Our latest interview is with Chris Leech, about his new 80s music inspired tarot deck - a time when music was as important as life and love and as serious as a bad haircut. Chris is the owner of Welkin Tarot and has also produced The Shakespeare Tarot, The Beatles Tarot, The Charles Dickens Tarot, The Golden Age of Hollywood Tarot, and The Alfred Hitchcock Tarot, which can all be viewed on his website - Welkin Tarot
The New Wave Tarot is a standard 78 card Tarot deck based on the New Wave music of the early 1980s. The Companion Key, unlike a standard LWB, is a full-size 6x9 trade-paper book and it includes in-depth information about the musicians referenced and a colour reproduction of each card.
The New Wave Tarot deck & book is a limited edition set of 100, so you'll have to get in quick to get your hands on one of these limited decks:
Kickstarter - New Wave Tarot
Where in the world do you call home?
I have lived many places in my life – England, Germany, Greece, India – but I now find myself living where I grew up as a child – a small parcel of land on Vancouver Island, Canada. My wife and I live on the property with my parents; she has a small studio space for her jewellery making business (White Raven Craft), while I have both a music and an art studio which I built myself. On a deeper level, I make an effort to feel at home wherever I am, even though at times it feels I'm at home nowhere.
What was your first experience with oracles and / or tarot and when did you fall in love with it?
My first hands-on experience with tarot was through a close friend of mine, 40 years my senior, with a profound knowledge of myth, literature, and the Perennial Philosophy. My own interest grew very slowly over 20 years, and I came at it mostly sideways, from psychological, artistic, and esoteric vantages. When I really became enthralled was when I started looking at the tarot from the inside out, doing experimental readings on history, philosophy, and literature, and then actually creating whole new tarot decks from the ground up. I guess I really fell in love with it when I realised the tarot is an instrument of creation.
What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?
I began by wondering about what made the tarot tick, and what made it work. Just as the subconscious uses dream imagery to evoke feelings and express itself to the conscious mind, the tarot is a set of principles to evoke thoughts and feelings about the physical world. With the I Ching, pennies or sticks or almost anything can be used as long as the fundamental principles are adhered to; the same is true with tarot. I became fascinated by this in and of itself, but also with seeing what kind of things could be used to create a tarot, and then what in turn would these new tarots have to say about reality, given their new and unique perspective. I became something of a Shakespeare scholar late in life and his works were my first real inspiration, to create a working tarot deck based on his characters and scenarios. I made The Shakespeare Tarot in 2016, and I continue to be amazed and inspired by its insights and uncanny accuracy.
Aside from your own deck, do you have a favourite deck? If so, which one?
No, I don't have a favourite. I find a good 99% of decks to be terrible. I use the RWS deck as a touchstone, as a universal reference point because it has become the Rosetta Stone of tarots. Of the new decks I've seen, I have been the most impressed by The Carnival at the End of the World.
Do you have a favourite card (either from your deck or just the card in general). If so, why is it your favourite?
I have a few favourite cards – first is The Moon. I respect its mystery, its danger. Maybe it's because I'm a Pisces with my moon in Cancer and my ascending sign Scorpio. I also like The High Priestess, representing as she does Sophia and the Holy Spirit. The Star's grace is also hard to beat. Of the pips I like the 7 of Cups. And full confession: I don't care for the aces and am openly hostile towards the courts.
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
I am something of a recluse and COVID cases where I live are quite low, so in all honesty I have been lucky enough to be very little affected by the pandemic. That said, in the first 6 months of this year, I wrote and recorded 5 albums for my band Printers Bloc (printersbloc.org), and in the last 6 months I have created 2 new tarot decks and written their companion books.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
Essentially, I made this deck as a fun and welcome relief from the hard work of making the much more serious deck, The Numinous Tarot. The first question I faced was should the deck be made up of the New Wave music that has stood the test of time, whether for myself or other musicians or the public generally, or whether I should include musicians who were less memorable - or whom most of us wish we could forget - and thereby reflect the era as it really was? Connected to this question was how obscure should the deck get, and if I limited the bands I countenanced, would there be enough variety to reflect the panoply of characters and situations needed to properly comprise a working tarot? For the sake of accuracy, function, and the sense of sometimes embarrassing fun the early 80s embodied, I tried to keep my curating to a minimum.
How did you decide which song should represent which card?
This was one of the more enjoyable tasks, especially since many of the choices were made expressly for the fun of it. An example is the 8 of Water (Cups), where the figure on the RWS card is leaving; I chose I Ran (So Far Away) by A Flock of Seagulls. Of course, there are other factors – details about the life of the musicians, aspects of their persona or how people reacted to the song, etc. The court cards aren't based on songs but on musicians as archetypes. The Majors aren't songs either, but musicians who personified a major archetype such as The Fool (Devo) or an event or situation which encapsulated a theme, as with Live Aid representing Justice.
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
I will celebrate by immediately starting work on completing my half-finished project, The Numinous Tarot. Not only am I not much for celebrating but one of my greatest pleasures in life is creating things, so to be able to see a project through to completion is actually, for me, a form of celebration.
What is on offer for people who pledge?
I like to keep it simple – I find some of the things offered by Kickstarter campaigns border on gimmickry. I prefer to offer the best value for money to people that I can, along with the assurance that backers can receive exactly what they paid for quickly and with a reliable standard of quality. The only offer I have made is to sign the book, which some backers have asked for in the past, and a contribution amount which sees the backer receive both The New Wave Tarot and my previous music-based deck, The Beatles Tarot. For anyone who's interested, I've “offered” a playlist of songs featured in the deck, which costs nothing to enjoy: https://chrisleech.wixsite.com/newwavetarot
To add this limited edition deck to your collection, pledge here:
Kickstarter - New Wave Tarot