A while ago a lady emailed me to ask why my Rider was facing left and not right and if I would consider changing his direction. This is what I replied (I only edited a few details):
“I know that in many decks the Rider is going from left to right. I had him face the other way around for a very specific reason – it wasn’t an unconscious, random choice. […] I always experiment with mirroring my cards. In quite a few cases I end up keeping the mirrored image. But in the Rider’s case this changed the card’s meaning dramatically in a way that was going very clearly against my understanding of the card. […]
In our western culture, we read and write from left to right. […] It seems very likely to me [that this is the reason] most people also look at images from left to right. They start somewhere at or close to the far left of the image and then their glance moves rightward.
This means that any face in the image that looks rightward looks in the same direction as we do, it doesn’t look at us. So we usually feel that the person the face belongs to is also moving in the same direction as us – or that we are moving in the same direction as them. We are not meeting them, happening upon them, but we’re already part of the same flow, maybe moving together with them, doing something with them, taking them with us.
Faces that look from right to left, on the other hand, seem to look at us. This is much more confrontational. We feel like we are moving to meet them, or are being confronted by them. We feel like they are entering our lives, or that they are bringing something with them into our lives.
Do you know the painting The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo? That’s a very eloquent example. We, as humans, are supposed to identify with Adam, the human, who is receiving life from God. Thus Adam was painted to look in the same direction as us, the painting’s viewers would, rightward, and from there God comes into the scene, looking at us, leftward, bringing the gift of life to us.
Had Michelangelo painted the scene the other way around the perspective would have been very different, and the meaning too. The observers would then have identified with the role of the creator; which would likely have seemed wrong or even blasphemous then.
Since I see the Rider as someone or something that enters our lives, someone who comes into our lives and brings something with them, or news that come in from the outside I had to paint the Rider coming towards the viewer of the card, from right to left. When I see the Rider in his own House in a Grand Tableau I see someone bringing the whole rest of the Tableau with him, towards me. The whole future, in fact, is coming at me via him.
When I flipped the image, when I had the Rider facing from left to right, I felt as if the Rider now represented myself, or someone I am already moving along with. And that goes against everything the card means for me. I then don’t see someone new who approaches me, or who does something to me, or news that are brought to me – I see someone I already know, or I see myself acting.”
The lady replied that she got my reasoning but still prefered the Rider facing rightward so he would face the Woman. I was unfortunately really busy at that time so I completely forgot to reply to her that that’s one advantage of the additional cards in my deck: If you prefer the Rider and the Woman facing each other you can use the version of my Woman that faces rightward!