Nevermind that the premise of the Major Arcana for Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is to connect you to your Holy Guardian Angel, and therefore by definition is an angel tarot deck, which we all know occultists immediately giggle at, but now as I study how some of the imagery for the cards are coming along, I can’t help but giggle to myself and confess: oh man, I’m creating a fluffy tarot deck.
Maybe I can defend such an accusation by saying it’s not fluffy, it’s just a strong statement in favor of self-empowerment and an expression of religious faith. (But isn’t that what all designers of fluffy decks say? Crap.) Take The Tower, for instance. More commonly, the focus here is on a punishing Act of God, or having to tear down what you’ve so meticulously and painstakingly built, because you’ve built it wrong. There’s typically a forceful sense of calamity when you consider The Tower.
Yet here I’ve added a talisman to The Tower: I’ve given the Seeker an axe. There’s also blood dripping from the axe, suggesting that you’ve done this before; this isn’t your first time at the rodeo, so you know what you’re doing–you can do this. Also, if you consider the bigger picture here, we see that the serpent tail of the Demon is coiled around this tower, along with chains binding this tower to the Demon, so this destruction also destroys servitude to the Demon. There’s an element of liberation here.
Is that nice-washing The Tower card?
In the RWS Two of Swords, readers often emphasize that the figure in the card is blindfolded, and Waite himself refers to her as being “hoodwinked” (Pictorial Key). In line with that tradition, the figure in my Two of Swords is blindfolded or “hoodwinked” too, but I’ve overpowered that debilitating circumstance with an Eye of Providence radiating above her crown.
Is that nice-washing the Two of Swords?
Same with the Four of Swords. Is adding the Angel concocting an elixir for healing and recovery nice-washing the Four of Swords?
Or the Five of Cups. This one, I think, not as much, but still. I’ve stitched a talisman on the back of that figure’s cloak: the Shield of Solomon, which we see across the stream in a formation on the ground. Resonance? Some variation of the law of attraction playing in here? Certainly that’s some level of nice-washing the Five of Cups, no?
Now this I would argue isn’t fluffy per se, but it may very well be adding a layer to the narrative that was never there before. Here in the Five of Swords, the essential imagery is in line with the RWS Five of Swords, but if you look closely, the swordsman in the foreground is left-handed. In sword-fighting, that’s considered a huge disadvantage. And being left-handed is generally something you’re just born with. So our figure, who is classically considered a bully, someone who has perhaps unscrupulously defeated others to seize their assets and power, was in fact once the underdog, the disadvantaged.
In the Eight of Cups, we’ve got deity who has shape-shifted into a scarlet ibis watching over The Defector.
Now this one I left ambiguous intentionally, but if you’re an optimist or very love and light, then maybe you’ll nice-wash the meaning of this card. I’ve definitely left a clearly marked path for a happy interpretation of this Ten of Wands.
There are two different ways you might go with considering the Hands of Spirit near the top of the card with the mystic rose in between. It might suggest that this Ten of Wands situation you’re going through at the moment is a Divine Trial. On the other hand, to nice-wash it, it’s in effect a sigil or spell woven into the Ten of Wands where Divine Help will come to alleviate your burden, to help you carry it.
If you interpret this imagery through the latter lens, would that be nice-washing the Ten of Wands?
The Ten of Swords here is also left ambiguous intentionally. Is the three-headed four-armed warrior spirit there stabbing the swords into the wounded figure on the ground or is she here to help pull the swords out of his bleeding back? That one disproportionately giant sword is stabbed into a specific acupunctural point, called the Wing Point, which in Chinese esoterica has some really interesting psycho-spiritual correspondences. (And again, angel tarot deck? Hint hint? Get it?) One of the arms of the warrior spirit is raised, close to the hilt of that giant sword.
If you read the spirit’s presence as here to help pull out the swords from this poor guy’s back, then isn’t that nice-washing the classically scary Ten of Swords?
Anyway, just some musings for the day.
For those who have been enthusiastically following my progress on this deck, first, thank you! Thank you so much for being interested! Second, the update: I’m currently at work writing the Book of Maps, a companion guidebook to the full deck and how to operate it.
I’m back to work from Key 0 and onward to fine-tune my lines, add more visual depth to the imagery, and…
Publishing the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot and its companion Book of Maps in print. It’s going to be a black and white tarot deck with a guidebook designed to up your occult tarot game, a book that I hope will walk you through a provocative approach to the tarot.
We’ll be taking your pre-orders soon enough once I’ve got a complete package of product. If we can get the physical copy of the deck and book in your warm hands by the winter holiday season, I will be one very happy and fulfilled little worker bee.
I keep saying “we” because it’s James, the hubby, who has pushed hard for print publication. Just so you know, my final decision had gone the way of no, not releasing the Minors to the public, ever. I was about to tuck it all away into a folder, slip it under my grimoire on the bookshelf, and move on to a different project in life. It’s James who demonstrated a sincere awe at the illustrations and screamed, “Are you fucking kidding me? This is incredible. And you want to just shelve this and move on? What?”
He has offered his
indentured servitude kind hubby devotion to being the one who will oversee all the aspects of publishing and printing a tarot deck that I had not wanted to deal with and thus because of those logistical hurdles, opted not to publish. He said he’d do everything I don’t want to do if I’d just agree to publish the cards in print. So I said fine. Let’s You do this.
So we have commenced the hunt for a manufacturer to help us produce the first print run of the deck and book. Meanwhile I’m teaching myself how to format and prepare the deck art legitimately for print publication, so not like the whole amateur scan that shit in, crop it in Paintshop, and hope for the best routine. Oh no– I’m doing this for real. By the end of this, my goal for myself is to be as learned about deck formatting and production as any of the in-house designers at the tarot publishing houses. Can I do it? Who knows. But that’s the goal.
I reckon it looks like soon enough, I will be a bona fide deck creator and will have published a deck to my name. I really cannot wait to share with you the full scope of what I’ve done with the tarot. This is not just about the art and a variation on the deck. Oh gods no. I want to share the machine.
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documenting the production of