Interview: Marie L. White & The Mary-El Tarot

I asked Marie L. White, the creative mind behind both the book and art of the Mary-El Tarot, a few questions. For the answers she had to draw from her own deck and interpret the cards for us. I will have a review of this deck up eventually. I’m just having so much fun learning it right now.

I asked Marie L. White, the creative mind behind both the book and art of the Mary-El Tarot, a few questions. For the answers she had to draw from her own deck and interpret the cards for us. I will have a review of this deck up eventually. I’m just having so much fun learning it right now.

Born in California and now living in North Carolina, Marie L. White has always found a need to touch, paint, taste or in some way immortalize the beauty that she sees. Her dreams and experiences made her search for answers to make sense of it all. She sees Tarot as a triple threat of expression through art, word and number. Read her full bio here.

Now let’s hear from Marie as she explores her process letting her own deck speak for her.

Please click on any image to open the page on Marie’s website for a larger image.

Mary-El 9 Disks click for larger imageMary-El 9 Wands click for larger image

What card describes you as a writer or artist? If you are both, please choose a card for each one.

As an artist I drew the 9 of Disks.  Perfect. It’s the last of the 9’s, which is a completion and integration of all the elements and all the aspects, male/female, night/day, positive/negative, animal/divine, etc.  As an artist this is what I have sought to accomplish, exactly, so I love that this card came up.

As a writer I got the 9 of Wands.  Well!  Another card I personally associate with a lot!  This one, though, isn’t integrated and manifest, it is still in the passionate stage – so hopefully what my writing lacks in experience it makes up for with passion and creative energy.

Mary-El 13 Death

If I were to ask your deck to describe you, what card would it use?

XIII Death.  That’s interesting.  I had to think about this a bit, how Death could describe me.  I suppose that from the point of view of the deck I gave it Life  and her twin Death.  Death has always been one of my favorite cards in any deck, and in iconography in general, it’s that greatest mystery we will all meet some day and it’s fascinating to me.

Mary-El Fool

What card describes this deck best?

The Fool!  I totally think it does.  The Fool is the epitome of the symbolism of tarot, and I hope this deck fearlessly steps off mountains to follow its own direction and seeks its own purpose, and helps others do the same.

What card describes your favorite piece of creating this deck?

This is a little odd, randomly picking a favorite, but interesting too.  I drew VI The Lovers.  Yes Love, 6, Tipareth, balance – male and female.  It was very hard too, but very satisfying – just in these cards I am drawing now this theme repeats.  I think the deepest meaning of this card for me is to integrate the halves of the self, accept and love all of it without judgment but with respect for why it is all there, why it exists and the perfect wisdom of it.  It was easy at first as a concept, but as it affected me more it wasn’t so easy.  It’s a worthy goal though.  Love.

Mary-El Queen Swords

What card describes what this deck would like to be used for?

The Queen of Swords.  To clearly ,and concisely, and boldly communicate the nature of the world.  To put a kind and nurturing, but powerful and not cloying, face on natural patterns.  An oracle.

Mary-El Knight Wands

What card describes what you think are the most valuable lessons you learned while creating this deck?

Knight of Wands.  I think this means that the passionate and fiery part of the self is also very much untamed and it should be that way.  Accept it and let it drive your work, rather than trying to repress it.  Yeah, I think this card is very much about channeling your natural power and energy and learning how to do that.    I think if anything I have learned how to do that even if in the end it makes me a little weird.

Mary-El Knight Swords

What card describes your greatest weakness?

Knight of Swords.  I like how it relates to the last card.  Where the Knight of Wands is very primal the Knight of Swords seeks truth and balance.  I seek those things too because I have always felt that I lacked them.  But, in my weakness I find purpose, you know?

Mary-El Ace Cups

What card describes your greatest strength?

The Ace of Cups.  Love.  Heart.  Connection to the subconscious and the subconscious realms.  Connection to the world of dreams and symbols.

Mary-El 7 Swords

What card is your most favorite? Why?

7 of Swords.  Perfect!  I don’t know if artistically it’s my favorite, in fact it isn’t, but it is the one card I have thought was the most pivotal in that it’s the point where one steals the fire from God, invents, grows, becomes aware of the self and gains free will.   It’s when you realize that all of these powers and things you imagine outside are really inside yourself.

Mary-El Ace Disks

What card is your least favorite? Why?

Ace of Disks.   This card has the Minotaur on it.  It’s the dangerous and bloodthirsty half god half beast locked in the labyrinth.  To me this is the beginning of a journey where you will realize that you are half earth and half divine, and you will have to use all of your resources and aspects of self to work your way out of this maze and free yourself.  So, this is the very start and its pretty dark and bleak in there, hopeless almost…

Mary-El 7 Wands

Which card do you think needs to be studied the most?

7 of Wands.  Another 7.  I think the 7s as well as the Chariot are very important symbolically.  The 7 of Wands is to me the divine part of the self, the part that seeks to grow beyond …or I should say, independently of our biological programming.   Plato’s white horse.  I definitely think the

sevens are special in the structure of the tarot and should be studied carefully.

Mary-El 5 Wands

What card describes your personal creativity?

5 of Wands.  I like this card a lot.  It shows an old lion fighting his way through dark woods.  I like to think it’s the point of the spear that St. Michael holds in the 6 of Wands.  It’s the point of the spear for all the action!  It’s hard and takes a lot of perseverance and there is a lot of friction but it is worthwhile.

Mary-El 4 Wands

Who or what inspired you to create a deck and why?

4 of Wands.  Whenever I see this card I think of these recurring dreams I had with a burning bridge and its uncanny and somewhat uncomfortable.   If you look at the Rider Waite’s version of this card the 4 wands build a wedding arbor.  In the Thoth it is a 8 spoked wheel called completion.  As fire in the number 4 it is like the first deep kiss of spirit into the manifestation of earth, something very intense, a marriage of heaven and earth.  This goes along with the 5 of Wands in the previous question.  This taking of spiritual concepts and emblazoning them into something real and tangible.  I was inspired to do this, why?  I’m not really sure.  I guess it’s just what I do.

Mary-El Emperor

What upcoming projects can you tell us about?

IV The Emperor.  Funny card to get here since that is the card that started the whole Mary-el thing!  I don’t know that I have any upcoming projects in particular to talk about.  I will probably just do some seriously mundane things for a while, which is in the realm of the Emperor!  Get my life in order for the next wrung of challenges.

Draw one card. Tell us what secret habit this card reveals about you.

10 of Cups.  Maybe that I’m a hopeless romantic who believes in true love.

I’d like to thank Marie for taking the time to do this interview. The deck is amazing, y’all. You can get it from Amazon or you can go to Marie’s website to order a signed copy.


8 thoughts on “Interview: Marie L. White & The Mary-El Tarot”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Arwen. I always love hearing what deck creators have to say, it adds such depth to an understanding of the cards. And I love the way you did it, asking Mary to pull cards to answer the questions, and having to interpret them. Also great to see and hear more about particular cards from the artist herself.

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