Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Sacred Symmetry of Dragons | Interview with Nora Huszka: Co-Creator of Starlight Dragon Tarot

Nora Huszka is single-handedly responsible for pulling me out of my decade-long fixation with the Rider Waite. Through her visionary debut deck, Gypsy Palace Tarot, I discovered a love for different interpretations and imagery. Since then, I have collected many other decks, but I have always retained a special fascination with those original images which led me out on a journey of discovery.. 

Now, Nora is back with a totally fresh vision which can only be described as a stunning departure from the aesthetic of Gypsy Palace and another fitting example of her artistic ingenuity. When I saw the design of Starlight Dragon Tarot I was instantly excited! In collaboration with Tarosophist Steph Engert, something game-changing has slowly come to life! Now there is an Indiegogo campaign to ensure that this delicious vision finds its way into the hands of readers who are in search of decks which marry beauty with innovation - and I am one of them! So it is my absolute pleasure to pose some questions to Nora at this important stage of the journey for the Starlight Dragon Tarot deck.

I recommend checking out the video before reading Nora's informative answers to my burning questions! The video breathes life into this epic collaboration. I must admit, the first time I saw the video, got chills - the good kind!

Starlight Dragon Tarot is so aesthetically different to Gypsy Palace Tarot - you would never guess that they were from the same creator! Did you consciously plan to show a completely different side to your artistic vision or did it happen by accident?

Nora: Yes, it was an absolutely conscious decision and direction. Already by crafting the first conceptions we were sure that this deck will not be based on human figures. I gladly accepted this challenge to give up my beloved characters and devote my full attention to dragons and non-figurative motives - any visual expressions to capture the creative energy of dragons. You see, I am an Aquarius with Virgo ascendant and while the Gypsy Palace is an experimental, vivid artistic explosion -a truly Aquarian vision- I experienced the Starlight Dragon as the fulfillment of the other side of my personality: a precise, clearer visual language, more mature and attentive until the tiniest harmonies. I feel comfortable translating between these worlds and I clearly see they affect each other more every year.

How did you and Steph Engert first begin the dialogue which led to this deck?

Nora: Steph contacted me with the idea of a deck based on dragons three years ago. I barely had anything to do with dragons (except my Chinese Zodiac sign that I strongly connect to), but after seeing my artworks, she was sure I am the perfect artist to manifest this deck. Her understanding of these magickal creatures was deeply thought-provoking from the beginning... and the energy was clear that we wanted to manifest in this deck. After exchanging long emails and first stage sketches for two years, we decided to move to one city and dedicate ourselves fully to this project, exactly one year ago.

How have you two worked together to combine your expertise into a shared vision?

Nora: The creation of this deck wove a very strong bond between us, a rare friendship - Steph has a great knowledge on Western esotericism and I kept on drawing all the time.. This provided already a great foundation for such a soulful cooperation. We did consult on the conception and design of each image regularly, but we also worked very flexibly, going with the flow that the creation offered; sometimes accompanied with coffee, sometimes with wine! Our profound discussions gave lots of inspiration, also on other related subjects and our own spiritual discoveries on this journey that we shared, together with any idea that lit up. For me the whole process feels like the completion of a grand puzzle that we can only perfect by combining her pieces and mine together... an alchemical process where our intuition, experiences and knowledge flow together into something unexpectedly new and precious.

I have been really excited by the rise in decks which are more symbolic in nature and exhibit shapes, colours and symbols rather than human figures. This is a big reason for my interest in Starlight Dragon. I know that lots of other readers are also beginning to take a big interest in such decks. Why do you think there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for them at the moment?

Nora: I personally see and think that many decks sadly commercialized the human figure and that became very boring. People with magickal thinking need decks that are powerful, inspirational and truly mystical! I believe there is a place in everyone's spiritual 'other side' or imagination that can not be captured by picturing a popular or idealized reality, simply because that place is so layered and abstract, and it seems like many people are fascinated about making discoveries on this level, rightfully risking the effort to go beyond the obvious.

Specifically to our project, I find it very interesting that we present inner creations of our fantasy -dragons- that can appear as anything you can imagine and this deck actually offers you the possibility to extend your perception on these stages.

What really inspired and motivated you during the illustration process?

Nora: I got lots of inspiration from the understanding of dragons throughout various cultures of the world and how this changed over thousands of years and often manifested into gorgeous objects of jewellery, armour, textiles... What a heritage we have there! The majestic dragons of China or the ultimate evil medieval European dragons, or the ancient Mesoamerican dragons, that were respected as the creators of the world... this is an universal heritage that we share. Soon I found myself seeing dragons everywhere! But of course, the real thundering inspiration was to find and welcome these beings inside myself, as an endless source of motivation and fantastic companions in this work.

I love the fact that the cards can join together and form a seamless journey to encourage deep thought and meditation. For readers who may not be sold on the idea of a deck which works this way, how would you explain the benefits?

Nora: What this design offers is really unique. It is easy to use and well-designed, while it mobilizes your intuition and creativity at the same time! During your journey with this deck you will be constantly encouraged to activate and develop your Tarot education through many smart visual elements... You will enjoy how the mesmerizing art of each card interacts with the other in a flexibly extendable  reading and this will unlock hidden stages of your reading skills and patterns. The big guidance book 'Travelling with Starlight Dragons' gives you the extraordinary opportunity to dive deep into the world of this deck and dragon magic and mythology, in around 300 pages... What more could an open-minded Tarot enthusiast dream of?

What have you learned about yourself as an artist and Tarot enthusiast during the making of Starlight Dragon Tarot?
Nora: Persistence, focus and courage! The creation and presentation of this deck always pushed me over my comfort zone and fears, like a majestic dragon would have lent me its power. I started over a year ago with digital painting and needed loads of patience and flexibility to switch to something entirely new, like a new dimension of possibilities. It really turned everything upside down that I knew about painting! So I learned that my artistic progression should never stop developing - equally as my knowledge on Tarot and the corresponding subjects on esotericism, astrology or Kabbalah! It taught me to fully trust my intuition, believe in what I do and only do what I believe in - to confidently connect to the people who like what I do. I give a hundred percent of my attention to the present moment and hope to be reborn in the next one; to focus, yes, a sense of sharpness. As Picasso said 'Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.'
I love love love the fact that Nora used one of my favourite quotes about inspiration from Picasso at the end of the interview! And don't you love the idea of Steph and Nora sitting around, drinking wine and talking about all kinds of profound, Tarot-related shizzle?! It's just so cool!
One of the significant things about this particular deck campaign is the quality and beauty of the items which come as perks for different donation pledges. I was fortunate enough to receive a t-shirt like the one modelled by Nora here and it is gorgeous!

I also wanted to give you a sneak preview of just how stunning the Starlight Dragon Tarot talismans are because the images on the Indiegogo campaign page simply cannot do them justice! Check these babies out!

I know, right?!
That's not to mention the fact that you can pick up a course to help you deepen your relationship with the deck! I have never seen perks like this!

This deck design is gold dust for enhancing the magickal mindset of mystics and witches as well as for feeding the unquenchable appetites of hardcore Tarot nerds who are always looking for something inventive and fresh!

If you're feeling inspired and you're ready to invest, please check out the Indiegogo Campaign page to get involved. I am so thrilled to see this bold new breed of decks which are springing up at the moment, and I know that Nora and Steph's creation is meant to join those ranks and offer endless insight to countless readers. Let's make it happen!