TL Tarot Info

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[Origins] || [Tarot 101] || [TL Tarot: Its Own Kind of Fish] || [Parts of the Deck] || [Tarot in Practice/Making Spreads] || [Other Uses/Special Considerations]

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Part I: The story behind this deck


The TL Tarot began with my need for space.

Immediately after losing my dear friend Justine to suicide, I saw I needed *a space* for myself: a space to grieve; a space to be in the distinct tragedy that is losing a loved one to unnatural death; a space to try to make sense of it all.

Which… to call it as it was, this space didn’t really exist. For those who gave me their condolences when I told them the news, there were those who said nothing at all, as quickly as they could; those who expressed their hopes that I stop feeling sad a day after I’d gotten the news; those whose conversations STAYED on, of all things, how much money I’m making… if they even ingested that my dear friend took her life at all.

And it’s through this obscenity that I needed to find my own way. The more the days passed, the more I craved a space where I could have at my disposal something of the many deeper energies in the world I’d been seeing for so long… the *links* of it all. I NEEDED something tangible that could say this BACK to me; something to immediately have, for the too, too heavy space of others FREQUENTLY blocking things out.

I landed on tarot: my own kind. Things connected that I had the means: *links* affirmed to me that I had time. And as I wove and carved more and more of the beginnings of my deck (starting on note cards and stock paper) I knew it would speak SPECIFICALLY to the ways in which after all, there’s been a long history of things not being okay in this world.

Through a combination of playing, drawing, and delving into my inner designs– all on my own before sharing them with anybody, the same way I started Torus Link itself long ago— and deliberate, conscientious outer design: to share more of the Elements’ story publicly… so did I come to create the TL Tarot, and to offer this to you as well.

Sketches and drawings of all 8 Elements, 2017-2019; the completed TL Tarot deck

Understanding the Cards: Tarot 101

Tarot derives from the standard method humans have used throughout the ages to make, convey, and understand meaning: visual storytelling a la pictures and symbols.

While in particular, standard tarot cards have long involved symbolizing the four western elements (e.g. Fire: “lion, rods, clubs”, Water: “water-bearer, cups, hearts”, Earth: “bull, coins, diamonds”, Air: “eagle, swords, spades”), at its core, understanding such symbolism in each card comes down to your own intuition: your subconscious, inner psyche, *linked* self.

The same form of *linking* that resounds between us all.

Just as I started Torus Link itself with my cast on my own, only to later learn that they are in fact real people… so did I endeavor to let the Elements in TL speak to me in their ways as I created this deck. (i.e. their translated essences, that is. As canonical pre-humans, they don’t exactly speak any human language we’d each know today.) *Links* indeed showed me how each card truly resonated for me in a way that showed the Elements’ valid messages.

If you embrace the possibility that that which has *linked me* to those who make Torus Link semi-real does in fact exist, and you agree with the greater need for us all to link even further, then I invite you to try this method of meaning-receiving.

A popular sample of traditional tarot imagery: the Rider-Waite tarot
Image source:

The TL Tarot Deck: Its Own Kind of Fish

Where I sought to create tarot cards with the Elements, I recognized that they could not fit to the traditional iconography. As entities, I sensed the Elements didn’t want to be fit to images— but to have their OWN story told, if I would frame it at all.

This gave me the opportunity to decide what interpretations of traditional tarot even fit the TL Elemental cast at all— where study of the standard decks, and my own story, led me to define my OWN fittings for what each card would be. In places, certain popular imagery has been subverted; especially notably, the entire Minor Arcana in traditional tarot doesn’t exist for the Elements. (After all, “coins and swords” do not exist in the Elements’ time.)

To that end, the TL Tarot deck offers its own story— peeks into the fuller, true story of the Elements on both sides, as well as sayings from their essences— not for how life is to be lived in normal circumstances, but of cautioning through lessons learned. It is a story that indeed ended in the deaths of them all, so that we might not repeat the same today.

In designing The World, though I first tried to emulate standard imagery (top left and right), I realized Cob did not fit in a kind of iconized pose–none of the Elements would. The bottom is the first completed TL Tarot card: The World as the moment of Cob in his workspace.

Part II: Using The TL Tarot Deck— Primer

I. Parts of the Deck

Major Arcana: Translating to “Greater Mystery”, the Major Arcana consists of 22 cards, ranging from the [mostly] traditional tarot themes of ‘0. The Fool’ to ‘XXI. The World’. The TL Major Arcana depicts scenes from the Elements’ story, as encapsulated by the larger themes of each card’s title. By observing each moment revealed in the Elements’ story, you can reflect upon the potential parallels to yours.

The TL Major Arcana page lists all cards in numerical order, with brief captions describing each scene in the canon story; keywords pertaining to each card’s universal theme; and optional guiding questions you can ask yourself for each card.

Note: you do not have to use any keywords/guiding questions listed if a different interpretation resonates with you personally.

 -Mantra Arcana: In the TL Mantra Arcana, the Elements offer specific sayings that you can apply to your situation. (Again, via their essences.)

The TL Mantra Arcana consists of 24 cards:
6 suits (Star, Heart, Circle, Square, Triangle, Diamond)
-for each of the four Elemental pairs (fire, water, earth, air),
-and 2 mantras per card (Side A/Side B) , for a total of 48 mantras.

The direction in which a mantra card is drawn (i.e. “upright” = Side A, “reversed” = Side B) will determine which mantra will apply to you — either pertaining to what comes from within oneself, or else how to respond to what is coming from outside oneself.

(Left: upright || Right: reversed)

The TL Mantra Arcana page lists all mantra-pairs by suit, and offers additional guidance via my own experiences and examples behind each mantra.

Note again: you do not have to use my additional guidance if something different resonates in your own interpretation.

II. Tarot in Practice + Making spreads

To use the TL Tarot deck in a reading is simple: first, think of the situation at hand that you would like assistance in. Then, concentrating on that situation (I find it helps to put it in the form of a specific question so I know exactly what I’m focusing on), draw cards from the deck and place them in a spread before you. Finally, meditate on what the spread reflects to you.

On making spreads– If each of the TL Tarot’s cards are the “comic panels” to your readings, how you spread them before you to be read represents the pages those panels are on. A tarot spread gives context to the cards, and there is no wrong way to make a spread.

You might, for example:

-Pull one card randomly from the deck to give a quick, concise point of meditation;
-Draw four cards randomly to understand the ‘water’ (feelings), ‘fire’ (will), ‘earth’ (practical matter), and ‘air’ (thoughts) of the situation;
-Shuffle the cards, (or throw all the cards on the floor), and group them together in clusters as it feels right to you, to be read as ‘collective’ meanings, etc.

If you want to see a list of spread ideas to try, you can research other tarot sources online. (One of my preferred sources has long been There, if you type a question, select “free reading,” and say “show my options” for spread, it will provide you a list of traditional spreads that you can study, learn from, and apply for yourself as you will. )

To watch how *I* make spreads with this deck as an example, here is a demo video reading I did specifically for all who come to this page.

III. Other uses/special considerations

In addition to the deck’s primary function, you can also:

  • Study the Major Arcana for additional canon clues in Torus Link. While I don’t show the Elements’ fullest story in this deck alone, all 22 cards show peeks into their story, and (just as in the comic,) are split equally between Sides A and B.
  • Use the Mantra Arcana cards as daily meditations to help guide you in the mess of the world’s current state. (I myself frequently recall certain mantras throughout my day when faced with situations where I see they apply.)

Special considerations for traditional tarot users:

“I have a traditional tarot deck that includes the Minor Arcana, more conventional depictions of the Major Arcana, etc. Can I use the TL Tarot with other standard decks?”

If it speaks to you to do so, YES. We all understand different languages, and that’s what the art of tarot itself, in its combined words and pictures to tell a story, gives. Because of the nature of *links*, whatever reaches us in the way we can best understand and connect with, will.

“Does this deck use reversals for its Major Arcana as well as its Mantra Arcana?”

Strictly speaking, the Elements as entities cannot canonically be reversed themselves. If, for example, Major Arcana cards are reversed in your readings, this can only signify “not present” in your situation. This said, you are the ultimate arbiter in what meanings you receive at all times.

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