Tarot Talks Volume XII: An interview with Jennifer Drantel, creator of the Nomad Tarot

Hi my beautiful souls! The Season of Pentacles (Fall) will soon be here. I hope your summers were amazing & gave you’re the time to explore what you will like to bring into fruition this fall. As the pentacles suggest, the fall is about the harvest. Putting fingers to soil, getting dirty & doing the work that is required to build. The lovely navies and whites of Jennifer Drantel’s Nomad Tarot are a great way for me to connect to that transitional phase where summer is almost over and fall approaches. Her use of minimal images helps me to get straight to the heart of matters. This deck is truly a breath of fresh air & a very powerful tool in my Tarot Arsenal. I hope that you enjoy reading about this deck as much as I enjoy working with it.

-HERU JEROME

Interview
Jennifer Drantell creator of the Nomad Tarot

Jennifer Drantel has created a deck that may not be “traditional” but has a tremendous connection to the elements (Fire, Air, Water & Earth). Feathers, crystals & nautical elements make for a deck that is deeply rooted in nature & the subconscious.


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


JD: Well, I feel like I’m from all over. I grew up in Maryland, right on the Chesapeake Bay, and have lived in Hawaii, Colorado, Florida, Ireland, & California (hence the business name “Nomad”). The past seven years my family and I lived north of Seattle in a little town called Bellingham, WA, and I’d say the Nomad Tarot Deck has a distinct Pacific Northwest flavor. There’s a wild woodsy vibe that I associate with the mountains, forests, and tide pools of the Pacific Northwest and the Salish Sea. 
I’ve just moved to Savannah, GA to pursue my MFA in Textile Design.

Jennifer Drantel, creator of the Nomad Tarot

Jennifer Drantel, creator of the Nomad Tarot

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?


JD: I grew up in a very strict Catholic family, and I think because of the hours spent at church staring at ornate altars and stained glass windows, I’ve always been fascinated by religious iconography and symbolic imagery. One of my best friends got me into reading Tarot when we owned an art gallery together in Oakland, CA, and after my husband and I moved north to Washington my friend (who is a really amazing musician: https://derekschmidt.bandcamp.com/album/major-arcana-vol-i) started a project where he was composing a song inspired by each of the Major Arcana. I started talking to him about it, and I had an upcoming gallery show booked and no real inspiration, so I decided to illustrate the Major Arcana as sort of tie-in for his project. I did about six months of research on the Tarot, its history, lots of different decks, as well as research into Norse mythology, Native American totems, herbology, botany, alchemy, and the Kabbalah, & I fell in love the more I worked on it. Once I started drawing the Major Arcana, I became obsessed with having a whole deck in my hands, & about a week before my show I illustrated the remaining 56 cards in a fit of insanity and sleep-deprivation. I never imagined my deck would take off the way that it has, I only wanted to be able to use it myself. After the show I had such an overwhelming response to the deck that I found a manufacturer, got a bunch printed, and started selling them online. 

I have to admit that I’m not a longtime Tarot reader, & I think for that reason I created a deck that might be slightly untraditional, but felt more intuitive to me. I feel a stronger connection to the elements (Fire, Air, Water & Earth) instead of Cups, Wands, Pentacles & Swords. I am also heavily influenced by the natural world, for me Tarot is an opportunity to tap into the energy & beauty of the world around me & remember my place in it, so that imagery is much more present in my deck than in many others (particularly Rider-Waite). I fleshed my deck with pip cards instead of unique minor cards because as a visual person & illustrator, I am so captivated by imagery that I found illustrated minor cards to be a distraction to my readings. I found myself reading so deeply into each & every little detail & symbol that it was upsetting the balance & flow of my readings, & how I wanted them to feel as I was interpreting them. Using a deck with pip cards is peaceful for me, quieter, & I find myself better able to focus on the larger patterns & tides within the spreads.

I really just created the deck I wanted to use & am completely amazed each time I hear another person say the deck speaks to them as well.

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?


JD: While I absolutely adore all of the older Tarot decks (an all-time favorite is the Psychedelic Tarot!), I think a sad connotation for many people is that reading Tarot is only for a specific demographic. But as you said, more and more people are turning to Tarot and Astrology these days, I think some of the more traditional imagery can be confusing & off-putting to many who would otherwise love the spirit of the Tarot. So I really strove to create a deck that felt very modern & new, with simple clean imagery & a style that I felt would seem approachable and visually appealing to a different crowd. I wanted the imagery to feel relevant to me now, & relevant to the things I connect with in my everyday life.

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


JD: I’m inspired by travel, adventure, the quite small moments in nature happening around us all the time. I’m inspired by my best friends who are all fearless artists, & my 4-year old son who is a complete wild thing.


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


JD: One of my favorite illustrators is Carson Ellis, so I think a Tarot deck of hers would just be impossibly beautiful I also would love to see a deck created by David Lynch- I think his work has a sense of the uncanny that feels exactly how I want my Tarot readings to feel. His films are dark and eerie but there’s also a sense of wonder, of the unknown, and the indescribably that makes you delve to a new depth, & I think it would be a fascinating deck to work with.


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


JD: I think if I ever did, it would be interesting to create an “East Coast” deck inspired by the history, ecology, & topography around Savannah to foil the West-coast imagery of the first deck. But that being said, I’ll probably never get around to doing it. I’ve got a lot of projects on all the other burners that require my attention first. Plus, Grad school isn’t exactly leaving me with much in the way of “spare-time.”


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


JD: The deck and guidebook can be purchased directly from me through my webpage, www.shop-nomad.com & is also available for purchase at a smattering of small shops all over the country. & It’s just gone international and is now available in Manchester, UK at Little Red Tarot.