GLIMPSES OF THE MYSTERY
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With all the doubles in Twin Peaks, doppelgänger decks are somehow perfectly fitting.
If the world of Twin Peaks is big enough for identical cousins, a pair of Coopers, a couple of Lodges, and dual evolutions of the Arm, why shouldn't it have twin Tarot decks? Thanks to the incredible labors of love carried out respectively by illustrators Claire Laffar and Benjamin Mackey, Twin Peaks lovers now have two breathtaking decks at their disposal--Laffar's Maiafire Tarot and Mackey's The Magician Longs to See Tarot. Whether Peakers employ these decks as magicians seeking knowledge of a future past or just as fans nerding-out over these sumptuous visual celebrations of their favorite TV-show, one thing is certainly in the cards--the experience of holding two of the best curated galleries of Twin Peaks fan art ever assembled in the palm of one's hand.
Like many beautiful things, alas, these decks are relatively rare. Both were offered in limited runs and neither are currently available for purchase from the artists, though a deck may occasionally crop up in a hotly contested online auction (the last Mackey deck I saw on eBay was up to $350 with plenty of time left on the clock). However difficult it is to chase down these decks in hard copy, the images they bear are just too fantastic not to be widely seen and celebrated. And though I've previously posted images of each deck independently here at THE GLASS BOX (the Maiafire is here and the Mackey is here), the intrigue only deepens when the doubles are juxtaposed.
Wrapped in Plast...well, Cloth and Cardboard
There are surface similarities, of course. Each deck contains both the 22 Major Arcana cards and the 56 Minor Arcana cards (in four suits: swords, wands, cups, and pentacles/coins) that constitute the traditional Rider-Waite deck on which both are modeled. Moreover, there is substantial overlap in the characters chosen to represent some of the key figures of the Major Arcana; both decks, for instance, make Deputy Andy "The Fool", Cooper "The Magician", the Log Lady "The High Priestess", Ben Horne "The Emperor", Major Briggs "The Hierophant", Harold Smith "The Hermit", and BOB "The Devil". But beyond these 7 obligatory assignments--really, who but Cooper could be "The Magician" and who but BOB could be "The Devil"?--the decks depart from one another as widely on their interpretive employments of characters and events as their divergent packaging and aesthetic style suggest that they would. Even where they overlap, the subtle differences are fascinating.
Maiafire's portrayal of "The Magician" has an aura of Eastern resonance, as Cooper takes contemplative dictation from Buddha, who presides over the scene holding infinity in his hands; Mackey's Cooper, by contrast, is the picture of Western will, standing magisterially over an Italian marble Venus de Medici with cherry pie in hand and fork held triumphantly aloft, his appetites satisfied. Maiafire's "The Hierophant" finds Major Briggs seated in the R&R with the table set for coffee as two blue roses push in from the corners above him, whereas Mackey's Briggs sits atop a forest throne with two menacing owls at his feet. While Mackey depicts "The Devil" in view of BOB's enslavement of two living girls--Ronette Pulaski and Laura Palmer--for the purpose of feeding on their pain and suffering, Maiafire's BOB clutches the corpses of two dead girls--Laura and Maddy wrapped in plastic--as a blood-spattered owl cave ring radiates consuming fire toward their lifeless bodies. Both decks are so deeply steeped in the mythology and iconography of Twin Peaks that almost every visible detail repays close attention, and the possibilities for insight into the show and its characters that emerge from contemplating these details are all the more fecund in view of the juxtaposition of their two distinct interpretations.
Without further fanfare, then, here's a card-for-card comparison of these twin Tarot decks with the Maiafire deck on top and the Mackey deck beneath it, starting with the 22 Major Arcana and proceeding through the 56 Minor Arcana in four suits. What do you see in the mirroring? Which interpretation resonates most?
The Major Arcana
The Minor Arcana: Swords
The Minor Arcana: Wands
The Minor Arcana: Cups
The Minor Arcana: Coins/Pentacles