This Triumph of Life Project is the brainchild of Andrew McGregor, owner and tarot card reader at The Hermit's Lamp in Toronto, Canada. The goal of this project is for 78 different artists to come together to make a tarot deck, and then donate to proceeds to charity. I got to interview Andrew and learn a little bit more about him and the project.
Me: How did you get the idea to come up with this project?
Andrew: About 2 1/2 years ago my Godmother passed away from cancer, and the next week there was a big shooting in the States at one of the schools and I was trying to deal with all that emotion and that grief, and thinking about how messed up the world is. Then I thought, You know what? Life needs us to help it. That's what life needs. The god things, the positive things, the blessings, whatever you want to call it, life needs our support. And I thought, you know what? Let's raise money to fight cancer and lets send a message that is hopefully inspirational to people in the world.
Me: Ok that's great! So how long have you been reading tarot?
Andrew: About 28 years.
Me: How did you think to link tarot with helping the world? How did you think of making a deck to be the thing to "help life out" as you said?
Andrew: Well, I mean for me, I've been through a bunch of heavy stuff, in my life, people dying, friends dying, siblings dying, you know, all sorts of heaviness. And I spent a lot of time thinking about how to we change peoples consciousness, how do we help people through grief and loss, how do we move things forward? And when I see conversations around reading the cards sometimes I see some really great ideas around that, and sometimes less so. and I wanted to create a deck that also helped people understand how to work with tarot to choose the consciousness of the person that they're with to help them move through whatever they are dealing with.
Me: Awesome! Also, how did you get the idea to... instead of having a deck where you have one artist, to have a deck where you took artists from everywhere because it seems like, looking at the group, there are people from everywhere contributing to this deck which is so cool. How did you get the idea to have one person do each card instead of creating one inspirational deck?
Andrew: It's hard for me to remember the timeline exactly, but I think at that point, I had already been involved in the Allura tarot project, which is a deck that came out of Allura, Ontario [Canada], a town not to far from where I live. I had sort of jumped in and created a card for that. So I think at that point I had already been part of a collaborative effort. Ultimately for me, all my creations work towards that idea some way or another probably. But I wanted to have different peoples voices, different peoples experiences, I wanted to create a deck that could more than likely could speak to everybody in the world to some extent, I mean, obviously that's super ambitious and not entirely possible right?
Me: Hey, why not try right?
Andrew: Yeah exactly right?
Me: Exactly! So I know you asked everybody [in the group] to have an image that "get us from a place of loss and suffering to a place of joy and remembrance". It seems like for this deck, each card is going to be someone's person journey through something.
Andrew: Well yeah, peoples journeys or something to inspire people. I can talk about my card...
Me: Yeah! Please do!
Andrew: I'm making the 5 wands [which represents] struggle, strife, difficultly, conflict, you know, take your pick. So for me, in Canada, there was this guy, Terry Fox, some people know him, some people don't inside of Canada, but Terry Fox had cancer, he lost his leg to it, and he set out to run across Canada to raise awareness for cancer. This was back when I was a child, back in the 70's. So he ran, and he didn't make it because he died from cancer, his cancer came back. And out of his story and out of his legacy, people and children around Canada do this Terry Fox Run. When I was in school, we would do these Terry Fox runs, and you know, you got to think about this guy: he had cancer, he lost his leg, and he ran a marathon everyday until he was not well enough to continue. So my Five of Wands... and the other part of his legacy is that now I have kids and they do the Terry Fox run, and when you go to an event, you will see these people around wearing red shirts. These people are people who have fought cancer and continue to be here. There is a sort of struggle with him, you know, in his life, he did not win. Not his personal fight. But there is this legacy that has come from his effort, you know, his fight. So my card is going to show Terry Fox running, along the streets, and the wands will be the lamp posts shining the light towards the future. And on the sidelines, cheering him on will be all these people in red shirts representing all the things that have come from his legacy.
Me: That's neat! Do you know what charity the proceeds are going to?
Andrew: They are going to the Terry Fox fund.
Me: Oh ok, that's great! This is just something I noticed, and I know we just touched on this but in the [Facebook] group, it seems like everyone who creating a card is literally like... it's like therapy in that group. It's so neat. It's like, everyone is creating their cards and putting up their artwork and showing everybody, but they are also telling their stories. So by creating this deck, you not only doing something great for a cause, but your doing something great for everyone who is creating this deck and everyone in the group. It has become such a supportive little community on Facebook now.
Andrew: Yeah I think their is a lot of magic going on in that group. I've seen people post comments on threads saying, "this conversations is changing lives". Which is like... how wonderful is that? And that's also why I would encourage anyone who is interested in deck and interested in the process to come join the Facebook group. Hang out with the artists, share the stories, be part of the creation, because there is a lot of magic going on. Obviously, some of it will end up in the cards but the actual dialogue is somewhat transitory.
Me: Is there anything else about the project you want people to know?
Andrew: I would just say, like I just said come join the group, come cheer us on, and help spread the word.
Having a tarot deck that is giving something back to the community is wonderful and I'm so excited to see this deck when it is produced! I want to thank Andrew McGregor for talking with me and I want to thank all the artists and other people working to make this deck happen!
Come join the conversation at Triumph of Life Facebook group.
Visit The Hermit's Lamp website to learn more about the project, Andrew and The Hermit's Lamp.
To learn more about the Terry Fox Foundation visit the website.