Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Ruminations on the Court Cards

READ PREVIOUS POST IN THE SERIES

Rumination Notes:

Aces to Threes

Drawing the cards in sets of three, actual card size. This is how I begin.

I’ve been struggling with how to depict the tarot courts since back when I was still doing the Majors. And the whole time, I’ve been reading, brainstorming, researching, thinking– though no drawing– how the heck am I going to do this, and do this with any semblance of justice.

The more texts I studied on angelic correspondences to the elements, directions, and/or astrology, the more confused I got. Do I go Golden Dawn since up to this point so much of my point of view with the deck has been GD-influenced, or do I follow the lead of religious scholars turned mystics who say some of the Golden Dawn attributions for the Kabbalah are anti-Semitic in their source origins? How do I reconcile Christian mysticism, Jewish mysticism, and Islamic mysticism when it comes to angels? How do I also do it all with resonant subtext to Chinese, Taoist, and Buddhist ideas of angelic(-like) realms?

Also, when deck creators want to incorporate multiculturalism, they typically follow– shit–what’s his face–I can’t think of the name without looking it up. I’ve got it in an end note citation in Holistic Tarot if you really care. Anyway, Eden Gray followed what’s-his-face and everybody after Eden Gray followed Eden Gray so we go with this whole notion of Wands medium-hair, fair-eyed, Cups light-hair, light-eyed (or those two swapped), Swords dark-hair, medium-eyed, and Pentacles dark-hair, dark-eyed, so we typically end up with Asian or Middle Eastern for Swords and then Middle Eastern, Native American, or African for Pentacles. I opted not to go that route.

Agrippa made note of correspondences between geography, directionality, and the four elements, though he kept it relatively vague. Crowley then gave his thoughts on geography, directionality, and the four elements. His directionality conflict with Agrippa’s, but the geography and four elements kind of lined up. Well, lined up close enough to work for me. So that’s what I went with instead of what has become the more popular and trending ethnic associations for the four courts.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg of daunting considerations for the courts.

Drawing angel wings on the knights assembly line style…

The more I thought into it, the more stressed and nervous I got. And I did not want to go the direction of “screw everything and everyone, I’m gonna follow my intuition and channel it from my own higher consciousness” or whatever it is people say when they don’t want to listen to precedent or read books. How do I honor precedent and still acknowledge my intuition?

The art style for the deck I opted for is in the spirit of Renaissance humanism, a time when Christian mysticism and paganism merged in eclectic ways and mystics of that time were far more cosmopolitan and worldly than we folks today give them credit for being. I think the louder establishment voices of that time in history for structured Catholicism and the Church came as a knee-jerk reaction of the establishment to the subversive undercurrent of diverse thoughts that were emerging at the time.

Click to enlarge for viewing.

Continue reading “Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Ruminations on the Court Cards”

Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Rumination Notes Aces to Threes

READ PREVIOUS POST IN THE SERIES

Rumination Notes:

Fours to Aces

Annnnd…. I’m done with the pips. Phew!

Let’s recap. On June 13 of this year, I got into my head this fantastical idea of drawing my own tarot deck. It was supposed to be a ha-ha fantasy but then I couldn’t shake the ha-ha fantasy out of my head, so immediately I got to work.

Continue reading “Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Rumination Notes Aces to Threes”

Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Rumination Notes Fours to Aces

READ PREVIOUS POST IN THE SERIES

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.

Continue reading “Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Rumination Notes Fours to Aces”

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

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.

Continue reading “Ritual Coloring of the Major Arcana”

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.

Continue reading “The Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot by Melanie Marquis and Scott Murphy”

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.

Continue reading “Tarot Summer School 2018”

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.

Continue reading “Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story”

Tarot, Occultism, and Modern Witchcraft at Tarot Summer School 2018

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is structured after a graduate-level seminar with a series of lectures plus guided tarot readings ritualized and crafted to show rather than tell you about tarot in witchcraft. We’ll mimic an oral tradition where you listen to me talk about the who, the what, and the why, alongside my perspectives on the how. You may want to take notes throughout the course, for both the lecture and training modules, so that beyond this course, you’ll have a consolidated reference file on occult tarot.

The lecture portion covers a comparative analysis of exoteric, psychology-based tarot reading and esoteric, psychic-based tarot reading, and also tarot as a witch’s tool. We’ll cover the history and legacy of tarot in Western occultism, focusing in on applying Hermetic principles to the tarot, and consider the role of tarot and witchcraft in the modern era.

The practicum portion will be a series of guided tarot readings and training videos to demonstrate the basics and preliminary exploration of using tarot to commune with your Holy Guardian Angel, spell-craft for financial gains, extracting cards for talismans, petitioning forth spirit entities to conduct a divinatory reading, using tarot to commune with land spirits or assess the characteristic properties of a land, and tarot in pathworking, with proprietary training models shared on how to enhance your clairvoyance and clairaudience during a tarot reading.

Continue reading “Tarot, Occultism, and Modern Witchcraft at Tarot Summer School 2018”

Tarot in Wonderland by Barbara Moore and Eugene Smith

Tarot in Wonderland is a whimsical, playful deck that nudges you to not take yourself or the situation you’re in too seriously, and yet when times have truly gotten rough, it’s going to be there for you to offer insightful advice. It’s that close friend of yours who’s a jokester most of the time and kind of a goof-off but if you’re crying and hurting for real, that friend gets real, too, and is there for you 300%. That’s Tarot in Wonderland.

I had the great honor of attending the launch party for Tarot in Wonderland and heard the legendary Barbara Moore speak about her deck. I shared a couple of photos on Instagram if you want to check it out.

Now let’s talk about the deck. Thank you to Llewellyn for finally upping their packaging production. The magnetic flap, the hard casing, the cut-out nook for your deck, ribbon, and the book that fits perfectly up top is by leaps and bounds better than what Llewellyn deck packaging used to be. See here, for example, for the Mystical Cats Tarot. or here, near the end, when I again gripe about the product packaging for the Llewellyn Tarot.

Barbara dedicated the deck to Hermes, messenger of the gods and the divine trickster. Due to many humorous mishaps along the way, the deck took four years to bring to fruition…probably thanks to Hermes. But it was all worth it in the end because the length of time devoted to this deck means a lot of close attention to detail went into it.

Continue reading “Tarot in Wonderland by Barbara Moore and Eugene Smith”

The Lost Tarot (Majors Only) by Hans Bauer

The Lost Tarot is a self-published Majors only tarot deck brought to us from the brilliant mind of Hans Bauer. The deck art is premised on a fictionalized back story of an English merchant, William Bradford, who purchased from Leonardo da Vinci an optical device (i.e., the very first camera, prior to the invention of the camera as we know it today) that da Vinci had invented, essentially a camera obscura device. The back story of the deck continues: Bradford took a series of photographs with the device and, in 1994, a stack of Bradford’s medieval photographs were found in Nottingham, England. Restoration efforts commenced and now we’ve got an incredible tarot deck for the 21st century based on those medieval photographs taken with Leonarda da Vinci’s optical device.

Weaving the back story for The Lost Tarot. Click on image for link to image source. Deck descriptions and marketing copy put forth the narrative: the “Circa 1517” image seen above is purportedly the original photograph as taken by Bradford with the camera device he purchased from Leonardo da Vinci. To the right, “2017 Recreation,” is the digitally corrected version used for the modern tarot deck. I love it.

The premise is charming, innovative, well thought out, with brilliant world-building as you’d expect from a renowned screenwriter like Hans Bauer of Anaconda (1997) fame (which starred Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, and Owen Wilson, among others) and Titan A.E. (2000).

To execute that premise, Bauer took photographs at various Renaissance faires in Texas and also staged some at his studio, mimicking a photography style as best as he could conceive of it that might have been taken by a prototype camera from 1517, centuries before the actual invention of the camera in 1839. Thus, the photographic art is expressed with a distressed and antique tone. The purpose, the painstaking attention to every detail in the execution of this Majors only tarot deck, and then finally, the cards themselves as a working tarot deck excite me.

Continue reading “The Lost Tarot (Majors Only) by Hans Bauer”