36 Airs of the Zodiac clarification

So, weirdly, recently two different people emailed me asking some version of the question “where can I get the “book” 36 Airs of the Zodiac, that I have referenced in posts about the new deck. So I wanted to clarify.

It’s not a book but a fragment of a Hellenistic text, only known through being mentioned or referenced by other ancient authors after the fact.

You can find the list of the gods for each decan in the Wiki article about decans though, under the column labeled as attributed to “Cosmas” and it is listed as an appendix table in the modern work 36 Faces (great book by Austin Coppock) as well. Unfortunately, though he has a bibliography he doesn’t footnote or endnote his sources so you have to guess.

The Wiki Cosmas reference (aka Kosmas, an ancient hymnographer) attribution comes from a German text on the decans and after doing my own research I found that Coppock’s reference comes from ancient text translations from Robert Schmidt’s Project Hindsight – which by the way is an amazing astrology resource.

Fortunately, the Project Hindsight texts Coppock references can be found freely on the internet. Search them out if you have a few hours to lose reading them. LOL seriously I spent many hours combing all this stuff and found it all which I will share more when I have time to drill down but I found it so you can too! I’ve already given you enough hints if you are motivated to find this stuff too. It’s not going to all pop up on an internet search of “36 Airs of the Decans”, you have to work for it.

If you can read German, the German text the Wiki article references DEKANE UND DEKANSTERNBILDER by Wilhelm Gundel is also freely available on the internet. Though it is in German it has some awesome tables in it. I wish there was an English translation but have not found it.

Update: It appears that the Project Hindsight domain was stolen, and the real site owners have moved the information. Please see https://www.robertschmidtastrology.com/ for more info.

Benebell Wen’s Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, Revelation edition

Forgive the not-so-great picture here – we are having yet another thunderstorm and the lighting in my house isn’t good. But I wanted to share a tarot deck created by Benebell Wen – the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, in it’s latest (and greatest!) edition, the second printing of the Revelation edition which I think is the third iteration of the deck.

Before now I only had the original, first edition, black and white line drawing version, that Benebell somehow miraculously created in like, a few days – don’t ask me how she could do that. That edition is impressive for that alone, but also for how well thought out the system and the names of the cards are.

But now I have this latest edition, all I can say is wow! How it has evolved is nothing short of amazing. She took those black and white hand done line drawings and went digital on them, transforming them completely . I’m totally impressed. And I like, am the most pickiest of customers when it comes to tarot. No, I’m not at all one who nitpicks card stock or dents or minor production flaws and such as if I like it, I’m going to use the hell out of it anyway – but I hate shallow tarots where someone just copies RWS and calls it a day. This is not that. At all! And the art has really gotten a huge upgrade with the digital work she has done.

Everything and I mean everything, in this deck shows Benebell’s most thorough contemplation and consideration. It has her signature and sharp mind all over it. Do I agree with every single cards interpretation? Not totally in all cases, but they do all speak eloquently from a place of profound understanding of tarot. I’m really happy to see someone elevate tarot somehow when they create a deck, by including something to it that actually adds to a system and an understanding of tarot, instead of just changing stuff in a more personal way that is too specific to the creator.

The cards shown above in the top row are the three Fool cards the deck comes with, that you choose from as a significator based on your needs for the reading. The bottom row are just three cards I drew at random: Ace of Swords, the Golden Shield (Queen of Wands), and the Two of Chalices.

I love that it has three Fools, that the courts have their own unique system, and that the cards have the numbering system in the corner for doing the Opening of the Key (even though I only rarely in times of great need resort to that particular whole deal!)

The production values are awesome too. The “little white book” is actually a perfect bound book, and has tons of great information. Very well done. The cards are pleasingly matte printed, with really nice gilded edges – the mirror-like kind that doesn’t seem to flake. I wish I could do those but my printers don’t do that – I only print in US and that seems to be an overseas thing. The box is sturdy and attractive with a great quote from the Book of the Dead on back.

Plus it smells good – she personally anoints every outer deck wrapper with hand crafted herbal oil and a magnet to hold the magical charge. Lots of love there. Gotta love it!

So I think you can still order Spirit Keeper’s Tarot here, but probably not for long. Benebell sells more decks in a year than I can sell in 5 years, LOL seriously, so don’t wait as they are numbered and I’m sure they will sell out fast!

Fields and Forest Music poster!

My friends at Stone Cow Brewery are hosting a music festival event to raise money to preserve 1000 acres of local fields and forest into conservation status. That’s something I can really get behind! And at like the 11th hour, they asked me if I could design art for a music poster. They only gave me only a week to come up with the idea and create the art – which isn’t much time! and I’m in the middle of doing this new tarot deck wherein all of the cards must be painted in their appropriate decan, so it was a stretch!

But both the reason for the festival, and the folks at the brewery, are dear to my heart, so I just had to drop everything and make it happen! Plus, hey, I’ve always wanted to do a music poster – it’s totally what I was made to do!

They said they wanted “a beer goddess, pouring out music, with the theme of fields and forests, and oh yeah can you put a baby raccoon in there?” LOL check, check, check, and check! all in 🙂

They added the words; I just did the art.

Can you believe that when the brewery posted it on social media to raise interest both Farcebook and Instagroan banned it??!! One because they said it was “sexually provocative” (LOL I guess as my friend’s Dad commented, she is “horney” as in she literally has horns) and the other because the poster had the word “beer” on it as they serve food and beer in the field where the music is. But because it’s an “illustration” they say it is “marketing beer to children”. Gah – this is one of many reasons I am not on socials. You know if they had paid them the money for advertising instead of just posting it those problems likely would have magically gone away.

But they brewery people were cool they didn’t care – they love the art! It’s going on a can of “Fields and Forests IPA” too!

If you are in Central Mass, come to the fest, eat some food, drink some beer, listen to some jams with the Midnight Riders and Town Meeting, and help put land into conservation!

Queen of Cups – Cancer new moon

Queen of Cups © 2021-2023 M.M. Meleen

The Queen of Cups was painted during her two Cancer decans, (the first two) and I did the scan on the Cancer new moon which fell on Monday/Moon Day but technically fell in the third decan (that isn’t hers) but given her lunar nature felt appropriate.

This one is a good example of something I’ve been doing with these cards in that I paint on the BACK side of the paper. It’s translucent, so the colors show through the front but lighter and less intense. So I paint the backs really intense, then move to the front and work on the front with either more paint or colored pencil. It’s like working on toned paper or toned canvas then, as there is a base color to work with. And it preserves the line work better. But it only works well for lighter colors – darks get too lightened and muted.

But in her case not a lot had to be done to the front as I really liked the way it looked as is. Because she is a mirror – literally behind her is a magic mirror with the magic seal of the moon on it, and the water is also a mirror reflecting what is above her. The Queen of Cups is reflective and dreamy, so somehow I liked the muted translucence coming through the paper – it felt very lunar. So I barely worked on the front at all. Only the dark blue background was painted on the front, and a few touches of detail here and there with colored pencil.

The Book T description, which I tried to follow to the letter, reads:

A VERY beautiful fair woman like a crowned Queen, seated upon a throne,
beneath which is flowing water wherein Lotuses are seen. Her general dress is
similar to that of the Queen of Wands, but upon her crown, cuirass and buskins is
seen an Ibis with opened wings, and beside her is the same bird, whereon her
hand rests. She holds a cup, wherefrom a crayfish issues. Her face is dreamy. She
holds a lotus in the hand upon the Ibis.

She is imaginative, poetic, kind, yet not willing to take much trouble for another.
Coquettish, good-natured and underneath a dreamy appearance. Imagination
stronger than feeling. Very much affected by other influences, and therefore more
dependent upon dignity than most symbols.
She rules from 20 Degree Gemini to 20 Degree Cancer.
Water of Water
Queen of Nymphs or Undines.

Here is one of her decans or faces, the Three of Cups, Abundance, second face of Cancer. The color of the card per the Golden Dawn color scales is Black – plus the colors of her related majors for Cancer (The Chariot) and Mercury (The Magus).

The magical description of the decan in 777 reads “A beautiful woman wreathed with myrtle. She holds a lyre and sings of love and gladness.

Here she is pictured with her lyre, singing and swaying to the music as she proffers a toast with three beautiful cups. You can see the original line art and read more about her at the original post here.

The Two of Cups, her other Cancer decan, has the line art posted but the color version is in this month’s newsletter for subscribers. Subscribe here if you wish to be updated with my tarot newsletter.

The Hierophant and a bed of spinach

First, a “bed” of spinach. Just because. This was one half of the spinach harvest, washed and laid out on a cot to dry.

According to Rex E. Bill’s The Rulership Book spinach falls under the auspices of Saturn, Venus, and yes, Taurus, which is the sign associated to the Hierophant card. Beds are also Venus, Taurus’ ruler, because of course they are. When posting the last update on the new deck with some of the cards of Aries, Taurus, and Gemini, I meant to include The Hierophant, but forgot, so here it is now, with the bonus of a side of spinach.

But first, the description of the card from 777: “Between the Pillars sits an Ancient. He is crowned, sceptred, and blessing all in a threefold manner. Four living creatures adore him, the whole suggesting a pentagram by its shape.”

Oh boy, that’s a lot to get into the image isn’t it? Pillars, an Ancient, with crown, sceptre, threefold blessing, four “adoring” creatures, arranged as a pentagram.

The crowned and sceptred Ancient “blessing all in a threefold manner” was inspired by St Patrick, who used a shamrock to teach the Christian doctrine of “three persons in one God” – except here in this more Thelemic take the three Gods are Nuit, Hadit, and Horus, and the three Aeons of Isis, Osiris, and Horus. Only Horus for this the New Aeon appears directly in the image as the dancing child, though Nuit can be inferred by the starry canopy and Hadit as the central point of focus, unseen and hidden behind the child.

The “four adoring creatures” that so lovingly accompany him are of course the Kerubic creatures of the four fixed astrological signs, elementally all accounted for. The interlocking pentagrams and hexagram suggest the uniting of macro and microcosms, divine and earthly consciousness, via the Hierophant as the connecting “nail” of Vav, the Son and the Holy Guardian Angel.

The Golden Dawn color scale colors are Red Orange, Deep Indigo, Deep Warm Olive*, and Rich Brown.


The Hierophant card © M.M. Meleen
The Hierophant card © 2020-2023 M.M. Meleen

Work continues on the new deck. I’ve just finished all the Cancer cards: the Two, Three, and Four of Cups with their decan imagery, and done in their respective decan periods. Simultaneously also worked on and completed the other Cancer cards: the Chariot and the Queen of Cups. More to follow…

The new deck – the faces of Aries, Taurus, Gemini

It’s been a long time since I was able to give an update on the new deck in progress. During the span of each sign, I’m working on the color process for at least 5 cards. These are the minor cards whose line art was inked during the “decan walk” of March 2021-March 2022, and also the related Majors and courts.

The 36 small cards are painted/colored in the approximate 10 day period that the Sun occupies their corresponding decan. As those get done, I’m also working on the Major card associated with the sign, and the court card that has two decans of that sign are completed during those two decans.

So for example, during the first face of Aries aka the first decan of Aries, I completed the Two of Wands, also known as(the Lord of) Dominion. (Throughout this, I’ll link the original post with thoughts on each card, as I don’t have time to write much again and it’s all still here.)

With all this painting, plus life going on and garden season happening, I have not had much time/energy left for posting. But here is a look at the art at least, and some links back to the post for the line art with thoughts at the time. I’m putting back some of the previously deleted line art too so you can compare to the color versions.

The newly completed Two of Wands, first face or decan of Aries
Magical description of the decan per 777: A tall, dark, restless man, with keen flame-coloured eyes, bearing a sword.

After the Two of Wands was done, I started in on the Emperor. He was worked on throughout the sign of Aries. During the next decan period for the Three of Wands, I’d also work on the Queen of Wands, who had the majority of her decans in the sign of Aries and has the Two and Three of Wands in her purview. Sometimes I’d be working on two cards at once, say the Two of Wands and the Emperor, or the Queen and the Three of Wands.

The Emperor completed card
per 777: A flame clad god bearing equivalent symbols. His attitude suggests [sulfur], and he is seated upon the cubical stone, whose sides show the green lion and white eagle.

Three of Wands original post commentary, and new art:

Second face of Aries: A green-clad woman, with one leg bare from the ankle to the knee.
The completed Four of Wands
A restless man in scarlet robes, with golden bracelets on his hands and arms.

Four of Wands or third face of Aries commentary

Queen of Wands just after completion
Queen of Wands, who has the first and second decan of Aries in her domain.
“A crowned queen with long red-golden hair, seated upon a throne,
with steady flames beneath. She wears a corselet and buskins of scale-mail, which latter her robe
discloses. Her arms are almost bare. On cuirass and buskins are winged leopard’s heads; the
same symbol surmounts her crown. At her side is a couchant leopard on which her hands rest.
She bears a long wand with a very heavy conical head. Her face is beautiful and resolute.” – Book T

The we get into the very agricultural decans of Taurus, which indeed do correspond to me doing lots of gardening work here in the Northern hemisphere. Here is the Five of Disks, first face of Taurus the first decan of Taurus, Lord of Material Trouble aka Worry – will we reap what we sow?

Five of Disks just after completion
per 777: A woman with long and beautiful hair, clad in flame-coloured robes

Some commentary on this card and its connection with sowing, plowing, and dividing the land.

completed Six of Disks
from 777: A man of like figure (to the ascendant decan, aka the female figure from the 5 of Disks) with cloven hoofs like an ox.

…and the original commentary for Six of Disks. You can see the solar (Six) and lunar (Moon as ruler of Taurus II) in the combination of Apollo/Selene

Seven of Disks
“A swarthy man with white lashes, his body elephantine with long legs; with him, a horse, a stag, and a calf.” per 777 magical images of the decan

original commentary on the third face of Taurus, the Seven of Disks or Failure, here

The Prince of Disks: A winged princely figure seated in a chariot drawn by a bull. He
bears as a crest, the symbol of a winged bull’s head. Beneath the chariot is land, with many
flowers. In one hand he bears an orb of gold held downwards, and in the other a scepter sur-
mounted by an orb and cross. – Book T

As of now, I’ve also completed all the Gemini cards, but have run out of time for posting for now. I finished the 8, 9, and 10 of Swords – all of the faces or decans of Gemini – plus the Lovers and the Knight of Swords. I will share some of those in the newsletter. Sign up here to see more!

The new Aces and a few of my favorite things

Making progress on painting the cards of my new deck. It’s funny, I recently was reading a thread on the TT&M tarot forum about AI art. Someone there who is using AI to create a deck was, well I guess defending it from detractors by saying that it also required a lot of work on their part. They mentioned something along the lines of that on a good day, they were “only able to get 2-3 cards done” due to the level of tweaking required. I had to laugh – only 2 or 3 cards A DAY!!

Between the pencil drawing, then doing the lines with a dip pen, then completing the card by painting in the colors with paint and a brush or with colored pencils, I’m lucky to get 2-3 done in a month! And that is putting in 6-8 hours every day. Not including the drawing or black line inking, just the coloring process is averaging around 35-40 hours per card. So at most I can get one card’s colors painted on in around 5 days. And there was probably around 40 additional hours in the design and black ink line process for each. 70-80 hours total per card!

Even just doing a solid color background takes hours as sometimes it takes 2-3 coats to get it not streaky. As I do this, I keep swearing that the next deck I do (if I do another) will have plain backgrounds NOT painted in!!

While laboriously filling in a background with paint or pencil I also think about how it must be to work digitally – CLICK – instant fill in of background. Want a gradient? CLICK. Repeat a texture? Click. Click. Click. Don’t like the color? CLICK and in one second it is instantly erased! Move an object? Resize it? No problem! If I don’t like something I’ve painted it is utter agony as I have to paint over it and all that time to paint it the first time was wasted! And you don’t dare make a real mistake.

Not saying that digital art isn’t work, I know it is. But man I feel like a cave dweller sometimes – I’m literally painting with sticks and animal tails LOL. Well, actually I think the brush I’m currently using is synthetic animal tail so hey, the modern age! While the pigments are traditional, acrylic paints and inks are a relatively modern material though.

But I like working with the art media. I also like having a finished piece of art when I’m done, rather than a digital file. I’m not sure why I like it; it certainly does not do me much good financially. The art materials are crazy expensive – and no one wants to buy originals for anything remotely resembling compensation. 70-80 hours of time and $$$ on materials and it’s still not easy to sell a piece of art even with a price as low as $200-300. Minus materials and you are making maybe $2-$4 per hour, if you can even sell it at all. So yeah, for now all my originals sit in storage, waiting for me to die I guess LOL then maybe my relatives can do something with them.

These are the tools I’m using – and some of my favorite things. Some of them I just couldn’t live without when it comes to art making.

  • The dorky looking headset – absolute necessity for seeing teeny tiny details with my eyes not being what they used to
  • The drafting board is great. I clip the paper in it and it has vertical and horizontal ruler guides built in
  • I love the porcelain palettes and use them for every type of paint. I have a ton of the round ones shown that are stackable which is great! And the one with 12 teeny wells I found in an antique store years ago. It’s great for using the liquid ink as you only need small amounts at a time
  • The nib pen is a Tachi nib holder and a Nikko Japanese G nib. I also use a smaller crow quill nib sometimes. Those two were what I used to do all the inked line art for the new deck
  • The black ink lines were all done in FW ink
  • I like the little TomBow eraser for erasing fine lines. If I get some colored pencil on some of the black ink lines where I don’t want it, it can carefully remove it
  • The Exacto knife is good for scratching details or carefully scratching off a stray droplet of dried ink or removing some colored pencil buildup
  • The brush is one I’ve been using for every single card. I’m weird in that I use that same tiny brush for everything – tiny details OR huge areas of flat color. I tend to pick a brush and use it til its worn to nothing. I have TONS of brushes – some of them quite expensive – but so far I’ve just been doing everything with that brush. I’m not even sure what it is as it came free with some paints I bought, and just has the companies name on it, so it’s swag. I wish I could buy more.
  • For the colors, I use a lot of acrylic ink. Mostly I use the Liquitex “Ink!” brand, but I also use FW ink, and Dr Martin’s Bombay ink.
  • For acrylic paint I use a lot of Golden products: the Fluid acrylics, the Matte acrylics, and the High Flow acrylics
  • I also use Alpha6 fluid acrylic paints and love them. The ones I’ve been using are formulated for painting on cloth and leather as they are flexible, but I also use them on the mylar (that’s what all these cards are painted on
  • I’m using colored pencils too, mostly an oil based pencil by Faber Castell called PolyChromos. Love them! But I also have the PrismaColors wax based which work really well on the mylar too
  • Once in a while I use pastel pencils by Stabilo, for some things, or a white charcoal pencil by General
  • As the cards progress who knows, I might also use gouache or acrylic gouache, panpastel, ink pencils, or even oils – whatever works I’ll use!

And now, some of the art. I guess since this is the first post showing the completed cards it is fitting that it will be of the Aces. The Majors and Minors of this deck are based on the 777 descriptions, but the Aces and Courts are based on the Golden Dawn descriptions from Book T or Liber Theta.

The Ace of Wands – that fire effect was super fun to paint, using a “wet-in-wet” technique and transparent paints.

Golden Dawn Traditional Description: “A White Radiating Angelic Hand, issuing from clouds and grasp-
ing a heavy club, which has three branches in the colors, and with the sigils, of the scales. The
right- and left-hand branches end, respectively, in three flames, and the center one in four flames;
thus yielding 10, the number of the Sephiroth. Twenty-two leaping flames, or Yods, surround it,
answering to the 22 Paths; of these, three fall below the right branch for Aleph, Mem, and Shin;
seven above the central branch for the double letters; and between it and that on the right, 12 (six
above and six below) about the left-hand branch. The whole is a great and flaming torch.”

In all the Aces, as in the Thoth deck, I’ve chosen not to depict the “White Radiating Angelic Hand” holding the elemental implement. Also, while I otherwise followed the description, I’ve never really been happy with the way this card has been depicted in other Golden Dawn based decks, finding that most depictions show the three branches with ten flames looking way too much like some strangely shaped chicken-foot bouquet with toes ringed in psychedelic colors!

Someone asked to show sketches or even failed sketches as part of the process. Here is something that is kind of both.

This is a rough sketch of the top of the Ace of Wands based on that GD description. I made the sketch to sort out all those yod-flames described and their placement, but ultimately decided to show the entire Wand rather than a close up of the top like that. You can maybe see more clearly though that the top of the wand is a big flaming letter Shin.

Each of the Aces has an element that ties it to its related elemental Major, but I guess that won’t be obvious until you see them together. In the Ace of Wands, it’s the being at the wands base making the magical gesture for fire, as seen in the Aeon/Judgement card.

Here is a little excerpt from the guidebook saying what each element of the picture is and why it was chosen. The guidebook will also have the card meanings as used in a reading, but I’m just placing the section on the symbolism here.

The Symbolism of the drawing: (excerpted from the forthcoming guidebook © M.M. Meleen)

Here the heavy club with three branches has become a torch with the branches forming the three segments of the letter Shin, associated with The Aeon, elemental Major of Fire. As in the description, the flames are colored in the Golden Dawn color scales, each appropriate for what it represents. The central branch ending in four flames is colored with the King Scale colors of the sephiroth of the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life: the uppermost white for Kether, followed by clear pink rose for Tiphareth, indigo for Yesod, and yellow for Malkuth.

The three flames that top the left branch are crimson, orange, and violet purple for Binah, Geburah, and Hod. The flames of the right branch are pure soft blue for Chokmah, deep violet for Chesed, and amber for Netzach. All have white bases for Kether.

The description references “yod-shaped flames” as the Ace of Wands corresponds to the first letter of the name YHVH, the yod. Yod, meaning hand, is the divine hand of creation. It’s the primal male force, looking very much like a spermatozoon. The simple flame of Yod is the basis of creation for all of the other Hebrew letters. It is said that the first sephira, Kether, emerges from the tip of the Yod.

The 22 yod-shaped flames represent the paths, or Major Arcana. The three largest on the right are in the three primary colors, and stand in for the three classical elements, or the Hebrew “mother letters” Aleph (air), Mem (water), and Shin (fire). Of these, Shin is the largest, for the elemental fire of the Wands suit.

The seven flames above the wand represent the seven classical planets, or the seven “double letters”, and are appropriately colored in their seven prismatic colors. Green as the central of the seven flames is appropriate, for the glyph of Venus encompasses the Tree of Life itself. The 12 yod-flames around the left branch expand these colors, adding secondary colors, to represent the 12 zodiacal signs or “single letters”.

On the body of the torch, the white symbol is the sigil of Kether. All of the Aces correspond to Kether but none more than the Ace of Wands, the first of the first. The red glyph is the sigil of fire and archangel Michael. The green ankh is the Egyptian symbol for growth, and life. Below the symbols, the spirit emerging from the base of the wand is the figure from the Aeon card (elemental trump of Fire), making the upright triangle symbol of fire upon his brow.

The Ace of Wands, as the first of the Minor Arcana, tells the story of creation, and the emerging spark of life that creates the lightning strike. This is the lightning path of the flaming sword that traces the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life as the world was created. This lightning spontaneously erupts from out of the three veils that precede creation: Ain (Nothing), Ain Soph (Limitlessness or Infinity), and Ain Soph Aur (Endless Light). From the deep void of “Nothing” comes a fade from dark to light representing the “Infinity”, and then the white of “Endless Light” comes forth in splendor. This forms the white sun of Kether, the first sephira. The color of Kether in the King Scale is only described as “Brilliance”. In both the Queen and Prince Scales, the color is “White Brilliance”. In the Princess Scale, the color becomes “White, flecked gold”, and this is what we see in the emerging rays.

An explosion of 78 red tetrahedrons follow, for the complete 78 cards of the tarot. The tetrahedron is the platonic solid for the Fire element, and the platonic solids are the building blocks of all creation. The tetrahedron is the has the simplest structure and the smallest volume of all the platonic solids. As the simplest structure with both an “inside” and an “outside” and the only with the same number of vertices as faces, it is considered the fundamental unit of creation. The “Flower of Life” we are familiar with in its 2D depiction is comprised of 64 tetrahedrons in 3D.  The tetrahedron is also associated with the solar plexus chakra, the center from which we draw personal power with which to perform our Will, and manifest and create.

At the bottom of the lightning flash, the Tree of Life ends in Malkuth, the fourfold elements in earthly manifestation. Below them, the black face of a pyramid is rayed with yellow: the color of the Princess Scale of Malkuth, the final stage of materialization.

The Ace of Cups Golden Dawn Traditional Description: “A White Radiant Angelic Hand, issuing from clouds, and supporting on its palm a cup, resembling that of the Purifier. From it rises a fountain of clear and glistening water; and sprays falling on all sides into clear calm water below, in which grow lotuses and water-lilies. The great Letter of the Supernal Mother (heh primal) is traced in the spray of the Fountain.”

As mentioned in the traditional description, the great Letter of the Supernal Mother (heh primal of the Tetragrammaton YHVH) is traced in the spray of the Fountain, and glows slightly more illuminated by the moonlight. Heh has the meaning of “window,” which is an opening that lets in illumination. It is a female and receptive energy – the form that receives the force of the Yod that precedes it. If the Ace of Wands is a “solar-phallic force” then the Ace of Cups is a “lunar-yonic form.”

Note that the fountain also forms what appears to be the letter M, which corresponds to the Hebrew letter Mem which means “water” and is associated with the Hanged Man, trump of elemental water. It is the hum of Om, the sacred sound of meditation. The letter M and words derived from it have connections to things of the sea, things of matter, and things maternal. The spray also creates the forms of undines, naiads or water nymph spirit beings associated with elemental water. These in shape are reminiscent of the dryad or Meliae of the ash tree upon which the Hanged Man is suspended.

Ace of Swords Golden Dawn Traditional Description: “A White Radiating Angelic Hand[1], issuing from clouds, and grasping the hilt of a sword, which supports a White Radiant Celestial Crown; from which depend, on the right, the olive branch of Peace and, on the left, the palm branch of suffering. Six Vavs fall
from its point.”

[1] In all the Aces, as in the Thoth deck, I have chosen not to depict the “White Radiating Angelic Hand” holding the elemental implement.

Check out that funky impossible perspective on the white crown!

The sword issues from a bank of clouds of the air element, and as in the traditional description, “supports a White Radiant Celestial Crown; from which depend, on the right, the olive branch of Peace and, on the left, the palm branch of suffering.” Peace and suffering describe the next two cards of the suit, the Two and Three of Swords. They also represent a duality of mind states encompassing the human experience, that Buddhists know well as a teaching about suffering and the cessation of suffering.

White brilliance is the color of the Aces in the Prince Scale. The white crown is a symbol of the first sephira Kether (the Crown) – the source of divinity. The crown is here depicted flared out from a unique and impossible perspective, to show that it is comprised of 22 points. Twenty-two is recognizably the number of Major Arcana – and while the Fool, the Major Arcana elementally associated with Air is numbered as Atu zero, it is considered the 22nd trump and alternately numbered twenty-two. We see the profile of the Fool engraved on the Damascus steel blade. The hilt of the sword is winged, for the Air element.

Twenty-two is also the path of the Hebrew letter Lamed, the Justice or Adjustment card – the Sword as an instrument of upholding Justice and correcting wrongs. There is also a profound relationship between the Fool card (Air, letter Aleph, the Ox) and the Justice/Adjustment card (Libra/Lamed, the Ox Goad). Lamed/Adjustment is the teacher that shows the Fool the way. The sword is through a large Aleph in its King Scale color of bright pale yellow, and points at Lamed in its King Scale color of emerald green. Together Aleph and Lamed can spell אל (aleph-lamed, AL or El, a name of God) or can spell לא (lamed-aleph, LA, which means “Not”).

The Ace of Disks in progress, above. Man this one was a challenge to paint. All those tiny details in the mandala of the disk!

Parts of that mandala, in case you were wondering, was created with drafting gears – kind of like Spirograph for adults, if you are old enough to remember the Spirograph toy! It’s actually created by a combination of several different gear designs, and I had to get each to line up precisely with the next, so that all the inner and outer rings align, so they all had to match mathematically.

Both the inner and outer rings all have 36 petals, all based on maths of 6 and 36. 36 for the number of the zodiacal decans (and the minor arcana) as well as 36 being a solar number for the same reason (the sun’s yearly travel thru the decans) and as 6×6, the magic square of the Sun. The Sun and the Earth pentacle are intimately interconnected.

Ace of Disks Traditional Description: “A White Radiant Angelic Hand, holding a rose tree branch,
whereon is a large Disk formed of five concentric circles. The innermost circle is white, charged
with a red Greek cross. From this white center, 12 white rays issue; these terminate at the circumference, making the whole resemble an astrological figure of the heavens. It is surmounted by a small circle, above which is a large white Maltese cross, and with two white wings. Four crosses and two buds are shown. The Hand issues from the clouds as in the other three cases.”

I do wonder about that penultimate sentence: “Four crosses and two buds are shown.” I really wonder if that is a typo – shouldn’t it be four roses and two buds are shown? I checked and both Book T and Liber Theta say “crosses”. All the other GD decks show four roses and two buds on the Ace of Pentacles, and no crosses. But I found it inspiring, as if you look closely at the four open roses, each has a little Malkuth cross in the heart of the rose’s center. The flowering of the four worlds.

all images and text © 2020-2023 M.M. Meleen

Tarot Deciphered nominated – vote!

I just learned that the book Tarot Deciphered that I co-authored with T. Susan Chang has been nominated for a CARTA award from the International Tarot Foundation for “Best Tarot Book Independent of a Deck” for their 2022 awards category! So that’s cool – it feels good to be acknowledged.

If you have Tarot Deciphered and think it deserves a place, please consider casting your vote for it. There are five nominees in all including Tarot Deciphered.

Here is a link to the voting page – scroll all the way down to cast your vote. There are also other categories to vote on, like “best deck” etc.


New TarotCart website and blog – and new improved Rosetta Tarot is now available

Rosetta Tarot The Aeon card also known as Judgement
New Rosetta Tarot for the new Aeon

For the lovely Leo full moon, I’m happy to announce that the TarotCart store, where all of my work is offered, has been completely rebuilt. It now works even if you do not have a Pay pal account, which was an issue for some in the past.

There is a new page all about our tarot decks to describe the differences between them, and about Thoth based or Thoth inspired decks in general and what makes a good one.

The new site also has a blog feature, that has and will have periodic articles that you may find useful.

There is an extensive article on using the tarot court cards, both using tarot court cards as a significator card, and how to interpret the court cards in a reading. It is a huge and informative post that covers the tarot court cards as personality types. It also gives suggestions about what they may mean when they don’t seem to be referring to another person.

Since it is Aquarius season (and I hope you had a lovely Imbolc or Feast of Stars) there are also posts about the meaning of The Star card in tarot and about which card or cards are for Aquarius.

It’s also a great time to announce that the sold out Rosetta Tarot now has a new edition that I really am happy with. The new Rosetta Tarot is larger (3.25×5 inches), the same size as the large Tabula Mundi Tarot. It has the titles in English as opposed to the hieroglyphs of the Papyrus edition. The borders now have the attribution symbols and are in a gorgeous glowing color. And the beautiful Rose Cross card backs are now in a subtle metallic sheen ink.

You can also get the all new Rosetta Tarot as a discounted package deal with the Book of Seshet. Because this is a new edition, this week only it is on sale, from now until 2/11/2023. Tabula Mundi Tarot and Pharos Tarot are still available.

It’s a brand new site, and it seems to be working great! But if you would like to help me with the testing, from now until 2/11/23 order anything that is not already at a sale price, and get 20% off by using the code NEWTAROTCART. It will help me to figure out how things are working as boy is it complicated to figure out how to get shipping to accurately work on a site with multiple products! If you encounter any errors or odd stuff please let me know!

If you have prior links to the site, please check to see if they need updating. the main store url remains the same but product links have changed. If you don’t have links to the site, and you think that the Tabula Mundi Tarot, Rosetta Tarot, Pharos Tarot, and our new talismanic tarot in progress are worthy, please consider linking.

Now that this rebuild is over, what’s next? Finally, my new deck will be coming this year, so stay tuned and if you are not already subscribed to the newsletter, please consider it.

New store for out-of-print tarot decks and original art by M.M. Meleen

I thought I should put up a post about my new auction site for sales of original art, hand made rare and one-of-a-kind creations, and sold out tarot decks that become available as I clean my shipping, storage, and studio spaces. Those of you who subscribe to the newsletter already may have seen that this new auction site launched December 1st at www.tarotcart.auction; so far I have listed the last of the Rosetta Papyrus decks and a few other unique items. If you don’t already subscribe to the newsletter, please do at the link above and make sure to respond to the email it generates or else you won’t be subscribed.

There are a few things to note about this new auction site. One is that in order to bid, you need to resister for an account. It’s a simple process but please note that just like when subscribing to the newsletter thru the above link, when registering an account at the auction site you also need to respond to the email that is generated during sign up, so check your spam folder if you do not receive it – and please remember to add the email sender address to your safe list. That way you will be notified if you are the winning bidder, or not, and related things of that nature.

It’s also possible to have the auction site automatically email you when new items are added to the site for auction. I highly recommend that you take advantage of this feature, as over the next few weeks and months I will be adding one-of-a-kind original artworks and decks from sold out editions of years past, and other cool things that you won’t want to miss.

Since I will probably be adding new things every week but only send out one or at most two newsletters per month currently, registering to the www.tarotcart.auction site and getting those emails is the only way you will find out about some of these items, some of which will be flash one-day auctions that you won’t want to miss.

Going forward the longest auctions will be of 7 day duration to give more people a chance to find things, but there will also be flash one day surprise items and events for fans who have signed up. Some will have a minimum price, and others will have no reserve as in, no minimum bid.

I’m just learning about the new software so I didn’t want to put up too many original artworks all at once until I figured things out about how it works. But it has all gone smoothly without any hiccups so far so more cool things are coming soon! I’ve got some original paintings and other things on the way.

Thanks to all of you who have checked it out so far! More to come!

Ever onward,


Update: The last auction for a while will be held in mid July 2023. After that the site will be retired for a while.