Tabula Mundi Tarot and the decans

Happy Sagittarius season! My birthday decan is here, the Middle decan of Sagittarius. Happy birthday to all my fellow Sun Sagittarians! This is the time of year when, typical for Sagittarians, I start looking forward to my new solar year. It’s also a good time to review the year we are leaving behind – though Sagittarius is all about moving forward, ever onward towards new targets. Good riddance to 2022 and I’m looking forward to all sorts of things in 2023.

But since there hasn’t been a lot of Tabula Mundi related posts lately I thought I would write a little bit about the Sagittarius decans, and a feature of Tabula Mundi that those just starting with the deck might not realize. And also as a Happy Birthday to Sagittarius, a sneak peak at this decan from my new deck in progress at the end of the post.

While the tarot minors of my new deck-in-progress are created directly from the magical descriptions of the decans, those of you new to the Tabula Mundi deck may not realize that it was the first deck to directly relate the decan sign and the decan ruler back to the imagery of the Major arcana.

For example, in the Nine of Wands above, the card combines elements from Art (Sagittarius), and the Priestess (the Moon as ruler of the decan). The Nine of Wands, Strength, combines the visionary nature of the Sagittarian archer and the power to temper disparate elements into a strong and powerful whole, with the lunar force, that imbues with energy and makes things grow, yet also has the power of the moon’s fluctuation, the ability to go with the flow and be strong in mutability, just as the Moon is inconsistent in that it waxes and wanes, and yet is consistent in that it constantly waxes and wanes. Strength in flexibility; the strength to draw the bow of Sagittarius and Diana the Huntress/Priestess, and the flexibility of the bow itself, to bend as it is pulled.

The Eight of Wands is another Sagittarius card, so the card image combines elements of the Art card (Sagittarius) with the decan ruler of the 8 of Wands – Mercury, the Magus. Here the visionary nature of Sagittarius is seen paired with mental Mercury – a double dose of Mercury as not only is Mercury the ruler of the decan, but also the ruler of the Eights and the eighth sephira Hod. Here the vision of artistic glory is brilliant – and fast and fleeting – like the rainbow, the sandals of Hermes, and thought itself.

The last decan of Sagittarius is much heavier, as here the Art card’s Sagittarius fire and vision is being smothered by the great weight of Saturn and Earth – the decan ruler is Saturn, bringing in the Universe card that rules both Saturn and Earth. It’s another double in a way, as the Tens relate to Earth, the tenth sephira Malkuth. In this card the alchemical vessel that is shown in the Art card shows up in the Ten of Wands, but it’s graceful glass is weighted down by a great anvil marked with the relentless grinding gear of the Universe.

The beauty of this system in Tabula Mundi really comes out in a reading, as whenever you see the arrow symbol of of Sagittarius (the zodiac sign symbol is on the left of every Minor card) you will know it relates back to the Art card, the Major that shares that symbol. Likewise, every card that has the Moon symbol (the planetary decan ruler on the right of every Minor) will relate back to the Priestess – in both image and meaning.

Here is a sneak peek of the Nine of Wands, Strength, from my new deck-in-progress…the Archer of Sagittarius (Art) with his nine arrows, confronted by the lunar beasts of the wild wood (Priestess, the Huntress).

The magical description of the decan from 777: “A man leading cows, and before him an ape and a bear”

Copyright 2022 M.M. Meleen

Tool and Tarot, Tarot and Tool

I’m proud to have provided artwork and a foreword for the book Beyond As Above, So Below: Understanding Hermetic Tarot Through The Music of Maynard James Keenan by my friend M. Kyndyll Lackey. If you know the music of Maynard James Keenan and want to learn tarot – or vice versa – then this unique work is something you won’t want to miss. The book is focused on the esoteric and occult meanings in lyrics of Keenan’s songs and how they relate to Thoth-based tarot, both in the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck and in Tabula Mundi Tarot. Kyndyll knows her Tool and knows her Tarot, so if this sounds like your jam, her book is available on Amazon in paperback and of course for Kindle.

Update on my first deck the Rosetta Tarot

Rosetta Papryrus edition: 6 of Disks, Success

This is the 11th anniversary of the Rosetta Tarot, the first tarot deck I ever made, which was published 11/1/2011. Or maybe 11/2, I can’t remember now but it was right around now eleven years ago close enough. Earlier in 2022, the only remaining edition (Papyrus, as shown above) of Rosetta Tarot sold out. I’m deciding if and when a new edition will be possible, and if there is, what to make different about it.

The 11 year anniversary gift is tin, so I though about doing it in a tin, but I already have had a small edition of a few hundred pocket sized decks in a tin. So instead I’m thinking of a printing with metallic ink. I want to do a large size and not a pocket size. I’m even thinking of making a size larger than all previous editions and making the cards 3.25x 5 inches, the same size as Tabula Mundi Tarot, with similarly styled borders that have the astrological symbols.

It will also have English titles instead of the hieroglyphic titles of the Papyrus edition as shown above. The first edition had black borders with English titles, but any new one might have a different color border, as black shows wear easily.

This would be a small printing, as I can’t afford to do a large printing at this time.

If anyone reading this is interested in knowing if and when this happens, or has suggestions for variations on a new edition, please message me at info (at) rosettatarot (dot) com.

Meanwhile, I recently did a cleaning out of my storage space and found a few copies of old editions of Rosetta. Just a handful; I *think* I found one papyrus gold (edition of 220), a couple papyrus regular (edition of 777), one pocket box with the ankh symbol and several decks in tins (I think both were editions of 555). These are either numbered copies that were set aside or that were returned in the mail for various reasons, or extra copies printed over the amount of the numbered editions that were printed just so that I had spare cards for replacement cards in case someone damaged a card, etc.

I’ll make them available to interested parties soon in some way. Maybe as a silent auction or something to make it fair. But that’s all that remains of Rosetta Tarot unless I do another printing. I’d really like to do another printing, but the cost of printing and box making is so much higher now, while my available funds are so much lower! So I don’t know exactly when that will happen and even if it does it will likely be a small print run.

If one is interested in these remaining copies, or in a new edition, you can also email me at the above address.

Happy Dia de los Muertos and happy 11th anniversary Rosetta!

Update on progress for the new deck

I realize it has been awfully quiet on my end. I’ve not posted even a peep here or sent out a newsletter in several months. Anyone following may have noticed that there are no longer any in progress images online as I removed them for reworking them and for other reasons. I hope to put back new better images soon.

The good news is that on August 1st 2022 I finished the inked line art for the final card of the 78 cards of this new deck – which is huge, for me at least! I started pencil sketching the Fool in Feb 2020 just before the world went into “lock down” – and doesn’t that feel like a lifetime ago?

I finished pencil sketches for the first five Majors over the next few months of 2020 and then set the project aside for a bit to intensely garden the summer of 2020. I made a shitload of pickles LOL for what it’s worth. I revived it in the fall of 2020 and officially ritually did the inking of the Fool on the 2020 Winter Solstice, and from there was working nearly constantly until completing the inked line art for the 78th card on August 1st, 2022.

So if the line art is finished why are things all quiet on the western front? Why am I not telling the world yet? I could blame a very busy period in other areas of life. I could blame some periods of depression and discouragement. I could blame the stars. Or it just is what it is, me just stopping for who knows why. I’ve done some preparatory work like gathering materials and art media, but haven’t done any painting for exactly three months now as of today.

While I had started the pencil drawings for some of the Majors for this deck very early in 2020, the inking of the Fool card started with a ritual under the auspices of the “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter-Saturn in Aquarius on the Winter Solstice at the very end of 2020, so perhaps there is some Jupiter-Saturn influence on the project. Jupiter (my Sun sign ruler in Western astrology) went retrograde on July 28 just days before August 1 when I finished inking the very last line drawing, which perhaps took some wind out of my sails.

Saturn, my Ascendant and Moon ruler (in either Western or Vedic astrology), has also been retrograde until recently and trudging back and forth over the exact degree of my Moon – which any Western astrologer will tell you is no fun, and any Vedic astrologer will recognize as the apex of a difficult (and far too long) period of life called the Sade Sati, or “Seven-and-a-half” (as in, 7.5 years of it!)

Saturn is actually friendly in my Vedic chart, but not so much in my Western chart, so it is hard to figure how to interpret this. The real reason for this being unpleasant times, is likely that my particular Sade Sati peak time also happens to coincide with a Vedic dasha (planetary period of life) ruled by Saturn-Rahu, probably the two most malefic forces that exist and far too similar to each other, as both being Vata energies they tend to dry things out and take the juice out of life during the dasha period, just like Saturn transiting natal Moon does, so it is a double whammy. 2022 has been interesting in the Chinese curse “May you have an interesting life” sort of way. Weirdly and very inconveniently I might add, my immediate family members are all experiencing challenging Saturn transits simultaneously.

It’s been one-after-another instances of what I call “frog-eating” – when you have to discipline yourself and just suck it up and do something difficult or unpleasant in order to just get it over with, in order to help your life move past it – or someone else’s life that you care about. It gets old (Saturn) after a while. But we are fine, really, and thankfully. None of us are strangers to hard work, and I have been diligent about propitiating these astro forces.

So anyway after hitting the milestone of getting the inked line drawings done, persevering in spite of all this all year, I stopped for a bit thinking I’d just start right back up after a quick break to regroup after finishing the line drawings after having worked steadily almost daily for a few years straight. Big mistake, to stop! Note to self: Never stop if you can help it – rust happens! For the last three months since then there has just been just too little energy left to break the inertia and lack of momentum and start again. But rest is important too to the artistic process so hey don’t ever beat yourself up for it.

There is one really cool thing to mention about this difficult astrological Saturn-Rahu dasha though, that I don’t think I ever mentioned here in relation to this project. I learned this during an astrological consultation with a prominent Vedic astrologer. I’d had a consultation where he had told me all about an approaching Saturn-Rahu period – and I was feeling pretty disappointed to hear all about the possible unpleasant ways this difficult period can manifest. Trying to look for a bright side, anything positive at all to cheer me or at least be proactive about, I asked if there was anything at all good that could come of such a time. Anything at all?? At first he just hesitated and said “well you will be busy”…which, ok, but who isn’t? As if being busy is good – that is a very Western concept.

But then a miraculous thing occurred as he surprised himself by quite spontaneously remembering a very little known thing about the Saturn-Rahu dasha that his guru had taught him about but that he said he had completely forgotten until it surfaced in his mind during our consult. And that is that someone undergoing this period can make talismanic astrological images that are for helping people, or spiritual images for the same purpose, and that not only was it a good time for doing that, but that it was really the only time that they could really effectively be made. Maybe because it is such a difficult period that somehow simultaneously taking on the work on the images then transmutes the energy so that other people can be helped to navigate life’s “10,000 joys and sorrows”? My guess anyway; I don’t know how it works. But I have a tendency to do spiritually oriented “occult” art anyway, as natally I have Venus in Libra with Ketu.

During that consult I got a huge psychic hit from hearing that talismanic art was something this time was good for, knowing exactly what I was going to do during this time, as I already had started the majors and planned to do something with the decans for the minors. That was just more confirmation of how right it was, and gave me something positive to channel the energy into. And that is exactly what I have done, making the minors of this deck talismanic images, working on them during the 10 day period of their appropriate decan starting from Aries 1 at the Vernal Equinox of 2021, using the magical image descriptions of the astrological decans, inspired from the exact wording as listed in 777.

My desk is now cleared off and the first image to paint is on it. I’m feeling the call of the muse return. I’m going to be soon sharing some of the processes of painting these cards to life with color, maybe in video if I can figure out how to make that work.

I wish I’d captured more of the inking process since it was all done with dip pens, which is pretty old school now that the majority of tarot deck artworks are at least partially or mostly digital art – or yikes, now being “drawn” by AI – Artificial “Intelligence” art programs fed text prompts from which they can build the requested image with the copied styles of various artists and cobbled together images from other artists’ works, from sources usually scraped from the internet that were programmed into the database. Or something like that. Much faster than doing analog art work, and also faster than doing digital art work as well which already was faster than analog. It’s actually pretty instantaneous, though I’m sure there is tweaking of the text prompts to get what you want involved for the creator or data entry person. Enough to make an old school slowpoke artist cry, and more cyber stuff my eyeballs don’t need, speaking for myself anyway.

I’m still in this Saturn-Rahu time for another year I think, so plenty of time left to work on now breathing life into these images with colored paints, inks, and pencils. Slow but hey that’s what I do. In my personal life there are still some frogs left to eat for the next few months, but I see the train light at the end of this very long tunnel and I’m finally feeling the stirrings of life and inspiration return. Saturn is still on my Moon but he is moving forward at least and will cross one more time and then clear the exact lunar degree by the end of the year. Jupiter is still retrograde but just backed into Pisces now where he is very well placed, for a little while at least. Optimism returns?

Anyway, work continues now, break over, more to come.

Ever onward, your friend til the end,

(haha just realized that’s a perfect sign off for Dia de los Muertos today, a Tuesday with the Moon in Aquarius and Sun in Scorpio)


Written on ☉︎ in 9° ♏︎ : ☽︎ in 16° ♒︎ : ♂︎ : Ⅴⅴⅰⅰⅰ(11/01/2022)

Progress: through the Princesses

So thought I’d post a progress update on the new deck. I’ve really been going at it, making good time through the courts, and in spite of the fast pace I am so happy with every single one of them. I think they are my best courts yet. And now, I’m done with all of them, and all the courts, and thus all the people cards, which in this deck has been most of them! All that is left to draw are the Aces, and then I can start painting with COLOR! Hurrah for color, it’s coming soon, finally! As soon as I get the Aces done at least.

I just can’t wait to see them transform with the color application. But the designs are all I hoped for, and every one of them correctly follows the Book T description practically to the letter. She’s a bit more covered up and less martial than her sisters, due to the specified “mantle of sheepskin” instead of the precise configuration of armor and attire (or lack of) per the others. Does she convey, as suggested, “Hebe (goddess of youth), Ceres (goddess of earth and growth), and Proserpine (aka Persephone)”? I think so. It will be easier to tell in color, that this is the point in spring when the grasses sprout and flower bulbs bloom and peek out from the newly melted snow.

Here is Miss Disks herself, the Princess of the Echoing Hills, the Rose of the Palace of Earth, the priceless priestess of Pentacles, the Princess of Disks:

[coming soon]

Beer label art for Stone Cow Brewery – Queen of the Lake

This was a fun label to make. The brewery owner’s mother has a passion for metal detecting, and her prize find was a small silver medallion with a “Lady of the Lake” theme, showing a woman floating in a lake, with some cloud-swirls, reeds, lotus flowers, and possibly a heron in the reeds, though it’s pretty hard to see. The brewery wanted to do a label in her honor, for a double IPA they just released this week, appropriately enough during the watery sign of Cancer.

So far the labels I’ve done have had an air theme (Tranquil and Alert), a fire theme, (Alchemy of Smoke), a future release with an earthy theme (All Nighter), and this one has a water theme (Queen of the Lake).

So I used the medallion design for inspiration for a design done in ink and of course, watercolor. I added the hand (not on the medallion) to reference the Lady of the Lake, who usually offers up the sword Excalibur but here is offering a chalice of beer instead, from taking a picture of one of their brewery’s IPA glasses, with the hand of yours truly raising a pint. They were so happy with it, and said that not only was it their best label, but their favorite label of any beer of any brewery, which was quite a compliment!

The pictures below show the original art, the finished can, and the side of the can were they also put a small photo of the silver medallion that inspired the design.

Queen of the Lake, double IPA label by M.M. Meleen
the finished can
the can side showing a photo of the original medallion

Here’s to a happy summer!

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.

[coming soon]

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.”

[coming soon]

These will look a lot better when finished 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.

[coming soon]


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.