Interview – The divination card system of Misja van Laatum

Every year, many new tarot decks are being published. But are there different card systems that are as complete as tarot? And are there new card systems on the market? Misja is an artist, developer, designer and illustrator who lives in The Netherlands (Europe). With his multiple talents he is now creating his own divination card system. Don’t confuse this card system with a tarot deck because it is a new system invented by Misja himself! This is pretty rare because most card systems look a lot like tarot, oracle cards, rune and other system that exist for a long time. That is why HealingTarotNet is thrilled to know more about this new card system!

Read more about it in this interview with Misja van laatum:

Misja van Laatum divination card system sketches 2016

Because I have seen your card system and because I know the story behind it, I know it is a beautiful system and it is really amazing how you came to it. Can you tell us about the start of the card system?

“Well, this card system actually started out as a card game. A bunch of friends and me – all of us pretty well acquainted with Tarot, other divinatory tools and card games – asked ourselves a question: “can we come up with a set of cards that can at the same time be used for divination as well as to play a game with?”. We never really found out as the project stranded in an early stage, with just a rudimentary set of cards and a pretty fuzzy set of game rules. But the cards themselves stuck with me, and over time I kept working on them. And more and more I started using them in my personal rituals.
But progress was infrequent and very, very slow so this year I decided to give the cards some more care and attention; if all goes well I hope to have a “final” version ready by the end of 2016.”

How did you actually know how to develop a card system?

“Good question. To be brutally honest I’m not even sure I actually know how to! We’ll find out once I’ve finished it, I guess… I’ve been around divinatory systems from a very young age: tarot, i ching and horoscopy were all subjects that my parents were into and I grew up reading the books about them, handling the cards, casting the coins. Later I developed a fascination for card and board games and I ended up being a games designer. That and a (still growing) curiosity about the occult led to me thinking I could come up with a card system. But it’s a weird thing, inventing a card deck from scratch. We are all used to existing systems, that have been around for a long, long time and that carry with them a certain “authority”. You don’t question tarot decks, you don’t change qabalah (even though the interpretation and ways of working with them might change over time). So coming up with a deck, thinking about the underlying structure and fine-tuning the interpretation is certainly challenging.”

You have so many skills where a lot of people might be jealous at! From websites to animations and from illustrations to games…. You even made the website for the band Omnia. And not to forget that you are a great artist who makes analog artwork that triggers the fantasy of the receiver. What is your background with card systems as an artist?

“Thanks for all that praise – some of it more deserved than others, I guess. I consider myself still very much a student in many of these fields, learning more and more every day. I’ve always admired – and used in my art – elements that you will find in card and board games. There is something fascinating in the art of card and board games; it is at the same time playful and instructional, meant to explain as well as inspire. Look at something simple like the symbols on standard playing cards, the shape of chess pieces, the fields on a monopoly board: all these games would work equally well with a purely functional combination of colours, numbers, shapes and plain text but they wouldn’t look the same. Or feel the same. Tarot cards especially have always fascinated me: they clearly tell stories, but what are these stories? What do the colours mean? The names? I have an affinity with systems, sequences, collections. That also shows in my art, I think.”

Your artwork seems to have esoteric influences, but that could also be my interpretation of your art…..What are your influences when you are making art and how is this related to your card system?

“That’s a pretty accurate interpretation: there’s certainly an esoteric influence in my work. But at the same time I wouldn’t call myself an esoteric artist. My inspirations are varied and often surprise even me. I take inspiration from history, books, stories, music, people around me, anything that presents itself basically. And yes, because I am interested in esoteric subjects, they sneak into my art every now and then. But this deck of cards is a project in itself; right now there’s not much overlap between the cards and my other art works. But the ideas, concepts and archetypes that my deck of cards is about? Now that’s a different story. I try to internalize and apply these to most things in life. In small and large decisions, personal rituals, art, relationships … I’m always trying to look for a parallel or a similarity. But getting into that would require a bit more space than we have here.

Because the readers of HealingTarot.Net are learning to read tarot: Would it be difficult for tarot readers to learn you card system?

“I like to think it would be easier. The structure of my card deck is sort of similar to a tarot – even though the cards themselves are completely different. I’m not making another “flavour” of tarot, it really is its’ own thing. But yes, there are similarities that make reading it even easier when you’re used to reading tarot. Quite recently – and thanks to some very worthwhile insights that you gave me – it became apparent to me that a Major/Minor Arcana type of division would work very well in my card system as well. It is a tricky balance though: part of the strength of tarot cards is that they are so multi-layered and open to a lot of interpretation. That makes them complicated to read but it is also their strong point. I’m well aware that my deck will need the same kind of “depth” but just making thing complicated for the sake of it is of course not the way to go. Much tweaking and changing is necessary: I’m learning more and more that a deck of cards needs to grow, at its’ own pace.”

At the moment you developing your card system further. How will the card system work in the future; will it be analog or digital?

“I’ve always pictured it as an analogue product: I’m thinking of self publishing it as a deck of cards with an accompanying manual. The artwork is something I’m not quite sure about: it could be pen and ink,
paintings or etches – I’ll know more when I’ve come up with a final list of the cards. There’s little sense in worrying about the pictures when I’m not 100% sure what the cards themselves are trying to say. I’ve decided to make an analogue product first because I’m used to handling the cards and being able to actually physically put them down, shuffle them, display them. I think that’s important. A digital product is something I most definitely consider after the “real life” publication. It could be in the form of a website or an app (or perhaps even a game!) but the future will tell.”

Can you show us already some examples of the cards you have made?

“Here are some preliminary sketches that I did a while ago:

Misja van Laatum divination card system sketches 2016

Of course these are just rough sketches to get my ideas into pictures. The style of the illustrations might change completely and perhaps none of these cards will make it into the final deck. But it does give an impression…”

What is your website/portfolio/blog/etc. where we can follow you?

“At the moment I have no dedicated place for my deck of cards (it doesn’t even have a name yet!) but as I progress with it I will give it its’ own little cyber place – most likely a website or Facebook page. But for people that would like to follow my work there’s the following:

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/misjavanlaatumart

Flickr profile – https://flic.kr/s/aHsjg2R1co

 

Thank you very much for your time Misja!

Do not use these pictures in the article without permission of HealingTarot.Net



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