“A Leap Into The Unknown”: Bat For Lashes’ New Oracle Deck
The cards on the table fan out before us as they are taken out of the box. In soft pastel hues of mint green and salmon, they show figures dancing across them. They include women and goddesses, crones and witches, daughters and mothers and monsters and more, all in jagged black ink, as though Basquiat and Chagall got together and decided to create an oracle deck.
The Motherwitch Oracle Deck is the brainchild of Natasha Khan, perhaps best known by her stage name, Bat For Lashes. The multi-award-winning singer-songwriter’s near 20-year career in the music industry has produced five studio albums under her own moniker, the soundtrack album for BBC series Requiem, three Mercury Prize nominations and two Ivor Novello awards. Yet Khan is a multi-disciplinary talent, penning scripts and directing short films and music videos as well as maintaining her practice as an impressive visual artist. It is this skill we see brought to life in the cards before us.
“They started out as just drawings in a small notebook, which I found really meditative. I got into a flow state and these figures just started appearing,” she tells me, sipping peppermint tea in an East London cafe. Khan’s drawings began in 2020, while she was pregnant and in lockdown in California. The combination forced two creatively potent sensations in her: an enforced stillness and an unprecedented level of connection to her femininity. “It makes sense to me that the things I was drawing were these fragments and splinters of what it means to be a woman and different female archetypes,” she says, adding that new motherhood has been a similarly fertile ground for creativity, particularly when making her forthcoming album The Dream Of Delphi.
“Motherhood makes you extremely in the moment because you’re constantly responding to this other being and they’re so raw and free. When you’re tuned in to something like that, you in turn become like a baby again in the way you see things. I felt this freshness to my voice and this ability to let myself leap into the unknown.”
Khan has loved tarot (the practice of using illustrated cards for fortune-telling) since she was a teenager. She regularly does her own – and a lucky few friends and fans’ – readings. “But people have to be prepared for my no-bullshit directness,” she laughs. For this deck, she has detailed written meanings for each card, stories behind each image and references to other artworks and pieces of music to create an immersive storytelling experience.
She laughs about the Motherwitch Oracle Deck’s impending release. “I know people are going to say I’m a mad hippy,” she grins. “But I’m in my forties now and a mother and that has given me a new kind of confidence. If I give too much weight to somebody else’s opinion, what does that say about my opinion of myself? I will remain grounded in the truth of myself, and who I know I am and nothing else matters.”
Preorder the Motherwitch Oracle Deck by Natasha Khan
Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar