Vodka O’Clock 1902: Crow Tarot Creator MJ

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crow tarot box cover

The Crow Tarot’s Creation

Margaux Jones Cullinane, aka MJ, is a Seattle-based artist, writer, mother, and lover of all things magical, especially crows. She attended Parson’s School of Design yet her unique technique of telling stories through digital collage is self-taught and has been her passion for over 10 years. Nature and its creatures are a familiar theme in MJ’s work, however, having grown up south of Boston her collages are heavily influenced by the energy of the city.

MJ spent part of her life in New York City to attend Parsons for a while, but left early. Yet, here she is making a living as an artist full-time on her own terms as a single parent. That’s not to say, she’s living large because with a computer malfunction, she’s still trying to save through her Patreon to get a robust computer.


“Ya know not every person looks as art as a viable career and my parents did not see it that way either. So financially speaking it was kind of difficult, but the time I was there [at Parsons], it was life-changing and life-altering because I grew seeing the world from one perspective growing up just south of Boston and the very limited mindset.”– MJ

As she says, her art reflects the city of Seattle and what she witnesses in nature. When she created the Crow Tarot it was originally going to be for her own use as a form of art therapy while dealing with life. The project wasn’t going to be more than printing the art on card stock at Kinko’s.

Neighborhood crows had a routine of landing and spending time on MJ’s balcony so that she could observe them up close. Since she adopted a dog, the crows haven’t been as trusting. Attracting crows is something she’s experienced her whole life. We talked about all the odd behavior we’ve seen in animals: cats, raccoons, various birds, and dogs. One of the most fascinating crow facts is that they can recognize faces and pass that information along to their family.

“They are the one creature that I look at in awe.”

MJ

MJ creates this art with a Surface Pro utilizing a mix of drawing with digital collage. A tarot deck is typically 78 cards. That’s 78 separate pieces of art which required her to draw the intentions and messages through the process. We discussed the importance of having to do the business side of being an independent creator and both of us hate that part. Taxes, marketing, pitching — it’s all part of the non-art stuff.

Our discussion moves into how devalued art is in the world, yet people want to enjoy it. In tarot, there’s a particular part of the history where the artist’s name, Pamela Colman Smith, was left off the formal name of the most common deck throughout history: the Rider-Waite tarot. Rider was the publisher; not too many products are referred to by their publisher’s name. People don’t say, Hasbro’s Monopoly game; they simply say, Monopoly.

“Tarot was not always concerned with divination: back in the medieval era, it was a trick-taking game. But by the time British occultist A. E. Waite collaborated with Smith on the deck, issued by the Rider company, it had become a tool for spiritual guidance.”

Meier, Allison. “Pamela Colman Smith, the Forgotten Artist Behind Your Tarot Cards.” Hyperallergic, Hyperallergic, 27 Oct. 2016, hyperallergic.com/330790/the-unnamed-woman-artist-revealed-in-the-monogram-of-your-tarot-cards/.

Color choices for all the suits (major arcana, cups, wands, swords, pentacles) came from MJ’s environment in Seattle. She didn’t limit herself to a palette specifically, but it was based on whatever was around her.

“You’re allowed to make mistakes.”

MJ

Even the greatest role models are flawed. Nobody is perfect.

crow tarot the High Priestess

Big Dog Energy

The healing power of loving animals is potent. Hug an sweet dog. Look at cute cat pictures. They want love and survival and they don’t care about your bank account, your job, your character flaws (as long as you’re good to them) or if your hair is a mess.

Rituals

MJ herself has only been reading and studying the tarot for a year. She’s been going to readers for guidance throughout her life as long as she had the money for it. Making the Crow Tarot started when she was in a down, stressful period of life. Life was stagnant and things were not going well. Starting the deck and having a measurable goal (78 individual cards) was a personal challenge that helped her emotionally move through that period.

Her other rituals include daily meditation, candle magick, concentrating on setting intentions (in yoga this is called sankalpa), burning wish papers, and putting messages into her personal Universe box (like a mailbox to the Universe that she created from a craft store shoe box).

Final thoughts:

More businesses need to be animal-friendly 😉

LINKS:

  • Layla was adopted from paws.org
  • crowtarot.com
  • MJ is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and Instagram mostly on some variation of “crowtarot” or “crowtarotdeck“.
  • Back her on Patreon at patreon.com/crowtarot.

Related: Amber’s review of Kitchen Table Tarot

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