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; 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 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.

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:

black and white version of Princess of Disks