New deck update – completion!

all images copyright 2020-2024 M.M. Meleen

Full moons are a time of completions. The last of the art for my new deck, Telos Tarot of 777, is done, and formatted into card form! The above is a graphic that was incorporated into the card back design.

I’ve now completed the 78 cards of my new deck, a project that began in February 2020. It’s a new deck based on the “magical descriptions of the decans” in Crowley’s 777 (for the 36 minors) and the “correct designs of tarot trumps” also per 777 for the Majors. With wordings followed precisely to the letter for all cards, and painted during the related astrological period, something I’ve never seen elsewhere.

Now that the art is completed I’ll be announcing details about an upcoming crowd sourcing campaign to fund this new addition to tarot.

The deck was started early in 2020, but I didn’t get fully going on it until later in the year, and really got going during 2021 thru now. The first thing I did was the Fool but the first thing I posted here was this pencil sketch of The Magus.

mock-up of finished card. copyright 2020 M.M. Meleen

This has been several years of working almost daily, for hours upon hours every day with very few exceptions. The art looks simple, intentionally so as to me that translates well to the small size of a cart. But the process has been long as everything is done by hand with traditional materials: pencil sketch then dip pen and ink for the final lines, and acrylic ink, paint, and colored pencil for the colors.

The card above is the Ten of Cups, the last of the decanic Minors, Pisces III. (With this card, you will be thankful I was using the 777 magical decan descriptions and not the infamous one of the Picatrix!) The 777 description of the decan: A man of grave and thoughtful face, with a bird in his hand, before him a woman and an ass. You’ll have to imagine his grave thoughtful face as you only see him from behind. This was intentional as Pisces is associated with the Hebrew letter Qoph, meaning “back of the head”.

The card has water and more water being poured into it, as well as what I call “The Well at the World’s End” of Pisces III. All that water, and a double rainbow to boot: Satiety. But the card is ruled by Mars – the ten cups are actually traditional Japanese temple fire buckets that really are stored in an upright triangle (fire symbol) – for this is the first of the “doubled Mars” decans in the circle of the zodiac. Fire is incoming, when the zodiac begins again at the first decan of Aries, also Mars ruled. And the male figure was inspired by a sculpture of an Arabic Falconer, which also seemed rather martial.

Work on the cards was purposefully timed to astrological indications. Two separate yearly “decan walks” were used for the 36 minors – one to do the pencil and ink line drawings, and one to do the color paintings. Most briefly, a “decan walk” is a yearly process of astrological contemplation on the 10 day decan periods that each zodiac sign is divided into, mirroring the Sun’s year long journey through each decan. It can also be called a Solar Walk for that reason.

Here is an earlier post showing the Aces.

Here were some cards from Aries, Taurus and Gemini.

Here is a post showing the Hierophant.

Here you can see the Three of Swords, Queen of Swords, Hermit, and Six of Wands.

Here are some cards from Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius.

The Majors, Courts, and Aces were also worked on during appropriate astrological timings. The Courts were done during the two decans of their element (they have three in all, but I chose to only work on them during their elementally aligned decans. The zodiacal Majors were done during their sign, and the planetary Majors had work periods commencing on their day and hour. Other significant timings were incorporated as well and will be detailed in the book’s notes, such as the Hanged Man during the very last decan of the zodiac (Pisces III) and during Neptune’s annual conjunction with the Sun, and The Aeon during the Feast of the Book of the Law, April 8th – 10th, which this year coincided with an eclipse at the Sun’s exaltation degree in Aries II.

Aries II, the Three of Wands, Virtue, decan ruled by the Sun, description per 777: A green-clad woman, with one leg bare from the ankle to the knee. The card is called Virtue, and has the goddess Persephone (deity per 36 Airs of the Zodiac), as well as depictions of the three main parts of the soul according to Egyptian theology: the Ka, Ba, and Akh.

There are so many cards to show since the last update way back in early Sagittarius, that I don’t know where to begin! Here are just a few selections. I don’t have the time to explain all the symbolism fully in this post, so I’ll just share the images and 777 descriptions and a few tidbits.

The Nine of Wands, Sagittarius II, Strength, decan is ruled by the Moon: Magical description of the decan per 777: A man leading cows, and before him an ape and a bear

Ten of Wands, Oppression. Magical description of the decan per 777: A man leading another by his hair and slaying him.

The Queen of Disks, according to the description in Book T.

The Devil, Lord of the Gates of Matter and Child of the Forces of Time, per 777: The figure of Pan or Priapus

The Two of Disks, Change, Capricorn I, decan ruled by Jupiter: A man holding in his right hand a javelin and in his left a lapwing

The Five of Swords, Defeat, decan ruled by Venus: A man with bowed head, and a bag in his hand

Six of Swords, Science, decan ruled by Mercury: A man arrayed like a king, looking with pride and conceit all around him

The Princess of Swords, per the Book T description (and inspired by the orisha Ayao, goddess of Air, storms, and tornados)

Princess of Cups, per Book T description, with her dolphin.

The Eight of Cups, Indolence, Pisces I, ruled by Saturn: A man with two bodies, but joining their hands. Figure was inspired by a river god, appropriate for watery Pisces, but doubled per the description, like Pisces symbol of two joined fishes. The lunar references are for The Moon card (Pisces), not the Moon planet, as the card is Saturn ruled. The eight cups used to make the sand castle were based on a discovery of a very ancient Janus cup with two faces, one on each side (doubles again, and Saturnine). This ancient and valuable gold cup was found stored and forgotten under someone’s bed, as when they inherited it they assumed it was worthless (Indolence, sleep, and very Pisces!)

The stories of the inspirations and models/references used for each card will be in the guidebook, at least when they are relevant/interesting to share.

The Moon card, brought to you by the zodiac sign Pisces. The fish are from an ancient fountain motif, similar to this one in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston.

mock up of card

The Hanged Man, done during the last part of the last decan of Pisces and during the annual Sun-Neptune conjunction. Note the gallows “shaped like the letter Dalet” per the 777 description. It also ties in the female form seen in the water spray of the Ace of Cups. Each of the elemental Majors echoes something in the imagery of the respective elemental Ace and vice versa.

Per book t the Ace of Cups: “a cup, resembling that of the Stolistes.
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 is traced in the spray of the Fountain.

Yes, the 78 cards are all done! I just finished the card back too. It’s a pet peeve of mine when a deck with lots of effort put into the art has a boring dialed in card back, like they ran out of steam! The card back is important – it’s on every single card! But the art is done.

Unless I decide to go back and redo anything. It’s always a temptation as after being so close to a work for so long like this, all you see are things that could be better or changed or improved. Trying not to go there!

There is still work to do, even over four and a half years into this project. There is a little booklet and the full guidebook to finish. It’s started already! It will have a lot of the inspirations for each card, often drawn from interesting sources.

Nine of Swords, Cruelty and Despair, Gemini II, decan ruled by Mars. Magical description of the decan per 777: An eagle-headed man with a bow and arrow. Wears crowned steel helmet. It’s hard to see in the scan above, but I painted his helmet with paint containing shavings of actual stainless steel.

And one more for now, The Universe. Per 777 it “should contain an example of the Quadrature of the Circle. An ellipse, composed of 400 lesser circles…” (yep, 400, really! The number of letter Tau). It goes on very specifically about the “naked shining figure” and its exact posture, hand and leg placements, and concealing scarf shaped like a letter Kaph, even though the card itself corresponds to Tau. I’ll spare you the details for now!

The Universe, the last card, a card of Saturn and Earth…I have to say is it’s A Day in the Life of an esoteric artist:and though the holes were rather small, I had to count them all“. (and place and paint all 400 of them! Whew; I don’t ever want to do that again! It involved math. 32 of them are little Malkuths.)

I’ve posted cards for you to get an idea of what this deck is about but not all of them at this point, though all are complete. More posts will follow when I figure out the timeline for a crowdfunding to raise money for a great printing, probably via Kickstarter.

One of my favorite cards in this deck to work on was the Seven of Cups, Illusionary Success or Debauch, with a 777 description merely reading “a horse and a wolf“. Probably because it is the only card of the deck without a human face or figure in it, well except for the skull I guess, so it was a break of sorts. The 7 cups contain symbols combining Death (Scorpio) and the Empress (Venus/life); a potent combination for art if one can harvest it.

detail from the Death card…the end is near! Telos Tarot of 777

What would you like to hear about on the blog, and in the book? Let me know, and if you want to be updated for when this launches sign up for the newsletter.

3 thoughts on “New deck update – completion!

  1. Your art work is truly magnificent and I am awe struck by the detail and meaning behind every stroke of your pen.
    I am looking forward to seeing more of this project.
    Thank you for sharing your artistic gift with us as it truly is a blessing.

  2. Dare I admit I checked this blog at least weekly for any minor update ? And here you go with a completion announcement ! Those cards are absolutely magnificent, and the level of details quite stunning (the only one I may not totally be a fan of is the Nine of Wands, something with the perspective of the road maybe ? but that may change with the card in hand).
    This will no doubt be your masterwork, congratulations and thank you for all these years of hard work ! Count me in for the crowdsourcing campaign !

    1. Hey Alexis, thank you for checking in that regularly and being patient with me. I admit that I really wasn’t posting enough updates. But getting the art done within the short period of each decan etc was more important.
      Funny, the nine you mention is one of my favorites. Maybe it will grow on you, maybe not. I sometimes have to do weird things with perspective to get all the elements of the description into card form. But one thing I have noticed after years of doing this is that sometimes my favorite cards are someone else’s least, and the ones I think I didn’t do very well on sometimes turn out to be someone’s favorite. It gets me thru it when there is one I think I could have done better at. Sometimes I can’t really see it because I’ve looked at it too long. Art is so strange like that.
      Anyway, there will be a crowdsource announcement soon. As soon as I get a prototype made. Lots to do to make a crowd funding happen. All stuff I’m not the best at, but I’m working on it!
      Thank you for the encouragement!

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