Boketto Moment with Jennifer Elsner of ORA+CLE


How did you become involved in the practice of tarot card reading, and what was your first reading like?

Funny. I've never considered my origin story. I don't recall who gave me my first reading, or when it was. I bet that has less to do with it not making an impression, than happening a while back and there's been so many reads (given & received) since then. But my continued interest in Tarot is a no-brainer. As a human, and a designer, I'm curious about symbols, archetypes, finding patterns, and making meaning. Interrogating my inner landscape might as well be a part-time job. I also believe that within generous constraints, liberation is found. Tarot check all these boxes.


Where did the idea for ORA+CLE come from and how has it been received? 

ORA+CLE started out as part of my art practice—which is a series of performative critiques of my design practice. The often-flawed Designer/Client relationship moved me to create a a tool that worked like my divination card practice. The question then became: How could I create a deck, that provided a framework for intense, professional relationships, and not be derivative of the existing oracle/tarot vernacular?


What do you find fascinating about the way that people interact with your deck? 

The looser, more utilitarian nature of ORA+CLE contrasts the ephemeral qualities of Tarot. Witnessing a client realizing that both critical thinking and the metaphysical can elegantly coexist, never gets old.


Has ORA+CLE shifted your expectations or surprised you?

The possibility of ORA+CLE being positioned alongside the traditional, mystical versions of oracle decks, wasn't the plan. But then it was suggested, and boom! In short order a second run, designed for retail, was printed and scooped up by incredible shops (like Boketto), nationwide. 


How are tarot readings a conversation between the recipient and the reader? How are they not? 

Tarot commonly is experienced by the querent passively. Receiving esoteric information from a reader without active participation. I get it. Tarot is a complex system, brimming with archetypal symbology and a deep history. That can be intimidating. But it doesn't have to be. A conversant-style reading, right-off-the-bat, challenges the pre-conceived notion that I hold all the information, and gives my client agency. Gaining meaning and clarity from tarot doesn't come from "out there" but rather in the space created between me, you and the cards. Cultivating conversation is key in my readings.


As a designer, where do you source inspiration for your work?

I'm continually mentally collecting ideas, colors, execution, materials. So when a new project is presented, ideas come like opening a door and following what comes through. However, the nature of my work is rooted in a need. Making inspiration less sexy and dominant. Being inspired by the design process serves me (and my clients) well.


Creatively, what is your favorite way to press the "reset" button (so to speak) when you feel drained or overwhelmed? 

A few things work without question. The immersive act of going to see a movie in a theater is the quickest way to get my mind and heart afire. Also, road trips! Ideally when I can see the horizon line for miles. The speed, combined with the visual consistency, plus a big ass sky... I'm an open portal. Finally, the inefficiency of grand architecture, like Union Station or The New York Public Library, uniquely influences my emotions and perceptions through voluminous space, light and geometry, and elemental materials used in construction.


What rituals keep you grounded? 

I value staying nimble versus grounded, but my morning matcha latte is both the reason I go to sleep AND wake-up. It's a deep love, and I take great pleasure in the prep. Currently, I mix matcha with Shaman Shack High Altitude and Morning Jing, Anima Mundi Mushroom Powder and Royal Sense Pure Bulgarian Rosewater with Oatly. It might be my only constant.