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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Nine Lives Tarot

Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013

The “Nine Lives Tarot”, skillfully illustrated by Australian artist/designer Annette Abolins, represents the artist’s creative and spiritual perspective on life. The illustrations are figurative, portraying experiences in life as a visual story. Whilst admittedly a free interpretation of the Rider-Waite-Smith system, additional inspiration has been drawn from imagination, mythology and from people close to the artist, whilst finding a deeper symbolic meaning to the ups-and-downs, opportunities and mysteries encountered on the path.

The artwork began as ink drawings on paper, which were then digitised and coloured using illustration software, retaining the sense of freedom and expressiveness of the original drawings. The whole deck took more than 3 years to complete and was finally launched in November 2013.  See: www.ninelivestarot.com.au

Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013

The Major Arcana

Above: Nine Lives Tarot major arcana designed by Annette Abolins, 2013.

  • The Court Cards

    The four court cards in each of the suits of pentacles, rods, cups and swords represent personal influences in the realms of the home & hearth, spirit & creativity, the heart and the mind. Each suit is coded according to its association with star signs as well as the elements of earth, fire, water and air respectively. The colourful and life-affirming illustrations include visual connections between the cards to suggest different aspects and phases of Self.

    Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013 Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013 Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013 Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013

    Above: the 16 court cards, Nine Lives Tarot, designs by Annette Abolins, 2013.

    The Kings, Queens and Knights from the Nine Lives tarot were subsequently redrawn and converted into a 52-card deck of illustrated playing cards, published in 2016. See here

  • The Minor Arcana

    The minor arcana cards represent everyday situations, depicted in terms of prosperity, creativity, love and the mysteries of the mind. Thus, current influences from within the different suits provide clues to help better understand challenges, seize opportunities or confront life-changing events depicted in the archetypal, major arcana cards, thereby revealing the ‘bigger’ picture.

    Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013

    Above: the minor arcana numeral cards from Nine Lives Tarot, designs by Annette Abolins, 2013.

Above: The “Nine Lives Tarot”, illustrated by Annette Abolins, contains a total of 78 cards plus an explanatory booklet in a box inside a blue drawstring bag. The booklet includes descriptions and symbolical interpretations for all the cards, which are inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, but the artist suggests that the characters should introduce themselves. There are no reverse meanings in this deck except that a reversed card may indicate a delay of the meaning.

The title of “Nine Lives Tarot” was chosen because of the way the tarot depicts the cyclic movement through life. At no point does one card speak of finality and physical death; instead the cards work together to weave a picture with an open road to interpretation...

The Kings, Queens and Knights from the Nine Lives tarot were subsequently redrawn into a 52-card deck of playing cards, published in 2016. See here

See: www.ninelivestarot.com.au

Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013
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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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