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Hello

The Futures Arcana is technology built on possibility.

It is a desire for the world to stop thinking about the future

and a challenge to start feeling instead.

 

This deck is a blending and weaving of spirituality, psychology, futures thinking, and thanatology. It is an engaging of 'arcana', or mysteries and secrets, because what is more elusive than the future? The intention of this deck is that you would employ some of the minor activities when you are anticipating a big change or transition. It's a great tool to use individually as you navigate your personal future or as you help guide another individual or collective. 

 

Many of us live in a world that has sterilized feelings like grief and mourning. That has cushioned from total collapse and the pain of loss and the fear of the unknown. A world that no longer embraces magic, mystery, and play. We've started to believe the lie that 'resiliency' equates to the unmoved mountain. This deck challenges those notions and in turn will challenge and change you.

 

We hope you let it.

To purchase your own card deck, please visit our store here.

To download your own cards and print at home, click here.

A Note About Care

This card deck was created with your hearts in mind. We do not enter into the sacred space of the unknown without care. Our hope is that you engage at a level that challenges you but does not harm you (or as is sometimes the case, re-harms you). Learning your limits is part of the work and we believe grief should never happen alone. Pace yourselves. We know that some of you are working on systems and not just individual change. That can be even harder as you anticipate each other's emotional needs. We know that sharing intimately and vulnerably can be powerful but also damaging if done without care. For our friends not only engaging their personal grief but the grief of collectives and generations of loss, we see you. We honor your pain though we may not ever understand it. At the very bottom of this page you'll find a section on how we created this deck and the people involved in that creation. We tried to build something that wasn't just hard and sometimes painful, but also leaves room for play, surprise, and delight. Thank you for trusting us and allowing the pain and loss that created this deck be a comfort to you on your journey.

minor one: the (full) steps of a story

Storytelling is one of our earliest and most powerful technologies. Stories have meaning.
They have purpose. They shape us. Let these cards help you tell a story of past change or possible future transition.

{prologue} This is your true beginning. It's when the Shakespearian narrator gives us the foreshadowing - a glimpse of what's to come. When telling stories, you may find that even after you start at the beginning, there was more to tell. More backstory. More narration needed. This is the pre-everything that helps give context to this particular story.
{the beginning} Where the major action starts. When the characters meet. The build up before the conflict, drama, peak. This is where all the roads have led. 
{the middle} This is when we see the truth of the story. The 'why' - why is this story important? It is usually the longest part of a story. It's also the bracing for the resolution. 
{the end} Often seen as the hardest part of the story; when we aren't ready to see an ending, even if it's a happy ending. This is typically the place with most emotion. We are sometimes unable to believe something might be possible after the ending.
{the epilogue} What comes after the ending? It's the part we most often want to know. How did the characters move on? Did the future turn out how they'd hoped and expected? Often overlooked, the epilogue may be the most important part of a story. 

 
the ask
Now, shuffle the cards. Mix it up.

What happens when the end becomes the beginning, and the middle is the epilogue?
How might you rewrite your story of change and how might that new story shift the future for you? If a story is only as strong as the meaning we give it,
what power does your story now have? And how powerful will you let it be?

If you're playing as a team, tell the story of change within your system. How do the members of your team see it differently? How might you reorganize the pieces of story to create a more holistic telling of change for all of you?

minor two: scenarios - hopes, fears & liminal spaces

The Design Thinking tool 'Hopes and Fears' can be incredibly powerful when discussing possibility. We also think it makes for great scenario imaginings. 

When we anticipate possible transition or change, we envision how it might play out. We write a story about the future. When we ask someone "what is your greatest hope about X?" and "what is your greatest fear about X?", what we're really asking them is to tell us a story.  

In foresight, the scenario archetype for collapse is typically the one that is the most depressing. We don't like the idea of collapse as it is often our greatest fear. Transformation, on the other hand, is our best possibility. And sometimes it is filled with the rainbows and butterflies of unreality. 

     the ask
As you play with these cards and think through an impending change, what is your greatest hope (transformation) and your greatest fear (collapse)? What what might be the liminal space between the two where most of us feel safest (the baseline)? How might you lean into the possible collapse scenario so that it might lead to transformation? 

If you're playing as a team, to the level that you are willing, share your hopes and fears (see our note about care if you haven't already). We find that sharing these pieces of ourselves creates an intimate depth that is often rare but needed. How might sharing your hopes and fears together help anticipate each other as an impending change occurs?
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minor three: ars moriendi for the future













{DOUBT} The Chariot Card
Upright Card: You are engaging your challenge with determination. Keep going. If you begin to doubt yourself, seek to remember that you can handle this change. It will likely not be easy, but you are capable and up for the task.
Reversed Card: This reversed card is a reminder that there is only so much you can control, and it usually isn’t much. Do not doubt yourself. Transition can be like herding cats - hold firm, but not too tight. Draw your community around you - you'll need them along the way.
   











{RESIGNATION} The Strength Card
Upright Card: It is okay to be confident and feel strong. Partner compassion with that inner fortitude and it will serve you well. Even if you first doubted, you can choose to move forward now. Even if looming loss and transition find you, hold fast to your courage. Feeling your feelings may be the hardest and bravest thing you do in this step toward change.
Reversed Card: The temptation here is to seep down into despair. Change is hard, sometimes becoming numb is preferable to digging in. Keep trying. This change will only make you stronger - but only if you choose it. Rely on your community to help remind you there is light at the end. If you make a mess in the process, know that true listening can help you clean it up.












{FUSION} The Wheel of Fortune Card
Upright Card: Life is a cycle of ups and downs. Trust that both will come and both are normal and simply part of the ride. Remember to enjoy the positives and not be afraid of the negatives. Live in the moment and trust what comes next because you are holding firm to your Self and not to people, places or ideas.
Reversed Card: Sometimes what we resist, persists. Clinging tightly to people, things, and ideas can only cause further harm. Let the transition wash over you. The wheel will swing upward again. Find out who you truly are outside of all else. 












{ACCEPTANCE} The Death Card
Upright Card: One of the most feared cards in a tarot deck. It's time to be honest with yourself: you know the change is happening. Be brave. Embrace the death and get excited about the possibility for something new. Permission granted.
Reversed Card: This is about change, too, but you refuse to see. The change is coming whether you acknowledge it or not. Choosing the change can allow for a much less painful process. 












{PRIDE} The Tower Card
Upright Card: The freefall can be exhilarating. Something completely new is about to be built in the place of the past. Don't believe this is the last time something will have to burn to the ground for something new to rise. 
Reversed  Card: Have you really embraced the steps to positive change and productive loss? Believing that you've figured it out will only lead you right back to the beginning. Continue watching the horizon. Continue learning and growing. The flames will rise again. 
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The ars moriendi illustrated that one of the first temptations the dying would go through was to doubt their faith. There was nothing scarier than wondering if they would enter heaven. For us, self-doubt and questioning whether we can survive change and transition can be just as terrifying. 
After doubting, the dying would go through the next stage of the ars moriendi: the temptation to despair that their doubt is unforgivable. Consider that we are similar - but we despair over change - and our despair may have settled so far into us that it has become resignation. We are resigned to our plight. We may not even know we've given up. We are numb to change, and thus to life.
For our predecessors, the letting go of earthly things was a devilish temptation. For us, it is the fusion with the people, places, and ideas that we have collapsed ourselves into. This step is about identifying your Self when all else has been stripped away.
For the past, the temptation was the impatience to end suffering. To let it be over. To just die. For us, it is the acceptance that the death is here. It is the patience to vigil over your loss. For them it was the desire to be out of pain. For us, it is the same - the pain of change. Rather than being tempted to get it over with, choose to let this end well. How might you be your best Self as this transition happens?
The ars moriendi of the past and our version today have the same final temptation: pride. You've resisted the demons hoping to pull you into despair and impatience, but now your believe yourself in control. 
In the 1300s, the Black Plague brought an unfathomable amount of loss and death. So much so that the local religious leaders of the day couldn't keep up with the traditions of helping someone walk into death secure in their salvation unafraid and unalone. Out of the immense pain of that huge loss was birthed the new technology of the ars moriendi - 'the art of dying'. 

This is one of the more complex tools in The Futures Arcana. It requires more background and explanation - most of which you'll find in videos and explanations elsewhere on this site. You'll want to gather that background as you utilize the tarot cards and let the universe lead you.

   the ask
Preparing for the tarot reading: spend a moment focusing your thoughts on a challenging change or transition you are navigating. Hold that loosely in your mind and open yourself up to what the cards may reveal to you. When you're ready, lay the cards facing down on a table in front of you and use your hands to mix them up. Once you are ready, pick the cards up and put them back into a pile in your hands (do not try to determine which way they are facing - upright or reversed - that's part of the beautiful mystery.) Flip each of the cards over individually and lay the five cards spread out in front of you for the reading.

This is the only activity we don't recommend trying to do as a team. The cards are meant to be read for individuals, but we do recommend sharing pieces of your reading to the level that you are willing. Anytime we can hold awareness of what each other is working through can help anticipate each other's needs around support and care.

minor four: welcome to the ruins

{Ruin Porn} A provocative term, indeed. Most notoriously used in photography and the portrayals of broken down buildings, the remnants of war, the vacant childhood fairground. There are places that each of us is drawn to ruin. Sometimes it is hearing someone young has died and the desire to know how. Other times it is finding out a celebrity relationship has ended and the rush to read more. It is likely you can think of places and times you have have rubbernecked through life. Acknowledging that can sometimes feel shameful, as though we weren't meant to look. It may feel dirty or embarrassing. Sitting in this space challenges us and makes us take a hard look at our humanity. Perhaps it is natural to look to these places. Perhaps we simply want to understand or a piece of us is grateful for surviving the ruin. 

{Ruin Value} Another notorious term. Another concept looking mostly to architecture and it's demise. Rather than the discomfort we may feel looking at the places that fall under 'ruin porn', the notion behind 'ruin value' is that we would look upon a building or a space and see the beauty of what once was - the ancient greek and roman empires turned to monuments we continue to visit and take in their once-splendor. It is possible life might be capable of this, too. Where are the places in your own life that are showing signs of decay? Where might be the places that need to be hospiced and let go? What would it look like to allow those places a beautiful ending rather than the stranglehold we often put on change, where our fingers must be pried and we feel as though we truly might be dying? Could you consider allowing something to end well? Could an ending in your life be viewed as beautiful?

{Ruin Possible} If what we imagine is true, that our curiosity is drawn to demise and that it is possible for endings to go well, how might we build a future where these endings are intentional and built into our lives? In our workplaces and employments. In our seasonal friendships. Perhaps even in our marriages and most intimate relationships with Self. Could you envision a world where endings were seen as necessary and not failure? Where the endings were fodder for something even more beautiful? Where death leads to rebirth and we are not afraid?

the ask
These cards are excellent conversation and dialogue starters about what futures we might imagine where we compost our ideas to grow something new. For many of us, we live in context with very clearly drawn lines around intimacy, loyalty, and sustainability. Considering areas where we might build in intentional endings may feel too risky right now, and that is okay. We're hopeful these considerations and meditations may lead to better relationships around endings and new beginnings. 
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minor five: passing through rites of passage

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In his book, 'The Rites of Passage', Arnold Van Gennep describes three different types of rituals that exist in all societies. He believed life was a series of passages and we would go through all of them at some point; sometimes simultaneously and other times individually. These passages were preliminal, liminal, and postliminal. We see it in the death and rebirth of the moon, our seasonal changes, in reincarnation.

    the ask
As you think of a shift or change you've experienced or foresee, what might it look like to cosmically walk through the thresholds from one state to another? Sometimes to cross these boundaries requires something from us. In some instances, especially in the past, it may have been a token as you passed, or blood, or tears. If you're remembering a transitional time from the past, identify the ways these three stages showed up in your story. If you're thinking of the future, how might you best situate these stages through ritual and intention?

If you're playing as a team, how might you go through these transitional phases together? How might you create ritual around each step to acknowledge the change that is occurring together? We find that being able to navigate together - especially partnered with other activities in this deck - increase intimacy, awareness, celebration, and corporate grieving as you shift and grow together. 

{Separation} An example of a separation ritual from the past looked like adolescents venturing into the wilderness alone. Now, young people spend time in university or traveling to other parts of the world. Separation may feel scary or daunting. Knowing a separation must happen is different than wanting it or allowing it. Separation may feel like loss. Like death, perhaps. As you engage in a separation, whether it be a happy one like children moving on to adulthood or a hard one, like leaving a team at work, what rituals might you create for this leg of the journey? How might you honor this first passage?

{Transition} Transition is the liminal space. This might be the hardest, darkest, longest hallway to pass through. This is the suspended reality, the feeling of weightlessness as you are carried from one place to the next. Examples of transition might be the groom carrying the bride over a threshold, the pallbearers carrying the casket. Who might be the ones around you to help guide and usher you through to the next threshold? Who might you trust to remind you the light is at the end of the tunnel if you would only keep going? Whether positive or negative, who will ferry you to the new beginning?

{Incorporation} When we incorporate back - whether it is with others in a coming home or it is within yourself after a spiritual or cosmic journey - what rituals might you employ to signify the new state? For some, it's the sharing of a meal. A housewarming party. A welcoming. How might you come back to yourself new and different? How might you acknowledge the individual or collective and the celebration of making it beyond the liminal to the new, sacred ground?

minor six: other mysteries

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{Light}

In the Hindu care of the dead, a candle is left by the head of the deceased so they are not alone. Spend time meditating on an ending in your own life. Then, when you're ready, light a candle and leave it sitting for that ending so that you may be comforted and know you are not alone. 


{Tear} 

In Judaism, you may often see a piece of black cloth pinned to a mourner's clothes to signify someone in their immediate family has died. As you grieve a loss or change, spend time tearing through a piece of fabric or cloth - not to break or to destroy, but to channel your feelings into something tangible. Piece by piece. Then be at peace. 


{Listen}

In Tibetan Buddhism, the 'bardo' is the liminal space between death and rebirth. As you feel your own self move through such a space, spend time in meditation listening. Be still. Find the ways to allow change to pass through you. Do not fear the transition. There is life on the other side.

the futures arcana team

The illustrations in our card deck were done by the incredibly talented Sadie Rose du Vigneaud. She took the challenge without fully understanding exactly what all this meant, but did a beautiful job bringing these happy skeletons to life. 

The psychological and trauma-informed care was necessary for such huge topics like death and grief. To create the safe space where challenge and comfort meet, Ryan Donovan - licensed professional therapist - assisted through countless hours of conversation and consideration. 

Claire Villarreal, Jennifer Block, Michiko Sharpe, and Sarah Wheeler - I'm grateful for your listening. For your feedback. For your desire to help me honor the religions and cultures of the world that are not my own. You are beautiful women and you are exceptional.

Adam Cowart who helped tell quality stories that course the future. Thank you for being part of my story.

And the University of Houston Foresight community who continue to challenge and provoke me. Thank you for your listening and for helping me find my place with you.
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