The Hieronymus Bosch Tarot

Our latest interview is with the creator of the Angel Tarot, Occult Tarot, Demon Tarot, Vlad Dracula Tarot and the Oracle of Heaven and Hell, Travis McHenry. We are talking about his latest creation, The Hieronymus Bosch Tarot. A deck of daydreams and nightmares, Travis has utliised artwork from 15th Century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch's paintings. They are not redrawings, but actual excerpts from his fantastical artwork, which he has then turned into a stunning deck of cards that would be a wonderful addition to any collection.

Kickstarter - The Hieronymus Bosch Tarot

Where in the world do you call home?

I've lived in Los Angeles, California for the past 12 years.

What was your first experience with oracles and / or tarot and when did you fall in love with it?

I first discovered Tarot cards in 1993, when I was a teenager. It was a knock off Rider-Waite-Smith deck with a little interpretation of the card at the bottom. I didn't really understand the cards or how to read with them, but I slept with the deck beside my bed and put a different card of the Major Arcana inside my pillow case each night. That was the only deck I owned for many years until 2013 when I challenged myself to learn a new skill. I was originally going to learn how to read cuneiform, but that basically requires a PhD, so instead, I taught myself to read Tarot cards. After really immersing myself in the Tarot, its history, and the meaning behind the symbols, everything changed and I started reading for friends and giving myself readings each month.

What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?

I created my first deck in 2017, the Demon-Possessed Tarot (now re-branded as the Occult Tarot). I made the deck because I felt that my knowledge and experience with the Tarot was deep enough that I could really start to share it with other people though the creation of a deck. Originally, I tried to create a deck based on the works of Hieronymus Bosch, but my skills as a digital artist weren't good enough to tackle that very complex project.

I had been interested in the Occult and demonology after being introduced to the subject while investigating the deceased leader of a coven of witches (Frederick Santee of the Coven of the Catta) in 1998. The coven turned out to be lovely people and I've since become friends with several of their members. But my studies into demonology and ritual summoning seemed to be a natural fit to the Tarot, especially because the 72 demons of the Goetia each have a link to astrology, as do the 78 Tarot cards.

After the tremendous success of the Demon-Possessed Tarot, I gained the courage to take another stab at the Hieronymus Bosch artwork and slowly found ways to work with it. It's a bit like taking a piece of clay and moulding it into a new form. You can't force it to be something that it's not.

Aside from your own deck, do you have a favourite deck? If so, which one?

I absolutely adore the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot by Linnea Gits and Peter Dunham (published by Uusi). I grew up in a tiny town out in the middle of the woods, so the nature-theme of the deck really speaks to me. Additionally, the quality of the cardstock and the tactile feel of the box put it into a different tier of decks. My only problem is that the cards are too big for my little hands to shuffle hahaha.

Do you have a favourite card (either from your deck or just the card in general). If so, why is it your favourite?

My favorite card from my own deck would probably be the Mistress of Terror from the Hieronymus Bosch Tarot. She's my version of the High Priestess, and it took a ton of work on my part to create the image because Bosch cut off the woman's hat, so I had to literally reconstruct about half of the image which was obscured by a weird boob creature holding a chessboard. So I love that card not only for the image itself and the meaning behind it, but also because of the work I put into making it.

From the Tarot in general: my favorite card is The Magician. I struggled with that card for a really long time, but when I finally started using it as the significator card during readings for myself, my entire outlook on life changed. Up until that point, I had always used The Fool (my second favorite card). For some reason, since I was young, I've had a secret crush on the Queen of Cups.