An Interview with SERPENTFIRE
Posted on February 08 2018
I will never forget the first time I stumbled across Devany Wolfe’s artwork. I felt like I had dropped into another dimension filled with beautiful retro futuristic magic swirling all around me. Her images were unlike any I had seen before and it compelled me to purchase my first tarot deck- The SERPENTFIRE Tarot.
In all honesty, tarot had never interested me before that moment. It was her art that sparked my love affair with the tarot. The beautiful symbols, the majestic desert landscapes and her representation of the divine feminine in all her glorious forms spoke to me on a soul level.
I was absolutely thrilled when she agreed to do an interview with us on the heels of her much anticipated second release- The She Wolfe Tarot. We talk all things tarot, her inspiration behind her art, her Kundalini awakening, and her overall message as an artist.
It was truly an honor and without further ado, here is our interview:
Kaerhart: I read that you had a Kundalini awakening in 2006 that completely changed your life, could you say more about what that experience was like? How would you describe Kundalini to those who may be unfamiliar with it.
Devany Wolfe: I usually describe Kundalini as a vast, powerful psycho-spiritual force of immense potential that exists within all of us, but only awakens in some of us. The reason why is still unknown, but it is possible that it occurs for some of us because there is some kind of wake-up call needed, some call-to-action. It has the ability to undo identity and change life courses at the drop of a hat, setting people on a brand new trajectory. The changes are not always pleasant - especially at first - as Kundalini works on removing blocks and shifting consciousness. But that is true for all spirituality and awakening experiences - there needs to be discomfort in order to reshape.
For me, Kundalini was unexpected and instantly obliterated my previous sense of self. But I was on a very destructive track with addictions and negative self-talk patterns. It was like the universe striking me with a lightning bolt of pure awareness. I woke up, and it set me on the path I'm now on, which I'm immensely thankful for.
K: Is there a connection between your kundalini awakening and how you approach your tarot practice?
DW: For me, Kundalini is intertwined with everything I do. It shaped so much of my current identity; I feel it is everywhere. Since Kundalini is an awakening experience, and tarot is a tool for awakening and self-exploration, I see them working together in harmony.
K: How did you first discover tarot? For those who are new to the practice, what advice would you give them?
DW: I've been into tarot and oracle readings since I was a child - I used to give readings to my stuffed animals! But as I grew up, I strayed from the magickal path for a while - only to rediscover it when I was in my early 20s. My first deck was "A Thousand And One Nights" - the artwork is incredible - and it ignited my passion again.
Tarot can seem intimidating for those new to the practice, but it doesn't have to be. My usual suggestion is to find a deck you resonate with visually, and see if it comes with a nice, hearty companion booklet so that you can dive into the deck creator's world. These days there are SO many decks to choose from - and not all of them follow the exact model of traditional tarot symbolism and imagery. It's essentially the same skeleton (22 major arcana, 56 minor, etc) but from deck to deck, there are variations which can throw you off. If you purchase the Rider Waite-Smith deck, for example, there are probably hundreds of books on that system. Same with Thoth - which will give you a more general knowledge base. But for the more specific, "artisanal" decks out there - get something that speaks to you, but make sure you understand what that particular deck is all about.
K: We LOVE your first deck, SERPENTFIRE Tarot, in fact it was the first tarot deck I ever owned. She Wolfe Tarot is equally as mesmerizing and beautiful. How has your vision and art evolved between your first and second deck?
DW: If you look at any of my 'one off' pieces that I create, you'll notice that my preferred style is more based in the SERPENTFIRE Tarot dreamscape - I love rich, vibrant, mysterious, sci-fi, retrofuturistic and dark imagery. So that's what really began the SERPENTFIRE Tarot saga - was a love of that style, and needing to explore it as much as possible. With She Wolfe, I wanted to take a similar, but different approach and challenge myself to distill the imagery and symbolism down to its essence.
She Wolfe carries forth many of the themes present in my first deck - Goddess, Kundalini, Ancient Egypt, desert visionquest - but the more pastel backgrounds make it a lighter deck, not so much shrouded in mystery. I also took the constructive critique of a few YouTubers and other customers who said they weren't huge fans of the SERPENTFIRE Tarot borders - and made a borderless deck. I personally enjoy both styles, but it was a unique experience to make the artwork edge-to-edge. The result is a vastness, spaciousness and impactful imagery that focuses more on the models and their telling of the tarot story.
K: I love your decision to transform some of the classic tarot card names for more modern ones. Empress is now Divine Feminine, Hanged Man is now Hanged Being, Strength is Lust, Aeon is Judgement, etc.... I would love to hear more about your creative decision behind making those changes?
DW: Well, I cannot take credit for all of those changes - I am a huge fan of Aleister Crowley's Thoth tarot, he and Lady Frieda Harris altered some of the names of the major arcana. For Aeon and Lust, I am paying homage to that deck. Lust makes a great deal of sense for the Strength card - because it's all about the deep joy that comes from feeling passionate and excited about life - that intoxicating delirium. It strengthens us, but to me, it's more about passion and lust. With Aeon, we are nearing completion of a long cycle (aeon means eternity, vital force, age) and we are invited to take a closer look at what we've been through and see how we can best learn the lessons presented, so that we are more free and clear going forward. To me, that resonates more than "Judgement" - though it certainly can be looked at as we are 'judging ourselves' or gesturing ourselves through critique.
As for Divine Feminine - I wanted the title to embody the feel of She Wolfe - honouring the Goddess in all of her manifestations. Empress and Emperor (Emperor has been changed to "Divine Masculine" in the new editions) are dated terms that don't serve the actual meaning of the cards, which actually deal with the archetypal female and male, respectively. And lastly, for Hanged Being - since She Wolfe (and paradigms in general) are working away from patriarchal and overtly masculine titles, I felt it was more appropriate to make that card more neutral.
K: One thing I especially love about your decks is your use of symbols and your representation of the divine feminine in all of her forms. What inspired you to take your deck in that direction? What symbols/goddesses inspire you most?
DW: The divine feminine has been a theme in my work for years and I honestly don't see myself ever departing from that. As I mentioned, we are moving away from patriarchal paradigms and the woman/goddess/witch is finally having her time. It is empowering and beautiful, and deserves to be celebrated as much as possible. She Wolfe, for me, is that celebration.
I'm in love with a great many symbols and sigils - and make some of my own as a tool for magick and manifestation. Some favourites (that are also tattooed to me) are the Eye of Horus, Star of Babalon, Unalome, certain planetary symbols, yonic imagery. I'm eternally inspired by the goddess Isis, Hathor, Diana, Pele, Kali, Shakti.
K: What is your biggest message as an artist?
DW: Joseph Campbell said, "Follow your bliss." It has perhaps now become cliche, but for everyone, especially creative folk, this may be the truest, most profound piece of advice. Yes, the world is in peril. Yes, there are countless things we could be sacrificing ourselves for on a daily basis. But if we don't feel bliss, and walk the path that fulfills us and makes us feel whole, we will be of no service to ourselves, and thus the world. When we follow our bliss, we enrich ourselves and make a crystalline environment that has a ripple effect outwards. When we follow our bliss, we heal the world. We naturally are in alignment with our highest selves - truest purpose - and we more naturally extend ourselves as helpers and healers.
The only thing to be mindful about is - "an ye harm none, do what ye will." Follow that bliss, but do it mindfully and with the good of all beings kept close to heart. That is the main principle of the Divine Masculine card - and that is the paradigm we ought to be focusing ourselves towards.