Interview with Chris Paradis
Creator & Author of The Rock n' Roll Tarot
and The Circus Tarot

by Cynthia Tedesco

CKT: Would you explain how the writers' journey began for you and how you would define the writers' journey?

Chris Paradis

CHRIS PARADIS: The writers' journey began for me in a free writing manner — writing in journals, doodling on napkins — sketches of concepts — like the fool heading toward the cliff nothing really formed — but the first step toward making a leap nonetheless. I would define the writers' journey — as one of trusting words to do their job and hold the magic and music that we imbue with them within our conscious and subconscious minds.

CKT: So your Tarots are your stories and novels etc. in manifold visual and mental forms?


CKT: What music do you like to play when writing, if you do, and is it different from your Rock n` Roll Tarot?

CHRIS PARADIS: I like incidental music incidentally …

CKT: Do you paint/draw etc. when listening to music?

CHRIS PARADIS: Yes — I got an iPod just over a year ago — the 30G model holds so much music that my iPod on random is the best DJ — The two artists I have the most work from are David Bowie — Tori Amos more than likely … and piano etudes and comptines …

CKT: Several Tarot Authors have suggested a variety of ways Tarot can be used by writers. Do you have a way of using Tarot to write? What kind(s) of writing do you find you do with Tarot Cards?

CHRIS PARADIS: Tarot is the pattern for all stories — or as I've heard it said — tarot is a map of human experience —

The Archetypes are always on the edge of my thoughts waiting to jump into my concepts and frame them with their presence. When I look at a painting in a gallery or watch a film — I see the Tarot Archetypes there.

As far as using Tarot to write — it is the same instincts involved — the difficulty comes in seeing similarities — wondering about originality … it's like when I go to the piano and make up little compositions those pieces invariably remind me of other compositions — though the notes are set — the possibilities are endless.

But with the writing, I generally free-write and keep journals to document ideas and days. I have not formally written any stories —

Perhaps this exercise is daunting to me because I have fears of formally creating a story or set composition —

Because I am perpetually fascinated by the writing — words and music in the raw free-form style.


CKT: Could I ask you to draw a card & just play visually or musically or in writing if you choose?

CHRIS PARADIS: I drew the 4 of Pentacles — Which means to me — in this context — that I am 'at home' when writing but that I am sometimes too reserved and formal — which only comes from my fears and in-experiences. I need to 'lighten up.'

CKT: Are there specific decks , your own wonderful tarots included, that you use? Why?

CHRIS PARADIS: Oh I use the Thoth Deck to read with mostly — am reading the Gerd Ziegler book on that deck called, Tarot: The Mirror of The Soul.

The decks — if anything — are the only formal writing I have done — but they represent layers of ideas of text on images — it is a meta language that we sometimes ignore in the power of our culture. The late Will Eisner understood in creating graphic novels when he made the profound statement — 'text is an image' we see letters first then our brain places them into the accepted words and forms for communication.

CKT: I'm checking out Will Eisner — wow, Chris: how did I 'miss him?' I loved Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' series but this seems a whole cut above from that: way above! What other giants can you share with readers?

CHRIS PARADIS: Dave McKean ( the Sandman's Series main artist ) integrated the digital with the spiritual very effectively and has been greatly imitated and emulated.

CKT: Do you have any other tarot deck concepts in mind? As a digital — age writer and deck creator how does the writing process interact in the creation of your decks?

CHRIS PARADIS: I think visually first — I knew the 'Rock n` Roll' cards represented a form of entertainment — and I feel the 'Circus and Sideshows' were the dominant form of entertainment — then the rock and roll and concerts took that place —

So I'm traveling backwards with the circus posters --- and doing things a bit more freely without the known faces and music lyrics …

CKT: Do you plan to write a definitive study of Rock and Roll to go with the Tarot or have it illustrate the text?

CHRIS PARADIS: The cards are meant to represent that in their own medium — is it desirable for someone to do a book that is fascinating … desirable? But the true way I feel is to make your own Rock and Roll Deck with YOUR songs and artists …

CKT: Ah! The iPod Generation! What about oldies like myself? You'd be doing us a kindness! How has music, comparative mythology and literature influenced the creation of your tarots?

CHRIS PARADIS: Comparative mythology is a way of recognizing the archetypes that we are bound to no matter how many arms our gods have (which to me, represents physics and omnipresence.)

CKT: I just thought of Kali in a whole new way Chris! Thank you!


Or no matter how terrible the monsters — there will be always be change and transformation available to us even in the most 'stuck' places in our lives. Meaning that a stuck place or a stagnant place is a type of transformation — a chrysalis — e.g. death and the hanged man cards in the tarot —

CKT: Is there a 'standard Golden Dawn' or 'Clone' you use at times?

CHRIS PARADIS: The Thoth Tarot.

CKT: Do you collect tarots?

CHRIS PARADIS: Yes, I have a few — Lately I look at packaging I like and submit The Circus Tarot to those publishers — no luck so far on that — it is a tough deck to get published … Just submitting to Quirk Publishers — if anyone wants to send an email to them telling them you'd like to see it published:

I love the look of their 'Housewife's Tarot' — the full package.

CKT: If you do readings for yourself and/or others what spreads do you like to use?

CHRIS PARADIS: 3 Card Readings are good — more formally I do a 'Norse' reading with 7 cards and The Golden Dawn Tarot Reading with 15 Cards.

CKT: Since you use the I Ching, do you use the one with the intro by Carl Jung?

CHRIS PARADIS: I use the one given to me as a gift, and on

CKT: And speaking of Jung: do you enjoy reading him? About him?

CHRIS PARADIS: Yes — I want to write a play about his relationship to Freud

CKT: Would you share your initial inspiration for the 'Rock n` Roll Tarot?' and 'The Circus Tarot?'

CHRIS PARADIS: It was years of impacting images and learning to be aware of my perceptions —

CKT: How do you feel your Web Site fulfills you as an artist?

CHRIS PARADIS: My live journal — it is a fun way to share — I particularly liked being able to post the music video I made there — I hope Tori Amos gets to see it — I think she would dig it.

CKT: I sense you're a poet as well, there's that special rhythm & choice of words that is unique to you. Do you write poetry?

CHRIS PARADIS: The only poems lately are the words on the Circus and Sideshow Cards — not really a poem but not easy to write and make it work — not like song lyrics …

CKT: Remind us, who is Death and who is The Hanged Man in your 'Rock n` Roll' Tarot. Querants are terrified of those cards popping up and many readers have issues as well.

CHRIS PARADIS: Death is John Lennon and Imagine the Hanged Man is Kurt Cobaine — All apologies — 'Summoned or not the Gods will come,' written above Carl Jung's door!

In the Circus Tarot Death is called the Sleepwalker — and the Hanged Man is a female performer hanging from a thread.

CKT: How do you plan to depict them in your future tarots?

CHRIS PARADIS: Always in motion is the Future.

CKT: Art Therapy is a big draw as a major in our colleges and universities. How do you view Art Therapy?

CHRIS PARADIS: I feel that I study art therapy every day of my life — as I focus on the archetypes and use them in a direct way to learn and grow in my human experience. I have not read a great deal on the subject — but the Stephen Mitchell translation of The Tao Te Ching changed my life in college particularly his translation of 'verse' 27. I've been meaning to look at his new work — rings true to me. My definitions of art therapy as far as writing goes brings us back to the fool's circle: 0 to the journal keeping and free writing. As far as blocks go: I guess 'block' is more of an archetype in itself in my mind. Why am I stuck on this point? How can this stuck place transform me and what am needing to learn from this moment? There are layers upon layers — but you must see that I am a beginner and endings frighten me: though we have little deaths every day and put our perceptions into welcome caves or paradigms — hope that's a good little chat for you!

Cynthia Tedesco is the author of, Letters Found After ... a book of poetry published by Sesquin Press, `97. Her work has appeared in such literary journals as Apex of The M, Barrow Street, The Columbia Poetry Review amongst many others. A short story, Suitcases is archived within the on-line Review, Archipelago. She has edited for Barrow Street and other journals as well as co-hosting a poetry reading series in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Cynthia is currently working on building her tarot practice, 'Intuitive Arts Entertainment' and foresees being a life-time student of The Tarot School.


Card images are from the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck, Copyright US Games Inc.,
the Rock n' Roll Tarot, and the Circus Tarot, Copyright Chris Paradis