(I don’t actually finish Lust until the next round, as I pause before her to complete the Wands suit. But she insisted on being here, and cannot be denied!)
To review Part V, click here
After the Swords suit, I next went briefly back to the tarot Trumps. And now I outlined a plan: I’d power through The Chariot, make an Adjustment, consult with The Hermit, move on to Fortune, and get ready to fulfill Lust before tackling the Wands Suit. I figured that Lust, as the trump of Leo, the middle sign of Fire and thus most fiery, was a good place to stop and move on to the fire suit. There I’d be poised between Fortune (Jupiter) and Lust (Leo); perfect place to start a fire! At this point I actually plotted out my plan onto a calendar. I set an overly ambitious series of goals; especially considering I have a day job. I plotted out a card a week (hah!) though it didn’t turn out that way. I was always behind the eight ball, always behind schedule, everything always and for certain took longer. But I’d just move them up on the calendar as needed – so that is why they call it “penciling” it in! Luckily, I was wise enough to use pencil.
It was here around the start of the Chariot that I really hit my stride. After painting all of the Swords cards, having a period of doing nothing but painting since they were all designed first as etchings and printed on a press, I was seemingly getting much better at painting. I was pleased with the Chariot, and loved doing the crab armor for the zodiacal trump of Cancer! (Though my Mom, who is a Cancer, said he was “scary”. Oh well, too bad, he is cardinal water and he is on a mission! Tidal waves are scary, too!)
After the Chariot, I must have been on a roll (no pun intended) because the next cards turned out to be some of my favorites. Adjustment, who Crowley calls the Fool’s girlfriend and the Woman Satisfied (guess he is not always androgynous!), is based on Maat. She dances the sword edge of Truth; the balance between Venus and Saturn through a vesica piscis portal with Harlequin patterning. Her many arms hold the Scales containing the Alpha and the Omega, her hands in positions of mudras and gestures of surrender.
The Hermit card looks like a cross between Hermes, Gandalf, and a Yod, as he carries his solar lamp and caduceus egg staff through a moonlit walk on the labyrinth (that almost looks like circuits on a computer board). I am very fond of the color scheme of that card!
Fortune is one of my favorite cards in any tarot deck. It is the Jupiter card, so as a Sagittarius it is one of my rulers. Fortune’s Hebrew letter is Kaph, which means palm of hand, or fist. Fortune is karmic and a hand can be open-handed or closed like a fist, punishing and withholding. I see the card as very positive, so I went with the open-handed motif – the background of the card is my own palm print. The card also has wheels within wheels, an earthly gear mirroring a heavenly gear which is a one and a zero, and axle and a wheel, a phi symbol.
Next up after the Wands would be my lady Babalon, Lust personified, the “joy of Strength exercised.” She rides the beast, her kundalini rising and exploding outward in honeycomb nascent sephira. She carries the Grail – the same one as seen in The Chariot, containing a galaxy of white gluten in a sea of blood. So here we are full circle, as this next phase of the work began with driving The Chariot and here before satisfying Lust, trump of the royal fire sign, I figured it was a good place to stop working on the trumps and switch gears to the Wands.
I really enjoyed doing the Wands Suit. Maybe because I’m a fire sign myself. Now it was time to switch to a new medium. While the Swords were done as dry point etchings (so right for Swords and Wind), the Wands special medium was to be colored pencils, wooden sticks also quite appropriate for Wands and Fire. I’d not done much work with colored pencils before, though fortunately I owned a lovely set of Prismacolors. I really fell in love with them and how they handle while doing this suit; I’d never realized what beautiful effects one can get with them, how smoothly they blend, and what rich colors!
My obsession while doing the Wands suit revolved around finding the perfect pencil sharpener! My one complaint with the Prismacolors is that while their softness is why they work so well, it makes them difficult to sharpen. Nothing was more frustrating that carefully sharpening the pencil and immediately having the lead crumble, and having to do it again, watching an inch of precious and costly pencil disappear in the process! I purchased a couple of different handheld pencil sharpeners during this time, never finding the perfect one. Also true to my OCD nature, got a few colors I didn’t already possess, a few extra blenders, and a holder for when the pencils got too short. Always thinking ahead when it comes to spending money on art supplies! Ultimately I used a combination of one of the better though not ideal handheld sharpeners and a standard electric pencil sharpener like you see in offices. I just resigned myself to the fact that this was a sacrifice to the fire gods. There was no way around the fact that by the time this suit was done, all of the reds, oranges and yellows in the set would be considerably shorter! And honestly, the pencils are meant to be used! Hoarded art supplies do not make anything!
The Wands suit was fun to do; its salamander fire elementals had much more personality than the dendrite and neuron explosions that were the theme in the Swords suit. And the decans really started to make themselves known, progressing through the three decan cards of Aries with their Rams, the three decan cards of Leo with Sekhmet the Lion goddess, and the cards of Sagittarius, that had horse-like elements (with the exception of the eight, unless you count that Swiftness is an attribute of horses!)
The one exception to the fun of the Wands was just at the beginning of the Five. Interestingly, just as I began the Five, I was surrounded by strife, as two of the other people living here at the time had a big row, which then triggered me into acting out. How appropriate!
I really liked doing the Wand Court cards too. They contain my personal birth card (Lord of the Flames and Lightning, perfect for a Sagittarius with strong Aquarius elements) and I think the Fire Queen and Princess are hot tamales! The Prince reminds me strongly of a Leo from my past – I see him every time I look at the card!
It was sad when the Wands Suit was done and the pencils got put away! Someday I hope to do more with them; it is a great medium.
So next up I’ll discuss the series around the Cups, which were done in watercolors for the Water element. After the remaining trumps and the Disks get a turn, there will still be lots of posts to write. I think the posts after the cards will actually be the most useful for those of you who hope to create a tarot deck, or publish a book someday, as I will share a lot of information that I had to learn the hard way!
Next up: Journey through the Creation of a Tarot Deck – Part VII – Waterlogged!