review by Bonnie Cehovet
“Form Follows Priority”
Jordan Hoggard is an architect (principal for J. Jordan Hoggard Design in Denver, CO), artist, and creator of “The Mystereum Tarot”. Definitely a Renaissance man! I had the privilege to meet Jordan while taking a teleclass given by Tarot author/artist Robert M. Place. I was very excited to hear that Jordan was independently producing a deck of his own, and highly intrigued when I saw the “back story” material. I think at times that we pay so much attention to the material produced – whether it be a Tarot deck, book, CD, or DVD – that we don’t even think to look for the muse that initiated the creative effort, and fueled it to completion.
Where does the story begin? Does it begin when he was a child, with his mother’s familiarity with the Tarot? Does it begin when he presented his stepmother with a book which he created containing pictures that he painted to accompany a poem that she had translated (which prompted her to say that he should become an illustrator of children’s books)? And how does architecture play into this?
Let’s start with architecture. After an interesting experience flying over the handles of a bike, Jordan was gifted with a full blown passion for the subject. He takes architecture down to its Greek roots, arche and techne. Arche is defined as the first spark of an idea – it is the place of inception. It is formless. Techne is the place of conception, the place where form begins. Jordan associated the Magician with arche, the “first spark”, and the High Priestess with techne, the giving of form. He paid intermittent attention to the Tarot, reading text and history when he could, or whenever it crossed his path, for a period of years.
In the summer of 2006 he was gardening, and paused to look up at his turn-of-the-century Victorian house (1906). In an “Aha!” moment, he raced inside and opened the Tarot folder on his computer. There they were … in his own words “The Empress carrying to full term, and the Emperor overseeing!” He suddenly realized that here he was, in the middle of the largest scale project that he had ever undertaken, and living the Tarot as he worked the soil in his garden! As he puts it, this was the equivalent of the Judgment card having a Hanged Man moment!
The world of architecture provided the springboard for this deck, but does not really define it. For Jordan, the Tarot cards act as wonderful trail-markers, as well as storytellers along the path that is life. He sees the Tarot as archetypal image references, as a seat for the mind, a place “giving place” to your story. Jordan references a four-point mode that he uses for the purpose of general architectural analysis. I looked at this, and found that if you replaced the word “building” with the word “psyche”, that the Tarot connection falls right into place.
1. How does a building stand on the ground?
2. How does a building extend to the sides?
3. How does a building open and close?
4. How does a building meet the sky?
A vector-based architectural drawing program called Archicad was used to create the “Mystereum Tarot”. The format makes use of geometric form and strong presence of color. The deck is vibrant with basic colors (yellow, red, blue, orange, green, brown, and white) – in part due to the limitations of the system – only 99 color hues are available, based on the primary colors. In a review on his blog site (www.alchemywebsite.com), Tarotist Adam McLean notes that “The limitations of the architectural CAD system, impose a clear geometrical structure on the imagery in the cards, and this is of course the intention of the artist. Thus many forms are broken down into circles, arching forms and structured regular curves. This does not mean that the artist keeps to simple forms, indeed many of the images are very complex.”
The card backs come from a client’s window project. The window acts symbolically as a portal into the wisdom of the Tarot – with use made of white blinds, blue background, beautiful gray leaves, and a reflection from the top of the window to the bottom.
The card border also acts as a window, or portal into the energy of each card. The border is dark blue in the upper right and left hand corners, a lighter blue, with a thin orange inner border, defines the top of the window. The sides and bottom of the window are a dark orange.
The thought “How do they inform them?” acts as a device to pull the Major Arcana characters into the Minor Arcana. There is so much esoteric imagery to see here, including the lemniscate over the “O” of the Fool; the black hole eyes of the Fool’s – very reminiscent of Johanna Gargiulo-Sherman’s “Sacred Rose Tarot”; and the four pillars (a recurring theme) in the Lovers, acting as a backdrop to the two figures, with the symbol of a cup in the third eye area of one of the figures.
A great effort has been made to make this deck, and the material surrounding it, available to everyone. The deck can be purchased from Jordan’s site (www.mystereum.com) , using Pay Pal, personal check, or money order. There is a LWB (Little White Book), and a foldout cardlet that accompany the deck. Images of all 78 cards, along with text, can be seen at www.cafepress.com. Imagination Primers have been published for all 78 cards a www.lulu.com. There is a 157 page full color book covering all 78 cards with images and text, entitled “The Fool Loves … Journeying”, and five individual books: one for the Major Arcana; one for each of the four suits; and a spiral bound book entitled “The Mystereum Tarot: Study Size Card Images”. There is a video (entitled “Flowing Through Inner Essence”) of the card images that is quite nicely done, that can be seen on the “Mystereum Tarot” site (www.mystereum.com), or on Leisa ReFalo’s Podcast site (www.tarotconnection.net), where you can also listen to an interview with Hoggard (Episode 84).
For people like me who clamor for more, there is something else quite exciting that is in the works: a no holds barred, full color coffee table book that hopefully will be out by the end of the year! I hope that you are right there with me on the “Mystereum Tarot” site, watching for updates on this happening!
Dream the big dreams … they can come true!
© September 2008