Reflecting Back on the Design Process

While I’m waiting on production of the first print run, I want to share some of my reflections on my design process and the personal experience of creating and illustrating this deck.

Plus, everyone keeps asking me about it. Admittedly I thought I covered this ground, but guess not, given how often I get asked the same question. So let’s talk about my design process. How was Spirit Keeper’s Tarot created, or at least the technical side of things?

In the above photograph you’ll find my tools of trade. I sketch with a mechanical pencil using HB graphite lead (for those who do pencil drawings, this can matter, since most of us have that whole metal tray set of graphite pencils at different softness and hardness levels….), erase frequently, then go in with a superfine tip black pen. I always have straight edges, a protractor, and compass on hand, because that’s how I manage those lines, or angles, or circles you see in the card illustrations.

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Labyrinth: Your Path to Self Discovery by Tony Christie – Book Review

A year ago from this day, in fact on the anniversary exactly, I posted a review of the Labyrinth Wisdom oracle cards by Tony Christie. That oracle deck remains as one of my favorites. They’re powerful and insightful for personal readings and great as an addendum or clarifying reading to a professional tarot session with a client. Now I get the pleasure of reviewing the companion book to Labyrinth Wisdom— Labryinth: Your Path to Self Discovery.

The first line of the Introduction hooked me instantly: “In life you experience a series of doorways, gateways, and openings to love, light, and wisdom that, if taken, will bring you to a higher state of existence.”

I’ve always been fascinated by the metaphor of the labyrinth and the rich history that it comes with, so I have read many books on the subject that I can compare with Christie’s. In that comparison, Christie’s book comes out on top. The explanatory power that these 267 pages plus an extensive bibliography for further reading is just incredible. If this is a topic that intrigues you the way it does for me, get Labryinth. It will deepen your knowledge and understanding of the subject area.

We begin with clear definitions of what a labyrinth is, types of labyrinths, and its origins. The labyrinth, in short, is a symbol of your journey in life with its twists and turns as you make your way toward your personal center. It can also be used as a form of divination meets walking meditation: journey through a labyrinth with a specific question in mind, and the labyrinth takes on the symbolic meaning of that question.

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Zoroastrian Magical Protection Charm

The following is an excerpt from The Book of Maps, the companion guidebook to the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, a hand-illustrated black and white tarot deck crafted with practitioners of the mystic arts in mind. The pen and ink drawings were inspired by woodcut prints from the late Renaissance. Symbology called upon is based predominantly on medieval European alchemy, astrology (the Sacred Seven), Hermeticism, Zoroastrianism, Abrahamic angelology, Kabbalah, Catholicism/Christianity, Sufism, and Egyptian mythology.

For more information about the deck, go to:

Excerpt from The Book of Maps

Zoroastrian Magical Protection Charm

In an Avestan text dated to the 9th and 10th centuries, Ahura Mazda reveals to Zoroaster the magical powers of the falcon feather. The Magus who prays over a falcon feather can empower the feather into a charm that will ward off evil, cure and cleanse one of evil possession, and protect whosoever wields the feather against demons.

The prayer of the Magus is as follows:

The Will of the Magus
is the Law of Righteousness.
The Gift of the Good Mind
is the Good Deed done for the Holy One.
To give relief to the downtrodden
is to bring honor to the Holy One.

Who is the victorious
who protects the teachings of the Holy One?
Be it known that I am;
I am the Guide for both Worlds.
May Conscience come with Wisdom
and deliver us all to the Holy One.

The Magus consecrates the feather during the prayer by passing it across the smoke of a sacred fire (the modern practitioner might consider the smoke of sacred incense) and anoints it with sacred water (the two forms of purification in Zoroastrian magic). The falcon feather is then empowered as a protection talisman that wards evil.

The Prayer of the Magus is also used as a routine mantra recitation for sustaining the powers of the Magus to connect to both Worlds.

Note: First verse is a translation of the Ahuna Vairya from the Gathic canons and the second verse is based on the Kem Na Mazda, an Avestan exorcism incantation. Vohu Manah has been reworded to “Good Mind.” Ahura Mazda has been reworded to “the Holy One.” References to the “Good Priest” has been translated to “Magus.”

In a contemporary application of the instructions, if sourcing an actual falcon’s feather is either impracticable or unethical for you, then work with a sympathetic representation of the falcon’s feather. A charm, talisman, or illustrative sigil of a falcon’s feather would work equally well. What you would then do– if I’m throwing out my personal recommendations– is to then call upon and draw in the animal spirit of the falcon to lend power to the craft, since it wouldn’t be inherently part of the object the way it would be in an actual falcon’s feather.

Why is this random Zoroastrian magic spell in a book that’s just supposed to be about the cards in the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot deck?

Page of Swords

Because it’s part of the sigil magic and symbolism I wove into the Page of Swords, silly.

Tarot of Enchanted Dreams: Deck Review

The Tarot of Enchanted Dreams by Yasmeen Westwood is a digital photography-collage tarot deck that transports the would-be enchantress into a fairytale fantasy. The color palette of blues, purples, pinks, and silver sets a mystical tone. If you were that little girl or boy who used to dream of being a princess in a faraway magical land of angels, fairies, and unicorns, then this is absolutely the deck for you.

At the craft of digital photo collage art, Westwood is talented. The layering is seamless, color tones adjusted to be perfectly complimentary, and the black borders very much work to balance out the artwork. The cardstock feels like industry standard, maybe somewhere between 300 and 310 gsm, not entirely sure. It’s also shiny, with a very glossy sheen.

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What Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Tarot Deck?

I wanted to post this for the aspiring deck creators to crush your dreams. I’m kidding. Sorta. Here’s the thing. If you’re aspiring to self-publish your own tarot deck, then I want to make sure you go in fully informed and with a very comprehensive strategic plan. Can you arrive at the other side of all this having earned some money? Yes, you can. If you’re smart. I’m hoping this post will help you to be smart.

A lot of indie deck creators kind of just wing it, forget to account for certain costs, and end up losing money on their venture. The rare success stories are lauded with such fervor that we start to believe that a financially successful tarot deck is the norm. Well it’s not. The norm is the deck creator who didn’t do the math right, and even though a healthy dollar amount was raised through crowdfunding, much of what was earned was inadvertently wasted, and the tarot deck never makes it past its first print run.

So if you plan on crowdfunding your deck production through a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, then this post can help you ascertain how much you’ll really need to ask for. Or if you go the route of bootstrapping it yourself, what is that going to look like? How are you going to maneuver your budget planning?

To keep the topic streamlined, the only thing we’ll talk about here is money. Numbers. So we’re beginning the train of thought assuming you have a marketable tarot deck. If your deck is shit none of this matters. So assuming you have a product that can generate a healthy level of demand, let’s proceed.

In each of the tables here, you’ll see the line items are numbered along the left column. My notes will correspond with each numbered line item.

YOUR COSTS

Let’s begin by itemizing your anticipated costs and expenses. How much money, in U.S. dollars, does it take to self-publish your tarot deck of 78 cards, packaged in a box, and accompanied by a little white booklet?

Also, don’t just look at the tables and end there. You have to read the line notes that explain where each expense description is coming from. Some line items you can probably cut out. Some will be cheaper for you. Though some may be more expensive. It all depends. So read the notes.

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Register for the 2018 Card Reading Magic Summit with Tori Hartman!

I’m honored to be selected as one of the speakers at the 2018 Card Reading Magic Summit hosted by Tori Hartman. She and I will be talking about the steps to becoming a six-figure mystic. So many of the folks I love dearly will also be speakers, so personally, I can’t wait!

Register for the Free Pass Today

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The free pass only gives you access to the live airing of each speaker’s segment. If you’d like open access to all interviews for two weeks after the event, so you can take a little longer getting through them, get the Bronze Pass for just $5. Even cooler: you get access to all past events, too! Come on. That’s pretty amazing. $5?

There are also Silver Pass and Gold Pass options for those serious about the craft. These interviews are with professionals in the sacred arts industry who will share with you their trade secrets, professional experiences, and expertise in the field. You don’t want to miss the event.

Plus, every speaker will be offering a free gift! Mine is a 62-page PDF excerpt of a textbook I’m putting together for a future online course, “Sole Proprietorship in the Sacred Arts.” You’ll get to read the first seven chapters in a PDF download that you’ll get for free when you register for the Summit.

The 62-page excerpt will share my own story, then some myths about the six-figure mystic, designing your business model, defining your voice, branding basics, and what I consider the most important chapter: how to create value.

Last week I released a sneak peek into the 62-page PDF:

The Magic of Prosperity Consciousness

Click to Download PDF

This week, I’m releasing another sneak peek:

Introduction

Click to Download PDF

If you register to watch my chat with Tori live, on September 15, 2018, at 9:30 am PT, then it’s free! Or you can register for a two-week access, for just $5, which includes access to all events for the Summit. Be sure to check out all the tiered options below.

Register Today

Click Affiliate Link

Becoming the Six Figure Mystic: Tori Hartman’s 2018 Card Reading Magic Summit

I’m honored to be selected as one of the speakers at the 2018 Card Reading Magic Summit hosted by Tori Hartman. She and I will be talking about the steps to becoming a six-figure mystic. So many of the folks I love dearly will also be speakers, so personally, I can’t wait!

Register for the Free Pass Today

Click Affiliate Link

The free pass only gives you access to the live airing of each speaker’s segment. If you’d like open access to all interviews for two weeks after the event, so you can take a little longer getting through them, get the Bronze Pass for just $5. Even cooler: you get access to all past events, too! Come on. That’s pretty amazing. $5?

There are also Silver Pass and Gold Pass options for those serious about the craft. These interviews are with professionals in the sacred arts industry who will share with you their trade secrets, professional experiences, and expertise in the field. You don’t want to miss the event.

Plus, every speaker will be offering a free gift! Mine is a 62-page PDF excerpt of a textbook I’m putting together for a future online course, “Sole Proprietorship in the Sacred Arts.” You’ll get to read the first seven chapters in a PDF download that you’ll get for free when you register for the Summit.

The 62-page excerpt will share my own story, then some myths about the six-figure mystic, designing your business model, defining your voice, branding basics, and what I consider the most important chapter: how to create value.

And just for a sneak peek, here’s the seventh chapter included in the free excerpt: “The Magic of Prosperity Consciousness.”

You can download and check out the sneak peek seventh chapter (eight pages) right now!

The Magic of Prosperity Consciousness

Click to Download PDF

Cultural Integration and the Prisca Theologia

The following is an excerpt from The Book of Maps, the companion guidebook to the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, a hand-illustrated black and white tarot deck crafted with practitioners of the mystic arts in mind. The pen and ink drawings were inspired by woodcut prints from the late Renaissance. Symbology called upon is based predominantly on medieval European alchemy, astrology (the Sacred Seven), Hermeticism, Zoroastrianism, Abrahamic angelology, Kabbalah, Catholicism/Christianity, Sufism, and Egyptian mythology.

For more information about the deck, go to:

Excerpt from The Book of Maps

Cultural Integration and the Prisca Theologia

I commented on cultural appropriation in my second book, The Tao of Craft. So this chapter is not about my thoughts on cultural appropriation, of which I have many. This chapter is on cultural integration and its necessity when it comes to the doctrine of prisca theologia.

Medieval philosophers and mystics on the quest to memorialize a single, universal theology searched beyond the borderlines of their own traditions. While their doctrines were based largely in Christian and Jewish mysticism, metastasized by the integration of Platonic philosophy and Sufism, the quest for that universal theology led these thinkers to consider Hinduism, Buddhism, and even a return to unearth the deeper heritage of their own pagan roots.

Cultural integration is conceptual alchemy that blends what had been separate artistic, intuitive paths of wisdom into one unified system of evolved thought. Integration of diverse doctrines is necessary for the advancement of metaphysics and science. That which closes itself off from integration will not evolve, and if you don’t evolve, then you can’t transcend.

The advanced civilizations of history were products of cultural integration. At the age of twenty, a Macedonian king—and a student of Aristotle—succeeded his father to the throne and with his newfound reign, expanded his father’s empire across Africa and Asia. Alexander the Great launched the Hellenistic Period (323 BC to 31 BC), when Greek culture, religion, mythos, and esotericism spread throughout Europe and later to the New World out West, changing the ideologies of the societies that Greek thought integrated into. Consequentially, the Hellenistic culture was indelibly changed by the people that Alexander’s army conquered. Alexander himself personally adopted many of the customary practices of the Egyptians and Persians. Thus, Egyptian and Persian culture wove their way into the global fabric in ways that now cannot be untangled.

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Journal Notes on a Deck Production Process

Proofs Line Sheet #1

The ball is now officially in motion. It’s well past the point of no return. Also, fair warning: this is a really long progress update.

I ended up not having to convert my card image files from JPG to PDF, and could submit them directly as JPG files, which I was really happy about. By the way, if you want to see all finalized images, I’ve shared a Gallery of All Cards here.

Proofs Line Sheet #2

Also, aspiring tarot deck creators: from the line sheets I’m sharing, you can now see why it makes sense to design 80 cards, right? Even if you are sticking to the 78, I would still recommend creative ways to utilize the remaining 2 cards. Even if you say you’re going to print 78 cards only instead of 80, you’re getting charged for 80 anyway. Do you see my point?

And check out the ordering of the cards on the line sheet. My educated guess is that the automated printing machine will be cutting the cards starting from the bottom row of the sheet, going left to right. (Not all that important to know, but for the curious nerds, something fun to observe.) You’ll see what I mean.

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Creative Divination: Reading Tea Leaves by Tabitha Dial – Book Review

Tea leaf reading (or palmistry, can’t really determine which of the two) is probably the first form of divination I was exposed to as a child. For many personal-shadow reasons, I’ve always rejected it and shirked from any interest in learning more about it, but recently I set the goal to learn and Tabitha Dial’s Creative Divination: Read Tea Leaves & Develop Your Personal Code has been an incredible introduction to the art.

Dial herself comes from a creative writing background and is a poet, which is evident in how well-written and organized this text is. Among independently published books in this field, this is one of the more polished and professionally designed.

She begins by distinguishing her approach to tea leaf reading from a more folksy fortune telling approach. This book sets forth an approach she calls Creative Divination, which is “related to fortune telling, but arguably more of an exercise in reflection and self-improvement.” Creatives, such as artists and writers, share many traits with psychics and diviners, and Creative Divination taps in to that common denominator process.

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