It feels good, putting so much power in such a little item. Cards are special. It’s no coincidence that tarot became the predominant system of Western fortunetelling (or that Pokémon took off).
I only make something if it can be high quality. The original plan was to get some card stock and cut it to shape. But it felt sterile, empty. Too plain to be magic, especially after working with handmade paper.
I wanted something you’d feel.
I started digging around the family house. I wanted cards that had been used for both divination and gambling. Blind luck in one hand, blind prophets in the next. Somewhere under the cribbage board and the “penny jar” we gambled with as kids, I found them:
My maternal grandfather was a high functioning alcoholic. He died before I could ever meet him, but not without a legacy of triple-shot lowballs, tasty cigars and a lawless sense of humor. I told my mom I wanted to take his old deck of cards and paint over them. To my surprise, she couldn’t care less.
But she’s not their true keeper. I wanted permission from the old man himself. I started to gather things.
We have a set of his glasses, with his initials K. H. stenciled on each one. We have whiskey and, with careful instruction from my mother (“more booze… no, more than that… more!”) I reconstructed his classic evening sipping drink.
With his drink, his glass, and his pack of aces I went before the shrine. I could feel him strong, joking and thirsty. Ever get an offering before, gramps? Call me Ken, son, and pass that thing down.
Grandpa was a killer salesman. I asked about painting over his cards.
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I’ll put magic symbols on them to help people.”
“And do what with them?”
Well, at least he has an ethos.
With all dead relatives propitiated, and a little drunker for the wear (Ken wanted me to down most of the offering myself, a request I was happy to grant), I sorted the cards by suit.
Turns out we’re a little short on hearts. A commentary on the family, perhaps? At least I know why our solitaire games suck.
I’m using hearts for love spells, clubs for sex spells, spades for protection charms and diamonds for money spells. I’m saving face cards for custom orders, and aces for overdrive.
They’re getting painted over, so I need to keep them carefully in order. This is the most annoying part of the process, but when the paint is dry I can lightly mark each one with pencil. The pencil will be erased before painting and finishing a card.
If there’s one thing I love it’s magic spells that work, and these will crackle in the hand. At $38, they’re cheaper than a lot of online “magic spell” services, and you get something tangible (and beautiful) you can feel for yourself.
Preorder now. The first batch ships Saturday.