I had the honor of interviewing Ana Cortez! She is the author and co-creator of The Playing Card Oracles and one of my favorite readers! Her information and insight is stellar, as well as a really groovy person! Check out the interview:
Shaheen: Ana, you are the playing card lady… tell us briefly how your journey began with playing cards?
Ana: Well, it was all through my Father and the free-spirited women he taught to read cards. I first saw the fantastical images he painted for the playing cards when I was a young teenager, but didn’t think much about it at the time. My Dad was always doing something in the realm of the occult so that was normal for me. Later, when I was about 19 years old, his girlfriend showed me what he had taught her – how to actually use the playing cards as a mystical instrument. I was hooked!
Shaheen: How have you evolved as a reader over the years?
Ana: Well, I certainly have done a lot of experimentation with the same system over the years. Because every reading is unlike any other reading that has come before, I think I have learned I can never really master the cards, but rather my own ability to remain a learner. So my evolution is to become more and more sensitive, more and more receptive to the unique messages that are coming through. The multi layers in The Playing Card Oracles allow me to cross check what I’m saying so I use this technique a lot.
Shaheen: I personally love The Playing Card Oracles; they have so much life and energy. Your father was truly a visionary and clearly, channeled the cards. Do you believe the cards are just symbols or do you think they are windows into another world?
Ana: Windows into another world is a perfect description. They are just symbols until they come alive in a reading, become a vehicle of communication between worlds – between what is seen and what is unseen. So yes, to see between worlds we need windows. The images on these cards are powerful that way.
Shaheen: I have always been curious about the cards in The Playing Card Oracles and now The Book of Knowing…they are people with names, lives and realms. Where did that come from? Are there more stories and writing hidden away somewhere?
Ana: My dad was truly a visionary and was able to see worlds, realms, personalities in the playing cards. He broke down a doorway, opened perception for others. There is so much hidden away. The possibilities sparked by the 52-card deck kept him occupied for decades. From my father’s estate there are stacks and stacks of original artwork, poems, a novel, screen plays, even episodes for a television series – all based on card reading/ divination with the 52 card deck. Unbelievable, really.
Shaheen: As a reader myself, the cards are more of a tool, almost a springboard helping make intuitive leaps. What are the pros and cons of using cards as a tool? Do you think the cards are always necessary?
Ana: I love the cards as a tool because for starters they are fun. It is great for people to see images for their own reading, images communicate in a way beyond words. So images hold so much possibility. Your client can get a feeling from pictures beyond what you are telling them. I sometimes would like to ditch the cards myself, just go on intuition, but again, I love the imagery. This is why, as a reader, you must connect to the images of the deck you choose. Cards are my way, no matter how strong my intuition becomes. The cards, again, can be like a cross-check, a confirmation of what I am picking up without them.
Shaheen: Ok, so I want to get to the juicy stuff!! You made a recent discovery, another treasure trove of paintings by your father CJ Freeman that illustrated the playing cards. How are these cards different from The Playing Cards Oracles?
Ana: Well, first Shaheen, let’s get it straight. This interview is juicy already! What you are talking about is the art for the “Book of Knowing.” This art, to me, has a quality that the Playing Card Oracles doesn’t. When my dad painted the “Book of Knowing” art, he knew nothing about divination with playing cards – only a suspicion that something “juicy” was going on. He had no one to copy, not even himself. It was pure inspiration, pure connection to other worlds. So this was his first work. It was this work that broke the door down.
Shaheen: You’ve fittingly named this new collection of playing card paintings, The Book of Knowing, what can we expect from this deck?
Ana: I want this deck to be an instrument that connects people to their own knowing – like we were talking about the joining of intuition and cards. I also like the idea of a book, as the 52-card deck is a complete book of knowledge, an occult masterpiece, if you know how to read it. There are going to be some real surprises about how to read and work with these cards that should rock the card reading world, new things including but also beyond the Playing Card Oracles – including some of what my dad intuited while painting the images that has not yet been published.
Shaheen: Can you tell us a bit more about the evolution of The Playing Card Oracles and The Book of Knowing? Why did your father do different versions of each card?
Ana: Cards are never finished. Never just one thing frozen in time forever. Have you ever had a dream where you were looking at cards? I can tell you that they are morphing as fast as you can flip them. In a dream I see something amazing I want to remember on a 3 of Hearts, for example. I turn a few cards further, and then I want to see that 3 of Hearts again. I flip back to find it and it has changed. It is now different. I have lost the former image within the depths of my subconscious. This is why we have to allow our interpretations to be liquid, and see the unique message each time. Symbols must be broad. My father was a very intuitive artist and he would let his hand move on it’s own – like automatic writing but drawing. He had a very strange way of holding a pencil. So things came through. If my dad were to return today, from the world he has visited now in the afterlife, I am sure he would have a whole new deck to give us. But it would never in-validate decks or images already given.
Shaheen: The similarities in The Book of Knowing and the Playing Cards Oracles are apparent, but I am more fascinated by the differences. Why are they so different? Does that change the information?
Ana: Yes. I think there are enough similarities that it won’t feel like starting from scratch, far from it if you are familiar with The Playing Card Oracles. But the differences should be enough to stimulate new ways of reading the cards. A whole new reader may come out in you as you read with this deck! Enough differences only to remind us we need to remain the learners.
Ana: Well. 8’s are powerful in and of themselves, because they are 8’s. This is what my father and I were taught as we brought forth this work. The 8 of Spades, specifically, just freaked me out forever and only since I have begun to read with this deck do I appreciate this card. It is a very powerful message bringer and communicates something so important in so many readings, now I wonder how I got along without it. The Faun freaked me out big time also. Really, some of these images were just embarrassing to me. Now I realize it is because of the power they have to bring. There is nothing reserved. So messages are harder to ignore. It doesn’t mean they are negative messages, mean something “bad.” It means it is a strong message. For example with “Guilt,” the 8 of Spades, I have been getting that lifetimes of suffering are commonly represented by this card. That is a lot of suffering. This card shows me that what may seem to be of small significance in a person’s life may actually be loaded with significance, for example.
Shaheen: Your ideas, projects and discoveries never cease to amaze me… do you have any other oracular surprises in store? …Just give us a little peak at what’s next!
Ana: Oh Lord! (Is that wrong to say in an interview?) I am constantly surprised by my own work and when it is not this way I will not be doing it anymore. This is the way I let Spirit come into my work. I always want to be an instrument. So. Yes. There are loads of things in the pipe way. I only hope I have the strength and time to bring them all through. Hmm… a peak? Well, I think I said a few things about the “Book of Knowing” that is enough of a peak for now.
Shaheen: For those who are salivating over this deck and were disappointed that it didn’t get published, you gave permission to personally print the images so people could make their own deck. What compelled you to do such a generous thing?
Because I really support you, your work and these wonderful cards, what can we do to help make The Book of Knowing a reality?
Ana: Oh. Undoubtedly these cards will be printed. I trust everything that happens is for reasons that are important, and no exception with the funding flop over at Kickstarter. They will be printed in a different way that will fit the project more appropriately. Also, since the funding attempt, the paintings have been restored so that the colors are more brilliant than ever, just the way my dad painted them 30 years ago. Varnish yellows over time and I didn’t realize the extent of the change that had just gradually occurred. So the new photographs of the paintings will just be perfect. Now I realize how critical this was, although I never saw this coming, never dreamed the turn things would take. I am always grateful.
Shaheen: Ana you are brilliant and I love your work. I hope to see more of your writing, as well as your decks! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. I love visiting Wonderland ;-)
Ana: THANK YOU SHAHEEN!!! You are a dear :-)