Creating Tarot and Oracle Decks with AI Generated Art

Back in December 2021 I covered the topic of AI generated art and what it might mean for the marketplace of tarot and oracle decks here (“How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing“) and here (“I Ching Oracle Cards with AI Generated Art“). But since then there have been new developments in this subject area so I thought I might revisit the topic.

Left: My illustration, by hand in pencil and ink. Right: NightCafe, art style: “Charcoal”

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.

Left: High school art by yours truly, from the 90s. Colored pencil. Right: AI generated art based on text description of illustration to the left, via Wombo

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!

“You Are the Journey” by @KaliYuga_ai via MidJourney (AI art)

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.

Technomage Tarot by Lee Duncan in collaboration with AI, via Kickstarter campaign (last visited 2022 Sep. 30)

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.

Continue reading “Creating Tarot and Oracle Decks with AI Generated Art”

Tarot Deck Collecting and Consumerism: My Thoughts

I’ve had a working draft of this blog post, on this topic, started in 2020, and already I was feeling late to it, since it was a topic trending in 2019. Life and other priorities got in the way so I left this draft unfinished.

In 2021 I started seeing this topic discussed with fervor again. It inspired me to reopen this post. I worked on it some more, but again, just didn’t care to finish my train of thought, for whatever reason.

Now it’s 2022 and this same exact topic of conversation in the tarot community is still going strong.

Maybe this time I can finally finish what I was trying to say. I’ll divide up my thoughts by the recurring subtopics or points of argument you hear when community members start talking about tarot deck collecting, culling, and consumerism.

To balance out the paragraphs of text, I’ll be sharing random photos of decks you’d spot around my house.

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Reflecting on My 2021, A Judgement (Key 20) Year

I’ve been working through my Tarot Year Card for 2021 and 2022, per Archetypal Tarot (2021) by Mary Greer. I did a Sightsee the Tarot video on it, linked here.

I’m tickled by the coincidence of 2021 being the year the Revelation and final edition of the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot was released and it also being my Key 20: Judgement year. Traditionally this card was named Last Judgment and depicts prophetic scenes from the Book of Revelation.

My birthday is September 24 (9 + 2 + 4 = 15), which you then add to the digits for the given year (2 + 0 + 2 + 1 = 5) for the sum 20.

Major life shifts happened to me in 2021. What feels universally true about Judgement moments is that the past flashes before your eyes in an instant. Meanwhile the present is happening in slow motion, and your sense of the future is exciting yet uncertain. If Tower events are when you feel like the world you had built is crumbling down around you, then Judgement events are when you feel like you’re hydroplaning.

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To the New Pagan Author…

A video I watched inspired me to hit the record button and share these thoughts. But this is no longer a direct VR to that video (and in fact this video might have taken on a more melancholic tone than intended).

Instead of being a direct VR to the video inspiring this sharing, I will be commenting on what my own experiences have been like.

Here are some of my thoughts 7 years in.

This video is unlisted, which means it won’t appear on my YouTube channel or on the public YouTube platform. I will be experimenting with moving away from that platform and posting more unlisted videos here on the personal website.

Reflecting on My SKT Tarot & Art Journey

Evolving from the pen and ink line drawing you see above to the digitally-remastered in-color version of The Priestess was a journey. As 2021 comes to a close and I send out the final shipment of first print run decks of the Revelation Edition, I’d like to share my reflections on this journey.

Fair warning upfront: This is going to be a looooong blog post. I also share some tips, from direct personal experience, to aspiring indie deck creators.

Completing the Revelation Edition is one of the coolest things I’ve ever achieved, because I leveled up so much in terms of my own art. I did something I didn’t even know I was capable of doing.

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Working with My 2022 Metaphysician’s Day Planner

So if you saw me share this video earlier but it was the same video as the one on the Day Planner pre-order page about how to upload to Lulu, then you saw the wrong video. I took that down and re-uploaded with the correct video. Serves me right for naming both video files “2022 day planner how-to.” Totally confused me this morning when I went to upload to YouTube.

THIS video walks you through how I’m filling in the different page sections of the day planner. Sorry, it’s been one of those weeks. I’m frazzled and fried. Going to go take a nap now. Thanks.

BA GUA (EIGHT TRIGRAMS) PRINT-OUT

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#only10decks The 10 decks I’d take with me

…to that stranded remote island where I will only ever be able to use these 10 decks for the rest of my mortal life. Or so goes the prompt. I may have embellished a little. Katey Flowers on Tarot Tube started the hashtag. You can watch her video here.

By the way, at the start of her video she says she was inspired by the makeup community’s tag “only 10 eyeshadow palettes” and I have to confess I kind of guffawed at the thought of “only” 10 eyeshadow palettes.. Ten…palettes? I don’t even have one! Ah but then I’m sure most of the known world would guffaw at my struggles over choosing just 10 decks for this prompt.

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Download My Art Study Journal

A while back on my Instagram feed, I shared photos of my 2020 art study journal. Now here’s the whole thing, though it’s still just a slim and sparse booklet.

I kinda didn’t wanna share this because it’s so, ew, a hot mess, disorganized, and you can even witness my mood changes as my handwriting teeters from neat and meticulous to hasty and illegible.

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Random Personal Update

Most of this blog on my website consists of deck reviews, some book reviews, and right now because SKT III is in production, SKT status updates. I haven’t checked in with you with a personal update in a while. So let’s chat. Hi! How’ve you been? Let me share with you what’s been going on in my corner. =)

That Novel I Kinda Started Talking About… and then Didn’t?

In March of 2020, I posted this: “Novel Writing Adventures.” And this: “What Writing and Publishing a Novel Means to Me + Asian American Kid Problems.”

Back in 2013 I started this ambitious novel (I say “ambitious” because the plot and premise is really convoluted and in terms of my own skill level, I was trying to accomplish way more than my technical proficiency or storytelling ability was capable of.) I got up to 37,000 words before I abandoned ship.

I revisited that same manuscript in 2015, discarded about a third of what I had written in 2013, continued on, and got to 59,000 words before, again, abandoning the undertaking because it got too overwhelming.

In 2018, I threw away all 59k words of the previous manuscript, started from 0, wrote furiously for 2 years straight, and by February/March of 2020, exactly when the pandemic hit the U.S., completed the manuscript at 118,000 words.

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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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