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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
P. O. Box 20021
Castro Valley, CA 94546
The Angel Tarot and Occult Tarot by Travis McHenry first came out via Kickstarter, and then got picked up for traditional publication by Rockpool, which launched earlier this year. I’ll be covering both in this review.
The Simplicity Tarot by Emilie Muniz is this perfect RWS-based deck that checks all the boxes that people keep saying they want in a tarot deck, but don’t seem to notice that Simplicity Tarot exists. It flies quietly, humbly under the radar, and I have no idea why. Muniz’s deck features all the hallmarks for what our community keeps saying we want in a tarot deck, and yet this deck isn’t trending. Why is that?
Here is this deck with imagery that feels classic, timeless, not overly modern, with refinement and elegance, beautiful on any reading table spread, and has the diverse representation so many of us readers today want in a deck.