. But I don’t think that makes Spirit Speak any more special or important than other decks. Why I like collecting decks is because each has its own way of talking, its own vocabulary. And for that reason, I like to have my cards read from lots of different readers. I think allowing many voices to have opinions in m study of tarot continues to give me a rounded view of the cards.

WT: 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?

Mary: As an air sign I am happy to welcome in this time of movement and change! I have been thinking a lot recently about this growth within the tarot community. Not only in the bay area, but the resurgence of artist tarot decks. Tarot has been such an important tool for my personal and spiritual growth. It has helped me to be able to connect on a deeper level with so many people. And in that way it has given me a greater compassion. It’s so easy to disagree, and to fight with each other on our differences of opinions. Through tarot, I see that we are all just trying to move forward, and do what is best for our lives, our path. Seeing that has helped me to be more loving and compassionate. I think it’s great that more and more people are able to use tarot for the positive in their lives. I want to serve as a support to anyone wanting to experience all the wonderful things through tarot that I have. That’s why I started teaching.
Before there was Spirit Speak, there were other artist decks that inspired me, The Collective Tarot Deck & The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck. I thank and honor those artists so much, because this project has been such an amazing influence in my life. I hope that my deck, can do the same for others. For me, I would love to support others to use tarot in a way that feels right for them, it’s just is for you, how you want it to be. When I realized, oh wow, so I am actually the one who decides what these cards mean to me. It changed a lot. I hope that my deck can bring those elements to others.

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

Mary: I think most of all I am inspired by my experiences and environments. It’s less about visual inspiration, but more spirit inspiration. I love seeing people do what they love to do. I watched my friend Liz Migliorelli of Sister Spinster Apothecary grow her business up from the ground, all rooted from a true love of plants and plant medicine. That really moved me. Lisa Silva my collaboration partner for our project In The House of Lovers has been a big inspiration. She is a true creator, her visions and dreams, seamlessly intertwined. I am blessed with many people who move me with what they create in the world.
Since I was in high school, I wanted to use my art to make children’s books. I am in love with illustrators like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. The expressiveness of their illustrations is something that has played a big role in my own artwork. Roses, any form of adornment, animals, nature, hands, creatures, magic, and fantasy illustrations, all of these things visually inspire me.  

WT: 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!!!!)

Mary: Lenora Carrington is one of my favorite artists and her work speaks so deeply to me, I would absolutely freak out to use a deck that she made.  A friend of mine, Alejandra Leon, of the Lioness Oracle, is in the process of making a collage tarot deck that I can wait to get my hands. I know that Alejandro Jodorowsky has a version of the Tarot de Marseille, and I have read that he feels strongly about using purely that deck, but I would love to see someone create a deck based on his film The Holy Mountain. 

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

Mary: Yes actually! I just finished a 35 card oracle deck that is in the process of being printed right now. I have also been thinking about making a second 78 card tarot deck. With Spirit Speak, its intention being simple and easy to read, I would love to make a deck with more detailed symbolism and an element of mystery. However, I think I need to take a break before jumping right back into a big project like that. Maybe in a year or two I will decide if I want to follow through with a second deck.  

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

Mary: Spirit Speak http://spirit-speak.com/tarot/


Mentions from Interview
Lise Silva

In The House of Lovers

Sister Spinster Apothecary

Lioness Oracle