by Janine Worthington
The idea for the Inbetween Tarot originally appeared to me in a dream back in 2012 and in the dream I was given a glimpse of what was to become a concept in the making – the ‘Inbetween’ cards.
I dreamt of a hazy connecting energy which would form a bridge between each of the traditional Major Arcana archetypes. The connector card incorporates the idea of the main archetype or the cards ‘main energy’ crossing from each card to the next like a stepping stone.
Crossing bridges in dreams
The energy of the bridging card is ethereal, akin to lucid dreaming. When we dream, we step off into another world with none of the constraints and limitations that we encounter in the physical here and now.
In dreams Bridges can symbolise a transition from one state to another. The water flowing beneath symbolises emotions and the subconscious; an intangible and constantly flowing energy source. The bridge then becomes a way of traversing the subconscious and a way to make connections.
Moving away from stand-alone cards
With this deck I wanted to break away from cold reading one card at a time. It is important to mention that no one card is ‘stand-alone’. The vast number of correspondences and correlation to other cards prevents this from being so, just the same as a person’s birth chart is not just made up of their sun sign but also their rising sign, moon sign etc.
To emphasise this point 'the world is full of invisible knots’ is a famous quote from the 17th Century Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher: He explains magnetism and the theory that all energy and matter are linked. People are connected by experience, culture, religion and more subtle influences just the same as the cards are linked and in no particular order. We reach back into our past to form links, network on a daily basis across borders and plan and look forward into our seemingly unwritten future.
Tarot cards perform a similar function and this new concept of Inbetween tarot cards offers to stretch those boundaries even further. I once dreamt I was being guided down a hillside surrounded by unfamiliar faces towards a bridge. It was a particularly important turning point in my life and I found the symbolism doubly significant. There are usually numerous different paths the querent can take in life at any one moment and rather than the rigid path which is usually shown within the path of the Fool, this deck will show how all of the Fools’ choices can be connected.
For example, the effect of the energy of the High Priestess moving into the Empress shows the baby in utero about to be born into the world. As in dream states, this inner and outer focus incorporates the fine balance between the conscious and subconscious dream-state. This is the idea I wanted to portray within this deck, the fragile and constantly shifting sliding doors state that is the spring board for any forward move. It also gives the reader more potential for their own intuitive slant on the cards.
There is a film called Sliding Doors, it’s a very poignant drama about a woman who gets on the train in one scene and then in a parallel reality she misses it. This splits her destiny off onto two pathways. The concept of the Inbetween Tarot is very similar, the energy is the same but my pathway may be may be completely different from yours. So although I talk about the stories within the Inbetween cards themselves, they are for the most part a personal journey. What you see in them may not be the same as what someone else sees.
If you look to different parts of your life where you have gone through big transitions, from childhood to teenage for example – your first day at high school, you didn’t just wake up one day in a teenage body with teenage thoughts, you made your way gradually into that transition, there were probably lots of different signposts that you may or may not have been aware of.
And then there are those ‘sliding door’ moments: Times in your life when you could have gone one way or another. I, myself have 6 – turning points in my life where I know my path was altered forever, whether this was fated or not I will never know, at least not in this lifetime. However, making sense of it and connecting the gaps has been a life quest and feels somehow karmic.
Without those steps I would not have the friends I have now, the experiences that have shaped me as a person or the outlook on life that gets me through the hard times. Angel enthusiast Lorna Byrne believes that we chose our path in life before we were even born, an Inbetween state I talk about with the spiral back around from the World to the Fool.
Sometimes people shy away from the Tarot out of an ingrained fear of knowledge of one’s future. If only it were that simple! The future can be changed in a split second and can send you careering off on another path. It is never set in stone. We can move backwards through the Majors, we can move Kabbalistically, following the tree of life pathways. We may never realise certain energies and may spend far too much time splashing around in others. And on a daily basis we are dodging around with the minor card energies and measuring our experiences with the courts.
What I have tried to show with this deck are those links that tend to elude us. Let’s open up those Tarot archetypes and jump inside and do a little exploration. There is a big fascination with cutting the borders off the edges off Tarot cards, this gives a feeling of reduced restrictions and allows us to grasp a card meaning without feeling hemmed in by preconceptions. The concept of cards between cards lends weight to this borderless existence. They work well together in fact.
Those Inbetween Cards
The Inbetween Majors Only deck was released in 2013 with artist David Worthington and then the full 78 card deck was released in 2019 with artist Franco Rivolli and publisher – Lo Scarabeo. With the full deck I had the added challenge of keeping the cards cyclic but still honouring the different elements and energy signatures of the Minors and the Courts.
The Minors relate to our day to day experiences and the areas of life where we are able to effect change. They follow through from the Ace to the 10 but in the Inbetween Concept the 10 spirals back around to the Ace so I created an extra ‘10 – Ace’ card in each of the elemental suits (Fire, Earth, Air, Water).
The Majors are the areas of life where we have little control. These are our destined experiences and the hoops we need to jump through in order to progress spiritually. As with the Majors Only deck the World spirals back around to the Fool so we also have a ‘World – Fool’ card.
The Court cards, which are our Page, Queen, Knight and King in the four different elemental worlds, clarify our level of energy. These are also unique in this deck in that they are cyclic, so for each elemental court family there is a ‘Page-Knight’, ‘Knight-Queen’, ‘Queen-King’ and a ‘King-Page’.
The Inbetween Tarot cards harbour a fantasy theme and hazy colour scheme to further emphasise the card’s dreamlike qualities and the fact that the cards are not traditional tarot cards but rather links within the chain.
The traditional numbers for the cards were removed completely in the Majors Only deck and instead had titles to give the tarot reader clues to the inherent qualities of the archetypes present (see the two featured images). They were, however, put back into the mix for the creation of the full 78 card deck and featured the added inclusion of an index title at the bottom to aid with the shuffling of the cards. It is, after all, not easy ordering a 78-card deck with both of the neighbouring cards titled to both the right and left of the card.
As this is a new concept it is important that the reader takes an active part in exploring the Inbetween stages for themselves. Within the two accompanying guidebooks I put forward my ideas on the Inbetween meanings for each card, but these are my ideas on what the Inbetween stages would look like between each card, you may or may not agree and may even wish to add on to this your own unique interpretation.
These cards work really well with other Tarot decks and can be most useful for ‘next move’ spreads; to assess which direction the querent would be best to go in relation to the question asked. I don’t tend to use reversals, but if you did want to try them with this deck it would reverse the energy so you are going backwards along the journey. I love using the Inbetween Tarot cards as stand-alone meditative tools. They are also very powerful when used for dream-work.
The Inbetween Tarot concept will be going into its 10th year in 2023. Although the Majors Only version is now out of print you can buy the full 78 card deck through Lo Scarabeo or via Amazon. Finally, the most important thing to point out about this deck is that these cards were the product of a dream, a dream that will attempt to bridge the gaps in the ever expanding world of tarot.
Janine Worthington is the concept creator of the Inbetween Tarot™ (2012).
In 2013 she created the Majors Only Deck with artist David Worthington and in 2019 - the Inbetween Tarot (full 78 card deck) with artist Franco Rivolli and publisher Lo Scarabeo.
She has an MA in Psychology and resides in Manchester, UK. You can find her on social media at https://lintr.ee/theinbetweentarot