Interview with Sakki,
creator of the Sakki-Sakki Tarot
Interview by Diane Wilkes
Diane: How and when did you discover the tarot? When did you decide to create a deck of your own?
Sakki: It was a simple discovery. Nobody in my family or circle of friends was ever involved with the tarot, but I was exposed to it through my visits to New York City bookstores in my late teens, while I was looking for astrology books. My first two decks were the Thoth and Aquarian Tarots with a companion book. At that time, I also became aware of all the psychic parlors that are everywhere in New York. I even went for a reading or two, although I don't think I knew what tarot cards were then (I knew them as fortune telling cards). And anyway, I wasn't really interested in the cards, but in my future!
Later on I bought more tarot books and wanted to study them. It was too boring to go card by card in the book, so I decided I would pick a card-a-day, and learn about that card. Not very romantic, but this is how it all started. I'm sure that if someone told me then that my thesis for my Master's degree would involve a tarot deck, I certainly wouldn't believe it!
I think that I actually created the Sakki-Sakki because I was afraid of the Thoth! I owned it, but refused to study it or draw my daily card, which inspired thoughts of doing a deck of my own. Of course, at the time I had no clue of what was happening in the tarot world, or that such a world even existed, and the idea dropped as quickly as it came up, because I thought, "This is such a huge task!!!"
As to the big decision: I never decided to create my own deck. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it is accurate and true. It just happened. I had just created the first part of the Sakki-Sakki Visual Library (my artistic materials for creating this brand), and wanted to try it out, see how it worked and what it looked like. I asked an editor friend to write a story (about a headless Lady and a Knight riding a Giraffe), but the story was never completed. So I thought, "What can I do that doesn't depend on any text?" This is when I started "The Magician." I went into a "trance" and completed about twenty cards within one month, when I realized: I'm doing a tarot deck!!!!!
Diane: What is the Sakki-Sakki Visual Library?
Sakki: The Sakki-Sakki Visual Library is a collection of digital files that shows all my drawings/doodles done in a out-of-mind-state (for example, while talking on the phone, or while listening to a lecture). When I draw while my mind is somewhere else, I have no control of what I draw, and I also don't "try too hard." As a collector of pretty much anything, I kept all my sketchbooks for years. Also, every time I sketch something on a notepad, I stick it in the sketch book. All these raw sketches were eventually scanned, named, and filed in the computer. So, each time I need an element, I go to my library and look for it. This is how I experience "unexpected solutions", by using materials that already exist. Think of it as art done with "found objects." The findings determine the outcome, no matter what the subject is. For example, the dress of the High Priestess, was actually a drawing of a bell-shaped building with windows! If I tried to draw a dress specifically for her, it would never look that way...
Diane: Your deck is subtitled "for the artist in each of us"--how did your professional background impact the intent of the deck?
Sakki: This question is phrased beautifully, and it makes such sense...Nevertheless, this is the case of the egg and the chicken (Which comes first?). Before I started on the 78 commitments, I always saw myself as a professional designer and illustrator, but never as an Artist. The creative process for this deck has led me to an unending visual and philosophical discovery in which I have found the Artist within me. Thus, the 79th card, "The Artist," is the gift I got from this deck. The intent was there from the beginning, but hidden all the way till the end...
Diane: How do you envision the ideal reader for your deck? What is he/she like and how does he/she use the deck?
Sakki: Oh, what a wonderful question! I never thought I'd have the opportunity to "Design my Ideal Reader"! If I were to put an ad in a newspaper, it would go something like this:
"Looking for a passionate Tarot Reader to read with the Sakki-Sakki Tarot. Fe/Male, OK. Languages: All welcome. Love at first sight with the Sakki-Sakki is mandatory. Preferred reading style: Dramatic manner, using different voice intonations--like when you know how to tell a joke. Reader should be inspired and inspiring. Any use of creativity, in any form, is welcome. Reader should focus on insights rather than on answers. When the deck speaks boldly, no sugar-coating allowed. Storytelling, personal interpretations and playing with spreads are welcome. Recognizing the momentum and acting on it will bring unexpected benefits. When asked why there are no heads in some of the cards, make sure to give a different answer each time. No lattes or cookies on the same table with the cards (but definitely on the one next to them). Curiosity and amusement are a plus. A smart dress code and fancy shoes are a big plus."
Diane: You talk about kabbalah and astrology in your little white booklet--and I know you have a companion book coming out for this deck.
Sakki: The Sensitive Question. The Book. It is half-finished, but in order to get the cards out, I had to completely stop work on it. I do plan to get back to it soon and finish the other half. I will take my time with it, as I'll need to do other things at the same time. On the other hand, of course, I can't wait to finish it, I'm so looking forward to sharing it, and it will complete a full circle for me. The way it will be published is not determined yet though, so that might affect the timing as well.
Diane: Will you address the kabbalistic and astrological influences in more depth in your book? What else will the book contain that the little white booklet (LWB) does not?
Sakki: The reason I'm doing the book is not just to offer the usual information one expects. For that, I felt there are enough books already, at least for the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) system. Besides explanations/interpretations for each card, there will be a section on the Creative Process--some of it mainly visual. I think it will be interesting to show how some cards came to be, and of what materials they are really made. Questions that tarot artists need to ask, like, "Can I invent the meaning of a symbol," will be asked and answered based on scholarly thought.
The most interesting part for me though, will be some original text pieces that spring from the symbols in the deck, and they are the trigger to go to other places altogether. This section will be called "Playing with Symbols", and this is all I can say about it for now.
The Kabbalistic and Astrological attributes will definitely be addressed, but they will not be the main section of the book. Those materials that can be found in many other sources, and I have to make sure to first address the ideas that can not be found anywhere else.
Diane: You touch on the reason you made some of the images in the Minor Arcana headless in your LWB. Would you expand on that here?
Sakki: My first plan was to have all the Minors headless, but then some cards really needed a face to portray the RWS tradition, so I decided to compromise with an eclectic blend...I like to toy with the idea that, if I ever did a second edition, I should maybe add heads to all of them, or much better, move some of the heads now existing to figures that are now headless. I wonder what that would do...
Although this issue will be covered in the book, the reason behind the headless people is no longer important to me, and I hope it will be the same for you soon as well. What is more important now is how people react to it, and in what ways. I have explanations for it, but they are not the reason. The reaction is the reason: The fact that it bothers one while it amuses another...it's the chicken and the egg again...
Diane: Your deck is clearly Rider-Waite influenced. Was that your main reading deck before you created your own?
Sakki: I never owned a RWS deck until last year, when someone gave it to me as a gift. My main reading deck was the Aquarian, which is RWS-based. I decided to add the Kabbalistic and Astrological elements, because I saw how they made total sense, and how they combined all my interests together. It also helped me understand some of the cards better...
Diane: Do you use the Sakki-Sakki Tarot now?
Sakki: This is a very interesting question, more so than you'll ever know.
For starters, in order to concentrate on the deck, and to make myself "do" it, I decided not to read with it, before it was complete. (Well, I did have a set of all the Majors at some point, and did some reading with it, but only occasionally). So, my prize for getting the deck "out there" was to get to read with it. And yes, I discover new things everyday.
Diane: What have you discovered that you didn't know when you wrote the LWB? What are the Sakki Sakki's best qualities as a reading deck.
Sakki: I tried to make the LWB as detailed as possible for a LWB, but never meant to have everything in it. The best thing about this deck is a blunt kind of humor. It gives funny, sometimes sarcastically funny, readings! Once I did a three card spread, and got the Page of Cups, the Queen of Cups, and the King of Cups! I was laughing for a while after that! The deck was being playful, telling me, "Since you asked for it, here it is!".
Diane: What did that mean to you, getting those three cup Court Cards? Was it significant that the Knight was missing?
Sakki: Oh, the Knight! I didn't even think of the Knight... but if you look at him, he is mostly pink and very different than the other Cup court cards, because he actually comes and goes on his horse, being more affected by the unfamiliar surroundings he visits. I tried to give the Page, Queen, and King a similar color scheme, as they represent the same domestic court. So, those three in one line give you such a watery feeling, like you are in the middle of the ocean, trying to discover how you feel--or how not to drown!. It also felt like a contest, the three of them trying to win my attention. Now, who wants to mess with the whole familia?
Diane: What do you want the tarot community to know about your deck? About you?
Sakki: I would like people to get to know this deck slowly. To know that there are many layers to it, and that just like a time capsule, the layers will be revealed at the right moment. I may be the creator of The Sakki-Sakki Tarot, but I don't know everything about it. Everyday I discover a new intention, or a new insight, and I'm already standing and looking at these cards from the "outside." This is just another wonder the tarot had in store for me...
Read a review of the Sakki-Sakki Tarot here.
Click here to see a sample reading with the Sakki-Sakki Tarot.
Interview and page © 2004 Diane Wilkes