We asked Yasmeen Westwood, creator of Red Feather’s new deck The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams, to share her personal story about how the process of creating her tarot deck transformed her life. Her tale seems the perfect way to start the new decade, leaving the darkness of 2019 as we enter the bright promise of 2020 together!
by Guest Author and Artist Yasmeen Westwood
I never intended to create a tarot deck – can you believe it?
Originally, I didn’t even think of myself as an “artist” at all, as I cannot draw or paint to save my life. What I love is to play with Photoshop and make ordinary pictures look magical. I had no idea that those images would end up as a tarot deck and be one day be published!
How and why this happened is a wonderful example of the Universe at play.
In November of 2015, I moved from a rural part of Scotland into a bustling city in Sussex, England, to join my now-husband, David. It was a huge culture shock for me. I had lived in a very quiet, rustic location with mountains on my doorstep (I was a complete mountain girl – it was my safe space), and now was living in a busy, chaotic, concrete-filled town that was massively different. Being an empath, it was chaos for my mind and soul. In December of 2015, we found out I was pregnant. Unexpectedly, I was going to be an older mum, especially since I thought I had finished with the whole “new baby” phase. (I also have a 24-year-old and 17-year-old).
Upon having a newborn baby in a place that did not feel like home, bereft of the solace that my safe space in the mountains had once granted me, I ended up with severe post-natal depression. At one point I actually lost the will to live: I lost all my confidence and anything I had ever felt passionate about. I found myself disconnected from everyone and everything around me. I even felt detached from myself – who was I? I was just some mum and I hated that! There was no “me” anymore. I had always thought of myself as an explorer and mountain adventurer—and yet, now I felt like nothing! My magic and sparkle had vanished.
I knew I had to seek help when I found myself writing a goodbye note to my husband and looking for ways to kill myself. I just did not want to be here anymore and wanted to go “home.”
I began therapy but found it very difficult to communicate my feelings. I am an intensely private person and talking to a stranger is simply not my cup of tea.
It was around this time that I had a vision of an image that I could not shake out of my mind. I longed to reproduce this impression, but the problem was that I had no idea how to draw. However, I knew the very basics of photoshop, and so I set about looking at YouTube tutorials about Photoshop techniques and eventually succeeded in recreating my mind’s vision—what was destined to become the Three of Swords in The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams. Creating this image took many hours, and for the first time in a long time I was able to forget my low mood as I focused on crafting the image just right. I found the entire process incredibly therapeutic.
Once I had created that image, there was no stopping me: I would “see” an image in my head and be compelled to create it. The images all had some meaning for me–they would reveal how I was feeling at the time or how I felt about people who had crossed paths in my life. As I carried on with the creation of each image, I began to see that they could be the perfect images for a tarot deck. That’s when I was inspired by the wild thought to keep going and create an entire deck. The result is the Tarot of Enchanted Dreams. All the images in the deck were therapy for me. There were lots of tears shed during the creation of each and every tarot image, as for me they were a means to communicate what was trapped deep inside me without the words to express. I spent many an hour working on the deck, getting the laptop out as soon as our wee boy was asleep. The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams allowed me to escape into a dream-like world, where I suppose I had been living in for some time during my Post Natal Depression. I did not feel a part of this dream world, so I created a magical dream world for myself through my art.
Oh, and almost every card features a Full Moon! Oh, how I love and adore full moons and they affect me emotionally: I was even born on a Full Moon.
The deck is VERY feminine – there are no men in this deck, although that was not something that I intentionally set out to do. It just “created” itself that way. I suppose it makes sense, as I had lost my femininity during my dark time, and this deck was a way for me to try and express that again. This had nothing to do with me being a feminist or hating men! I just hated myself at that time and the creation of this deck led me out of that dark place.
Upon completing the deck, I self-published 100 of them which sold out pretty quickly; at the same time, I had a few publishers interested in mass producing them. I decided to go with Red Feather, an imprint of Schiffer Publishing, as I felt a great connection with them. I have not been disappointed, as they have done FULL justice to the deck. It is absolutely stunning!
This deck has unleashed within me a magic I did not know existed. I had NO idea I was an artist. I have three other projects for which the artwork is complete—an Oracle, a Lenormand, and a new Tarot deck as well. I have been sharing a couple of these new images on Instagram, so please watch this space for these and more to come!
Also, I am fortunate to be one of the artists featured on the new 78 Tarot deck based upon an Ecological theme and have contributed the 3 of Swords to the Cult of Tarot Forum, Button Soup Tarot. I’m pretty excited about these opportunities, too!
In addition, I have created a 2020 Enchanted Worlds calendar full of fairies and magic that is available from my website.
Creating The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams showed me that even during my darkest time, when I had given up and could see no way out, the Universe could still use me to create something beautiful. The Death card that I created symbolizes this transformation so perfectly for me. I was dying, but unknown to me, I was actually transforming into a butterfly. The old me had to die so that the creative artist Yasmeen could be born. Remember that darkness can be our most transformative gift!
Yasmeen Westwood is a self-taught Photomanipulation artist living in West Sussex in the United Kingdom. She had always wished to be an artist but could not paint or draw. Then she came across Photoshop. Her passion for playing with images led to the creation of her first deck, The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams.
She is a professional photographer who sees magic in both the people and landscapes she photographs. She loves taking images and manipulating them to create magical, fantasy worlds and it is this magic that she has tried to depict in her work.
She holds a BSc (Hons) degree in biochemistry and MSc in immunopharmacology—both achieved in the UK. Prior to being a photographer, she worked in the Oil and Gas industry, training and coaching in health and safety and quality management.
She is also trained in NLP, hypnotherapy, and life coaching, as well as being a Reiki master.
Her first deck – The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams – was created in 2018, awarded a publishing contract, and was released in November 2019. A limited number of the decks were self-published and they were highly reviewed by many tarot bloggers, such as Bellben, TABI, Angelorum, etc.
She was a finalist for her artwork, for the MPower, Mums in Business National Business Awards and was runner up in two categories of the International Tarot Foundation CARTA Awards for Best Illustrator of a Tarot Deck, and Best Self Published Tarot Deck.
She lives on the South Coast of England, by the sea, with her husband of 3 years, David and their three-year-old son, Arran.”
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/enchantedsoulart/