Interview with D.R. Taylor, Creator of The Circle: A Guide for the Inner Explorer


By Terri C.

This month, Terri C. had the opportunity to interview D. R. Taylor, the artist and author of the self-published deck, The Circle: A Guide for the Inner Explorer.  This innovative, award-winning deck is unique among its peers.  The pie-slice shaped cards are cast into a circle which forms a mandala and is designed for inner exploration.

Tarot Reflections: The Circle was chosen INATS 2010 Best of Show by Jean Haller of New Age Retailer Magazine, how did you feel when you heard the news? 

D.R. Taylor: “Just wow, this is amazing!” I was so honored and completely overwhelmed.  I am sure I was giddy for several days and everyone I met heard the news. I tend to be a very verbal, chatty person and because I had worked on The Circle: A Guide For The Inner Explorer since 1994, to be chosen for such an honor was just so heartening. I always felt this was a journey and a mission that the Universe had lovingly sent me on and that honor was a beautiful message that I was on the right track and to just keep going.

TR: What sparked your desire to create your own deck?

DRT: Well, around 1993 my friend Edie lent me a book by Riane Eisler called The Chalice and The Blade. It is a really amazing book and it deeply impacted me at the time. It tells the story of our past in a way I never considered and proposes a theory of what is possible for humanity in the future. I was not really setting out to make a deck of cards, I was actually making some flash cards to better understand the cultural archetypes that I had become aware of through the book. 

TR: How did you choose to go such a unique direction with your deck? 

DRT: Long story short, in The Chalice and The Blade, Eisler proposes a new paradigm about empowering humanity, both female and male and writes about “win-win” power as a way to “advance one’s own development without limiting the development of others.” She states that in visual terms its “best symbolized by the circle or oval...” So I took the “flash cards” I had made, drew them out, and placed them in a circle. I immediately realized that there was something interesting there and that I needed to explore it further. I wasn’t yet familiar with the concept of mandala’s but I started to journal using various “circle castings” as I came to call them. I guess you could say I unwittingly discovered one of the great universal symbols in those flash cards by just being open and playing.

TR: With this deck you cast 8 cards, that form a circle or mandala, can you tell me your take of the symbolism of the mandala?  

DRT: Well I usually quote Bailey Cunningham, in her book Mandala: Journey to the Center, she states that “a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, … a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite,” I would say for me it represents 360° of personal power for inner exploration, insight, and ultimately, transformation. My reasoning for the eight cards was that it allowed for what I call yin and yang insight. What I mean by that is that The Focus card is across from The Challenge card and one informs the other and it follows the same all around the casting. I would also add that at the time I had come to understand that eight represented both the infinite and the eternal, most of us are familiar with the use of an eight on its side as a symbol of infinity.

TR: How did you choose the 54 images?

DRT: I was struck by the idea that there was three sides to each card, and to me they represented the maiden, mother and crone. The same sort of thing inspired the 54 cards because I believed I was inspired by the nine greek muses of poetry, music, song and science and five plus four equaled nine so there would be 54 cards.

As for the specific images, I went to the text of each card, meditated on the content and just allowed the ideas to flow through me. I started at Abundance and mostly worked alphabetically until I got to Wisdom. It was the hardest part for me because I had to do 54 illustrations that felt like they were a family and I had never done anything like that before.

TR: What medium did you use to create the imagery?

DRT: The art is a combination of watercolor, watercolor pastel crayons, pencils and pen on watercolor paper. It took me several years and many trials to finally find the direction that I felt allowed the user to be inspired but didn’t impose imagery that was too direct or dogmatic.

TR: What is your favorite card in The Circle?

DRT: There are a couple that I really have a connection to. I love the Origin card because It is a summation of who we are and yet an acknowledgement of where we come from and how that contributes to our journey, but probably the card I love the most is Wisdom. The picture of the beautiful wise woman is my friend Edie, the wonderful spirit who placed a copy of The Chalice and The Blade in my hand and forever changed my life with her amazing spirit and insight.

TR: This is the second edition of this deck and it's a much smaller size, which do you as the artist prefer; the first run, larger cards or the smaller edition and why?

DRT: Well I actually thought that the larger deck was pretty awesome and it has come to be referred to as the artist edition. I intended to make 500 but actually only produced about 170 of them. Each set was hand printed, laminated and assembled and came with a signed and numbered card to indicate its authenticity. Over they year that they were available, I got a ton of feedback and one of the things that was mentioned most, was that the deck was awkward for some people to shuffle. Because of that I took about 18 months off to reconfigure the concept, first thing I realized was that by making the set smaller, it’s easier to use or share with a friend in a coffee shop or public space and secondly, that being able to simply draw it out of a velvet bag made it more user friendly because you could focus on the casting and not on the shuffle. I love them both actually, and I do hope someday to be able to do a large set again for professional therapists, readers and coaches. 

TR: How did you come to self-publish this deck? Can you share any surprises or complications that await those interested in designing or custom-ordering decks of cards?

DRT: I felt that I had no choice but to publish The Circle myself. It wasn’t based on anything that buyers were familiar with and I felt that most editors and publishers would find it hard to categorize and market at least initially, so I felt I needed to take it to the public myself. Additionally, I sensed from the Universe that the most important part of creating this wasn’t getting a publisher and selling a jillion copies so much as having a journey of self growth and personal discovery. When I started this journey, I was not a writer, I was not an illustrator, I was not a graphic designer, I lived in another state and did a job that had little or nothing to do with these things, but I felt called to share The Circle and it’s ability to gain self insight with others. 

I suppose the advice I would give others is to have a total passion for creating, a complete trust in the vision you have and a determination to keep going no matter what. I have been working on this since 1994 and I just never let myself give in, even when I was being asked to do something I felt I had no qualifications to do. Always realize that every step of the journey will broaden and shape you in wonderful and unexpected ways and be thankful.

TR: What is it like to give readings with a deck that is 100% your own creation? Has anyone given you a reading with the deck yet?

DRT: It is awesome to share this. It is the big tasty treat at the end of a long journey to share and see the “Oh wow!” moments with people who sit in my chair and share their casting with me. I also love to have someone help me with a casting, I do them for myself several times a week but there is something about the power of a casting that is facilitated by someone else. The Circle isn’t so much about telling someone anything as it is about helping them explore all the aspects of their personal mandala. 

I think my favorite tip for doing any casting is to allow the individual who is being read to discover as much of the insight themselves with little or no ego on the part of the reader. There is something very powerful when someone discovers their own truth rather than being told what to think or believe.

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2011

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