Crowleymas, Stardate 2019

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

Another year here already?

Crowleymas is a Thelemic holiday, a celebration of the birthdate of Aleister Crowley, born October 12, 1875 at 11:42 PM e.v. Comedic rites, good food, and plentiful drink are all welcome.

For this year’s Crowleymas, I decided to check out Uncle Al’s solar return chart. Where I live, the Sun returns to the degree of his birth this year on October 12th at 4:59 PM e.v. Hey, that’s perfect as that’s close enough to “cocktail hour” and we have a tradition of celebrating with a special cocktail each year, designed in honor of the beast.

Last year (2018) it was called “Al’s Libation”.  For 2015 it was a “Debauch cocktail”. What will it be for 2019?

The Thelemic date for Oct 12th at his solar return in 2019 would be written as: ☉︎ in 19° Libra : ☽︎ in 8° Aries : Saturn’s Day : Ⅴⅴ

2019 is a double Hierophant year in the Thelemic dating system (thus the V v). So watch this space on the 12th to see what special libation comes up. Double Hierophant? Reminds me of a joke. A guy gets into a confessional booth in church, and looks around appreciatively. There’s a bottle of scotch and a box of cigars, and it’s all very plush with red velvet. “Wow Father” he says “this new booth is nice. I appreciate the upgrades! Very hospitable.” The priest says “Get out – you are on my side.”

Ok back with an update on the special day. Happy Crowleymas!!

Today’s libation is based on the classic cocktail the Negroni which is equal parts gin, compari, and sweet vermouth. Since it is fall though, a variation called the Boulevardier, which replaces the gin with whisky. And in honor of Crowley, who was fond of Scotch, we used a mix of a fine peaty single malt from Scotland for Bolskine and an Indian scotch, because dinner will be a curry and chappatis. The drink has a drop of Green Dragon and fresh fig slices as a garnish. A toast to Aleister!

Love is the law, love under will.

To Border, Or Not To Border:

That is the question.

See the bottom of the page for a POLL after the examples.

Since all the Majors of Pharos Tarot are done now and I’m not planning on doing the minors yet, I’m deciding whether to publish them as Majors only, and if so, in what format. The size would be large, 4×6.25 inches. But they could work in that size either as bordered or borderless cards.

The Pharos images were designed so that they could be bordered or borderless. They have enough extra bleed and length that they could be completely borderless, but the important parts of the image are centered in a same-sized area so that they could be cropped and bordered.

Here are a few roughs of what the Pharos deck might look like with borders. For now I just put them into the Tabula Mundi tarot’s borders to see how they would look. So below see how they might look as bordered, with traditional titles, vs. borderless, with alternate titles.

Note these colors and fonts and border styles are all subject to change. This is just to compare the look in general.

Note also that even though the borderless art looks bigger in one version of the Fool, there is also a way to crop these with the art the same size as the borderless, placing the image more to the edges of the frame. The second Fool below shows the art cropped closer but larger. The first shows more of the overall image. So there are different ways to do the bordered cards, it’s just deciding whether or not to have borders.

I like the look either way. But bordered has the advantage of being more protective of the art, which can chip at the edges in a more noticeable way on borderless decks.

We also have to decide on traditional Thoth based titles or the alternate Pharos concept titles. (And whether or not Lust should wear the “Scarlet Woman” dress or be naked!) It’s a wonder anything ever gets done as I’m pretty indecisive sometimes.

To see the alternate titles check the Pharos home page.

Would you like Pharos Majors as bordered or borderless cards?
Do you prefer the standard Thoth titles or the Pharos alternate titles?

The Works

From Pharos Tarot, in progress:

The (Wheel of ) Fortune card is called The Works in Pharos Tarot. The Works as short for The Clockworks (but also as in “give me the works, Jupiter!” LOL) .

The clockworks turn to power the turning of the lighthouse’s light, just as the wheel turns by the hand of the gods. The Hebrew letter is Kaph, which has a meaning like Yod, hand, except Kaph is the action of the hand, such as the open palm or the closed fist. Ever moving ever changing Fortunes.

We see a clockwork hand here as a stand-in for Typhon. Could it be that chaos turns the Wheel, or is it the ghost in the machine? A mechanical sworded sphinx is on top and a steam powered hermanubis climbs.

The Pivot

from Pharos Tarot, in progress:

The Justice card is called Adjustment in the Thoth deck. The Adjustment card is called The Pivot in Pharos Tarot.

It’s one of only two cards that does not directly show the Hebrew letter pictorially. The letter is Lamed, meaning Ox-goad. The other is the Fool, meaning Ox. An Ox-goad, like a Pivot, offers movement, a change in direction as a response to conditions, just a the light of the lighthouse turns in various directions. Here the Adjustment/Justice figure of Ma’at is masked, but not blindfolded, balanced on a finely tuned pivot .

She was inspired by a well known sculpture of the Art Deco era by Chiparus, depicting Semiramis, a semi-divine Queen of Babylon associated with Inanna/Ishtar.

Subject to revision!

The Enclosure

from Pharos Tarot, in progress:

In Pharos Tarot the Chariot is called The Enclosure, that protective wall or fence, for the corresponding Hebrew letter Cheth, meaning fence. Lighthouses often have an enclosure: a  wall surrounding and enclosing the base to protect it from waves. The armored Charioteer both guards and transports the treasured pearl.

This image is in homage to the Thoth tarot Chariot card. (And LoTR.)

The Door

From Pharos Tarot, in progress

The earliest card done, since 0 thru II were redone at some point. The Door is also known as The Empress, whose Hebrew letter is Dalet, meaning Door.

Since it’s such an early card, I wonder if I should redo it, just because my painting skills have improved since then.

The Compass

This one has been a struggle. This is the third version and still not totally pleased with it, but I do like it better than the first two. I think the Golden Dawn color scale colors for this one are tricky to work with. Orange, Pale Mauve, New Yellow Leather, Reddish Grey Inclined to Mauve.

For now though, unless I scrap and redo the design completely, here it is. The Lovers here are portrayed as solar goddess Hathor and lunar god Khonsu, who in a creation myth from the Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BC) mated to create the world. Here they divide and intertwine, exchanging his Djed for her Sistrum. The Hebrew letter for the card means “sword” and the sword is shown as the needle of the Compass. The Lovers card often indicates making a choice, symbolized by the direction finding compass needle.

The House

from Pharos Tarot, in progress:

The Magus is called The House in Pharos Tarot, just as the Hebrew letter Beth means House. Where the Fool was the Light, the Magus is the House, mirroring the path of the Fool on the Tree of Life. It’s the shell of the Lighthouse itself, the house of the spirit. The Magus is a Promethean figure, bringing down the holy fire through his own body, transmitting the light through himself as if a hollow tube, as the personified Wand of the Will, and the Logos. The blueprint of the lighthouse shows it to be a Tree of Life.

This is the second time I painted the Magus for this deck. The first one was the oldest of the paintings, since I’ve already redone a second and third Fool. The old Magus was the second real watercolor I’d ever painted, so it was a little rough. This one is better. My skills improved enough from the beginning of the process that I had to paint it again and indeed, this one came out much more definitively painted. I also took the liberty of changing the design of the lighthouse in this one to reflect the Pharos lighthouse, and changed up some other elements and colors in the design.

Pharos Tarot FAQ

Here are answers to a few commonly asked questions about my work in progress, Pharos Tarot.

See the Pharos Tarot main page for all about Pharos Tarot in general and links to pictures of all the cards posted to date.

Are there plans to do the minors of this deck?

For now Pharos Tarot is remaining a Majors only project. While it’s possible that someday I’ll go back and make Pharos into a 78 card deck, it isn’t currently known if that will ever happen, as for now I’m focusing some on some new artistic directions. But you never know. I won’t rule it out but it isn’t likely to be soon, and it may be destined to be a majors only art deck. As of now I see it as a special esoterically oriented art project offered as majors only.

Will the Major Arcana be published?

Self published, or at least I hope so, for after all the time that has gone into painting these I hope to be able to share them by offering a very small edition of very large borderless cards small enough for readings, but large enough for framing, or altar display. There isn’t much demand for Majors only editions, so it is likely to be a very small edition of high quality.

Why is it called Pharos Tarot?

I thought of naming it after the Pharos lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Alexander the Great dreamed of a Hermit like figure who told him the name of the island where his city Alexandria would be founded and the lighthouse would be built: Pharos. It’s also a watercolor deck – water and light – and a guidance system: tarot.

See the Pharos Tarot main page for more about this and all about Pharos Tarot and and the island of Pharos.

Can you explain the reasoning behind the alternate names and the surreal images?

Each card posted in the blog gives the bare bones of which part of a lighthouse system is being referred to. When and if the Majors are published they will come with a booklet explaining all of the deeper esoteric influences. The basic premise is that Pharos Tarot is set in a dream world. The deck shows how in this surreal and suggestive state the Hebrew letters that correspond to each Major Arcana, also could in this world correspond to individual parts of a lighthouse system, that in turn correspond to aspects of the Great Work.

How did you get this idea?

The designs for the cards have a dream-like quality, for they are liminal creations of dream-space. The idea for mapping the tarot corresponding Hebrew letters to a lighthouse system came to me in a dream state after having a conversation with a group about what a lighthouse themed tarot might look like, but without a lighthouse on every card so it wasn’t a “themed” deck.

A couple of years ago some psychic friends had approached me about doing a themed deck. I had to explain that I don’t work on commission normally and don’t see myself doing a “themed” deck of that nature as it wasn’t my thing, but that if I were to do so it would be something quite different, and I suggested a deconstructed lighthouse, rather than a lighthouse theme, as an example of an idea I could do something with.

A day or two later I had a dream or maybe a hypnagogic sequence while almost-sleeping, where the idea unfolded almost fully fledged: that the Hebrew letters and tarot trumps corresponded to parts of a lighthouse. The thought came complete with card names for a good portion of the deck, and the part of the lighthouse it corresponded to. It was a weird and wonderful example of how systems can interact and correlate, if the mind makes it so.

My friends ended up deciding to look for multiple artists to do their own idea for a deck instead, once they realized what a long process it would be for me (or any one person) to do a deck. They were really looking for an artist or artists to work on commission, and I’d rather not do that for a process as long as an entire deck.

But the muse wouldn’t let me rest, because now it grabbed on to this idea for a painting series and insisted that I give it a whirl on the wheel at least for the majors. So here I am almost two years later. Had to get it out of my system.

At the time I had just been at the point where I wanted to teach myself watercolors, as I was bored with the same medias I’ve been using for years. Watercolor is a medium I formerly had very little exposure to so it was a challenge. It’s a challenging medium. And the water and light theme seemed like a perfect fit for the concept.

Is this a Thoth based deck?

In spirit, as it does incorporate some Thelemic ideas in the images. But since it has it’s own unique titles and the cards are not numbered, as well as completely different images and ideas, it can’t really be called Thoth-based though some of the images were inspired by the writings of Aleister Crowley, and the cards are colored according to the Golden Dawn color scales as he listed them in 777.

What is the artistic process and media?

Simple outline drawings were designed and then transferred to watercolor paper. They are then painted by hand (not digitally worked) in artist grade watercolor pigment on Arches 140 lb cold pressed watercolor paper, sized A3 which is 11.69 x 16.53 inches, using a variety of wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry techniques.

Multiple versions were made for many of the cards, as I’m still learning the medium. The designs are simple and not chock full of every possible symbol, to facilitate working with the watercolor painting process. Yet symbolic things are still there, for those who look for them.

Are the original paintings for sale, or will they be?

They aren’t for sale at this time, but after all the revisions are finished I may offer the originals for sale if there is interest.

Will Tabula Mundi and Rosetta Tarot originals ever be for sale?

No, those are being kept together preserved for posterity. The original Pharos art is much larger, and it seems like they should be displayed somewhere.

When will the Pharos Tarot majors be available?

To be determined. While all the Majors are done, sometimes more than once (!) I’m still in the process of making and considering some card revisions. There’s designing a card back, and writing the texts. Then I need to determine if I can afford to print, and how many.

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Will any of the cards already posted be revised?

Maybe! New designs are definitely a possibility but not a certainty.

Will any of the older alternate or draft versions of the cards be released?

There may be a few majors that have more than one version in the deck if and when it is published. And/Or a few of the “first draft” or alternate version originals could be offered if there is interest (and if I decide not to destroy them).

There are some that won’t see the light of day; watercolor is hard and not always predictable! But some of them are technically fine, I just wanted to do something different.

What are you working on next?

There is ongoing work on the Fortune’s Wheelhouse podcast continuing, and a Fortune’s Wheelhouse co-authored book is in the works.

But as far as art goes there are multiple projects brewing. Two more decks. Plus there are a few one off esoteric-but-not-tarot paintings I want to do, as well as some other artistic projects. I’m a Fool for painting tarot though. It’s what I love to do as it combines some of my favorite things: art, the occult, systems, and the weird sciences.

If there are any other questions that you would like to see here, feel free to send them for consideration to mm (at) this website.

The Spiral

from Pharos Tarot, a new deck in progress:

The Strength card in Thoth is called Lust. The Lust card in Pharos is called The Spiral. The Spiral corresponds to the spiral ramp or staircase that is a part of every lighthouse. The sign is Leo and the Hebrew letter is Teth, meaning “lion-serpent” or serpent.

There are two versions of the card. One is rated PG, the other I guess is R for nudity.