Reading with the Livre du Destin (or Book of Fate)

A while back I shared zip file downloads of the above deck here. I called it the Petit Etteilla, because that’s what it was called on the British Museum page that I got the images from. And then much smarter cartomancy community members pointed out that it’s actually a deck called the Livre du Destin, or Book of Fate.

Edit: Changed Card 30 to “Gossip” in the downloadable zip file. Made more sense than “To Admonish.”

My physical copy of the Book of Fate printed via makeplayingcards.com arrived and I thought it’d be fun to update you on how I read with this 33-card deck (supposed to be 32-card but I added that 33rd “Etteilla querent” card back when I thought it was a Petit Etteilla deck…oops).

I made my own English version of the deck but I didn’t share it publicly because I took some sweeping liberties with the “translations,” if one can even call it that. =)

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Petit Etteilla, Paris: H. Pussey, 1860-1886 (32-card piquet pack download)

What we call the “Petit Etteilla” refers to a class of 32-card piquet decks for cartomancy based on Etteilla’s 1770 text, which used the courts (Kings, Queens, Jacks), Aces, Tens, Nines, Eights, and Sevens from a playing card deck. To the 32-card pack, Etteilla added a 33rd card called “Etteilla” to designate the querent. And thus he proposed that the original Egyptian tarot pack consisted of 33 cards.

UPDATE: I referred to this deck as a “Petit Etteilla” because that’s how the British Museum referred to it. However, one of our community’s preeminent tarot historians, with a particularly vast amount of knowledge on the Etteilla, John Choma, came back with some clarifications.

This is not a Petit Etteilla deck, but an unrelated deck called the “Livre du Destin” (or Book of Fate), created some time in the mid-1800s. You can check out a few historic examples (thank you, John, for the links!): here (M. Violet, éditeur), here (Le Livre du destin), and here. These images are also notably similar to other 19th-century oracle decks like the 53-card Sibylle des Salons and the 36-card Petit Cartomancien.

This download of Petit Etteilla card images, courtesy of the British Museum, is the edition published between 1860 and 1886 by Jean-Henri Pussey in Paris, France. The originals were 70 mm x 111 mm, hand-colored etchings on pasteboard.

Petit Etteilla

(Originals, 70 mm x 111 mm)

CLICK ON LINK TO DOWNLOAD ZIP FILE

If you’re savvy with digital photo editing and graphic design, then work directly from the 70 mm x 111 mm originals, and format the layout design to your personal preferences.

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I Ching Oracle Cards with AI Generated Art (Free Download)

I’ve been maybe a little bit obsessed with AI generated art apps, though not just because of the pretty art. Rather, my fascination comes from the way such AI generated art shifts my former paradigm on the mind-soul relation. Does an AI really lack soul? That’s the question I’ve been kicking around in my head.

After my blog post on How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing, one recurring sentiment expressed in the comments section on Instagram and Facebook was that the art created by an AI lacks soul, whereas art created by humans reflect the artist’s soul, and that is why human-created art is superior.

Really? Because I’m not convinced.

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Sawyer’s Nature Portals: Animal Oracle Deck

Ooh…this is my first circle animal oracle deck! Jamie Sawyer’s Nature Portals is a 52-card circle deck that features open portals for looking into the life of animals, amphibians, insects, birds, and marine life. The premise of the art is to capture a moment in that creature’s life, and allow us, an observer, to watch, listen, and to learn.

The cards are 100 mm in diameter, at 400 gsm cardstock, so there’s a noticeable sturdiness to them. You can really feel the intention of the portals transporting you to the animal world in that card back design. I also love that Sawyer went with a more artistic box design, rather than it being too commercial-focused.

click on image to visit Jamie Sawyer’s page

The deck also comes with a Nature Portals Companion Journal. You can buy a print copy of the journal here via Lulu.com and get the digital version of it here. The digital PDF of the journal is free with all purchases of the deck. You’ll get the the PDF upon check-out when you order Nature Portals.

The free companion journal is a 119-page full-color beautifully illustrated guidebook that labels what animals are depicted on each card, facts about each animal, keywords associated with that animal spirit, and then first-person insights into spiritual experiences with those particular animal spirits, written by both Jamie Sawyer and her mother, Gail Sawyer.

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A Lenormand Deck Showcase

I’ll be showcasing six Lenormand deck recommendations, each one different from the others in art style. Four of them are indie and two are traditionally published. These are decks that have been sent to me and for these types of collection showcases, I typically choose only from the decks sent to me for my collection.

Let’s take a look at how the Lenormand is illustrated in six different art styles. The first is what I’ll call contemporary kawaii cutecore; the second is Western European medieval art; the third is inspired by the Italian Renaissance; then the Lenormand in a black and white Victorian illustration style via digital collage; children’s picture book fairytale art; and fin-de-siècle, rendered through digital collage of illustration works by Pamela Colman Smith.

If you haven’t jumped onto the Lenormand bandwagon quite yet and you’re interested in learning a bit more about the system, I have a nutshell summary write-up from seven years ago, here (“The Lenormand: Nutshell Summary of the Petite Lenormand, from History to Practice“).

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Journey to the West (Monkey King) Taiwanese Playing Cards

Click on image files for enlarged view

This is kinda for Kim from FablesDen. I was listening to her chat with Wai here where she talked about wishing there was a Journey to the West tarot deck. While I don’t have that, and don’t know if one exists, I do have this very cool Journey to the West themed deck of playing cards.

Journey to the West is a Chinese epic from the 1500s. It’s about Tripitaka, a Buddhist monk from China’s ancient capital (think: somewhere in the central north of the modern-day country you’re familiar with) who is tasked by Kuan Yin to journey to India to receive Buddhist scriptures.

Kuan Yin frees the Monkey King, a trickster figure with magical abilities, from his incarceration, who was punished by the Buddha and imprisoned after he stole peaches of immortality from Heaven. In exchange for helping the monk on his quest, the Monkey King will not only be freed, but will achieve enlightenment.

White Dragon Horse, a banished dragon spirit transformed into a horse, serves as Tripitaka’s steed. At the end of the journey, the horse becomes a bodhisattva and is restored to his original white dragon form.

Pigsy, a philandering and gluttonous warrior general banished from Heaven’s army after he offended Chang’er, the moon goddess, is also tasked to accompany Tripitaka, as is Sandy, another former warrior general in Heaven exiled to the mortal realm due to anger management issues. It’s a quest story about a virtuous, principled monk and a band of misfits who fight or outsmart demons and survive supernaturally perilous terrain.

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Button Soup Tarot: A Cult of Tarot Collaboration Deck

I’m intrigued by the strong opinions that tarot readers can hold for collaborative decks. Collaborative are decks where the artwork is done by a cast of different artists and illustrators, often of varying experience in art, from the amateur or self-taught to the professional. The Button Soup Tarot was organized by the Cult of Tarot forum members and the result turned out really well.

I speculate that the collaborative deck appeals mainly to a rather special, rare, eclectic, and liberal-minded personality. Each and every card is going to feature a different style, created with a different medium, ranging from traditional to digital art. I’m loving this particular collaboration. It feels celebratory and there’s such a joy to it.

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Tarot Tag: 15 Questions, via Arwen

This tarot tag is from 2017, started by Arwen, and I’m only getting around to it now. But it’s a fun one!

EDIT: Omg, no, I did do this tag before! Back in April of 2017! See here. That’s hilarious. I totally forgot!

1. What is your current favorite deck?

I’ll start by disqualifying my own deck.

I’m in love with the Majors only Pharos Tarot by M. M. Meleen. It’s Thoth-based and Meleen’s artwork is exquisite. You can learn more about it and order your copy from Meleen here. I’ll be posting an in-depth review of the deck and its guidebook in the near future.

Artistically and theosophically, I see the evolution from her Tabula Mundi Tarot. I love seeing the way Thoth influences this deck compared to the Thoth influences in the Tabula Mundi.

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The Muses of Tarot by Ethony: Book and Deck Set

The Muses of Tarot is a book and deck set by Ethony Dawn, with illustrations by Lena and Sasha Semenkova. The book is about 13 muses of the tarot that came to Ethony in her visions and channeled messages to her that correspond with the 78 cards of the tarot deck. In addition to the book, you get a set of 13 Muse oracle cards, 13 altar cards for those Muses, 13 invocation cards, and 7 chakra energy amplifier cards.

The 13 names of the Muses are original conceptions by Ethony that describe universal or archetypal spirits, and by “spirits” here I mean an embodiment that our superconsciousness can take on. They also represent 13 types of tarot readings. For example, Adoria is the Muse of love & relationship readings. Brujula is the Muse to invoke for tarot readings about big changes coming up in your life. Divina is the Muse of predictive tarot readings. Holistix is the Muse of health, healing, and wellness readings. Veilia is the Muse of mediumship. And so on.

In terms of production quality, you always get luxury from Ethony. Everything from cardstock, full-colored guidebook pages, and every fine detail of the packaging design is top rate. The finish on the box, book, and cards is this velvety rose petal texture that’s ultra matte. The box features a magnetic strip closure and every aspect of the graphic design is clean, fresh, feminine, fun, and has that cosmopolitan vibe to it.

This illustration is one of my favorites in the deck.

When it comes to production values, this is perfection. This is what deck creators ought to strive for. Love it all. Now let’s talk about the content.

The premise for this deck and book set, and the manifestations of the 13 Muses must have been a comet of divine inspiration that nose-dived straight into Ethony’s inner genius. I love what she says about the Muses:

“When I work with my creative muses, I believe I am making an agreement with a daemon to bring something from the ether into the material world. . . . The muse and I have a creative love affair. I bring my background, experience, personality and flair to the project, but I am also working with an element of pure magic.”

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Creative Commons License for the SKT Vitruvian Majors

Click me to download the Major Arcana image files for free

I thought I talked about this before, but there still seems to be some confusion around the issue, so I am hoping this post will clarify.

You can download the black & white image files for the SKT Vitruvian Major Arcana illustrations here. (To be more specific, it’s the Majors, the four Aces, and the four Archangels.)

These images are provided to the public for free download and under a Creative Commons Attribution license, which means the following:

You can share the images. You are free to copy and redistribute the illustrations in any medium or format.

You can adapt the images. You are free to transform, build upon, redesign, edit, revise, and in any way remix the illustrations for any purpose, including commercial purposes. Yes, you are free to profit financially from your adapted images of the SKT Vitruvian Majors, Aces, and Archangels.

Attribution or credit notes. My preference is that you make it very clear what part of the image or adapted image is attributed to my original work and what part is attributed to your creative additions. In other words, if you color in one of these black & white images and then sell your colored in SKT image, please make it clear in your product description that I am the artist for the black & white image while you are the artist for the coloring application. If you have traced part of my original art and then redesigned it, transforming it from the original, please include a note about what parts were my original and what parts you’ve redesigned and transformed. I say “my preference” because if you unintentionally forget to do that, I’m not going to be mad at you. =) But just please try not to forget.

While this license is free, if you do commercialize your SKT-based work, I’d be beyond thrilled to receive some merch! =) Send to the below address.

Benebell Wen
P. O. Box 20021
Castro Valley, CA 94546