Building a nest: Tarot Apokalypsis creator Erik C Dunne reflects on publishing his deck, his career, and our tea leaf reading

Erik C. Dunne, the creator of Tarot Illuminati (2013) and Tarot Apokalypsis (Aug 2016), allowed me to read his tea leaves using astrology as a guide in the summer of 2014.

We caught up recently via email about the symbols in that reading, his connection to the Queen of Swords, and more.

A tea leaf reading for a tarot deck: inspiration that came from home

In my tea leaf reading for Erik and the Tarot Apokalypsis that he was working on in 2014, I saw this image as a bird building its nest.

I asked Erik, who or what might reflect the concepts of early home life in inspiring Tarot Apokalypsis? And how does the process of publishing it (during Leo) remind you of a bird building its nest?

Erik: I grew up in a household where the appreciation of Art and Beauty was emphasized greatly.

My Mother was an Art Teacher, my father a Sculptor. I was trained in the classical manner from my earliest memory. We also traveled extensively as a family, lived abroad in exotic locales and spent holidays in Europe. I'm sure this had much to do with my fascination and love for other cultures, their history and contributions to modern society. Both Tarot Apokalypsis and Tarot Illuminati pull from these experiences and encouraged me to study them in greater depth.

As far as publishing and how it may relate to “the building of a nest”.....its quite simple and clear really. When navigating the world of publishing it is all about building a “nest” of contacts, resources, talent and vision in which one can “birth” their work. Like each twig in a birds' nest, each individual involved in the publishing process plays an essential part in ensuring that the foundation for the work's success is sturdy, strong and built aloft, allowing that work to take flight with greater ease when ready.

The Queen of Swords and the creation of a tarot deck

In our email I wrote that I recalled at TarotCon Denver 2015, when Erik was on the tarot creators' panel, that he said he is like the Queen of Swords.

I asked, how do you feel this archetype coincides with communicating the tasks needed to complete a deck, and the ability to sing/promote it?

Erik: AH......you were listening! LOL

The Queen of Swords speaks unapologetic truth, she brandishes the two sided sword cutting through all the none sense and “sugar coated” or politically correct speech which make folks more comfortable rather than forcing them to entertain a “New” way of seeing your point.

When working closely with Authors, Editors, Artistic Directors, Printers and those responsible for budgeting aspects of a project......there is NO room for not making your vision CLEAR! If you are truly the Queen of Swords in a project it is your responsibility to direct and choreograph while also having a keen ear for new ideas, fresh concepts and suggestions all the while making sure that the integrity of your initial vision is not compromised in the process. 
 

The crocodile as a symbol of ancient survival know-how

Another animal I interpreted within Erik's tea leaves is the crocodile:"the crocodile asks that he be mindful of how much his work on the deck affect his time at home. Also that his experience making Tarot Illuminati establishes a sort of ancient survival know-how."

I asked Erik, how do you have a deeper or renewed respect for Tarot Illuminati, which you released in 2013, now that this second deck has come to fruition?

Erik: It's funny.....I had taken a break from deck creation after the release of Tarot Illuminati for a good while. I was drained and yet satiated at the same time.

When I started work on Apokalypsis....I had almost forgotten what a daunting task creating an entire deck can be. Very quickly I was reminded of the task that lay ahead of me....but through my experience with the creation of the Illuminati I had developed skills and an understanding of the process that served to remove, or at least “smooth out”, some of the bumps in the road.

It was also easier to keep my eye on the goal, remembering the way in which the Illuminati had touched so many people when complete and released into the world. There was also a sense of wanting to “raise the bar” on my previous work, to think “outside the box”, I refereed back to the Illuminati often to ensure that I was not simply repeating, or echoing that which I had already created.

Tarot decks that sing, and projects to come

Do you consider your decks related (beyond the fact that you created them), and how are you planning on spending your next year as a tarot creator and artist?

I have a new found respect for Tarot Illuminati in that I recognize it has a life of its own, as does Tarot Apokalypsis.--.they have extremely different voices but sing in the same choir, each stepping forward when the time is right to execute his solo with abandon, then stepping back to humbly join in the chorus that is the body of my work. I hope to continue adding new voices to this Choir for many years to come!

I am currently working on the creation of the “Lenormand Illuminati” as well as an Oracle deck in collaboration with my Dear Friend and Scholar Matt Sueter.

What are you creating?

Share your comments: What are you bringing into your world today?

How does the analogy of building a nest, or using the wiles of crocodiles and the communication of the Queen of Swords play into your process(es)?

I've been working on a creative divination workbook.

It began as a book to practice reading tea leaves. It is only directly inspired by tarot in a few exercises -- but there are 79 different prompts and structures for creative divination.

This book can be used for reading cards, runes, charms, or to help you inspire anything you wish, like poems, objects of art, spells, and other expressions of creativity.


I aim to send out proposals to publishers this winter. Thanks for the read.

Tabitha Dial is a tarot, tea leaf reader, and creative mentor in Lexington, Kentucky.

She has an MFA in Poetry from Colorado State University and is working on a creative divination workbook that encourages practicing tea leaf reading and can be used for any form of divination.

Her poetry has appeared in articles on
SpiralNature.com, in "Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology", and in "Tarot in Culture" Volume Two