Way of the Panda Tarot: Deck Origin Story

 
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Inspiration

Way of the Panda Tarot is quite literally born out of two epic waves of magical and creative inspiration. Around March or April last year, Pamela Chen launched her Crystal Unicorn Tarot on Indiegogo, and at the same time, Madeleine Belanger launched her Considerate Cat Tarot on Kickstarter. I beheld their campaigns and felt so incredibly inspired by their art, their creativity, their vision and their passion.

I took part in both of these amazing ventures - I backed and purchased both of these decks, and I also had the opportunity to talk to both of them about their decks while the crowdfunding was running.

After participating and witnessing these two dream campaigns take flight and soar towards success - a galactic ball of fire was ignited within me. Dreams tend to spark more dreams, and mine was unknowingly in the making. I thought to myself: Unicorns. Cats. And…pandas. They just kind of go together, don't they? Aren't they an amazing trio? How can I not make a panda deck? 

Seriously, how can I not?

Before I tell you the tale of this deck’s becoming: I want to thank all the supportive and loving people in my life, as well as the incredible forces of synchronicity, and all the celestial panda muses that have instilled me with glorious purpose.  

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It just sort of happened

With the intention set to create a panda themed deck, I….uh, resumed my normal routines. Yes, I was going to create a panda themed deck, but…now? Do I have the time? And resources? How would I even start? In my head, I was picturing myself creating this deck somewhere down the timeline. I honestly did not expect myself to begin right away.   

Having that said, I already had a vision of what the deck was going to look like. For one, I already knew it was going to be in watercolor, and I wanted it to be whimsical magical, with a hint of Eastern philosophy. And fauna, lots of fauna. And flowers. I started to look for artists that had a heart for watercolor and the little big magic in nature. I searched for artists that portrayed animals and of course, specialized in pandas or bears. I sent out many e-mails and messages to artists with my panda pitch - many didn't respond, and many declined because they didn’t have enough time on their hands. I get it - it's a big project. 78 cards = 78 pieces of illustrations. Plus card back, so 79. Definitely a commitment for sure.

Despite my impatience and frustration, I am positive that the Great Panda Spirit was looking out for me. Looking at it now, it actually didn't take me long to find the perfect panda artist. It was actually kind of fast. Everything was…easily on a roll.

 
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 How I knew Celia was my artist

I found my artist, Celia, on Society 6. On her shop, she listed an art print featuring a panda in watercolor, surrounded by peonies in full bloom. I saw it and my heart started to sing. I contacted her on her Facebook page (and on her page, it said something along the lines of “welcome to my secret little corner” and I was feeling more confident about reaching out to her…because that’s literally something I would say! Haha)  

So anyway. I sent her the message. I pitched her my idea. I waited for her response. That night, I had a dream about a panda in the night sky, seeming like a giant apparition or perhaps a constellation, looking around through a ginormous spyglass. I felt that it was saying to me, I am looking for the perfect artist. I am looking at her. I found her.  

The next day, I woke up to Celia's response: yes. Yes. YES. YEEEEES!!! I exploded with joy and excitement. YES. SHE SAID YES. I FOUND MY ARTIST. SHE SAID YES. And immediately, I was also overcome with anxiety and worry. I’ve never collaborated with an artist on a project this big before. What if something goes wrong? What if I screw up? How is this going to work? What if she's not the one? What if!?!? 

A Big Fat Panda YES

For reassurance, I decided to pull a tarot card from Leeza Robertson’s Animal Totem Tarot. I mean, it made sense to consult a tarot deck for the matter of creating a tarot deck, right? So I pulled a card. Is she the one? Is the artist that will help me manifest my dream panda deck? Is she the one? Is she the one?

And guess what card I pulled? Yup, you’ve guessed it. The Ace of Swords. And guess what animal is on the card? A FREAKING PANDA. Asked another question: "What do I need to know about this project?" Ace of Swords. Panda. "Am I on the right track?" Ace of Swords. Panda.  

And everything just happened from there. It was meant to be. Together, Celia and I embarked on a magical journey of creating Way of the Panda Tarot. And I am so incredibly grateful that she is helping me bring my dreams and visions for this deck to life.  

The rest is history.  

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Bits and Bobs  

  • Deciding on the look of the deck was quite effortless. Like I said before, I already knew what it was going to look like. Watercolor. Fauna. Simple but rich with a white background like Linestrider Tarot. Minimalist but intuitive. Thoughtful but relaxed and at ease. And most importantly, cute. Cute, cute, cute, cute, cute. Pandas be cute. CUTE!  MUSHT. BE. CUTE.

  • Guess how many names I went through to get to "Way of the Panda Tarot"? 93. I'm not even kidding. At first, I wanted to call it "Carefree Panda Tarot", then for a couple of months I was sure it was going to be "Spirit Panda Tarot", and then "Panda Spirit Tarot"…until eventually, "Way of the Panda Tarot" (special thanks to Pamela for the suggestion!) You can check out the gargantuan list here, if you're interested.

  • Oh, a bit more about my artist: other than watercolor, Celia actually specializes in breathtaking, into-the-woods vibe line-art. Mushrooms, fungus, butterfly and dragonfly wings, flowers, beetles, and the Saint Goat - her art has a feeling of intricacy, whimsy, poetry and a visceral sense of mystery. Secret stories from the forest corners, and all that jazz. Honestly, she’s just amazing. Check out her art.