Knight under the full moon in Sagittarius!

Hi friends! I hope the full Sagittarius moon is treating you kindly. Since it has been a while since I’ve posted anything I thought I’d give you an update on the progress of my new tarot deck. It’s been moving along very well! All of the Majors (very exactingly following the 777 Golden Dawn original tarot descriptions, main and supplemental), all of the 36 decanic “astrological faces” Minors (per the 777 “magical descriptions of the decans”), and a good chunk of court cards (using the Book T descriptions) are complete! All the Knights are complete, and the Queens are in progress. Here is the finished Queen of Wands, just because you need a picture right away to keep interested, right?

Queen of Wands ©2022 M.M. Meleen

Bear in mind with these, like a full inch or inch and a half of these will be trimmed off the final image. I’ve just included it as they need extra “bleed” if I ever want to do this as a borderless tarot. It’s really only the important stuff in the middle that will remain in a bordered card.

Now just the rest of the courts to go, and then the Aces, and all of the inked line art will be done and ready to paint in full glorious color scale colors! Yeah, I saved the Aces for last this time. I intend to end on the Ace of Wands, to usher in all that creative burst I’m gonna ride when the color gets busted out!

I’m so looking forward to getting to work with color again! Pretty sure I started the drawings for this deck immediately after the launch of the Pharos Tarot majors edition into the world, so sometime between February 6-17th, 2020. Yeah, back when things were (a little) more “normal”…. before you-know and all that happened.

I’m hoping to get the rest of the courts and Aces drawings done this summer. Hopefully by sometime in July, maybe August. If I make that goal it will mean that the line art “only” took me 2.5 years – not bad at all! Especially compared to my other works and considering how much better I think the line art has gotten, and that I’m using dip pens instead of ink markers this time around. But still, 2.5 years of mostly line art has me itching to paint!

Now, how long will it take to finish the color painting…well, I can’t really say. Could be just a matter of months, maybe it will fly off the paintbrush. Or maybe it will take a year, or longer. Can’t tell until I start. These originals are twice the size Tabula Mundi’s were. Which could mean longer. Or who knows maybe it will go faster. I do nothing digitally, everything is painted by hand with a brush and art materials. Takes a while to get it right, and you can’t just click to erase mistakes! I’m leaning towards using acrylic inks again, which means something I’ve worked with before. But I also have a desire to go a little multi-media on them (think a mix of the acrylic inks with various paints and pencils).

For now, just know that things are going well and the end of the drawing stage is in sight! Which I know will be more fun for you, the viewer, as color art is always more exciting to look at on screen.

I do however think I may do a black and white edition of the 36 astrological faces aka the minors 2 thru 10 of the suits. Just for magical purposes, for those who may want them for that. Not sure though, as that is a pretty niche-within-a-niche market and black and white decks don’t sell very well, when the audience knows there is a color version available or coming. But I’ll have them available for the magically inclined, at least to some small degree.

Whatever happens, this time around it will probably have to be a Kickstarter, to raise the necessaries for printing. But that is a ways in the future, as I don’t like to do fundraisers until the art is done, so that nothing can go wrong for the backer experience.

Anyway, since it is a good old Sagittarius moon, here is a sneak peak and the ink line drawing for the card of Sagittarius, ART aka Temperance. One of my favorite cards in the deck! Here is the 777 description I had to follow – there was a lot of pretty specific stuff to get in there!

per table “The figure of Diana huntress.” continued: “A winged and crowned goddess, with flashing golden belt, stands, and pours from her right hand the flame of a torch upon an Eagle, while from her left hand she pours water from an horn upon a Lion. Between her feet a moon-shaped cauldron of silver smokes with perfume.”

Art/Temperance ©2022 M.M. Meleen

So you see it’s gonna look a lot better in color: the golden belt, the silver cauldron, the flames and smoke and rainbow….it all needs color to pop out. But the design and composition is solid, and considering all the things in that description, I’m super happy with it! I especially like the lion – what a chill cat, considering he is getting “water from an horn” poured upon him!

Also a card of Sagittarius, is my good old buddy the Knight of Wands, Fire of Fire, the Yod of Yod. I’ll spare you the description as it is super long and likewise specific. If you are familiar with the courts descriptions in Book T/Liber Theta you will know what I mean. I got most of it in there though. I may not have put the damn “winged horse-head” crest on every single piece of his overly described gear as it would have been a bit much, but mostly I got it all, and again some parts of the description will be added with the color painting, like the fact that the horse is black, and the mane and tail are flaming, and there will be a big red yod added onto his flaming club.

Knight of Wands © 2022 M.M. Meleen

Onward!

Beer label art for Stone Cow Brewery – The Alchemy of Smoke

This is the second beer can label I’ve done for Stone Cow Brewery in Barre, Massachusetts. The first one was “Tranquil and Alert”, a parody of the Town Seal of Barre, a black IPA. I did the art for this new second label in November of last year (2021), but the beer just came out this month – of course on 4/20. I say of course because it’s kind of funny as the name of the beer is “The Alchemy of Smoke”, for a smoked Helles lager or rauchbier.

Had a lot of fun doing the art for this one, which I based on various old alchemical drawings and an old bellows that we use with our fireplace. It’s a picture of the bellows with some artistic reinterpretation dimensions-wise, and the art painted on top of it, with the beer basically going through the fires and smoke of hell, because it’s a Helles smoked lager.

artwork for the Alchemy of Smoke, for Stone Cow Brewery

And here it is, in the can. It’s really delicious beer, with just the right amount of smoke!

I’ve just finished a third label for them yesterday – with a very watery theme this time, appropriate for this current cluster of planets in Pisces! I’ll post that one next. Until then, cheers!

Thelemic High Holy Days – Day 3 Liber AL: Horus

The third and final day of the anniversary of the reception of Liber AL, the third chapter for Horus or Ra-Hoor-Khuit speaking. Since for the first day I posted a painting with just Nuit, and the second day with Nuit and Hadit, for this third day here is one with all three deities present, the triad of Nuit, Hadit, and Horus.

The illustration is still for Chapter 1 though, as I’m still working my way through that before starting any for the others. Though I may change my mind!

Basically I’ve been working on these whenever I need a break from inking and line work on the tarot deck I’m working on. Since that is such a long process sometimes I just want to work with paint and color! Also, since the deck is following very strictly the 777 descriptions, it’s also nice to get away from having the elements dictated to me. For these paintings I’m just trying to have fun, rather than have them be a certain way.

36″x12″ canvas 1.5″ deep with the painting extended over the sides. This one was especially fun, as I used a lot of different materials in its creation: acrylic paint in both glossy and matte finish, real lapis lazuli powder from Afghanistan, glow in the dark pigment, 23K genuine gold leaf, a brass engraved plaque, and a tiny genuine ocean potato pearl!

This illustration is from Liber AL vel Legis (aka the Book of the Law), Chapter 1, verse 2: “The unveiling of the company of heaven.”

Liber AL, Ch.1, v.2: The unveiling of the company of heaven. 36x12x1.5″ canvas, acrylic, lapis, 23K gold leaf, brass, pearl, and glow in the dark pigment (on the stars and star field trails)

Apologies for the lousy photo – it’s a large canvas and I don’t yet have a good camera or patience. The genuine gold leaf doesn’t show well in this picture, but is very awesome and very shiny in person. It’s on the solar barque and the serpent curtain tie-backs. The blue is done with both paint and genuine lapis lazuli powder. The tiny pearl is in the center of the canvas. The brass plaque reads “The unveiling of the company of heaven.” What I love best about this painting doesn’t really show in the picture: the contrast between the glossy acrylic of the curtains, against the matte lapis star field, and the shine of the glorious real gold leaf against the matte. It also is really nice in person as the image extends and drapes over the sides of the canvas, so it looks really interesting from all angles. This looks really cool at night too – if it gets charged with a bit of sunlight or UV the stars of Nuit and the circular star field trails have a subtle glow.

May the Hawk-Headed Lord of Silence and Strength enflame you, as his nemyss shrouds the night-blue sky.

Thelemic High Holy Days – Day 2 Liber AL: Hadit

Day #2 of the Thelemic High Holy Days aka anniversary of the reception of Liber AL, the Book of the Law. This is the second day, wherein the chapter with Hadit speaking was received. So I thought I’d share another painting that is an illustration from Liber AL. While it is still from Chapter 1 (Nuit’s chapter), this painting fits as it prominently features Hadit.

The painting illustrates a line from Liber AL, Chapter 1, verse 16: For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.

This one was done in 2020 as a gift for some dear friends. Here are a few views of it, from different angles. It’s acrylic on 7×13 hardboard with 1.5″ depth, with the art extended over the sides so they are painted too, so no framing needed.

Liber AL, Ch. 1, v. 16: For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.

With blessing & worship to the prophet of the lovely star.

Thelemic High Holy Days – Day 1 Liber AL: Nuit

Today, April 8th, marks the first of three feast days celebrating the anniversary of the reception of Liber AL vel Legis, aka the Book of the Law, in 1904. On this date, the first chapter, manifesting Nuit, was first received by Crowley.

So I thought I’d share this painting of Nuit, that is illustrating verse 28 from Chapter 1:

None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.

Liber AL, Ch. 1, v. 28: None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.

This painting has evolved over the course of many, many months, as to get the proper effect involved many, many layers of paint. A really crazy amount of thick paint, that then had long periods of drying time between layers. It has tremendous depth in the star field in person. It’s acrylic on 8×24″ canvas, wrapped 1.5″ thick with the sides painted too.

Happy Holy Days to all: unimaginable joys on earth : certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable.

Pisces 3: third decan of Pisces, Ten of Cups

Well this is it a whole year later, the decan walk is complete (for now) and last of the decanic minors and the final card of the natural Zodiac in the good old dustbin of Pisces. is done The tarot card is called “Perfected Success”, but because everything is cyclic and nothing is ever perfected, Crowley called it simply “Satiety”, for with Mars ruling the decan, it does have the flavor of yet more craving to come, in the Buddhist sense of the word. (Kind of like when you eat a huge meal and think you are done eating forever – then find yourself going back for a snack an hour later! Humans just can’t help being creatures of desire (Mars, ruler of the decan) for more (Jupiter, ruler of Pisces). But we do run into limits here on Earth (Malkuth, the Tens).

The magical description of the image from 777 might just have been the most difficult of all the 36 decans – both in terms of composition with all the various figures and also to reconcile to the meaning of the card the the description. I think it came together though – in the end (pun intended).

For it is here at the end of all things, that we just begin again due to the double-shot of Mars, for when the March Equinox comes we find ourselves back in the most Mars-ish card of all, the Two of Wands, whose sign and decan are both Mars ruled. And the conquest of life starts anew.

Speaking of the end of all things, this card always makes me think of the novel by William Morris called “The Well at the World’s End” which has the distinction of being the world’s first true fantasy novel in the sense that it was the first to be set in a completely made up fictional world. It predates Lord of the Rings and even inspired Tolkein, for it has a Gandalf! and a Silverfax! among other things. The idea of fantasy (Pisces), the ending point or limits of the world (or in this case, Zodiac), and of course, a Well (maximum Cups!) makes it really perfect. Though um, nothing is ever really perfect as previously stated.

The decan description from 777 reads “A man of grave and thoughtful face, with a bird in his hand, before him a woman and an ass.” (Donkey! But I can see why your mind is in the gutter, because the Picatrix description has the woman being mounted by a donkey, which um, just no and thank god it wasn’t like that in 777 or I’d never have been able to draw this deck! This also inspired one of the funniest NSFW blurts on the Fortune’s Wheelhouse podcast in the Ten of Cups episode: “A bird in the hand beats a donkey in the bush.”)

The card image has all these figures, and they actually are interacting in a way that makes sense of the card’s meaning – and brings in the sense of the Aries/Mars fire energy to come. So you probably want to see it?

Yes this is a teaser as I’m keeping this one under wraps for now. Perfected Success but there is no such thing in Malkuth! Though I’ve made it through all the way to the end of the decans, Satiety is as fleeting as the rainbow, so I’m keeping this for you as a meal for later.

I’m working on finishing up the Majors for now, and then will be starting to post some of those for you to chew on.

Liber OZ and Aeon art – project to support Boleskine House restoration

As mentioned in my last newsletter, I’ve given permission for the Tabula Mundi Aeon card to be used in a limited edition run of prints of a poster with Liber OZ written in professional calligraphy and the Aeon card art alongside it. There will be an edition of 220 and a deluxe edition of 93. I’ve donated the use of the art for this purpose, proceeds to benefit the restoration of Boleskine House. I’m not involved in the production other than giving the occasional opinion on the aesthetics, so I don’t know exactly when it will be released or what the final costs of each version will be. But if you are interested in learning more and getting one of these you can see the calligraphy and the art here and below is a video created to launch the project.

Here’s to the restoration of the Kiblah!

“In the East, that is, in the direction of Boleskine, which is situated on the South-Eastern shore of Loch Ness in Scotland, two miles east of Foyers, is a shrine or High Altar.” – Liber XV

“Set up my image in the East; thou shalt buy thee an image which I will show thee, especial, not unlike the one thou knowest.” – Liber AL, III:21

Beer Label Art for Stone Cow Brewery – Tranquil and Alert

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is design a beer label. It’s finally happened, and I got to do two of them, for the Stone Cow Brewery in Barre, MA. I drew the artworks last fall, and the beer for the first one just came out!

The first one, a black IPA, came out just in time for Massachusetts “Beer Week” which is March 5th through 12th 2022 – though the beer will be probably be around for longer. At least I hope so, because it is very good! The beer is called “Tranquil and Alert“, which is the town motto of the town of Barre, Massachusetts. So for the art I did a parody of the “town seal”. This is the Barre town seal, which features a central diamond with a general store and horse and buggy, and side panels around the circle with cows on the left, pine trees on the right, and a mountain view on the top.

the Town of Barre Massachusetts official town seal

Of course I changed it up, and made the general store into Stone Cow Brewery’s barn, and the horse and buggy into their ultralight flying machine. True story, I got a ride on that once and it was awesome! Here is a short video clip of the takeoff of my flight, also known as”Air Meleen”! And the view picture is one I snapped from the ride! Below that is a picture of the machine, with pilot “Phil the Farmer” taking my Dad for a flight.

For the rest of the picture, I made the cows into the particular type of cows that their related farm (Carter and Stevens Farm) raises, made the pine trees into hops, and the mountain view into the actual gorgeous mountain view the brewery has of Mount Wachusett. Plus added the “eye in the triangle” and an osprey carrying barley, just for fun.

The beer is a Black IPA, and it is really good!! Here is the finished art – in pen and ink, and what it looks like on the cans:

The finished cans of Tranquil and Alert, Black IPA by Stone Cow Brewery. Can art by M.M. Meleen

The other beer I did a label for is coming out soon, a smoked lager (rauchbier) called “The Alchemy of Smoke”. You bet I had fun running with the alchemical theme for that! The art for that one was done in color, in acrylic gouache. I’ll post it when the beer gets released, which should be in a couple of weeks! If you are in the central Massachusetts area, head over to Stone Cow Brewery, for great beer, good food, plenty of scenic vistas, and both indoor and outdoor seating. Pick up some cans of Tranquil and Alert!

Pisces 2: second decan of Pisces, Nine of Cups

The penultimate card of the 36 decans! Happiness, or Lord of Material Happiness, the Nine of Cups is doubly blessed by Jupiter, classical ruler of Pisces and ruler of the middle decan. Pisces’ major is The Moon card (though the Moon itself is the Priestess) which also makes it very comfortable as a Nine (Nines being associated with the Moon/Yesod on the Tree of Life.)

Yet the magical description of the decan in 777 reads “A grave man pointing to the sky“. Why so grave? Isn’t this card called “Happiness”? His “pointing at the sky” perhaps reminds us of the source of all happiness: following the true will that comes from our connection with that which is above Yesod on the middle pillar. Yesod is home base for all the Nines but especially this one because of Pisces association with the Moon card. The pointing suggests of course a hand (Kaph, the letter of Jupiter meaning open palm and closed fist); I suppose a pointing hand is part palm and part fist. And the sky is of course home of Sky Daddy Jupiter, and home of the Moon.

(While the decan isn’t moon-ruled and neither is Pisces, Pisces association with The Moon card of tarot gives it a lunar flavor, as well as the fact that it is a Nine – Yesod is also lunar ruled. I made a mistake in the newsletter accidentally calling the decan moon ruled – it is not, that was a late night cocktail influenced “brain misfire”. The decan is Jupiter all the way! sorry about that – I started the newsletter draft while having Sazaracs for Mardi Gras last night – oops! Too happy to be almost through the minors to care!)

Speaking of the newsletter, for now, a sneak peak of the Nine of Cups was given only to newsletter subscribers. If you haven’t subscribed you can at this link. I’m holding back from posting all the art on the site but will be giving some card images visibility only in the newsletter. But I’ve posted many of the cards here, for example click back to the previous post as I just put up the Eight of Cups.

The Lord of Material Happiness, with “a grave man pointing at the sky” – features a great water (Pisces) wheel (Jupiter) filling nine cups from a gushing lotus (Moon/Yesod and Water influence).

Pisces 1: first decan of Pisces, Eight of Cups

The tarot Eight of Cups, Indolence or “Lord of Abandoned Success”, corresponds to Pisces’ first decan. Pisces is ruled by Jupiter, this decan is ruled by Saturn, and Eights have a Mercury influence through Hod, the eighth sephira.

The magical description per 777 is another strange one: “A man with two bodies, but joining their hand“. The image of a dual bodied man is certainly Mercurial, as Mercury is the ruler of Gemini the twins. I suppose the body itself can be considered a Saturn structure, a thing of matter, as well as having a single hand shared between them a form of Saturnine restriction. The hand itself could relate to Jupiter in the sense that the letter Kaph has the meaning of both the open palm and sometimes the closed fist.

The Eight of Cups primarily combines the influence of two majors: The Moon card for Pisces, and The Universe or World card for Saturn ruling the decan. Pisces is associated with dissolution, merging, and dissolving, while Saturn is associated with the structures and matter. These are not compatible archetypes!

The two figures lean indolently against two rock structures reminiscent of The Moon card’s towers, being worn away by water into sand grains of matter (Saturn). Behind them the ocean waves look like the brain waves of sleep. The eight cups are marked with the eight lunar phases, again for the Moon card. The cups all have their eyes closed – except for one, the last phase of waning crescent. Some are turned upside down. They have been used to make the ultimate symbol of “Abandoned Success”, a sandcastle whose grains of matter are destined for dissolution. “And so castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually…”

Eight of Cups, © 2022, M.M. Meleen