Our latest interview is with Machaila Jensen, creator of The Deck of Celestials. a tarot deck that is designed with inclusivity in mind. Machaila uses celestial bodies and beings over humans with genders and races so that any race, gender and religion are able to pick up a tarot deck and feel welcome using it and utilise the powerful energy and properties it holds.
Kickstarter - Deck of Celestials
Where in the world do you call home?
I’m from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Only a 45 minute drive to the Rocky Mountains, so I’m surrounded by cold weather and beautiful mountain scenery. I honestly love snow and winter, I have a ridiculous amount of cancer in my chart so staying home and cozy when it’s freezing outside is what I live for.
What was your first experience with oracles and / or tarot and when did you fall in love with it?
I started having dreams about tarot and thinking about it more and more everyday, which led me to do further research and purchase a few books on how to read tarot. After that my journey into spirituality spiralled, I started buying an absurd amount of books on spirituality and my crystal collection grew out of hand. I fell in love with the community and how accepting and supportive everyone is, it’s truly a positive environment to be in and really helped grow my love for tarot. I’ve been practicing for about 3 years now and have loved it ever since.
What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?
I’ve always been an artist and had a love for drawing. When I discovered tarot and noticed all of the beautiful decks in the world I only dreamed of creating my own one day. It seemed like such an impossible task at the time and something I never thought I would achieve. My inspiration came in June, after participating in the BLM protests in my city and really being aware of all the pain and hurt in the world. It made me want to create a deck for everyone, something that didn’t have humans, race or gender and something that anyone can hold space and identify with. I know there are decks like this in the world, but I felt drawn to creating my own. Tarot is a tool for anyone, you don’t have to be some perfect human to pick up a deck. I wanted my deck to feel safe and welcoming for whoever chose to use it.
Aside from your own deck, do you have a favourite deck? If so, which one?
I love the Flux Arcana Tarot deck by Micah Ulrich. It’s truly a work of art and I feel that I really connect with the cards and artwork throughout the deck. Micah Ulrich does a lot of mediaeval line work featuring skulls and cloaked figures, all that good stuff. It’s a 78 card tarot deck with no guidebook in a cute little tuck box, and one of my greatest treasures.
Do you have a favourite card (either from your deck or just the card in general). If so, why is it your favourite?
My all time favourite card in any deck is The Sun card, seems so cliché but holding and looking at any Sun card brings me true and honest happiness. I really feel the magic and positivity of The Sun card shining through me as I’m in it’s presence and that’s definitely why it’s my favourite. Such a beautiful card and message no matter the deck.
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
I didn’t draw for months when COVID-19 first hit Canada. I was just in a slump of everything being shut down and adjusting to the new normal that I was honestly not motivated to create anything. It wasn’t until June/July when I started feeling more and more inclined to created my deck, again because of the BLM movements and protests I had attended. I decided to purchase an iPad so I could start creating my deck as I knew I wanted to do it digitally, and from there I have been nothing but creative! I think having a new tool to create with really sparked my excitement.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
The number one challenge was doing it all on my own. I’m a self taught, independent artist which means I’m my own artist, author and publisher all in one. Learning how to launch a Kickstarter, print a deck, and write a guidebook has been challenging but it has all been such an amazing experience! I’m learning how to be more tech savvy one day at a time.
Can you explain the use of celestial bodies to represent inclusivity? Why was this important to you?
I needed a form of archetypes that weren’t human, I didn’t want any genders or races in the deck in order to create that inclusivity. So I decided on the moon face we see so much in the deck to stand in as my celestial being. I first drew that moon face three years ago, and it has been a huge part of my artwork ever since, but I always wanted to do more with it. I feel that the celestial bodies give the deck such a dreamy, magical feel. And using the cloaked moon figure leaves to much to the imagination. This figure can be whatever you need it to be, that’s the beauty of it. There are no visible male or female traits on any of the celestial bodies, just a moon with a face. This way you aren’t focused on not being able to identify with a card when you pull it, but can focus on the card itself and the message you are being given.
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
After the adrenaline rush of even being able to bring this deck life, I would like to just take a day to do absolutely nothing! Eat some of my favourite pizza and hangout with my boyfriend, cat and dog, the perfect celebration in my opinion!
What is on offer for people who pledge?
All of the Kickstarter stretch goals have been met, meaning the deck comes in a two piece upgraded custom box with a guidebook, as well as 3 holographic, waterproof vinyl stickers, and a super cute 1 inch enamel moon pin of the moon face seen throughout the deck! All of these goodies come with each Kickstarter pledge, so even if you just purchase some artwork or thank you card to show your support, you will still receive the stickers and pin.
To be one of the first to get your hands on this deck that will appeal to all, pledge here:
Kickstarter - Deck of Celestials