Why is a Card Back Design So @#$%&* Difficult?!?

I’ve been getting my ass handed back to me every time I try to draft a card back. The above three are the most recent attempts. Left and center ones are way too busy, even for busy-body me, and although the right one above isn’t quite there yet, it’s promising. I can probably work out the details.

In the above snapshots of design elements, for each, I hand-drew a quarter of what you’re seeing as the image. After drawing in that quarter, I create a mirror image of it and attach it to its side to create a half. Then I create a flipped image of that half to create the whole.

It’s so satisfying to me to watch it blossom into the final ornate image. =) Because the quarter that you actually draw is– ehh– I mean, it’s lovely, but nothing crazy, right? And then you mirror, flip, and suddenly, whoa!

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Ancestor Veneration When It Isn’t Your Father’s Wish

I received a question by letter, which I wanted to answer privately, but didn’t have an e-mail address or even mailing address. So here’s to hoping this post is seen by who it’s intended for. ❤

The question presented:

Dear Benebell,

I am a Taoist witch, but my religious family thinks I am a Baptist Christian and therefore against non-Baptist religious practices.

Last night my dad and I were watching a Taiwanese movie and an ancestor veneration scene came up. My dad began a conversation about Taoist traditions and said, “When I die, please don’t venerate me like a Catholic or Taoist would.”

I am a strong believer in ancestor veneration and plan to venerate both of my parents when they pass away.

I do not want to go against my father’s personal wishes as I love and respect him, but I also do not want his spirit to go un-venerated because I love him dearly.

What, in your opinion, is the best way to go about this?

Continue reading “Ancestor Veneration When It Isn’t Your Father’s Wish”

Revisiting the SKT Major Arcana

“Before” pics — first draft of the coloring/revision process from 2020

After completing the first draft of coloring in the SKT, my technique improved to such a point where the First Septenary, i.e., the very first cards I started the coloring on, paled in comparison.

Literally. As in, like, I didn’t have enough color. I wasn’t going to redo all of the Majors. But the First Septenary (Keys 1 through 7), definitely.

Above, the top row shows the Magician, Priestess, Empress, and Emperor cards I first colored in at the onset of this third edition undertaking. This was around spring of 2020.

The bottom row shows the same four cards as I’ve re-done them just now, about half a year later, after completing the first draft of coloring for all 78 cards (well, 80 in my deck).

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A Curious Herbal (1737) by Elizabeth Blackwell: Hand-colored engravings

These hand-painted engravings of healing herbs and garden vegetables are a delight, and I’m sure at least one creative person seeing this will get ideas, download, and do something lovely with these illustrations, so here you go.

They’re from Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal (1737). Below you’ll find a zip file you can download of high-res images from the book. Or view it in the entirety, courtesy of The British Library, Catalogues & Collections.

A Curious Herbal (1737)

Download Zip File

About the Book:

Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal is notable both for its beautiful illustrations of medicinal plants and for the unusual circumstances of its creation.

[It] contains illustrations and descriptions of plants, their medicinal preparations, and the ailments for which they are used.

The first herbal was written by the Greek physician Dioscorides in the first century AD.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Aberdeen in about 1700, but moved to London after she married. She undertook this ambitious project to raise money to pay her husband’s debts and release him from debtors’ prison.

Blackwell’s Herbal was an unprecedented artistic, scientific and commercial enterprise for a woman of her time.

She drew, engraved and coloured the illustrations herself, mostly using plant specimens from the Chelsea Physic Garden.

It was highly praised by leading physicians and apothecaries (makers and sellers of medicines), and made enough money to secure her husband’s freedom, although she later had to sell the copyright as well.

This finely-bound copy of A Curious Herbal is from the collection of King George III, held in the British Library.

British Library 34.I.12 -13

Learn About Your Moon Sign (pdf download for astrology beginners)

This pdf was shared in my newsletter group last year and then I kinda forgot about it. If you missed it then, here’s the download now.

Learning About Your Moon Sign

(click above to download pdf)

If you ordered a 2021 Metaphysician’s Day Planner from me, then you already have your natal chart. You can use this manual to figure out the house and sign placement of your natal moon, what that means, the decan ruler over your moon and what that might mean, a few key angular aspects, and more.

My moon sign Leo and its decan ruler Mars (in Leo)

The introductory pages offers a quick written tutorial for the total beginner to help you figure out your own moon’s house and sign placement. (And we’ll practice on the birth charts of Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Sigmund Freud, and Simone de Beauvoir.)

There’s also a formula given for calculating your moon phase at birth, and what your moon phase at birth says about your personality.

The pdf has been formatted with all headings bookmarked, so if you work from a PDF viewer, like what you see above, you can open up a navigation pane and click directly to the section you want to read.

And… another SKT III status update…

I’ve finished the first draft of all 80 cards, but that doesn’t mean much because I’m returning to the Majors to fix up Keys 1 through 7, at the very least, and maybe whatever else I see that needs fixing.

The substance of the court cards will remain the same, but they, too, need fixing. This one’s arm looks awkward; that one’s nose is, like, what is that, that’s not even a nose; and then when you line up the same court card from the four suits, I want there to be some cohesion, so where there are glaring inconsistencies, I’ll need to fix that up, too.

By the time I got to the pip cards, I finally got the hang of digital painting, so I don’t think much substantive revision will be necessary. Wait, no. That Five of Swords, though… I think it could use a little more tinkering, perhaps even a significant reconsideration of what should go in that background.

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Last SKT III Update for 2020: Revelation

Going in the order of the cards I’ve presented here, I’m ending 2020 and beginning 2021 on the Ten of Swords. Hmm. Yah I’m not going to read into that. =) Moving on.

While the style and approach for the earlier editions asked of you to journey inward, this third edition, which I’m calling The Revelation, asks of you to journey outward. If my earlier editions were about depth, then this third edition is about expanse.

Realm of Sevens

The Revelation Edition can be treated as an entirely different deck from the First and Vitruvian Editions. It’s within the SKT family, hence the deck name remains the same. And while it shares the same DNA, SKT III has really evolved to solidify its own unconnected identity.

Realm of Eights

I cannot wait to share with you the companion guidebook. It’s basically a new Book of Maps, because it had to be. I go into detail explaining the who, what, where, when, and why for each card illustration, and then for interpreting it, the how.

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Grogu Does a Tarot Reading (Fan Art)

(click to download JPG)

You can click on the above image to download the 4.26 MB, 500 dpi art print, if you want. It’s 8″ x 10″, which you can print centered on a standard US Letter 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. Make sure to check your printer settings. You could also select “print to fit” and print the drawing borderless.

And if you want to make your own Stuff with this cute little doodle, click on and download the below.

(click to download)

You can create your own custom T-shirts, coffee mugs, stickers, whatever. You do you.

If you don’t like my saturation, color, or contrast levels and you know a thing or do about photo editing, then go ahead and edit the images until you’re satisfied.

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Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights Walk-Through

The Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights was published back in 2005 by Lo Scarabeo, with the artwork collection edited by Pietro Alligo. It’s art deck featuring the works of the late 19th and early 20th century French painter Léon Georges Jean-Baptiste Carré, living around the time Waite and Crowley.

Carré moved to Abd-el-Tif, Algeria and concentrated his body of work on Orientalist subjects. (Orientalism is the European and Western study and commentary on Middle Eastern culture.)

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The Lua Tarot by Maree Bento of DivineMuses

The Lua Tarot created by Maree Bento is a black and white collage deck of 19th century engravings. Lovers of the Victorian Era, you are going to adore these cards. “Lua” means “moon” in Portuguese, which is the perfect name for this deck, given its style and how the grayscale speculative aesthetics induces inner reflection.

Bento is the creator of the Divine Muses Oracle, which I’ve reviewed here. There’s this mystical-alchemical dream quality to her art style, and while Divine Muses was more mystical, Lua Tarot is more alchemical.

From a compositional standpoint, Bento layers the imagery with seamless perfection. There are clear stories going on in the foreground, midground, and background. You get a strong sense of earth and sky in every card image. Bento balances detailing and space in such a way that your eyes are always relaxed.

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