Shannon Loftis, creator of the Augenblick Tarot and the Augenblick Lenormand, is our guest reviewer for the November 2018 Guided Hand Feature. There are a million reasons to love Shannon, but my favorite is the way we love her vision. She shares the way she sees tarot in the creation process of her own decks. Following her, and getting to know her through social media, has been a real gift. She is insightful, loves crystals as much as I do, and a true joy to get to know. You can get to know Shannon a little better here.

What was your Gateway deck?

I actually have two.  About 20 years ago, I had signed up for a 10 week tarot course taught locally. He was teaching with the Voyager Tarot so that is the deck I learned on and read with for the next 10 years. I loved the keywords on all the cards and that it came with a big guidebook as well. The collage style was something that really worked for me, helping me build up my intuitive guidance and reading style. To this day I still prefer decks that have a lot of imagery on them to work from.

I can look back now and say that I would never really recommend the Voyager as a beginner deck in general but it was totally fine for me so it just comes down to what you bond with and what works for you.

The second Gateway deck is what got me in trouble 😉 I had just finished teaching my first tarot course and stumbled upon the Druidcraft tarot. After using the Voyager exclusively for the last decade I took a big swing to a different style and it became one of my staple decks for the next five years or so. It opened me up to the world of RWS and boy, was my bank account sorry after that!

What about that deck made you want to stick with tarot?

I don’t know that it was anything specific to that deck per se.  My brain is particularly well suited (pun!) for tarot reading in that I love to figure things out, to notice patterns, to dig deeply into a question and sink into the task of interpreting an answer. I have a degree in American Sign Language interpretation and I often tell people that going through an interpreter training program was the best training for being a tarot reader that I can think of because it is exactly what you are doing as a reader (I mean, without the Sign Language part). You learn to separate yourself from the message, to pick apart nuance, tone, semantics, cultural influences, personal bias and filters, etc. while keeping the message intact and translating it back into your target language for your querent. It’s that puzzle that has kept me engaged with tarot for almost two decades.

How did your Gateway Deck influence your tarot preferences and reading style?

I tend to like images that have a lot to them. A lot of details, a lot of context, etc. Think Shadowscapes tarot, Tarot del Fuego, Slow Holler, Steampunk tarot, etc. I think that I’m getting better about that aspect as I get older – meaning I can work with simpler images better now than I could have when I was younger or newer at tarot, but it is generally a default setting that I fall back on.

Do you still read with/have that deck?

I still have that original deck but once I moved over to a more RWS style card I did leave it behind. I’m not even sure I could still do a reading with it, to be honest. It holds a very dear place in my heart, though.

What prompted you to create your own deck?

There were a couple of things. I had ordered a very expensive deck from very far away and was very disappointed when I got it. It had a unique concept but the images didn’t work for me at all. I tabled the deck for a year or so (and eventually sold it) but that empty spot was still there. So, I think, in a way I was trying to fill that void the disappointment created.

The second part to the story is that when I was recovering from breast cancer I had an episode of amnesia during which we discovered a brain tumor. We never found out what caused the amnesia but it affected my motor skills and language in specific ways that greatly impacted my creative outlets. I used to do a lot of sewing, paper crafts, and leather work but with my coordination and spatial skills not cooperating, I needed to find alternate methods to satisfy that drive to make so I began to do more computer/photography work. I was looking for a scythe image for a Lenormand deck I was making and a friend suggested I check out the Library of Congress digitized files. I stumbled across the collection of photolithographs and I was done for. Some of those images made me feel like I had been (lovingly) punched in the gut by the sheer beauty. When I came across the image that would eventually be used as the 6 of Pentacles in the original Augenblick Tarot, I thought, “I could make a tarot deck out of these!” and so I did.

What is your favorite thing about your creation?

I’m fond of complex things. I love that the Augenblick Tarot images are based off of environment (versus people/activity) which forces you to put yourself in the situation and I also love that it is square because you have to take four directions into consideration now instead of just upright and reversed. When you do large readings you end up with this amazing puzzle of interactions that lend so much nuance to the message coming through.

What are the pieces of you that you’ve imprinted in your cards?

For better or worse, I think it’s my intensity that got imprinted in the Augenblick Tarot and Oracle. People ask me a lot if I mostly read with my own deck but the answer is, “Definitely not!” You have to be really ready to sit down and face your issues when you bring out that tarot deck. There is no pulling punches or pussyfooting around issues. When I read for myself or others, most of the time I need a deck that balances my intensity in other ways and that is not always the Augenblick.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Kind of everywhere I guess. (I’m STILL getting inspiration from that collection of photolithographs so I’ll just keep going until I’m tapped out.) I will usually end up doing things are tangentially related to other interests I have going on. It all ends up being related to each other eventually. I think that everything I make is just an exploration of my own spiritual growth and me trying to understand humanity’s intersection with the Divine through the lens of self. If I’m doing a good job of paying attention, my guides just need to point in a direction and I’ll wander over and go, “Oh, well, let’s take a look at THAT, shall we?” and out come projects to make!

What deck is at the top of your wishlist?

The Fantastical Menagerie (by Baba Studios). There are copies available out there but I can’t quite get myself to shell out $400 or more to get a copy.

If a Deck granting Magic Being appeared at your door, what is the deck (real or imagined) you’d ask them for?

Real: the Magna Veritas Tarot
Imagined: The Kate Daniels Tarot (omg I would LOVE to find an artist who would make this deck based off of the Kate Daniels Series of books by Ilona Andrews)

Where do your interests lie outside of tarot?

I’m hugely into crystals and crystal gridding. I love making grids for everything and it is very similar in nature to tarot in that it can be a little puzzle that fits together just right to create this “wow!” moment. I’ve been doing crystal prescriptions this year too which I’ve enjoyed so much – basically, someone will write me with an issue or challenge and my guides and I will sit down and choose a small collection of crystals that would be helpful for them during this time, do a write up/picture, and mail it back to them.

What is your favorite part of the creation process?

When it’s done. ☺ I just really like having a finished product in my hand and am not so keen on the in-between steps.

What are things you’d like us to know about upcoming works?

I’m currently working on a special oracle deck, again, based off the photolithographs. This deck is all about portals/gateways/vortexes. It started as what I thought would be a simple oracle but of course my guides took me to the deep end of the pool pretty quickly. All the information in these cards, they are teaching me this stuff as I go along so it’s a pretty steep learning curve. The biggest hurdle has been fighting my tendency to water down the information into a more palatable consistency. My work is not usually geared toward mass audience accessibility and this gateway work follows suit. It goes really woo-woo, really fast and I find myself saying to my guides, “You want me to actually SAY that??”

At this rate it will probably be next year before it comes out but the journey has been pretty epic so far.

If you would like a copy of the Augenblick Tarot or Oracle, visit my site: www.augenblickcartomancy.com to snag one. I don’t have plans to do a second print run of either deck so I would pick up a copy now if you’re interested.  Any remaining stock as of February will be taken to the Northwest Tarot Symposium in March.

I’m active on Instagram (@thetreeswesofhere) and post about my works in progress as well so you can get sneak peeks into the Augenblick Gateway Oracle, crystal grids, and tarot deck bags for sale.