Zillich Tarot by Christine Zillich: A Thoth-Inspired Watercolor Deck

Those of you who attended Readers Studio 2018 in New York will recognize this deck as having come in the event gift bags, courtesy of U.S. Games. The artwork is done in watercolors by German artist Christine Zillich. The deck art blends mythological, astrological, and Kabbalistic symbolism, featuring Crowley’s keywords on the pips.

Click on photo for enlarged view.

The cards are petite at 2.25″ x 3.75″ (compared to standard tarot size: 2.75″ x 4.75″) and remind me more of a typical Lenormand size deck. You get the deck in a keepsake metal tin. I love the blue-purple tones of the reversible card backs. I know I’m getting nitpicky here, but there’s just the slightest imbalance in terms of vertical spacing in the white caption boxes at the bottoms of the cards–there’s not enough space between the bottom edge of the artwork and the first line of text, compared to the amount of spacing between the bottom edge of the card and the last line of text.

There’s a typo with the roman numeral for Key 21: The Universe, but it doesn’t really bother me. While Key 20 (XX) in the Thoth deck is titled Aeon and in the RWS is Judgement, here in Zillich, it’s Justice, which confused me, so I turned to the LWB. Indeed the card is supposed to be titled “Justice,” so this isn’t a typo on the card (unless it’s a typo that appears on both the card and in the LWB…)

The description of the artwork for Key XX reads in relevant part: “Golden light from heavenly trumpets awakens the dead. . . . An old age ends and a new era begins. The eternal consciousness is reborn in the spirit of the primordial fire.” So that sounds very Judgement-y and Aeon-y to me. Assuming the keyword “Justice” for Key XX is correct, I’m not entirely sure how justice fits in to the card, even with the deck creators’ own meaning attributions for Key XX.

Click on photo for enlarged view.

The abstract cubist style pays a clear homage to Lady Frieda Harris’s style. That Death card is just absolutely beautiful and to me, almost has a dark goddess vibe to it. Some of the symbolic renderings in the Majors feel more RWS to me than Thoth, like how Key 8, while titled Lust, is positioned as it would be in the RWS (whereas Crowley goes through quite the trouble explaining white Lust/Strength “should” be Key 11) and Key 11 is Justice/Adjustment. Also, the depictions, most notably in The Hermit card, or even the Wheel of Fortune feel more RWS than Thothian.

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Top 5 Tarot Decks of 2018

In 2018 we saw so many incredibly innovative and ground-breaking decks to name that I could not reduce it down to just five. This was a difficult list to make and I wish I could name more. I even thought about doing a special mentions section, but then even that would get unduly long!

These are my top five tarot decks from 2018, though two of these decks were published in 2017. Also, my own deck, Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, was disqualified, since come on. I can’t pick my own deck.

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The Intangible Cost of Self-Publishing a Tarot Deck

This is the sequel follow-up blog post to “The Actual Cost of Self-Publishing a Tarot Deck” that came after “What Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Tarot Deck?” If you’re not up to speed already, then start by reading the latter link (“What Does it Cost…”) and then the first (“The Actual Cost…”).

Here I want to address the intangible costs to being an indie tarot or oracle deck creator. Oh, and yeah, be forewarned that this is a very, very long and rambling blog post.

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Review of the Luna Sol Tarot by Mike Medaglia

If you believe that the particular tarot deck a reader chooses to work the closest with reflects the character, aura, and essence of the reader, then the Luna Sol Tarot says to me that those who gravitate toward this deck are compassionate, loving, soulful, and forward-thinking, with values rooted in pluralism, inclusiveness, and diversity of both culture and beliefs.

Mike Medaglia is a comics illustrator with a Zen Buddhist background, along with being one of the co-founders of Liminal 11, the publisher of the Luna Sol Tarot. You may recognize his work from his previous contributions the Huffington Post and Elephant Journal. Thankfully for us tarot readers, Medaglia has now directed his attentions to creating a tarot deck and Luna Sol Tarot is a modern spiritual wonder.

Click image for enlarged close-up view of Majors.

With a muted color palette and timeless, ethereal quality to the art, this is a deck for meditation, self-reflection, inner child work, and daily wisdom. With his background in comic book illustration, Medaglia expertly tells a story of a thousand words in each picture, every card in this deck magically unraveling a full narrative arc with a beginning, middle, and end of a story that you’ll pick up on effortlessly. There’s such a beautiful Libran harmony and aesthetic balance to Luna Sol.

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The Actual Cost of Self-Publishing a Tarot Deck

Back in September of this year, I posted cost projections for self-publishing a tarot deck, “What Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Tarot Deck?” linked here. I think it’s worth your while to compare the projections from that previous post with the actual calculated and accounted for figures I’m providing here.

At this time we have completed packing and shipping out all sold decks and I’ve got a tally for you of actual costs. In other words, this is what I actually spent out of my pocket to produce Spirit Keeper’s Tarot and its companion guidebook, The Book of Maps, alongside an analysis of what I’ve actually earned in terms of income.

In a future post that will supplement this one, I want to talk about the intangible costs of independent publishing, everything from opportunity cost and work-life balance to the cost on your mental health and wellness. For now, this post will be about actual calculated dollars and cents only.

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Tarot Correspondences by T. Susan Chang

This book is such a must-have. Those of you who’ve been following along in my orientation video series for Spirit Keeper’s Tarot will have seen that I recommended Tarot Correspondences as the tarot book to get if you want to work with correspondence systems.

Chang’s Tarot Correspondences is tailored to all levels of tarot proficiency, whether you’ve “been reading for decades” or “you just picked up your first deck,” (as noted in the Introduction). “Correspondences,” she writes, “are patterns and connections inherited from esoteric systems. In tarot, correspondences line up with specific cards.”

Working with tarot correspondences is premised on the doctrine of sympathy, a Hermetic principle that the way one system goes with the other is part and parcel to the magic that happens. Correspondences, notes Chang, are the bridge between worlds. And I couldn’t agree with her more.

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Case Study for the Guided Akashic Tarot Reading with the SKT

Video installment #11 in the orientation course series for the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is a guided meditative tarot reading rendered through accessing the Akashic Records. The direct link to the video on YouTube is here or you can check out the entire course series on this page here.

In this post I’ll be documenting an Akashic Tarot Reading I did for myself, guided by Video #11. I’m using it as a case study so that it might help round out your own approach with the reading exercise and to think about how you can interpret your own results from the Records.

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Free PDF Download: Excerpts to Sole Proprietorship in the Sacred Arts

The following free PDF download is an excerpt from a manual that will be part of an online course forthcoming in 2019: Sole Proprietorship in the Sacred Arts.

Part guidebook, part hands-on workbook, this excerpt is 62 pages of reading and prompted brainstorming that will cover the following:

  • My story
  • Myths of the six-figure mystic
  • What is a business model?
  • What is voice and how do you define your voice? (This is the starting point of effective branding.)
  • Branding your identity (Let’s begin considerations for your brand’s physical appearance.)
  • How do you build a reputation? (Preliminary thoughts are provided; the online course will go more in-depth on this topic.)
  • How do you create value?
  • The magic of prosperity consciousness

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Pre-Order the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot

SOLD OUT.

Sign up to receive e-mail notification when Spirit Keeper’s Tarot and the Book of Maps are available for 2019 pre-order.

Although the First Edition is sold out, I’ll be re-designing the deck and releasing the deck for sale again in 2019. Sign up by clicking on the banner above to receive e-mail notification as soon as pre-orders are open.

Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is a hand-illustrated black and white 78-card tarot deck (with 2 additional versions of Key 0 cards, for a total of 80 cards) inspired by late Renaissance woodcut prints, with symbology based predominantly on medieval European alchemy, Hermeticism, Zoroastrianism, astrology, the Kabbalah, Abrahamic angelology, Egyptian mythology, Sufism, and late Renaissance Christian mysticism. The narrowly-tailored premise of Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is to transform tarot keys into calling cards for accessing angelic realms, or the spirit world of beneficent immortals.

R E A D :

You can check out images of all the cards by clicking on the banner below:

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Evocation of Waite and Crowley

The following is an excerpt from The Book of Maps, the companion guidebook to the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, a hand-illustrated black and white tarot deck crafted with practitioners of the mystic arts in mind. The pen and ink drawings were inspired by woodcut prints from the late Renaissance. Symbology called upon is based predominantly on medieval European alchemy, astrology (the Sacred Seven), Hermeticism, Zoroastrianism, Abrahamic angelology, Kabbalah, Catholicism/Christianity, Sufism, and Egyptian mythology.

By the way, the date of this posting is the mid-point between Waite’s birthday and Crowley’s birthday. How fun is that!

Excerpt from The Book of Maps:

Evocation of Waite and Crowley

My purpose for including this section is to document my personal ritual practices in attempting to evoke the spirit presence of A. E. Waite and Aleister Crowley, with my own Holy Guardian Angel present, while conceiving Spirit Keeper’s Tarot. This is not a how-to instructional nor does it purport to teach anything about evocation. Treat this section as nothing more than a memoir of what I did to create my tarot deck.

I set out on the Major Arcana cards with the intention of evoking Waite and Crowley, but sincerely did not feel like I succeeded during the crafting of the Majors. I never actually felt their presence (tenuous and subjective as it is anyway) but did feel the very strong and powerful presence of my Holy Guardian Angel, who I’ve opted to leave unnamed in this Book.

Instead, I felt like my work on the Major Arcana was being used as a test or trial, to see whether I was worthy of being given assistance in my endeavor. So the crafting of the Majors was very much my own. It wasn’t until commencing the Minors, beginning with the Four of Scepters (Four of Wands) that I felt the very strong and powerful presence of both Mr. Waite and Mr. Crowley.

Before writing this chapter of the Book of Maps, I had decided to keep this part of my crafting process private, in large part because I had no idea what I was doing. I was also aware that revealing such practice could be construed as a marketing ploy, which I certainly did not want. So I made no mention of it.

Before undertaking a Key set (i.e., Realm of Twos, Realm of Threes, etc.), I’d light two long taper candles, one white and one black, with W etched in gold on the white candle and C etched in silver on the black. I placed the white candle on a hand-drawn mat of Waite’s rectified birth chart (birth chart rectification is an astrological calculation used to best guess the time of birth when it is unknown). Considering the number of times the word “rectified” comes up in Waite’s Pictorial Key, I personally found a lot of humor in having to use a rectified birth chart for his evocation.

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