The Road to Nowhere Oracle Deck by Mary Elizabeth Evans of Spirit Speak Tarot is my cup of tea. The cards are large and easy to shuffle for my small hands, they have a dreamy bend that makes them easier to work with than other large decks. When I first saw the deck, something really familiar wiggled around in my mind. Evans created the deck using found image collages, using images from a wide variety of sources, from classical art to cut up encyclopedias to pop culture stills from the 1950s-70s to quilts & found objects. I really love their use of quilt as sacred mandala, as texture, as spinning wheels of color that the other images play off of. The images they selected & the way they arranged them into multilayered densely meaningful imagery felt like something I’d heard or seen as a kid. A question kept popping into my mind – what is the Road to Nowhere? Why does that sound so familiar? And then it hit me – “Road to Nowhere” is a Talking Heads song that I have heard a thousand times, in my dad’s car, at parties, popping up at the coffee shop or at a bar.
“Well we know where we’re going
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowing
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out”
– David Byrne, Talking Heads
And while I don’t know for sure if Mary Elizabeth Evans intended to connect their deck to this wonderful song, I can’t unsee the connection now. The song speaks of enjoying the ride as we ride off to Nowhere – we all are born, live and die, so why not enjoy it while we are here? And this deck says the same thing. Enjoy the ride but pay attention to the signs and ask Spirit for help along the way. We aren’t in this alone, these cards say. It’s alright, baby, it’s alright, sings David Byrne. Another interesting connection is the style of the art of the deck and the music video for the song. The Talking Heads are known for their use of stop motion animation and in this video specifically, there is a sequence where objects move across David Byrne’s body as he remains still that really look like the collage style Evan’s has. For me, this deck is almost too literal, which is interesting considering the surrealism in some of the images.
For example, let’s look at the card number 37 “Clowning” – small oranges decorated like silly clowns holding balloons on a background of yellow daisies. The interpretation is easy & literal, clowning around, loosen up, smile a little. I can imagine drawing this card on a low day & immediately smiling. In the same vein, card number 16 “Handing The Light Heart” features a hand holding bubbles and is another gentle reminder; it’s alright, baby, it’s alright, we’re on a road to nowhere. So be “light light light as a bubble in your hand”. Card 60 “Commodification” features a porcelain horse & a wild mustang & is a loud reminder to “Be your freaky messy little self”. The images on the cards are so carefully curated to bring home a loud message.
Some of the cards in this oracle deck, which is it’s own system, are very connected to traditional Tarot. Magician speaks of applying the skills we have gathered into conscious creation. Card 3 “The Deepest Cut” looks like 3 of Swords and has the same meaning. The Star is more of a self expression interpretation that the gentle refuge of the Tarot’s Star but still holds that divinely shining energy. The Chariot is about attaining goals. Card 30 “Nurture” is that same facet of The Empress. I really enjoy how Evan’s honed in on specific meanings of deeply layered Tarot cards and made them simple.
The Road to Nowhere Oracle truly is a beautiful work of art that connects into the flow that David Byrne, and myself, ride on. It’s surreal, literal, gentle, bold and funny. I am thankful for the opportunity to connect to these cards.