Other times, it can mean finding an alternate universe, cooler version of yourselves, as is now the case, sadly.
The Wild Unknown is Kim Krans + Jonny Ollsin—two artists formerly based in Brooklyn who recently made the move to Philly. Together they create prints, portraits, calendars, and other items from Kim’s beautiful, intricate, organic illustrations; build mystical cabins in the woods where they gather with their friends to contemplate art + music; and make up The Family Band, a duo that plays brooding, rootsy tunes.
So, yes, Reader, a much, MUCH cooler version of us.
DAMMIT, 2013! YOU PROMISED NOT TO SLIGHT ME!
In all seriousness, we’ve been fans of Krans’ artwork for a long time now—we have this amazing print she did—‘Friends’—that depicts a big furry brown bear sitting next to a tiny kitten sitting next to a little bluebird. It hangs over our bed and delights me every day.
This holiday season, I came across The Wild Unknown’s Tarot Deck and was equally delighted. The set—which I bought for Katie—comes in a beautifully sleek little box with a black lifting ribbon and features 78 hand-illustrated cards, each of which is enchantingly inspired.
Neither of us is overly superstitious and had, at best, fleeting interest in the realm of the mystic in the past, but we’re trying to approach things with more open minds of late. We’ve both become absolutely fascinated by these cards and their use.
For anyone who doesn’t already know, Tarot actually originated as a family of card games played in Europe as early as the mid-1400s. The deck is augmented, meaning there are four standard suits and then a fifth suit that serves to trump the other suits in play. The cards weren’t associated with the occult or any predictive properties until the 18th century—
“Fortune-telling with playing cards had developed from their use as a randomizing device to pick a page in a book of fortunes in the 1500s, through the use of special fortune-telling decks in the 1600s, and finally to the point of regular decks being given symbolic meaning in the 1700s. A few scattered indications of this appear earlier in the century, but the first book on cartomancy was published in 1770. It was written by Etteilla, the world’s first professional cartomancer, who became one of the founders of occult Tarot. In the 1780s he and two other French writers developed much of the occult lore and fortune-telling methods that would reinvent Tarot in the late 1800s.”
And yes—cartomancy = awesome. You can learn more about the history of Tarot cards here. The path that led Krans to Tarot proves interesting and more relatable though, I think. From her Tarot Guidebook:
“I’ve been drawing with intense detail since a young age. It’s the single thing that brings me absolute focus + clarity of the mind. It’s been rumored that I can draw a perfect circle while riding on a horse. I’ll leave that to myth, but I will say I don’t use any rulers or tools of any kind…it’s simply that when I draw, my mind + hand are steady. Clear. Accurate.
In most other areas of my life my mind is scattered…it’s frantic, worried, + busy, busy, busy. Within the last few years, this anxiety reached a level I could hardly manage. Yet still, when at my drafting table I was steady. What was that about? How could it be?
This led me down a path of inquisition, of self-study. It brought me directly to meditation, visualization, + many other forms of self-healing + self-awareness. And somewhere along this far-out lineage of chakras + sanskrit I was introduced to the Tarot. Though completely intrigued by the concepts of the cards, I had trouble finding a deck I could relate to. I wanted imagery to speak to a world of wild nature + mystery…a place where the darks are truly dark + the lights are bright + expansive. I knew my friends (+ their friends) would want this too…a Tarot deck to call their own.”
Nice. And fun. We’ve been starting off our days with single-card readings and played around with a couple three-card readings, which are usually meant to point to your past (left), present (middle), and future (right). But we have yet to attempt the seemingly bad-ass ten-card celtic cross spread.
If you’re in Brooklyn, you can get the cards + book at local high-fashion fave, Bird; online, you can order directly from The Wild Unknown. Google Analytics is kinda unclear on how many seasoned occultists we get visiting the site, but, even if you are already familiar with the Tarot, we highly recommend getting the guidebook as well as the deck. Its card write-ups are excellent and explanation of the process, very understandable.
Above, the set + guidebook. Below, a three-card reading I did and various other cards we’re especially keen on, one for obvious reasons. If you’re curious, the reading foretold of us moving to Philly, building a magical cabin in the woods, and starting a band. Weird, right?