Spirit Keeper’s Tarot

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Currently out of print.

Please stay tuned for the second print run, projected late 2022 or early 2023.

My Self-Taught Art Journey

Vitruvian Edition (2019).

Limited Edition, 2000. Out of print.

Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is a hand-illustrated 78-card tarot deck (with 2 additional versions of Key 0, 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.

Walk-through of all cards from the 2019 Vitruvian and 2018 First Edition:


The narrowly-tailored premise of Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is to transform tarot keys into calling cards for accessing a spirit world of beneficent immortals.

The namesake for this edition comes from Vitruvius, who lived around 80 B.C. to 15 B.C. Vitruvius was a Roman architect who taught that every structure must exhibit three qualities: stability, utility, and beauty. These three qualities have come to be known as the Vitruvian Triad.

A millennium after Vitruvius, Leonardo da Vinci was inspired by the Roman architect’s works. One of da Vinci’s most famous sketches–rendered in sepia ink–is the Vitruvian Man (1487).

All decks are anointed with hand-crafted holy anointing oil made of Ceylon cinnamon, cassia cinnamon, myrrh resin, and sweet lemongrass. I craft my own anointing oil from essences and macerated oils I make myself from raw ingredients painstakingly sourced to ensure quality.

The Ceylon cinnamon bark was purchased at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey. The cassia cinnamon leaf was imported from India. I use whole, highest grade myrrh resin (tears of myrrh) and lots of it (because making your own true essential oils requires a lot of myrrh).

The lemongrass is fresh, local produce that is personally sun-dried over several months before the oil-making process even begins. And then the oil making process takes another several months before they’re ready.

The olive oil is from Athens, Greece. Multiple layering of astrologically-timed ritual work is crafted into the anointing oil.

To authenticate each and every limited edition SKT Vitruvian, I’m providing The Book of Names, which is a master list of all named SKT Vitruvian decks.


Last updated 12 Nov 2019

F R E E   D O W N L O A D S :

First Edition (2018).

Limited Edition, 1000. Out of print.

The pen and ink line drawings for all 80 cards took a month and a half to complete. I barely slept, barely ate, stumbled through every other aspect of life during that month and a half in a daze, and threw everything I got into drawing and the crafting of these cards.

I aspired to design a tarot deck scion that grafted together the Rider-Waite-Smith and the Thoth, to create an offspring that was a merger of the two. In a self-assessment of the deck, I’d say physically the SKT bears a greater resemblance to the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, but in terms of how it feels, how it reads, the deck’s personality and emotional values, it’s more Thoth.

Crowley (and to be fair, others) note that the Keys of the Major Arcana should be written with Roman numerals, not Arabic numerals. However, here I’ve opted to go with all Arabic numerals for numbering the Major Keys, in part as a tribute to Leonardo de Pisa (1175-1250), who is often credited for popularizing the Arabic numeral system in Europe.

By the way, he’s better known as Fibonacci, the namesake for Fibonacci numbers forming the spiral sequence and a fundamental basis in sacred geometry. Considering a more global perspective, the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, historically, was used across a broader region of our world than the Roman numerals, and so in this seemingly minor, insignificant decision, I’m passively taking a very particular stand.

For each and every card, I referenced Waite’s Pictorial Key and Crowley’s Book of Thoth so that I would include their intentions for each card as best as I could, while still designing the cards in a way that expressed me.

The artwork was done—as best as I could manage it—in the spirit of a Renaissance artist producing a hand-crafted tarot deck. Each and every illustration was drawn at actual tarot card size, so each original pen and ink drawing is approximately 7 cm x 12 cm, with the full card itself, including the handwritten captions, at approximately 7 cm x 16 cm.

However, Waite and Crowley differed (and disagreed) significantly on the interpretation of many keys in the tarot, so harmonizing both approaches wasn’t always easy. I acknowledge that some of the resulting cards I’ve drawn might end up alienating both camps.

Nonetheless, rudimentary knowledge of either the RWS or Thoth should be more than sufficient for operating Spirit Keeper’s Tarot. Apply your approach to tarot reading to the cards and go from there.

From the early Egyptian and Greek mystery traditions down the ages to Freemasonry and even in the reconstructionist mystery traditions of the modern era, the science of the occult traditions that the Seeker undertakes knowledge of are veiled in allegory.

Symbolism encoded into rituals, the tradition’s religious iconography, religious and alchemical texts or grimoires, and parables are designed to instruct an Initiate on the tradition’s teachings. In other words, it is through imparting symbolism that esoteric and occult teachings take place, not in the literal transmission of ideas or practices.

Pictorial keys, not spoken or written words, illuminate the mind’s darkness.

The intricate or “busy” art styles of the medieval and Renaissance periods were deeply symbolic and intended to transmit esoteric knowledge. Alchemical texts are a classic example: illustrations of lions, eagles, serpents, eggs, etc. interacting with one another were symbolic of specific alchemical instructions and processes. The illustrations were by necessity intricate and detailed because a significant amount of instruction was being conveyed through that single leaf illustration.

It is with that spirit that the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is cast: to amplify a tarot reader’s psychic power through symbolism.

The artistic style of Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is rendered in the spirit of Renaissance humanism (circa the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries), a time when Christian mysticism and paganism merged. Thus, Hermeticism, traditional Western astrology, Platonic philosophy, alchemy, and the Kabbalah are the heavy-hitting influences over the imagery of this deck. The historic art styles that inspired Spirit Keeper were in turn inspired by Byzantine, Islamic, Viking, Carolingian, Celtic, Romanesque, and Gothic art styles, so those were the classic works of art I studied and referenced while drawing Spirit Keeper’s Tarot.

I tried to simulate medieval woodblock print art. All art in this deck are original pen and ink works hand-drawn by me, and not taken from actual historic woodblock prints. My only tools for drawing these cards were pencil, pen, straight edge, compass, and protractor.

Left: frontispiece from Der längst Gewäschte und Versprochene (1746) by Herman Fictuld. Right: my own illustration printed in the interior of the deck box.

There are, of course, instances where what I’ve drawn was heavily influenced by an existing historic woodblock print, but this is not a digitally cut and paste or multi-media collage deck. I did not draw these illustrations digitally on a tablet where I could simply hit the “undo” button when I made a line error.