Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Rumination Notes Fours to Aces

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Ritual Coloring of the

Major Arcana

I shared all my digital files for the Major Arcana from the tarot deck I’m currently drawing at the end of June, 2018 here: Spirit Keeper’s Tarot (Majors Only). Then went on to explain the purpose for ritual coloring of the Majors, among other thoughts, here in a subsequent video and blog post: Ritual Coloring of the Major Arcana, though there I share some draft images from the Minors as well. If you’re not subscribed to my Instagram, then you probably don’t know that I’ve been sharing progress photos of my work as I go along. In the event that interests you, subscribe here, IG: @bellwen.

So as I explained in the last blog post on drawing my own deck, after completing the Majors and beginning on the Minors, I started with the Fours. And the suit order I’m going in for each number set is Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, which I’ve renamed to Scepters, Chalices, Swords, and Orbs. Lots of really specific reasons for the renaming. I definitely didn’t do it just for shits.

The above thumbnail snapshot does not show the cards in the order I completed them. Because of the digital filenames, when I take a screen shot of the file folder that the scans of these images are in, they’re in alphabetical order. Also, these screen shots don’t include the titles and captions.

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Ritual Coloring of the Major Arcana

I posted a video over the weekend in which I ramble in many different directions. It was supposed to be a video in which I introduce you to the black and white line drawings of the Major Arcana from the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, which are now available for your free download. It was also supposed to be me making a case for undertaking a ritualized process of coloring in the black and white line drawings.

And instead, I went off on a tangent about God, the Devil, my lifelong love of art, and the role of religion in occult study. I do at a couple points keep to topic and mention the tarot deck and coloring in a tarot deck, but I’m afraid most of it is just a winding road of rambles.

Yes, you can tell I’ve cut and edited the clips because the original rambling was even longer, which all but turned into an unfiltered incoherent video diary of what I did for each Key. When I went to edit the video clips, I thought, yeah, I’m not going to post a one hour video, so I literally cut about half of the footage. Hence the noticeable heavy-handed cutting here. Don’t worry, I promise you, you’re not missing out: the cut ramblings were very boring.

If you haven’t already downloaded the Majors-only black and white line drawings (all umteen zip file folder versions of them…) and the companion guidebook (your operation manual), go here:

Download the Majors from the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot

Original pen and ink art on white heavyweight cardstock, 100 lb. cover (270 gsm) at 8.5″ x 11″, so I draw three cards per sheet.

I’m now at work on the Minors, but it’s going to take a lot longer to complete than what it took for the Majors, because I need to return my focus to other projects in the pipeline, both professional and personal.

For the Majors, I worked on them pretty much during every single millisecond of non-day-job-work time I had for sixteen days (new moon in Gemini to the full moon in Capricorn). I won’t be able to commit that full-force on the Minors, so the time allotted for the Minors will need to be distributed out more evenly and in a more balanced way with my regular schedule.

Like I did with the Majors, my process for the Minors is to first read Mathers, Papus, Waite, and Crowley, find the common denominator (not easy at all; really struggled with this), then factor in my point of view, philosophy of life, and how I’m sensing that common denominator energy in today’s collective unconscious, and then depicting that personalized and updated extrapolation, all while attempting to keep with that medieval grimoire woodblock print art style.

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Spirit Within Tarot by Steven Bright

The Spirit Within Tarot by Steven Bright and published by Schiffer Publishing blends tarot with shadow gazing to produce a powerful cartomantic tool that reads into your inner sanctum. I love the modernity of this deck, the color symbolism that comes out strong, and the aesthetic value of the contrast.

The card trim size is not a typical or standard tarot size and feels more oracle to me. Every aspect of this deck’s presentation feels fresh, modern, and outfitted to attract popular appeal.

Steven Bright of Tiferet Tarot has been a fixture in the tarot community who I’ve always looked to for his deck reviews and his social media posts, Tarot Thoughts. I love that this deck, which has been many years in the making, has come to fruition and not only that, has exceeded all expectations. It’s unique, it’s innovative, and you can tell it was designed by an experienced master tarot reader.

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The Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot by Melanie Marquis and Scott Murphy

I learned a very important lesson from this deck: don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. The Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot was part of the free swag I got from Readers Studio 2018. When I first saw a few samples of the card images and read the back of the box, I shrugged and said to myself, “meh, not for me, pass.”

Wrong. I realized how wrong I was as soon as I unwrapped the deck and sifted through the cards.

Modern Spellcasters is that acquaintance you didn’t get a good first impression from because you’re an asshole set in your ways but then you actually take the time to have a couple of heart to heart chats and suddenly you realize holy crap, this is a kindred spirit and an amazing one at that.

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Quick Tutorial: YouTube Video Making Tips I’ve Learned

Previous Quick Tutorial Posts:

This is another post from my Quick Tutorial series for YouTubers and those who are looking to create video content.

It’s worth reiterating: I am not an expert (by any stretch of the imagination) when it comes to video production, I don’t own or use any fancy equipment and tech, I have no background in video production or photography, and actually, I think that’s kind of the point. The point here is to show you that yeah, you can do it, and you can do a halfway decent job at creating video content as a total amateur.

Instead of trying to collect all the latest gadgets that the YouTubers with million+ subscribers are telling you to get, work with what you’ve got. I hope that’s what this Quick Tutorial series is about: maxing out the capabilities of what you’ve got.

This post in particular will consolidate some tips and tricks I’ve learned about YouTube video making at the amateur level.

Record Your Videos During the Magic Hour

In photography, there’s this thing called the golden hour, or the magic hour. Fortunately, there are two each day. The first is the hour after sunrise, and the second is the hour before sunset.

I’m lucky because that conforms to my work schedule. The first golden hour is just before I leave for work, so actually, my makeup is freshly done. Most days I make it home before the second golden hour, just before sunset, so as soon as I’m back from the office, I go straight to recording the video.

If you don’t have lighting equipment, then I would urge you to try your best at scheduling video recording time during one of the golden hours. Afternoon sunlight can be too harsh, and after sunset, it’s often too dark. Cameras tend not to like artificial lighting, so then your videos get that grainy quality.

When you record during the golden hour, you can get away with a lesser-quality camera. I’m using a 1.3 megapixel webcam for both the video footage and the audio. For comparison, most professional YouTubers opt for a 50.6 megapixel resolution camera. These days, your smartphone camera is around 12 megapixels.

So yeah, given the drastic difference, the pixel quality of my current portfolio of YouTube videos is still shitty compared to what most people are shooting at these days, but it isn’t so offensive in quality as it could be (given the 1.3 megapixel resolution) because I’m shooting during the magic hour. Shooting at the magic hour compensates for that drastic resolution difference.

For me, I’ve also found that recording during the morning magic hour by an east-facing window is the best, and recording during the evening magic hour by a west-facing window is best.

Guys, if you can, follow the magic hour in photography. It truly is magical. You get that soft diffused light on your face and that perfect balance of light and shadow in the frame. You know those expensive ring lights that makeup and beauty gurus get? Yeah, the whole point of those things is to recreate the lighting of the Magic Hour. You get two for free each day, so if you don’t want to invest in a ring light, then try to schedule your recording time to the Magic Hours.

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Quick Tutorial: MovieMaker for YouTubers

Previously I shared a Quick Tutorial on using PowerPoint to create animated video footage with voiceover narration earlier, here. This Quick Tutorial is on Windows MovieMaker.

Basically, this Quick Tutorial series for newbie YouTubers like me demonstrates how to make video content on a shoestring budget, or no budget at all. The premise is to be as low-tech as possible, using what you probably have on hand already. It’s all about being smarter with what you have.

Before reading further, can we both acknowledge that I am not an expert, not sufficiently experienced or skilled to the level where I should be giving anybody advice, and have literally only been doing this for about a year. On the other hand, to make a case for myself, I think this makes the Quick Tutorial series all the more endearing. It’s me saying to you, hey look, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing but I still manage to get stuff up and running, so you can, too.

Note: MovieMaker was discontinued effective 2017 and replaced with something called Windows Story Remix. Since my computer and my set video-making ways pre-date 2017, I’m going to proceed with MovieMaker. Assuming at some point in the future I upgrade to Windows Story Remix, I’ll make a Quick Tutorial for that then.

The first thing I do is set up my laptop on a stack of books to get the angle and positioning just right. (I’ll get into how to angle and position your camera lens in the subsequent post.) The laptop came with a video camera recording program, so that’s what I use. I click the red record button, and then just go.

I like to use jump cuts (also explained in subsequent post) so that it’s easier for the final video product to look like I stay on point the whole time and don’t wander off on irrelevant tangents or have you all sit there watching me think, on camera, about what next thing I want to say.

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Tarot Summer School 2018

Click to reserve your Season Pass! $199. Installments available.

This is my third year participating as a master class instructor at Tarot Summer School and the line-up is spectacular. You’re not going to want to miss this intense semester, so get the Season Pass!

You get lifetime access to any course you purchase. If there are 7 courses you’re interested in and you buy each separately, that’s almost the cost of the Season Pass. For $199, you’ll get all 13, and get access to the courses for life. So it’s not like you have to do all 13 courses this summer. Buy it this summer and save it for later. Revisit the courses as frequently as you like. It’s a pretty incredible deal when you think about it. Click on the banner above to book your Season Pass, or check out the courses separately below.

I’ve hyperlinked the titles to their respective course description page at the Tarot Readers Academy. There are also hyperlinks for each instructor’s own website or professional landing page. That way if there are any names you’re not familiar with, you can learn more about their work.

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Uranus in Taurus

Yeah, yeah. This post comes really late. Everyone else with a blog or YouTube channel who is into astrology has already given their two-cents on this. So I wasn’t going to. But you guys keep pestering me about it. So I’ve been meaning to get to this, but blah. Okay, here you go. Uranus in Taurus. According to Bell.

Source: U.S. Information Agency

What happened the last time Uranus was in Taurus?

On May 15 of this year, Uranus entered Taurus during a new moon. To consider the implications, we start by looking to history to see if we might spot patterns. The last time Uranus was in Taurus, it was just after the Great Depression and into the start of World War II. In other words, it was approximately 1934 to 1942.

Nazi Germany came in to power during this time. It was a period of divisive social politics in many parts of the world. Invasions, smaller wars, and border conflicts were happening on multiple continents. Dramatic changes were taking place when it came to U.S. policies affecting the economy, such as the New Deal (to counter the effects of the Great Depression).

Over in the corner of modern witchcraft, Gerald Gardner was traveling through East Asia, and as that particular Uranus transit came to its close, Gardner was initiated into the New Forest coven. All this, to me at least, is an interesting synchronicity, because I talk about these points in the course I’m offering at Tarot Summer School 2018. In Module 5, “Witchcraft and Tarot in Modernity,” I cover these periods of modern history and the relevance to occult history.

Oh, and then the last last time before that when Uranus was in Taurus? Uranus entered Taurus on April 16, 1851 and stayed there until March 14, 1859. You had the Crimean War ravaging through Europe, the Opium War in China, along with the Taiping Rebellion. Over in the U.S., civil rights is in contention and several landmark events shape this period and the periods to come: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Dred Scott decision in the Supreme Court– once again, divisive social politics– and the Republican Party is founded in 1854 on anti-slavery and pro-immigration ideologies. (I just mention that because there are some interesting parallels going on in the U.S. at the moment, during our present day Uranus in Taurus.)

Then before that, May 1767 to April 1775. Oh. Shit. Guess what. That’s the American Revolution. So yeah. Uranus in Taurus, where the planet is in detriment*, is, in short, a time when we tend to. ahem, make history.

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Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story

Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story is the most comprehensive, devotional, and poignant tribute to Pamela “Pixie” Colman Smith we’ll see this century. It’s a magnificent treatise and homage no tarot lover will want to miss. Co-authored by Stuart Kaplan, Mary K. Greer, Elizabeth Foley O’Connor, and Melinda Boyd Parsons, The Untold Story is the sum total of knowledge, research, data, and documents we have on the artist behind the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck and her works.

Perhaps its greatest accomplishment is how it has brought Pamela Colman Smith to life. You’ll get to know her life and works, her family, her art, her interests, her personal spirituality, her quirks, and her multifaceted personality. Her words, through letters and the articles and stories she penned, reveal an animated, unconventional, extraordinary woman.

The first quarter of the book, “Pamela’s Life,” is authored by Elizabeth Foley O’Connor, an academic researcher who is writing the literary biography of Pamela Colman Smith.

Corinne Pamela Colman Smith, who went by the nickname “Pixie,” defied so many social norms, it’s hard to keep count. The more you read about her, the more impressed you get.

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Quick Tutorial: PowerPoint for YouTubers

Let’s not kid ourselves here: I am no expert at YouTubing and you’re probably better off learning video editing from someone else. But what I hope this Quick Tutorial series will demonstrate is how you can make halfway not-crappy videos with a lot of multi-media stuff going on and do it without spending a lot of money on tech.

I spent zero extra dollars on tech to make my YouTube videos. I use a webcam (which, come on, everybody has; my old-ass retired parents have one) for both the video and microphone functions, try to schedule my recording times to the sunlight (in other words, I don’t have special lighting equipment), and software programs that already come with my computer or can be downloaded for free off the Internet. And I do all of this from a $300 laptop I’ve had since 2014.

This tutorial post is specifically for YouTubers who’d like to add a more multi-media dimension to their videos by including animated PowerPoint slides with voiceover narration. Using PowerPoint is a budget-friendly way to vamp up your videos. Here’s how you do it.

First, open PowerPoint on your computer. It came free with my computer. So it’s not even like I needed to buy any fancy tech to make YouTube videos. The default first slide will look something like the below. I select the text boxes and delete them so I can begin with a blank slate.

To insert a photograph that will become the background image, start by going to the “Insert” tab at the top. Click on it, and then click the icon for “Pictures.” You can click on the screen shots in this post for enlarged viewing.

As an example, I’m inserting this photo I took of me holding the Page of Cups up to a painting. If your photograph is exactly the size of the Presentation slide, it’ll auto-fit. Otherwise, you may need to adjust manually.

These days, the default proportion is 16:9 so if you want a photograph to be the background image in the video, it should be at the proportion 16:9. (Most camera phones have an option where you can select this proportion to make sure the photos you’re taking are at that width x height ratio.) For YouTube videos, you want images to be a minimum of 1280 pixels by 720 pixels.

Now click on the tab “Animation” then the tab option “Animation Pane” to show the Animation Pane. You’ll see it appear in the screen shot below.

Now let’s say you want text to appear on the screen. You’re now in the “Insert” tab (see top row across your browser, the red row), then click the icon “Text Box.”

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