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Annnnd…. I’m done with the pips. Phew!
Let’s recap. On June 13 of this year, I got into my head this fantastical idea of drawing my own tarot deck. It was supposed to be a ha-ha fantasy but then I couldn’t shake the ha-ha fantasy out of my head, so immediately I got to work.
I swear I have not intentionally timed my work to the sun, moon, or stars. Yet somehow I finished the First Septenary up to Key 7: The Chariot (corresponding astrologically to Cancer) on the day of the summer solstice, when the sun entered Cancer. By the full moon, I finished the 22 Majors. That’s June 28.
I then went on to the Minors and began with the lower realm, which is the set of Fours, then Fives, up on to the Tens. I finished the lower realm on July 7 (that’s 7/7…how neat!). During a Star of David (that’s two Grand Trines and in this case, Earth and Water Grand Trines), I commenced work on the upper realm of the Minor pips.
Monday July 9, I completed the four Aces, which I’ve shown already in my last progress report here. However, I don’t think I had shown the captions, so see above. This took longer than anticipated because before I set pen to paper, I had quite a bit of reading to do, specifically into medieval alchemical texts. Interestingly, a heavy-handed amount of Christian mysticism made its way into the Aces as well.
Tuesday July 10 I proceeded on to the Twos and finished them by Wednesday July 11. The Twos are significant because it’s the first point of contact between the elemental forces in the spiritual-psychic plane and the material plane, before there is a material plane. It’s the first emergence of sapling shoots after the seed. So I felt a lot of pressure to be methodical, conscientious, and intentional with how the Twos would be depicted.
Over three years ago, I contributed one card to a collaborative tarot deck, Tarot Pink, and it was the Two of Wands. See above left for the pencil sketch. The difference in the appearance of the lines between the two images above is due to the one on the left being in pencil only and the one on the right in ink. I digitally darkened the lines for the image on the left so that they could be more prominent for blog viewing purposes.
For the Tarot Pink card, I went with colored pencil as my choice of medium, then outlined with a super-sharp black colored pencil after laying in the color. Now that I think about it, reflecting back on using colored pencil for the Tarot Pink card, I’m wondering whether that might be the option to go with as opposed to markers. Still undecided.
The Two of Wands for Tarot Pink was little more than a mindless dupe of the RWS Two of Wands, with details added/modified to tailor the imagery to the theme for Tarot Pink, which was to inspire healing energies and bring awareness to breast cancer (just, FYI, hence the pink quartz orb and all the other touches of pink throughout).
Though I don’t know for sure how other deck creators go about juggling the cards and any companion guidebook that might go along with the cards, I’ve been writing notes for each card while I designed and drew the card. I haven’t really been writing down entries of card meanings, though. Just more operative notes, like what symbols I’ve included in the card’s imagery and the corresponding spirit occupant for each card, i.e., what spirit each calling card brings forth.
July 11 Wednesday I made significant progress through the Threes and funny enough, got an Akashic Records reading from a good friend, John Chuidian, Wednesday evening. I left off on the Three of Swords at the time, just before proceeding with the Akashic Records reading session with John. At the start of the session, he seemed to have picked up on the Three of Swords energies in his questions and discussion with me about some of the spirit forces in my personal vicinity.
One of the rules I had set for myself when I first began on the Majors was no people. I didn’t want to show people in my cards. At most, abstractions of human figures, but that’s it. Oops. Broke that rule less than mid-way through.
That was an insightful lesson to learn. Setting rules that serve specific purposes or establish specific values is important and generally speaking, try to live by those rules so you can stay on track of your purpose and values. Yet on a case by case basis, certain moments call for you to break the rule because in a weighing of cost and benefit, breaking the rule becomes more meaningful. You won’t achieve your Great Work if you don’t simultaneously set rules and break rules. You need to do both. It’s part of the process.
I bring that up because I couldn’t help but chuckle at the Three of Wands and Three of Cups and how many people are included in a deck that was supposed to be no people.
The RWS Two of Wands and Three of Wands are depicted in such a way that it can often be too close to each other in meaning for the nuances to get picked up, so I wanted to create a more marked distinction between the Two and the Three in Spirit Keeper. I’m hoping I’ve managed to achieve that.
I completed the Threes by July 12 during the new moon in Cancer and solar eclipse. Thought it was kind of neat how I was drawing that Three of Orbs during the solar eclipse and also, just how fascinating it is how perfectly that Three of Orbs is the theme to my entire deck project, or more specifically, the process I’ve undertaken and what I’ve experienced and learned as a result of taking on this journey.
From my perspective (I don’t mean the deck itself; I mean what I had to go through to create the deck) is so Three of Orbs, especially this Three of Orbs. I’ve really felt like The Mason and I love the two phrases inscribed onto the card. Labor omnia vincit— hard work conquers all. Ex nihilo nihil fit– nothing comes from nothing.
I went back and put the finishing touches on the Aces, Twos, and Threes on Friday the 13th. Just wanted to also mention that I got takeout at Panda Express on Friday and somehow I ended up with two fortune cookies. My two messages were “You are destined for success and happiness” and “You will make a change for the better.” Yay!
Over the weekend I got to work on the courts, or what I’ve named the Four Empyrean Courts. I’ve chosen to do the courts last because they’re the most important cards in this specific deck (I’m not talking about tarot in general; I’m only talking about how I’ve chosen to program this specific set of cards for myself).
The four suits of pips (Scepters, Chalices, Swords, and Orbs, corresponding with Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles) represent the four elements Fire, Water, Air, and Earth respectively. The fifth element of aether, or quintessence, what often gets referred to as Spirit, is represented by these courts. So in Spirit Keeper, the four courts are the bridge between the 22 Keys of the Major Arcana (the primordial spirits roster) and the Aces through Tens (the 40 universal spirits). All of the court cards in Spirit Keeper would stand in for Holy Guardians.
You do recall what I said in my video chat, right? I’ve created an angel tarot deck. =)
As of this writing, I’m working on the Queens, and during the Gyre of Maitreya (Maidari-Khural) no less. In Buddhism, like in Christianity, we’ve got a return-of-the-messiah theme, too, and the Gyre of Maitreya is a festival when the earthly return of the Maitreya Buddha is celebrated.
Given where I want to go with the courts, I’m pretty apprehensive about depicting the Queens and Kings. I can’t fully convey how much thought and scrutiny has gone in to designing these court cards. Just to give you a clue, I’ve been doing copious research and reading into Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
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