August's Deck of the Month is Bea Nettles' Mountain Dream Tarot. Originally released in 1975, The Mountain Dream Tarot is the first known photographic tarot deck. Shot in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it features the artist's friends and family as they reenact each card of the Rider-Waite deck. The photos are black and white, but have been tinted so that the Majors and each suit is a different hue. The original edition is out of print, so I'll be working with the most current reprint.
I haven't spent a lot of time reading with this deck, so I'm really looking forward to getting to know it in this month's Weather Report (you can find the Weather Report, my free daily reading, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr). Before we kick of our daily readings, let's get introduced.
As ever, my first port of call in any new deck is my bestie, The Hierophant.
After a couple of months of very feminine Majors, it's hard not to be struck by how traditional this guy appears. He's definitely got that classic RWS pope thing going on! A product of the 1970's, he's swathed in beautiful woven blankets and scarves rather than traditional papal regalia, so perhaps he's more of the farm commune guru persuasion than your average Hierophant! He might still be a little strict, but I'm sure there's plenty for us to learn from him.
Now, let's make our formal introductions. I drew two cards, asking, "Mountain Dream Tarot, what can you tell me about yourself?"
I drew the Nine of Cups and the Eight of Swords.
This deck is a product of individual vision married with friendship and collaboration, and captures real people and real relationships. Certainly, the connection between photographer and subject zings from every card. It's clearly a passion project, and a work that celebrates a particular time and place, and such joy of expression radiates from it.
The Eight of Swords suggests though that this is no mere family album. We can enjoy it superficially for its 1970s outfits, or spend our time speculating about who these people were and how they spent their time when not posing for tarot card photo shoots, but there's more to it than that. What is hidden in this deck is just as important as what shimmers on the surface, and if we're prepared to put our assumptions aside and dive deeper, greater layers of complexity and meaning will be available to us.
Have you worked with The Mountain Dream Tarot? Or have you discovered any new favourite tarot decks lately? Let me know in the comments!