Our latest interview is with Beenish Khan, the creator of the Flights of Fantasy Tarot - a vividly-illustrated Tarot deck with characters from folklore and mythology.
Each card is tied to a fable, a legend, a deity. No single card bears a similar theme. Yet each card can be read as part of a self-exploratory whole. Whether your goal is shadow-work, divination or simple entertainment, it is my hope that these cards will offer a humble source of wisdom..
Kickstarter - Flights of Fantasy Tarot
Where in the world do you call home?
I've been traveling since I was a child, so I'm used to finding home in unexpected places! That said, I find myself unfailingly gravitating to places by bodies of water – whether it's rivers or sea-sides. Currently, I'm residing in Austin, Texas, and utterly in love with their network of lakes, and the energy of freshness and inspiration they bring :)
What was your first experience with tarot / oracle and when did you fall in love with it?
I was 12-years-old when I first got my hands on a Morgan Greer Tarot deck. Although I couldn't understand the motifs, and knew very little about Tarot's divinatory uses, the deck's artwork just spoke to me. It was like poring through a storybook with a complex and colourful cast of characters. Afterward, I bought a guidebook to understand the significance and mythology behind the cards. Since then, I've purchased and perused several Tarot/Oracle decks. Yet my baseline fascination for Tarot remains tied to its storied iconography. For me, each card is like an illustrated page, and can offer us guidance on how to understand our world, both the inner and outer.
What made you want to create your own oracle deck? What was your inspiration?
I've always had a deep fondness for Brothers Grimm fables, and their older, more adult origins. Similarly, I'm always on the hunt for tidbits of local folklore and mythology wherever I travel, be it Okinawan ghost stories or Slavic fairytales. In a way, Flights of Fantasy is both a love-letter and an illustrated compendium of the stories/characters that have most strongly resonated with me, from childhood to adulthood, and my desire to share their interpretations with a wider audience.
What would you say is unique about your deck?
In terms of uniqueness, I've tried to convey a literal sense of the fantastical in the deck, through both its vivid and highly saturated colours, and the surreal compositions. I want to offer Tarot readers a sense of having their feet in two worlds – at once grounded in reality and also somehow untethered from it, in a way that invites reflection, and a sense of freedom. One of the reasons I chose Flights of Fantasy as the deck's title was because of the Greek word "phantasia," from which "fantasy" is derived. For Ancient Greece, phantasia was synonymous with the imaginative faculty, and the birthplace of ideas before they manifested in the physical realm. I'm hopeful that this deck offers a similar space to entertain fantasies, as part of the healthy and holistic process of self-knowledge.
How long have you had the idea for the deck for and how long has it taken you to create it?
Since my late teens, I'd dabbled with the idea of creating my own Tarot deck, in a loosely Rider-Waite-Smith style. However, I lacked confidence in my ability to create a deck that others would respond positively to – and the patience to sit down and meticulously plan each aspect of its design. You could say this deck has been a learning curve nearly two decades in the making, in terms of both self-discipline and artistic skill, with several aspects needing to be redone and revised until I got them just right – or was at least satisfied with the end result ^^;
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
As someone who revels in solitude as a chance for creativity and reflection, the pandemic brought with it both complications and blessings. On the one hand, it felt as though we were forced to hit pause on many aspects of our lives, and reassess what truly sustained us, versus what was ultimately damaging for our well-being. On the other hand, there is no denying the pandemic has been a source of tremendous emotional, physical and financial stress.
For me, personally, the backdrop of the pandemic allowed me to transform my creative work into a source of meaning-making, beyond simply an outlet for stress. I think most artists treat their works as tangible representations of their feelings. For me, the pandemic created environmental pressures that forced me to go beyond that, and treat my artwork as a narrative of my current state-of-being, and how that evolves from moment-to-moment in a post-2020 world.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
One of the biggest challenges was finding a wide variety of subjects to sketch, given the lockdowns. Initially, I'd envisioned a diverse cast of characters from all walks of life. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced me to limit who I could and couldn't include in the deck. Rather, I ended up using myself as a reference for much of the artwork, and narrowing the scope of stories I hoped to share.
Thankfully, with restrictions loosening, I've had the chance to update the deck, and include more characters that better reflect my original plans for an inclusive and multifaceted storyset :)
Your deck can be used for shadow work, and I know a lot of our readers are interested in decks they can use for this. Can you explain how the deck is used in this way?
In my experience, self-reflection, and the space to fully embrace our darker aspects, is part and parcel of shadow work. While I've done my best to imbue Flights of Fantasy with a sense of colourful whimsy, there is no denying that this is a "dark/gothic" flavour of deck, in terms of both subject matter and style. Tarot compels us to confront all facets of ourselves, both the positive and negative. Similarly, the deck doesn't shy from more sinister motifs – but it also attempts to engage the querent in a dialogue with their darker selves, using the imagery of myths and fables to tap into the language of their subconscious.
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
Knowing me, I'll have leapfrogged the "Time to Celebrate!" stage right to the "What will my next project be?" stage, haha!
What is on offer for people who pledge?
There is a wide collection of goodies to choose from! The tiers below $50 feature over 100 Kiss-Cut Stickers, 6x6 Magnets, and Posters from my store, DÉJÀ VISITÉ. For the tiers above $50, there are a variety of options to receive the Tarot deck. There's also a Combo Pack tier which allows backers to receive the deck in addition to all the abovementioned goodies! :)
To begin your flight to fantasy with this deck, click here:
Kickstarter - Flights of Fantasy Tarot
Website - Main Store