Our latest interview is with the one and only Emi Brady - creator of The Brady Tarot. It's a fascinating look into the inspiration and process of the creation of this successful deck. Emi is in the process of creating a new oracle deck, "The Oracle of Deep Time". Keep your eyes out for an interview once the deck is published.
In Australia, you can purchase The Brady Tarot here with local postage prices (new stock will be in very soon). To purchase world-wide, or just browse Emi's work, you can head to her website:
Where in the world do you call home?
I live, work, and play in the Baker neighborhood of Denver, Colorado.
What was your first experience with oracles and / or tarot and when did you fall in love with it?
I have a distinct memory of my mother dressing up as a fortune teller and giving "readings" at a cousin's birthday party when I was about 6 years old. I remember looking at the cards and finding all the details so fascinating. I didn't get re-introduced to the Tarot until I was about 13, however. Growing up in the US south, anything even tangentially related to witchcraft was looked down upon, and showing any interest in related subjects was met with disdain and rumors. Being a rebellious teenager, this of course only encouraged me. I loved how all the images held secrets that required study to understand them, but I was just not quite ready to do that study.
The first deck I owned and worked with didn't come into my hands until I was in college and the age of 21. A roommate at the time had worked with the Tarot for years, and she started me on my journey. I did use the I-Ching pretty frequently in the year or two before receiving my first deck.
What made you want to create your own tarot deck?
There just wasn't a nature-themed deck out there that took deep consideration of the actual lives of animals. All the animal decks I tried connecting to handled animals purely as symbols, and not as the breathing, bleeding, living individuals they actually are. Biology is my second love (after art, of course), and none of the decks I found went into the depth of biologic "truth" that I needed in order to do the divination work I knew I was meant to do. So I made it!
Aside from your own deck, do you have a favourite deck? If so, which one?
Herman Haindl's deck was the one I used almost exclusively before creating mine. There are aspects of that deck I absolutely stole from for my own. It was the deck I learned on, and I used the guidebooks written by Rachel Pollack (who authored my deck's guidebook) to do deeper study. Those books were also my introduction to her work, and subsequent study with her books had a big impact, too.
Interestingly, I didn't do the really deep study of the Waite-Smith deck until I made the Brady Tarot.
Do you have a favourite card (either from your deck or just the card in general). If so, why is it your favourite?
There are so many good ones! Death might be my favorite, and it's a card that foreshadows my next body of work. The Ace of Arrows: Truth and the Ace of Feathers: Inspiration are big ones for me, too. The 10 of Arrows: Finality makes me laugh every time I pull it. And of course the Hermit card. That one was the 2nd card I carved, and it ended up being the face for the deck.
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
If I'm perfectly honest, it's made me be able to go deeper into the work. Having this prolonged period of social isolation has made me fully recognize just how much creative energy socializing takes out of me. It's kind of been a revelation, honestly. Sure, I've had a ton of anxiety watching what's happening to my country with this pandemic. Just like everyone else, there's been a ton of worrying about stuff I have absolutely no control over, like a supply chain collapse. I miss human contact with friends and family. But I can't help but notice that the more peace and solitude I get away from "normal" social expectations, the more space I find for creation. The images have been flowing easier, the messages have more clarity, and there's overall less worry and inner chatter that would normally take me out of the creative space.
Would you recommend someone go through the process of creating their own deck if they feel inclined to do so? Would you have any advice for them?
Yes, I would absolutely recommend it! It's such a magical journey. But only if you are truly ready to fully commit to it.
You'll live each card as you make them, so be prepared to ride that roller coaster. Keep an open mind and listen closely to your intuition as much as possible. Have patience. Take care of yourself. Keep yourself grounded. Be honest.
What was your inspiration for the artwork in The Brady Tarot?
Nature and the wonders of biodiversity are the biggest ones. I've also been inspired by the works of John James Audubon, Walton Ford, Walter Anderson, outsider artists like Aldolf Wölffli and Henry Darger, Maurice Sendak, Trenton Doyle Handcock, Dürer, Holbein, Dennis McNett, and the many beautiful objects and images humans have made in tribute to animals throughout time.
Do you have plans for any more tarot decks in the future?
I just started a new body of work that will become an oracle deck. There's no preset structure to follow, so right now I'm not even sure how many cards there will be. I've carved one block and just started on the second, so it'll be awhile before it's finished.
I believe the deck will be called "The Oracle of Deep Time." Deep time is time on the geologic timescale, where you're looking at the Earth in hundreds of millions of years instead of days or months. The first block has a contemporary species alongside an extinct one, with contemporary human tools contrasting tools and art from 40,000 years ago. I've got a sketch for another image that overlaps what's happening to our environment now with what happened 251 million years ago, when the biggest extinction event that's happened to this planet went down.
It will be a deeper and more global look into the animal world than the Brady Tarot, and I'm hoping it will be even better than the first deck!
You can check out all of Emi's works on her website: