Philly tarot cards are coming, and the Kickstarter tripled its goal within three days

Featuring Ben Franklin as the Emperor and Jason Kelce as Justice.

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Courtesy of James Boyle
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Are Betsy Ross, Patti LaBelle, Rocky and SEPTA all part of the occult? They will be once local illustrator James Boyle is done.

The Philly Tarot Card Project will comprise a classic, 78-card deck featuring Philadelphia icons as mystical seers of our past, present and future. Since going live Oct. 11, Boyle’s Kickstarter for the project has already attracted more than 300 backers. Within three days of launch, the crowdfund had more than tripled its initial goal of $6,500. As of Tuesday morning it was up to $19,000 — and there’s still over a month to go.

So far, we know who’ll represent some of the deck’s Major Arcana:

And there’s much more to come.

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Courtesy of James Boyle

Boyle was never that into witches and wizards, he told Billy Penn. But when he was commissioned by Philly Mag this past September to create an illustration for an article on the city’s relationship with the psychic realm, he was overwhelmed by requests from readers to turn the imaginative sketches into a reality.

“When I saw how much of a thing this was — astrology and tarot reading and all of that — I realized that these illustrations could become a huge artistic undertaking and project for me,” Boyle said.

Though he was sure there’d be at least some interest, Boyle has been floored by the response.

“The excitement and the feedback that I’ve been receiving has just been massive,” he said. “It’s still so surreal how many people in the area are into tarot readings and this kind of thing.”

Not all the depictions Boyle’s been showcasing online will end up as part of the final project. Gritty as The Devil and the Philly Phanatic as The Fool have been some of the most popular images so far, but they come with the threat of trademark infringement. In the sports industry, intellectual property, licensing and personal branding are strictly protected under the Lanham Act.

“I didn’t expect this to turn into such a huge thing,” Boyle said. “Some of the licensed characters that appear on the early cards may need to be replaced…yeah, that includes Gritty.”

It’ll be difficult to find a more perfect Devil or Fool for his deck, Boyle admitted, but he’s been taking suggestions via social media. In the process of working on this project, he’s received private Tarot readings, guidance and resources from local mystics: “I’m taking a lot of their insight seriously.”

Boyle didn’t want to divulge which personalities would be depicted on the the rest of his deck, but did say he was “digging deeply” into Philly cultural history to find good matches. He still has some of the Rider-Waite tarot’s Major Arcana cards and most of the Minor Arcana to reveal.

Given the amount of support the project has received, Boyle is trying to illustrate as quickly and meticulously as possible so he can fulfill promises to backers and get the decks shipped by end of year. Come January, he’ll look into retail sales at local shops.

Want a deck for the start of the new year? You’ve got about 32 days to pledge at least $40 to Boyle’s Kickstarter.