Science Tarot Cards: We’re Fans

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As any Ogre Battle fan can attest, there’s something undeniably cool about the look and feel of tarot cards. At the same time, the more science-minded among us might bristle at turning over their fates to a deck of magical cards. But what if you could combine tarot cards’ structure and aesthetic with neat examples from science and a little less hocus-pocus?

That, anyway, is the conceit behind the Science Tarot, whose creators describe it as “a creative science communication project that combines science, art, and mythology into a tarot deck to engage and awaken people’s curiosity about science and the natural world.”

In addition to swapping the traditional cards of the tarot for scientific phenomena, the deck replaces the wands, pentacles, swords, and cups of traditional tarot with Bunsen burners, magnifying glasses, scalpels, and beakers. There are other nice touches: Face cards become scientists like [American naturalist] John Muir, Joseph Campbell‘s Hero’s Journey “is adapted to tell each suit’s unique story from Ace to Ten,” and neurotransmitters even comprise their own special subset of cards.

One sample card reading, for “Symbiosis”:

Some unions of two partners are unable to flourish and reach their full potential without a third influence, an unexpected helping hand. The orchid’s soil and seed have a symbiotic relationship with a nearly invisible helper, the fungus, which is necessary for the orchid to blossom and thrive.

The exquisite variety and breathtaking beauty of orchid flowers inspired people to attempt to grow the seeds in cultivated soil, yet when they tried they failed. The missing element was the unseen fungus mycorrhiza living in the orchids’ native soil. This fungus helps the orchid roots to absorb water and minerals from the soil. In return, the orchid plant provides the fungus with sugars created from sunlight through its leaves. With the discovery of the unseen fungus mycorrhiza living in the orchids’ native soil, and its role in helping the orchid grow, people could now cultivate the exotic flowers successfully.

Hero’s Journey, Step 3: Once the hero has committed to the quest, a guide and wise mentor will appear. New influences bring an opportunity for celebration and growth.

Traditional Meaning: This card symbolizes the birth of new life together. Opening to an outside influence provides the means and inspiration to take advantage of new opportunities. The result is creativity, growth, action, energy and enthusiasm.

We’re definitely intrigued. The cards are slated for release later in 2010, but a specific release date has not yet been announced.

A few more card designs below:

Check out Science Tarot‘s website for more info.

(Science Tarot via MAKE)


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