If you pre-ordered the 2nd printing of the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot: Revelation, then your input is requested. And… so sorry… I need it, like, in the next 24 hours because I’m about to submit to the factory and start the production process.
UPDATE: Visit here to see the final proofs for the second print run box design.
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.
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.
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.
Inlé’s Inlet recently posted the above deck review and commentary on the Angels and Ancestors Oracle Cards, which raises cultural awareness of some concerns with the imagery in this deck. To be more precise, it’s not the imagery that’s of concern, but the lack of credit and acknowledgement for where the sources of inspiration came from.
The distinct drum design featured on the Drum card, the Shaman card, and on the card back of the Angels and Ancestors deck (photographs of it in my deck review) have been taken directly from Sámi religious and spiritual iconography.
However, no credit, reference, or source citation was provided in the accompanying guidebook, in effect erasing the Sámi, who are a historically marginalized indigenous minority.
This is a form of appropriation of indigenous cultural intellectual property rights. Yet this particular instance is one that could be reasonably remedied.
In this type of a scenario, I do think addressing the issue head-on is the compassionate approach.
This masterpiece reproduction of the Jean Dodal Tarot by Justin Michael and Shell David (of East Tarot) is everything to me right now. It’s a fixture on the corner of my personal reading desk and when I’m catching up with old friends via zoom video calls, I’ll reach for this particular deck, sling some cards while we virtual-klink wine glasses, and read about Life.
I wish I could tell you that they’re selling these and you can buy one for yourself, but I’m not sure. You’ll need to reach out to either Justin Michael or Shell David directly to find out. Whatever the cost, having just one of such decks is worth your investment.
It becomes that prized tool. You’re not paying for just another tarot deck for your collection. Something like this is special. It’s the artisan craftsmanship and the personal touch that you’re investing in, which I truly believe is converted into energy and gets infused throughout the deck.
Dating back to around 1701, the Jean Dodal deck, one of the early iterations of the Tarot de Marseille tradition of tarots, were printed from woodcut engravings and hand-colored by stencil, produced primarily for export. Shell David’s restoration project is top notch, and Justin Michael’s printing and production– just, wow.
Instead of continuing on to the second septenary of Majors, in order, I realized that practically speaking, I had better try my hand on some of the pips early on, because the last thing I want to happen is to finish the artistic labor for all the Majors then start on the pips, only to realize I hated the direction I was going in and having to abandon the project altogether, after all that work had already been done.
So I thought, okay, let me see if I can even come up with a good approach to the pip cards first, before committing to this deck project.
But where do I start? I started at the tail end of the deck (but not Card 78 or Key 0 The Fool). I started with Card 77, the Ace of Coins, then worked backward to Card 76, the Two of Coins, Card 75, the Three Coins, and so on.
This blog post will showcase the first drafts of the seven Coins cards corresponding with the Sacred Seven (in the order of Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn).
It’s not as easy to find good foundation primers on the Marseille system of tarot, so I’m pleased to share Reading and Understanding the Marseille Tarot by Anna Maria Morsucci and Antonella Aloi first published in 2018 by Lo Scarabeo and distributed by Llewellyn.
Morsucci is an Italian writer, former journalist, spiritual and life coach, who has organized numerous astrology and tarot conferences throughout Italy. Aloi is a psychologist, counselor, and director at the Italian Humanistic Counseling Center, with a background in communication sciences.
This is a comprehensive beginner’s guide to the Marseille Tarot that begins by defining what the tarot is: a deck of 78 cards grouped into 22 Major Arcana numbered 1 to 21 with an unnumbered or designated 0 Fool card, placed either at the beginning or end of the Major Arcana sequence, plus 56 Minor Arcana cards subdivided further into four suits– Wands, Swords, Chalices, and Pentacles.