Introducing Pharos Tarot, a new deck by M. M. Meleen. Here are the cards revealed to date:
2300 years ago, Alexander the Great had a dream. He dreamed of an old, bearded man (the Fool, grown to Hermit perhaps), who recited these words to him: “Now there is an island, in the much dashing sea in front of Egypt. Pharos is what men call it.”
Alexander thus chose the island of Pharos as the site for his city of Alexandria. Alexandria aspired to house all the Hermetic arts. It was a melting pot of cultures; a newly built city with a visionary outlook and an ancient lineage. With its thriving sea port, Pharos became famous for the library of Alexandria – and the Pharos lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Pharos Tarot is named for the lighthouse as it travels the color scales through light, the medium of watercolor, known for it’s luminosity as pigment is diffused in water transparently allowing the light of the white paper to shine through.
It’s also named for the fabled lighthouse as tarot is another guidance system, designed to shed light on dark or foggy situations.
The major arcana have a third secret function as well: to show how the tarot majors correspond to different parts of a lighthouse system.
This is what the drawing of the Hanged Man looked like before it was transferred to watercolor paper. You can see that I’m not bothering to render the shading on the forms, or add in all the details like the ropes and ladders and the pulley, or the sparkling water. Just a roughing out of the biggest shapes.
The scene is meant to give the impression of strong sunlight (fire) and a breeze (air) over the waters, on a sunny day upon the sea, as the hanged man suspends himself in a meditative pose upon the ship’s mast. Unlike Odysseus, who lashed himself to the mast and plugged his ears with wax to avoid hearing the call of the sirens, the Hanged Man remains open, gently suspended by his serpentine silks, inverting himself to listen for the wisdom inherent in other perspectives.
The Golden Dawn Color Scales for this card areas follows:
The King Scale is Deep Blue, for elemental water, the depths of the Sea. Blue is associated with the Priestess card, arcana of the Moon, too. On the Minutum Mundum, it’s the color of the sephira Chesed, the sphere of Jupiter. Jupiter is the ancient ruler of Pisces, and the 12th house by association, just as Neptune is it’s modern ruler.
There’s a connection between Jupiter and Neptune, or Zeus and Poseidon, as well. As brothers, they drew lots for their share of the kingdom. Zeus was given dominion of the sky and weather (as well as light in the form of the thunderbolt) and Poseidon was given dominion of the Sea.
The Pharos lighthouse of the ancient world was said to be topped by a statue. Some sources say the statue was that of Zeus Sotor, or Zeus the Deliverer, to save men from storms. Other sources say it was topped by a statue of Poseidon. No one knows, and the contradictions could exist because perhaps it differed throughout the ages of the lighthouse. It lasted for over 1500 years, finally being demolished by an Earthquake.
The Queen Scale is Sea Green. It’s the color of sunlight upon the waters, the color of the shallows as light bounces off of the white sand and up through the waves. The greens of the Queen and the Prince scales call to mind the color of Venus, or Aphrodite born from the foam of the sea.
The Prince Scale color is derived from a combination of the parental colors. Mix deep blue and sea green and get the Prince Scale color, Deep Olive Green. This is a color of grounding, and tranquility. It’s a cooler version of the olive color of the Prince Scale for the Hierophant/Taurus, ruled by Venus. Greens and blues are the colors most associated with the beauty of our planet. In color theory cool greens suggest safety, and a place to rest and hang out. The Hanged Man is doing just that.
The Princess Scale is often an enigma. In some cases it’s a combination of the three colors that precede it, but not always and not in this case.
The Princess Scale color for the Hanged Man is White, flecked Purple. It takes the White of the divine nature of Keter, or godhood, and flecks or fertilizes it with the purple of the lunar sephira Yesod. While in the state of suspended animation, the Hanged Man is communing with divinity, but in a subconscious, non-linear, or lunar way.
We see a similar color in the Star card, who has in this scale “White, faintly tinged Purple”. The highest aspiration or connection to the divine through the astral, is only hinted at, or flecked and fertilized, in the Hanged Man. In the Star card, the bits of purple are fully integrated into the white, creating the color of starlight as the daughter of the firmament “dwells between the waters”. The Hanged Man is the element of water itself, while the Star gives it’s light to set one’s course on.
I call this one The Lamp. It’s a glyph of illumination and liberty: Light, Love, Liberty, and Life. The lamp shows the four stations of Liber Resh vel Helios, Crowley’s solar adoration ritual performed four times daily, at each of the stations of the Sun’s journey: sunrise to Ra in his strength (shown by the sun symbol and serpent), noontime to Hathor in her beauty (shown by her horned crown at the apex), sunset to Tum or Atum in his joy, (shown by his white crown), and midnight to Khephra, in his hiding (shown by the winged scarab beetle at bottom).
Twin children dance on the solar barque at the bottom, representing the solar twins as dual forms of Horus or Heru. The active form holds what looks like a one – the pillar. The passive form holds what looks like a zero – the void. Yet they are also the letters I and O, and along with the A between them spell the magical formula IAO.
IAO is also another name for the Tetragrammaton, known as the Bringer of Light, and as a godform as a sun god and a gnostic god of the mysteries. The two V’s on the barque transform IAO into VIAOV. Crowley, adapted IAO for the new Aeon, adding the Hebrew letter Vau to both ends, which he then called the “proper hieroglyph of the Ritual of Self-Initiation in this Aeon of Horus” VIAOV enumerates to 93, like Thelema and Agape. Crowley calls this person who travels through this new process, “Man made God, exalted, eager; he has come consciously to his full stature, and so is ready to set out on his journey to redeem the world.”
The colors are Orange, Gold Yellow, Rich Amber, and Amber, rayed red. All fiery and of course solar colors, for The Lord of the Fire of the World.
Next up: The Star shows the Way, a beacon of celestial navigation. In the Milky Way she dwells, washing herself in a river of dew, using her solar cross window to make thunderbolts…
” Then there was another passage which was really too secret for anything; all I shall tell you is, there was the most beautiful Goddess that ever was, and she was washing herself in a river of dew. If you ask what she is doing, she says: “I’m making thunderbolts.” It was only starlight, and yet one could see quite clearly, so don’t think I’m making a mistake. ” ~ Liber XCV, The Wake World, by Aleister Crowley
The colors are Violet, Sky Blue, Bluish Mauve, and White Faintly Tinged Purple. I took a bit of artistic liberty in that “Sky Blue” here ranges through all shades of blue one might see in the sky, as I wanted it to be a night sky. The violets and bluish mauve form the nebulae. The stars are “white faintly tinged purple”.
Next we have the Priestess, who becomes The Ship to take you across the desert of the Abyss.
The colors of the Priestess are Blue, Silver, Cold Pale Blue, Silver-rayed-Sky Blue.
This is the Moon card. The fog glows, but you cannot see the Moon. The Moon has no air. The horn sounds silently, and something vibrates at the back of your head.
The colors are Crimson ultraviolet, Buff flecked silver-white, Light translucent pinkish brown, Stone
Next card is commonly known as Temperance, or in Thoth based decks, Art. In Pharos I call it “The Arc” as in, the Arc of Visibility.
The Arc, aka Temperance/Art, is the card of Sagittarius, and one of my favorites since that’s my Sun sign. Colors are Blue, Yellow, Green, and Vivid Dark Blue.
Next up: the Hierophant, in Pharos, called the Stanchion. That’s the pin (like a really big nail) that binds the lighthouse to the rock.
Colors are Red Orange, Deep Indigo, Deep Warm Olive, Rich Brown.
And here we have the Tower, or in this case, The Rod. (That’s what she said.) On the lighthouse this corresponds to the lightning rod.
And now for a very strange Hermit, in Pharos Tarot he is called the Lantern. I know he is odd, an odd Yod, but so be it. Yes, it certainly is Gandalf. Yes, he is a Yod, growing out of a seed inside a glowing egg that is the light inside a lantern cage. The lantern is also the part of the lighthouse enclosed in glass, just like an actual lantern. Colors are Yellow Green, Slate Grey, Greenish Grey, and Plum
Here’s a Saturnday friend up next, the Devil: called the Lens. The lens is like the eye of the lighthouse, focusing the light.
I hope you watercolorists will appreciate the beautiful light effect. No other medium can quite compare.
Next up, what the hell, it’s close to Easter so how about Death?
Death in the tarot Pharos is called The Walk. No, not for “a long walk off of a short pier”. It’s called the Walk as short for the Widow’s Walk. The Widow’s Walk is the part of a lighthouse outside of the lantern, an enclosed catwalk from which wives could look out to sea during storms.
The skeleton figure suggests Isis, the widow of Osiris, god of the afterlife and rebirth. Osiris was killed by his brother Set, and his corpse was cut into fourteen pieces and thrown into the Nile. Isis searched out all the pieces except one. Thirteen pieces of Osiris were found, but there was one unfortunate loss: the phallus had been swallowed by a fish. The all important organ for life and procreation was missing.
Isis, with her sister Nepthys and with the help of Anubis, embalmed the parts remaining. Isis fashioned a new phallus from clay, and through magic, they breathed new life into him long enough for Isis and Osiris to conceive the child Horus, avenger of his father.
The Hebrew letter for Death is Nun, meaning fish.