In my head I’ve been mulling over a candid video chat I’ve been wanting to make for some time now, but it’s only these last few weeks of stirrings in our tarot community that concretized my motivation to just go ahead and do it. =)
I’ve only chosen one comment to read as an example of a recurring common critique I get, and the three recurring common critiques I’m chatting about in this video are as follows:
I’m pretentious and elitist, and also an opportunist,
My work is imbued with negative, demonic entities and/or I am possessed by or consort with negative, demonic entitles (evil, dark energy, etc., take your pick of descriptive), and
I say insensitive things at all the wrong times (as interpreted from the writings I’ve put out there).
In the video I also reflect on authenticity, the perception of virtual authenticity, and how true, sincere human authenticity will come back to bite you in the ass online, and the only way to appear authentic is to fabricate and manufacture the illusion of authenticity.
The above side by side isn’t a fair comparison, but let’s compare anyway. The left was entirely hand-drawn in pen and ink back in 2018 when I first picked up drawing after not having done anything artsy for over 20 years. Well, I did do technical drawings in fashion design, but like creative artsy art. That I hadn’t done in decades.
The above right began as a thumbnail sketch by hand (I still feel better doing it that way, even after going digital), I scan in the rough sketch and then clean it up digitally. Then the illustration is colored digitally as well.
Gradually, I’m doing less and less by hand analog and more and more digitally in software. For example, even near the tail end of completing SKT Revelation art, I was finalizing almost the entire composition of each card by hand, scanning it in, and then digitally coloring, tweaking, etc.
At this point of the Etteilla project, however, there’s less than 1 hour of drawing by hand analog before everything goes digital and I take it to the finish line in Paint Shop Pro.
I will say, though, notwithstanding the boost you get from tech, my actual line drawing by hand has improved a great deal over the last 5 years. Almost every day for the last 5 years, but for a few exceptions, I’ve been practicing my drawing skills. I keep a sketchbook and make sure I draw something every day.
Click on the above image file to download and use freely (but reverently, please). The image file is in 400 dpi and should print okay at 9.5 inches x 9.5 inches. So don’t go much larger than that, but you can go smaller. Actually 11″ x 11″ should still be fine.
All the extra border is to allow for bleed margins.
Here are my responses to the #13TarotTubeQuestions.
1. What are your favorite videos to watch?
Group discussions, when several TarotTubers get together and chat about a topic. For example, Three Fat Readers with Lisa Papez of Supportive Tarot, Dani Mystic, and Dustin from Modern Metaphysicae, or the Three Girls, One Deck series with Juli from Peekaboorose, Sarah of Sunset Bough Tarot, and Heather Carter.
I also enjoy watching candid chats when people get real and honest about their experiences with the tarot community.
Remember the grainy, poorly-lit midnight rants and unfiltered ramblings people filmed and posted on YouTube back in the early 2000s? Yeah. I miss those. Those were my favorite.
I shared my 2021 reflections last December, when Judgement was my year card. In 2022, my year card was Key 21: The World. And what a climactic, intense, fruitful, and life-changing year it’s been. I’m not quite sure yet whether “life-changing” is an exaggeration, but I mean, what’s transpired in 2022 has and will have a significant impact on the course of my life from here on out.
It’s kind of crazy how my 2021 really reflected a Judgement year (Apocalypse, in the SKT, which was quite an apt descriptive for my 2021…) and 2022 a World year.
Last year it was like the tectonic plates beneath my feet were tremoring. And this year, many of the pieces that fragmented in 2021 fell into place. Re-reading my 2021 year in review with the Judgement card, I sure vague-booked how crazy that year actually was. “Major life shifts happened to me in 2021,” I had written. Ha. What an understatement.
And in 2022, the tremors stopped, whatever pieces were quaking fell into position, and it just so happened that my luck shot up. All the pieces landed in all the right spots.
We have an abundance of persimmons this year and I remarked to the father-in-law about how I wanted to make hoshigaki, using the traditional method. Hoshigaki are peeled persimmons that you hang up to sun-dry for four to seven weeks (depending on climate/weather), and then you have to massage every persimmon weekly so it ferments evenly and the natural sugars get coaxed up to the surface of the fruit, forming this light dusting of finely crystallized sugar dust.
Is it magic or chemistry? I’m not quite sure. =) Meanwhile the fruit becomes deliciously gummy, like chewy candy. It is one of the sweetest and most delectable desserts you can have.
Immediately, before I could even complete my explanation of the process, the father-in-law shot the idea down, listing out all the ways this could go wrong, all the reasons this is not worth the trouble, just one negative statement after another.
This is his personality, his habit. He’s been doing this to James since hubby was a boy. If you’re sparked by an idea that’s just slightly more labor-intensive or slightly more aspirational than ordinary, the father-in-law’s immediate response is to shoot down the idea and be really negative about all the ways this is stupid.
Oh and if you haven’t guessed already, this is a personal blog post. Not in any way tarot, esoterica, or “in line with my branding” related. Just me sharing what’s actually been on my mind as of late, and ranting.
Since I made reference to some of these regions, below is an excerpted Appendix E from I Ching, The Oracle (North Atlantic Books, forthcoming 2023).
While the maps are not drawn to scale (I did them myself, by hand…) at least they help to give you a mental reference of where these kingdoms or states are located in geographical relation to one another.
Excerpt from Appendix E of I Ching, The Oracle (June, 2023):
In my previous blog post recapping NWTS 2022, I talked about how much I enjoyed the “Which Witch is Which” lunch panel discussion. So that you don’t have to click between pages, here’s what I said about it:
The best part of all? Hands down, the Which Witch is Which lunch panel discussion. Each practitioner on the panel represented a different perspective on witch identity and witchcraft, from whether they identify with the moniker “witch” (some yes, some no), what is witchcraft anyway, and their takes on covens, solitary practice, closed vs. open traditions, altars, ancestor work, and more.
Thank you, Mat, for giving a shout-out to Taoist ceremonial magic! And wish the incredible Onareo, who was present in the audience with me, could have also been up there on the panel to represent brujeria.
In this Bell Chimes In video chat, I wanted to ruminate on my own responses to the questions “Do you identify as a witch?” and “What is witchcraft, to you?”
Answers to those two questions are not at all easy to arrive at.
Whew! NWTS 2022 was a blast! This was Michelle and Roger of SoulTopia’s inaugural year as the organizers of NWTS, the Northwest Tarot Symposium in Portland, Oregon. And wow, what a comeback for NWTS, thanks to SoulTopia’s tireless efforts, persistence, and stewardship. This year, the tarot community really showed up for an impressive turnout, to the point where we might’ve outgrown the Monarch Hotel! Time for a bigger even more spacious venue? =)
Anyway, this is a casual recap of the event from my vantage point.
But since then there have been new developments in this subject area so I thought I might revisit the topic.
Some Personal Dabblings with AI Art
Above to the left is a sketch I did by hand, first in pencil, then outlined in ink. I started with the following prompt, text I typed out myself and stared at for a good five minutes before putting pencil to paper: Solitude. Contemplating. Maiden in a moment of self-questioning.
I copied some text written by Hildegard of Binden on the transcendental experience of God, to fill the blank space. What you see took me two hours. Uh, tbh, probably longer than two hours. I lose track of time when I’m doodling. (The barely-there blue grid lines was added digitally, because that’s just something I like to do when I share my doodles to the public.)
What you see to the above right was produced via NightCafe, an AI art generator, with the same exact text as the prompt: Solitude. Contemplating. Maiden in a moment of self-questioning. I selected the art style “Charcoal” to see how close to a pen and ink sketch it could go. The illustration to the right took the program two minutes.
I’m fascinated by how similar the interpretations were, between me, a human, and AI tapping in to collective knowledge. In fact, in the past I’ve drawn illustrations in charcoal very similar to what the AI produced!
The pose, the facial expression, the way the hair falls, the vulnerability– if I rummage through my old art portfolio from high school, I can excavate a charcoal or pastel drawing that looks more or less the same with that!
Does AI Art Lack Soul?
I explored the question “does AI art lack soul” here in an earlier rumination on the subject. In that blog post, I talked about how this advent of AI generated art has shifted my former paradigm on the mind-soul relation.
This declaration you’ll hear oft repeated — AI art lacks soul; AI lacks soul — is one I’m most apprehensive about. Perhaps we can say we don’t understand the soul of AI, but to declare that AI art lacks soul… I dunno. It doesn’t sit right with me.
I’m not convinced that these works “lack soul.” If I’m getting all psychic and woo, I might say the impression of the soul that’s present feels different from a human sapient soul, just like an animal’s sentient soul or a tree’s soul feels different. You hear people critique the evident style or aesthetic consistent in AI generated art, but just because you don’t love an artist’s style or technical approach doesn’t mean that artist suddenly lacks soul.
So while I have many conflicting thoughts about AI art, the accusation that it lacks soul isn’t one of them. If anything, I wonder if the full body of AI generated art is mirroring back something deep within us collectively, for us to see.
A Rising Popularity of AI Generated Art Decks
Oh, and to illustrate what the community has been buzzing about with regard to AI-generated tarot decks (or in collaboration with AI) coming on to the market, I’ll feature several throughout this commentary.