Why UFO tarot cards are mesmerizing the art world

UFO

LAS VEGAS (MYSTERY WIRE) — What do you get when you mix UFO lore with the exotic attributes of a tarot deck? Two longtime students of the paranormal have launched a new art project that combines the history of the modern UFO era with the insights derived from an ancient deck of cards. 

Image of tarot cards from The UFOlogy Tarot video.

Anyone familiar with the history of UFOs knows the name of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who worked as a UFO debunker with the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book, then became a champion for UFO research.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek is featured on The Emperor card. (Courtesy: The UFOlogy Tarot video)

Dr. Hynek is being reborn in a whole different context as the emperor figure in a special tarot deck being created by Greg Bishop and Miguel Romero. The two are longtime students of flying saucer lore and are combining that interest with an appreciation for the exotic reputation of tarot.

Image of tarot cards from The UFOlogy Tarot video.

Bishop, a published author, came up with the idea, and Romero, an accomplished artist, is working on the visuals of Hynek and other UFO luminaries. Each of the cards in their deck is laced with cryptic symbols and clues that can be deciphered. Why a marriage of these two subjects? 

Image of tarot cards from The UFOlogy Tarot video.

“And it’s not, it’s not devil worship, it’s not you know, it’s not even a religion. I consider it a form of self-therapy and self-examination that’s been in use for you know, hundreds and hundreds of years. And applying this to the UFO thing I thought was really important, a really important tool,” said Greg Bishop,  writer/investigator. 

“I never actually owned or used the tarot deck but I mean, I was intrigued by it from on not only from an artistic point of view but also from the idea of how these can be tools that can unlock a part of the unconscious, right of the unconscious mind,” said Miguel Romero, graphic artist.

The project to create a UFO-themed deck is a work in progress though the early artwork has drawn praise. Here is a link with more information on how you can support this project.

Transcript of the interview below:

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
All right All right, Greg and Miguel great to have you here. I am intrigued about your new product. Why don’t we start with this; I know both of you guys. As kind of hard-bitten investigators, researchers you don’t traffic in “woo” so much. So I’m curious about how you got started with looking at Tarot and applying it to the UFO world.   Greg, you first.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
We have a group online and we were looking for a project years ago, probably five or six years ago. I had this, I was just sitting thinking about Tarot and UFOs and the connections between you know the subconscious and all that that Tarot deals with and how that’s not addressed when people are working with UFO subject. They’re always looking outward they’re looking at things that they’re looking at rather than inward at their own motivations their feelings their, you know, all these things that are very intimately a part of the UFO thing and I thought well, someday I’d like to make a set of tarot cards that have you followed us on that or at least UFOs. And when I brought this up in the group, it was like turning on a switch or plugging in you know some power. Everybody said yeah, yeah that’s what we got to do. So we all decided to do that and Miguel, for better or worse, for his sake decided he wanted to do the artwork because it is a lot of work. But I know his work. He’s done book covers for me, for Robbie Graham for Adam Gorightly. And his work is you know, it’s exemplary. I mean, it’s, it’s world class stuff. So I thought that it would be you know, I’m glad that he volunteered to do it. And now we’re kind of committed. But anyway, I volunteered, I feel it was not like a force.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
I had no question about who roped me into this thing. Have you ever used Tarot? See, I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. Tarot. Have you fiddled around with it a little bit? Is there something to it?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
Yes, I have got you. Want to answer for me?

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Well, no, not really. You know, I’ve never owned a tarot deck. I’ve even, you know, there are all these myths and sayings that you actually are not allowed to buy a tarot deck that you need to receive them from someone else. And a friend of ours, Michael M. Hughes is at our expert and you know, he explains how that’s kind of like nonsense. But now I never actually owned or use the tarot deck but I mean, I was intrigued by it, not only from an artistic point of view, but also from the idea how these can be tools that can unlock a part of the unconscious, right of the unconscious mind. And from my ways in which my UFO I don’t want to say research. I don’t consider myself a UFO researcher. I consider myself a UFO student. So from my point of view of my UFO studies, I began to realize that the unconscious or the UFO phenomenon are deeply entwined in ways we can barely comprehend. So I felt that this idea that Greg came up with of joining UFOlogy with the Tarot was really, really on point. And I was, you know, very reluctant to at first, but then very excited to participate.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
And Greg, you have you have dabbled, or more than dabbling?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot

Yeah, probably a little more than dabbling, slightly more than dabbling, slightly less than being you know 100% conversant. We do have people in our group who are Tarot practitioners, knowing you know, use them normally I mean, not normally but regularly and use them for not really divination that’s not what they’re used for. They’re I think they’re used for they’re like, they’re like, I consider my Western form of the teaching, where you are examining your own motivations, your own, what you might want to do in the future, what your path might be. These things, it’s a tool, it’s not something to tell the future. It’s not something to you know, cast spells or anything like that. It’s basically kind of a think out of the box deal where you use forms, images. archetypes, they’re called to speak to you on a very deep level and to explicate what some of your feelings might be. And what some of your thoughts might be and make them clear to you and it’s almost like you can have a conversation with yourself. What happened with me, it was in the early 1990s. A really long time ago, I got in touch with some friends who are part of a group that was an offshoot of the Golden Dawn which was a cult group and based in Britain, specifically, at least in the early 20th century. It was one of their offshoots based in Los Angeles. I enrolled in their esoteric school and I was taught the tree of life and the Tarot and all these things that are parts of the rest of Western esoteric tradition. I went up through the first grade of that where you go from nothing to til you have the first level. I think it was called neophyte but anyway during that you’re supposed to study the Tarot. You’re supposed to use it. You’re supposed to study the archetypes of it, and how this the system works. And it’s not, it’s not devil worship, it’s not you know, it’s not even a religion, I consider it a form of self-therapy and self-examination that’s been in use for you know, hundreds and hundreds of years. And applying this to the UFO thing I thought was really important, a really important tool. So that people that are interested in this, like I said before, will know what their motivations are, know what their feelings about it are, and maybe have some you know, better idea of what they want to do with it, or what direction they want to take their research or interest. And if they’re good with the Tarot, that can be a really useful tool, even if they’re not good with it, even looking at the images and what’s on the cards because they’re very detailed and full of symbolism that is derived from the Tarot deck, but is it is it uses the images to history symbols people, especially from the UFO subject, as its raw materials. And also when you look at the cards and read the book; we’re going to have along with it a little booklet, you can see what these people were, what they did and why we think they’re important and the history of you followed because Jim Mosley once told me that the guy that published saucer smear, I said I interviewed him once very early on and I said it well early for me in the 90s I said Jim why are you interested in this? And he said I’m interested in the people because that’s the only real thing you have a handle on and the people can probably tell you a lot more about the subject and the UFO subject and how it interacts with us then looking at the subject itself and that’s kind of part of the philosophy.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
Well I know you. I’m following the tradition that you’re recommending. I have never bought a tarot deck but I do have one because you sent me one of these and I thought wow, just as a collector’s item for the art, it’s spectacular. So maybe we can walk through it and you can show me some of the cards and tell me what went into each of these things and what or how it might be used. So do you have a deck there?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
Well, we do we have the images. We have not printed the deck yet because that’s why we’re trying to do a Kickstarter so we can get it going. 

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
Clearly what you sent me was a tarot deck or wasn’t this one though? It’s something else. What is that?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
It was the first deck that we did was basically a deck that did the same thing that worked with the person’s motivations, but it just had words on it so you could look at them basically something to get you thinking outside the box. Based on project Brian, you know, had in the 70s as a record producer and musician, he had just these little sayings on cards. And we, I decided to adapt it and this is basically you know, kind of a a next step in that process.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
Well let’s do it. Let’s just kind of verbally walk through some of them.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
That’s one of them. But you can see it clearer when we put the we can start with that one because that’s J. Allen Hynek as the yeah, yeah, maybe we can talk about it. Yeah.

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Right. The Emperor was kind of very easy to decide who was going to be the archetype, right? Like, Jay only Hynek is the father of American mythology. You know, one of the most important scientists that investigated this phenomenon on a scientific way. Although if you dabble into his history, you realize that he was also very interested in esoteric ideas like recite Krishnaism, and things like that. So he was kind of like someone who doubled between worlds now seeing because we’re basing our Tarot in these very classic. I always forget the name of the of the classic Tarot.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
Right away. One most people know.

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Exactly. Thank you. So think big visualizing the original image and trying to see ok how we’re going to do it. How are we going to position our emperor of UFOlogy and we quickly thought ok, what if we put it in some kind of like lake or river where there is swamp gas going out of it? You know, because wherever for words, J. Allen Hynek came up introduced the idea of swamp gas as a way to explain some beautiful, some we will fall events and that starts, you know, much to his detriment. So I wanted to include that. And we also wanted to include some reference to one of the most famous cases he investigated the Socorro landing case in the 1960s. So that’s why we decided to put this kind of like, X-shaped or have on his left hand. Yeah. And on his right hand instead of his the typical Emperor’s like, I don’t know, staff, or something, I decided to say, Well, I mean, the man was always carrying a pipe. Let’s put that. That felt very apropos. So we’re putting all those kind of like, little Easter eggs that I use in coding. I won’t, I don’t want to say Secret History. But the deep history of these characters as part of the thing that people might get excited about learning more about these individuals, we managed to, you know, someone who really doesn’t know a lot about UFOlogy, and we managed to make it  exciting enough that they will go and grab a copy of J. Allen Hynek’s “The UFO Phenomenon”  or Jacques Vallee’s “Passport to Magonia” then I think that we we will have succeeded in one of our goals.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
Yeah, yeah, there’s sort of like a puzzle for people who think they know UFOlogy is to figure this stuff out. So in Tarot, Greg, what would the Emperor card represent? Or what does it mean?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
It means somebody that has achieved something that is worthy of, of being an emperor of being a leader of being somebody that people look up to. And it is archetype for me was basically kind of the Emperor. Have you followed that is the archetype been fulfilled? I don’t know if he would have thought so. I think for the little bit that I’ve consulted with Jacques Vallee on this, he agreed with me that that if anybody should be the Emperor, it should be J. Allen Hynek and just showing that you know, he would have never I don’t think sat there as the Emperor and say I, you know, I am, I am. My dominion, oh, is all these things, but because of his work, and because of the way he carried himself and the way he popularized the subject and tried to make it serious amongst you know, the public and scientists. We consider him as  the Emperor and he’s Miguel. He’s sitting in the Emperor and the …. rider Waite card is sitting on this big stone throne with a couple Ram’s heads on it, we decided to have him sitting in a 1950s office chair you know, with the little wheels on the bottom allow that because that was his throne. So and there’s other symbolism in the card . He was born the year of Halley’s Comet and died the next year it came so there is an image of Halley’s Comet coming in on the side there.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
Oh wow, that’s cool. That’s a cool detail. Yeah, ok, what else? What’s the next one?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
Which one do you want to talk about?

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Let’s go with our magician.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
Ok. I mean we can drop these in. I will show these like these things off my phone and all that but we will drop these in as a graphic so people can really see.

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
That was actually the first card that I drew just like to prove OK, I can do this, you know, because I’m not that proficient of an artist. My background was industrial design, you know so I had never went to an art school proper, you know, obviously if you’re starting to sand you know you can draw but from the beginning I felt man this is way beyond my scope. So just to prove myself OK, I can actually pull this off. I drew the magician and in the traditional Tarot the magician is this. This gesture is what he has one arm, pointing out to the sky. The other one pointing out to to the earth as a way to say as above, so below. So I decided, OK, instead of copying that exactly, I decided to put in one of his hands, the one that is pointing to the sky a telescope in order to honor Jaques, you know, training as an astronomer, he also did a lot of important work in astronomy studying Mars in the 1960s was one of the reasons why he emigrated to the United States. And the other one is holding very, you know, 1980s, floppy diskette and the diskettes are all building made of silicone right through something that you strike from the earth. And that is something that honors his background, as you know, computer scientists, you know, someone who has very directly molded with our mother and computerized world. I mean, we are having this conversation right now. It is because he helped on the ARPANET. And that this carries also kind of like, showing these spider web in which there are what do you call this? I mean, roses with crosses, which is another reference to Rosicrucianism because Jacques was also interested that and there is a spider in which you will you can read ARPA, you know, so it’s the ARPANET. So that was kind of like, one way to tell a bit of the story of Jacques Vallee our magician. What else? If we can check the details of keys table that they will let us right in front of him? You can see there are the tools of the alchemists, you know, the mortar and pestle because valet has always been interested in those kind of like secret arcane knowledge to see if there is something that he can extract and actually use in order to understand better the UFO phenomenon. The next way there is like us square slap. I don’t think you can read it there because of the globe.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
When will we put up the graphic?

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Exactly. And that actually is what is called a magic circle, a magic square story is it’s from the time of the romance. And is this the words that you can read it front and backwards, you know, kind of like if people saw the movie Planets, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And this and that is something that Jacques actually talked about, in one of his books in one of his Forbidden Science journals. And next to that is a pair of one is the kind of cars that are used in parapsychology experiments, because we know that Uri Geller was involved with a SRI scientist that were part of the you know, very controversial psychic program, you know, psychic spies program and below that, you know, almost like hiding any of that that mantle. This is like a known type entity, which was actually based on a memory shell was one of Jacqueline’s mentors he actually almost call him like a non like man because the AMA was kind of like very short in stature, you know, and he was bald, and he was going to like a point a year so I just decided to, you know, exaggerate that even more as to show that you know, there are all these in this inner influences behind Vallee’s work. And also obviously there is the reference to the elves from Fairyland that he introduced to you to the UFOlogy discussion with Passport to Magonia and that’s why he also has these cloud ship that is illuminating  from above.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
The Aime Michel thing, that’s a nice touch. Not many people are going to get that but that’s a nice touch that people can figure out and and Greg, in tarot deck, what does the magician mean? I’m just getting a tarot reading? And that came out? What would it mean?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
It means mastery of self, of mysteries of forces to the point where you can control them and use them to create and do what you need to do.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
Oh, in that case, then that card will never come up for me. So so let’s pick one more and then I want to talk to you about the crowdsource funding.

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Sure. They got a lot., that’s a good one.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
The lovers is Betty and Barney Hill. A lot of these things just came up. I mean we were discussing these. We have an entire list. It is evolving. Well some of it’s evolving; a lot of them we have locked down already. But you know some of them just fell right in the magician. And you know, the emperor of course was going to be J. Allen Hynek. But the lovers was the other one. It’s like what couple could you think about and you follow me that everybody knows about this iconic is archetypal. And that if even if you thought you did know something about them, that if we could produce something interesting that would show you a little bit deeper understanding of what went on with them, and you know, ground them in the western occult tradition, and what that archetype is what that might you know what that might do? So that’s the card maybe Miguel can describe it a little bit. I will put the graphic up as we said, better

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Right, so the lovers are above them. In the traditional tarot card there is an angel about here. An angel is well the leader of the alien capitals that abducted them on that fateful night in New Hampshire, and you can like emerging from the description of the craft that was quiet. Yeah, I’m wearing a Varney heels report. Barney by the way is holding a pair of binoculars on his right hand you know because that’s what he used in order to see these captures and that’s when he kind of like freaked out and said oh my God when I get captured they’ll see the dog is below them. The dog was, is not, part of the of the traditional tarot card but we felt that it was important to have a dog you know, because he was like a secondary character in this iconic UFO story. On the background, there is the famous Indian half national monument that Greg pointed out that he was sexually Yeah, sexually. There was I don’t think it exists like that anymore.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
Think that it fell apart a few years ago. It broke so it doesn’t actually look like a face anymore. But it did when they were there. Because then the lovers card in the background is a mountain just a plain mountain.

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Right. And that is the one that is not showing Greg in his phone. That’s a early draft. On one of the next to Barney, there is like a tree with flames. No, no, no, I’m sorry, with apples. And we decided to put the letters NICAP, there. Because NICAP was involved in it, in the story of this case, there is a serpent that is like the around the tree. We decided to put wings on the serpent. Because I felt OK, that’s interesting. symbology you know, that kind of symbolizes not only the Air Force, which were involved with this case, but also with the caduceus all these ancient symbology and on on the side of Barney. It’s a bit it’s a tree with planes, but instead of the traditional flame side, we decided to go with a symbol of the Unitarian Church that both Bernie and Barry belong to. What else Oh, I think on Barney’s shirt, on his lapel, I decided to put the symbol of the civilians. What is the acronym for the civilians movement?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
The NAACP?

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Exactly. Because he was so involved with the civil rights movement in the 1960s I mean, Betty and Barney were an interracial couple living in 1960s America there was so part of the story. I mean that’s one of the reasons why he was so nervous going to their honeymoon trip to Canada. It was one of the reasons why he was carrying a gun and I think that we’re up for a moment we decided well should we put a gun in it. Bernie Sanders said now let’s not let’s not go that route. Well, yeah, that’s that’s a lower scarf.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
Yeah, we like the binoculars because it had to do with seeing clearly and right he had to use the To see what was going on.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
You’re just thinking the only other people I can think of that work for the lovers would be Jim and Coral Lorenzen, right? Or is that Ozzy?

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
Yeah, for all the rest, and it’s definitely, you know, he’s, she’s, I think she’s gonna be our Empress.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
Probably Coral Lorenzen. And yeah, we’re concentrating mostly on these classic, you followed us, and maybe a few people in the last 20 or 30 years that have come in, we’ll be in there. But most of these people are foundational to, you know, Miguel, and I and our group, and I know you, George, to our understanding of the subject, and we’re trying to place them in context in this way.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
So tell me where it stands? Are all the cards designed now? And what do you need? Do you need help from the public and getting it done?

Miguel Romero – UFOlogy Tarot artist
No, right now, we only have four, almost five cards of the major arcana completed. And to be clear, the goal of this crowdsourcing campaign is just right now to go with 21 major, major arcana cards. First, when we started this, like three years ago, we thought maybe I can do this on my spare time, you know, but the problem is, as a freelancer artist, there’s no such thing as spare time, you know, you keep constantly working in order to earn money to make ends meet now, living almost hand to mouth. Now, in some cases. So at one point, we decided, OK, the only way in which we can complete this in a reasonable amount of time, you know, instead of like fighting yours, is if we ask for help, so I can, like, basically cover my expenses, why I’ll devote myself entirely on this, on this project. Like Rick said, it, each card takes a lot of work because of the amount of detail and also the technique that I am flying almost like the, you know, the classical wood cutting, you know, or hatching with a pen and an ink. So it takes it takes a lot of work just to complete one single curve, right? So that’s when we decided, OK, let’s try to ask for for funding. So I can, you know, work on this and it at the same time. Yeah. And also, obviously, to help us with the subsequent printing of the cards. We also want to give the booklets you know, including the card and also obviously, for the people who back us with more esoteric want to give a proper book in which we will explain more about the symbology behind behind the cards about these characters in Europe or history. Also, things like T shirts, large print, because these cards are the way I’m designing them. They are huge, you know, you could print them in 9 X 14 posters.

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
You have an 11 X 14 posters. Yeah. Or whatever fits with the aspect ratio. But yeah, we’re planning to print those.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
Is there a link that you can send us that we can direct people to you; a link up for the crowdsource funding?

Greg Bishop – UFOlogy Tarot
There will be, I think when this show is posted there, there is a link yes to the crowdsourcing.

George Knapp – Mystery Wire
Well, it’s fascinating. I mean, I’ll pitch in, I’ll help. And I can’t wait to see the final product. And when you give us the go, give us the green light. We’ll put this up and we’ll include that link.

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