Mountain Dream Tarot

August 28, 2009

 posted and written by Heather McShane             




The Last Judgement from Mountain Dream Tarot by Bea Nettles

The Last Judgement card from Mountain Dream Tarot by Bea Nettles

I concentrated on the idea of future when I overturned the 10 of Spades card, which portends a period, albeit potentially short, of intense creative activity, or so I understood from the reading. My friends and I used three decks of tarot cards for the reading: one to represent the past, another for the present, and the third for the future. I was particularly drawn to one of the sets of tarot cards, the Mountain Dream Tarot staged and photographed by Bea Nettles.

In 1970, Bea Nettles’s idea for the photographic set of tarot cards came to her in a dream and she began work on the cards the following day at Penland School in North Carolina, with the help of family and friends who served as models. It took her four years to complete the cards, and the cards are evidence of her patience and skill, especially since it was decades before Photoshop. For example, the Three of Swords card shows a heart shape pierced by three swords suspended in front of bright white clouds and a reflective sea.

As Nettles explained in the original 1975 introduction (a second edition was printed in 2001), her cards were more of an intuitive rather than a literal interpretation of the source material (Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Waite). Perhaps it was her open and almost playful, though personal, approach in creating these cards that makes them so endearing.

I also have to admit that there’s something intriguing for me about North Carolina and that I like her nameBea makes me think of Dante’s Beatrice and Nettles reminds me of the nettles on the land around my childhood home.


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