SKT Delivery Update and New Lessons Learned Re: Import-Export

Incorrect Bill of Lading. Sigh.

In my last SKT update sharing the Bill of Lading, I shared the version with the ship my decks were supposed to be on. But something happened with the manufacturer, they didn’t get the boxes on board in time, so it was delayed. It had to wait for another vessel, and the manufacturer simply didn’t think to update me until I proactively reached out and asked.

Here’s the actual Bill of Lading:

Correct, updated Bill of Lading.

I was tracking the vessel named “EVER FEAT” thinking that was the boat my decks were on.

But no.

My decks never made it on to EVER FEAT due to delays.

Instead, it’s on CMA CGM LOIRE (click on the hyperlink to track the ship).

Continue reading “SKT Delivery Update and New Lessons Learned Re: Import-Export”

Tarot Cards: High Art or Low Art

Top, Left to Right: Oswald Wirth Tarot, Soprafino, RWS. Bottom: Convers TdM, Thoth, Spirit Keeper’s Tarot

Lately I’ve been pondering whether tarot card art is high art (i.e., fine art) or low art (because it’s considered illustration).

It’s hard to argue that tarot card illustrations are anything other than low art.

It was made intended to be functional, it’s commercialized, it’s a craft rather than a form of fine art, and it’s formulaic. So of course it’s low art.

And if it’s digitally done, then of course it’s low art. (Words in italics emphasized in an affected manner wrought with contempt. Of course.)

From The Cards (2021) by Patrick Maille

Plus, today tarot is by and large mass-produced, and as a mass-produced commodity, created with the intention of it appealing to as wide a market audience as possible. Many of the modern decks at the moment can even feel like kitsch art. Except… is kitsch art a form of high art? Even that is a question to ponder.

Image source: Il Meneghello, studio of hand-painted Italian tarots

Yet I’m equally unconvinced that the works of Il Meneghello isn’t a form of high art, even while it conforms to definitions of “low art,” such as it being a craft, functional, and formulaic in the sense that it’s reproducing a structured tarot deck.

The Rosetta Tarot

The Mary El Tarot. The Thoth Journey Tarot. The linework on the Tarot of the Abyss. The Dracxiodos Tarot, to me, is modern art that is fine art. Navigators of the Mystic Sea. Both the Rosetta Tarot and the Tabula Mundi. Or how about the Palekh miniature paintings commissioned specifically for the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg deck?

Continue reading “Tarot Cards: High Art or Low Art”

Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

The Shadowscapes Tarot is one of Llewellyn’s evergreen decks, meaning it remains a consistent bestseller since its first publication in 2010. And that’s no surprise. Oakland-based artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law is indisputably one of the most talented illustrators to set her hand on to creating tarot art.

This is one of those decks you want to take a magnifying glass to. With the delicate threadbare lines and inlays of elaborate ornamentation, it would be almost disrespectful to not devote hours of meditative study to the details.

Three Septenaries of the Major Arcana. Click to enlarge.

How would I describe the deck art? If Asgard of Old Norse saga and Tianchao, the Celestial Empire of Chinese mythos merged into one kingdom inhabited by factions of magical creatures in which an epic fantasy was set, then you’d get the Shadowscapes Tarot.

Continue reading “Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law”

Tarocchi dei Celti (Tarot of the Celts) – Majors Only Deck

Tarocchi dei Celti, or Tarot of the Celts, is a Majors only deck published in Italian. The artwork is done by Italian illustrator Antonio Lupatelli (1930 – 2018), “evoking the ancient people of the Celts, with illustrations that are full of humor and sweetness” (thank you, Google Translate).

Laughs nervously. Okay, I’m wholly unqualified to be reviewing this deck. I have no idea what any of the key titles say, and when I tried typing the words into Google Translate, for instance with “Fintan mac Bochra,” the application tells me this phrase doesn’t exist in Italian, and in Arabic, allegedly it means “Venta is not good.” Not only is there the language barrier, there’s also the cultural barrier– I’m not all that familiar with Celtic mythology.

Ah, wait a minute– now if I type in a whole paragraph, the translation result is better. For Key 0 (il Matto), it’s Fintan mac Bóchra, and that’s a name. He was a Druid known as “The Wise.” I like that play of Fintan the Wise on the tarot Fool card. The salmon pictured on the card is a reference to Fintan being able to shape-shift into a salmon, and a reference to the Salmon of Knowledge in Irish lore.

As for the artwork, there’s certainly a whimsy to these illustrations. Of what I can read, note Morrigan for Key III (The Empress card). You may need to click on the above image file for a zoomed-in close-up view. Oh, and I’m guessing Key II (The High Priestess) is Brig or Brigid.

Due to a severe lacking in my knowledge of Celtic mythology, I’m not going to comment on any of the associations, so whether The Morrigan as the tarot Empress card makes any sense… I have neither the information nor knowledge to offer intelligent commentary. =)

Continue reading “Tarocchi dei Celti (Tarot of the Celts) – Majors Only Deck”

The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr

Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Tarot was the deck I read with in college at sorority houses and Greek mixer events. It would be this deck, pulled out of my messenger bag. The room would hush, because people still get a little nervous around tarot cards, and I’d have the querent shuffle the cards while focusing on her question, and then when she was ready, to cut the cards in three, restore to a single pile, and hand back to me. Then I’d lay out the Celtic Cross.

Back then I found that some people could get antsy around the RWS, so I couldn’t use the yellow box RWS without a risk of someone freaking out. Whereas no one ever freaked out when I read with the Goddess Tarot. The artwork is soft, with low contrast and low saturation, light values, and if I had to speculate on the medium used, I would guess watercolors and maybe some colored pencil.

The only male representation in this deck are in the Princes and Kings, and that was done intentionally by the artist. The Goddess Tarot is a “celebration of the Divine Feminine” (quoted from its LWB) with drawings of goddesses from around the world. Writes Waldherr, “My intention in creating the art and design for The Goddess Tarot was to create a tarot deck that would speak directly to women using our stories, while incorporating the archetypal power and symbols of the tarot.”

Continue reading “The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr”

The Crystal Unicorn Tarot by Pamela Chen

The Crystal Unicorn Tarot by Pamela Chen and illustrated by Lisa Higuchi lets the unicorns and rainbows loving child in you become the Oracle. With the standard symbology of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck in place, this deck is interchangeable with the original Rider pack.

This deck was blowing up everyone’s feed a while back, and I can totally see why. They are absolutely adorable. Like the extra card, “Donut Worry.” That the Donut Worry card is a cheeky bonus the way the Happy Squirrel card is and this one features a little squirrel by the unicorn… Omg. ::dies::

Candy colors remind me of the pre-Kindergarten girl I used to be, getting up early on weekday mornings to watch cartoons. (My personal favorites, if anyone’s asking, were My Little Pony, Glo-Worms, Strawberry Shortcake, and Care Bears.) By the way, a world-renowned psychologist and professor did research on beneficial effects of kawaii on us, which I’ll get into toward the end of this review, reinforcing why a deck like Crystal Unicorn holds such power.

The cards feature two unicorns, one with pink hair and one with purple hair, and they’re the two protagonists that appear throughout the scenes. The Fool’s Journey becomes a story of love, or maybe friendship, or both.

Crystal Unicorn Tarot reminds me of my girlhood because in my grade school years, I loved sketching unicorns. One time my father sat down and observed me doodling unicorns (horse figures), but didn’t voice any comment. A short while later, there was a hardcover drawing reference book on horses waiting for me on my bedroom desk. Unfortunately I was eight years old and the drawing reference book was most likely intended for university-level art major students, so it went straight over my head and I absorbed nada.

Continue reading “The Crystal Unicorn Tarot by Pamela Chen”

Robert M. Place’s Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery

The card back design of the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery features the Staff of Serapis, Serapis being a principle god in Egyptian mysticism. The staff features the head of a wolf, a lion, and a dog, representing the three Platonic souls and also, the past, the present, and the future heads of Cerberus. During the Renaissance, this imagery was associated with Prudence, who is featured on The World card.

That Staff of Serapis card back design was the first thing I saw of this deck, and I was immediately intrigued. Years ago a friend of mine gifted me with the Sevenfold Mystery deck, believing this was a deck I’d love, and he was right.

Creation of the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by Place began “at the dawn of the 21st century” and was initially inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite paintings of Edward Burne-Jones. Burne-Jones himself was inspired in large part by Botticelli and Michelangelo’s depictions of human figures and expression of Neoplatonic themes.

The unnumbered Fool card is Stultitia, featuring a woman with ass ears symbolic of the Soul of Appetite. She is blindfolded, symbolizing ignorance, and the dog at her side represents instinct. And of course, The Magician card is Hermes, and the High Priestess is Sibyl. Note that Key 9 is unnamed, for The Unnamed Seeker, The Hermit. This is “a mystic who has a vision of the sevenfold mystery. . .  He has no name because he represents silence and meditation.”

Continue reading “Robert M. Place’s Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery”

Rota Mundi Tarot: The Rosicrucian Arcanum by Daniel E. Loeb

The Rota Mundi Tarot by Daniel E. Loeb, published earlier this year by Red Feather, is a tribute to the original Fraternity of the Rose Cross, and at its core, a tool for studying theosophy (theos = god, sophia = wisdom). The Rosicrucians integrated Western occultism with the tarot, a deck of playing cards, and through this medium, found a way to reconcile alchemy, Kabbalah, and the Arcanum Sapientiam Deum, or the Secret Wisdom of God.

The Rosicrucians were Christian mystics that formed a secret society to protect themselves from being burned at the stake for heresy. They embraced a divine feminine with parallels to the Shekinah (indwelling glory), a feminine word referring to the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. Rosicrucians believe this divine feminine to be “the Breath and Power of God, and an exact mirror of His goodness.” There is an oracle that can be used to consult this divine feminine form of wisdom called the Rota Mundi, or Wheel of the World, which is this deck’s namesake.

Eliphas Levi made the connection that the Rota Mundi of the Rosicrucians was the Tarot, and that theory stuck to the point where now, ROTA is inextricably tied to TAROT in Western occultism.

Loeb’s Rota Mundi Tarot seeks to convey Rosicrucianism in a coherent oracle system to clarify that theoretical connection between ROTA (i.e., the Spirit of Wisdom) and TAROT as an oracle for consulting that divine feminine form of wisdom.

Continue reading “Rota Mundi Tarot: The Rosicrucian Arcanum by Daniel E. Loeb”

Star Child: Joyful Parenting Through Astrology by Briana Saussy

Star Child is a fun, light read that introduces astrology to the lay, with a particular focus on reading birth stars for children. Based on your child’s sun sign, what are the key personality traits they are most likely to develop? How will they do in academics? How are they with friends, play, and social situations? Are they more creative? Are they more athletic? What will be the best extracurricular activities to introduce to your child based on sun signs?

Briana Saussy is the author of Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary, a storyteller, writer, teacher, spiritual counselor, and ritualist dedicated to the field of Sacred Arts. She leads community rituals and ceremonies, is a professional astrologer and tarot reader, and most notably, is a general practice spiritual counselor. Basically, you can go to her for pretty much anything and everything magic and spirituality related.

Saussy wrote this book with two objectives, as set out in its Introduction, and both objectives center around rectifying glaring problems in conventional astrological practice.

Continue reading “Star Child: Joyful Parenting Through Astrology by Briana Saussy”

SKT Revelation Pre-Orders Update: Bill of Lading

Just a super quick update that really doesn’t contain any substantive content with regards to your pre-order, but some of you might find a look-see at the Bill of Lading to be interesting. So here you go. With personal info redacted. =)

A Bill of Lading, or B/L (you can also see it in shorthand as BoL) is used in import-export, to acknowledge and document cargo on board. I’m sharing what ours looks like in case that’s something you were curious about. Haha. I dunno. I think this is something I’d find interesting if I pre-ordered a deck. So here you go. In case you’re like me.

Continue reading “SKT Revelation Pre-Orders Update: Bill of Lading”