William Blake Tarot

By Becky Rodriguez | retired

William Blake Tarot

The William Blake Tarot of the Creative Imagination was created by Ed Buryn and edited by his wife Mary Greer. It is based on the mythological, artistic and poetic works of William Blake. Ed Buryn explains that his deck does remain true to the traditional tarot, but focuses on the creative processes. The book that accompanies this deck explains who William Blake was and a history of the tarot. The two aren’t technically or physically related but Buryn explains how he came to connect the two to let it make sense.

The deck ties into Blake’s mythological character Albion, a personification of the universe represented in four divine energies that existed in a state of unity until each “part” (called Zoas) decided to seek selfhood and dominion. Albion falls to Earth and goes into a deep sleep. The mythology of Blake’s Albion is based on the story of the Zoas trying to reunite again…(the theme kind of reminds me of a Native American creation story I read about the four peoples of the earth and the four directions)

The suit or pip cards of this deck are tied to the four eternal arts, painting (water/cups), music (fire/wands), science (air/swords), and poetry (earth/pentacles). Each Zoa is associated with one of the four arts. From the introduction of the author, there may be ties to Christianity in Blake’s Mythology…associations with Jesus (“the savior”), Lucifer (“an aspect of Satan”), and five other “angels”. The backs of the cards themselves depict these seven angels – the “seven eyes of the lord”. Blake believed that these represented justice and the judicial process (spiritually?). These are tied to the triumphs.

The Major Arcana of this deck are referred to as the Triumphs, and represent the “…triumph over the ‘Satanic Mills’ of materialism…” Buryn uses Blake’s Illustrations from the Book of Job, which consisted of 21 engravings and told the story of Job from the perspective of the “seven eyes of God” represented in three cycles – Matter, Awakening, and Spirit. The cards tend to have different names than the traditional tarot but the ties are given in a table in the book.

The cards themselves are of good stock and the artwork is interesting, though not much like the traditional tarot at first glance.

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