To Be Continued…
Three weeks ago, a 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol, Philippines, the island my mother and much of my family is from. Over the weekend, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit much of the Philippines. I’ve heard that a Tropical Depression is forming and another typhoon may hit the Philippines.
For the fans of my work, I ask you to donate whatever money you can for the relief efforts.
A lot of people are now homeless and clean water will be hard to get. Usually in post-disaster situations, its easy for people to get sick. Especially for the children and elderly.
Although the Red Cross is a reputable and experienced organization when it comes to disasters, the ABS/CBN Foundation is part of a news organization and have better information of where help needs to go first. If you have friends or family or just have an affinity to other countries that are in Typhoon Haiyan’s path, then please donate money to them instead or, if you don’t mind your kids getting a $20 toy rather than a $200 toy this Christmas, give money to as many countries as you can.
“This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster, but an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”
–Obi Wan Kenobi
This design is a blatant swipe from the original Return of The Jedi Movie Poster. Just before I finished it, I used Luke’s lightsaber hilt from Return of The Jedi. But pondering over the meaning of the card, it was the wrong lightsaber. If you notice, its Akin and Luke’s lightsaber. A lightsaber that wasn’t used for about twenty years.
In my experience of reading Tarot, the Ace is like a reset button. The “energy” that The Swords represent is there, but hasn’t exactly come into play. There’s something dormant about it. There’s a lot of potential energy. Its more obvious with the Ace of Pentacles. Usually, someone is starting or quit their job. Swords are a bit more… airy.
“Basically, swords cut through bullshit.”
Swords represent things like intelligence, reason, wit, truth, and fortitude. It is usually associated with the element of Air, which is why the lightsaber is yellow and not blue. (I’m saving blue for cups/water.) But sometimes, Swords are associated with fire, or red. (The meaning of a red lightsaber in the Star Wars Universe sort of messes up the meaning for this card.)
The Sword was probably the first weapon created just to fight and kill other people. All other weapons before that were used to hunt for animals or were some kind of tool. Even though there have been much more efficient weapons created to kill people, none of them hold the archetypal weight like the sword.
There are legendary swords like Excalibur. There are magical swords and Samurai swords. There are swords used just for ceremonies, swords of royalty and tradition. Even peaceful religious traditions have positive imagery of the sword. And in the modern mono-myth of Star Wars, we have the lightsaber.
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
–Edward Bulwer Lytton
When someone is very smart, he is said to be “sharp”. If a movie review is mean but honest and funny, it is said to be “cutting”. I’m not sure about the etymology of these words and phrases, but the use of these words are related to the metaphor of The Sword. The funniest comedians in the world were often picked on as little kids or had an unhappy childhood. They had no physical defense, so they developed a sharp wit and a deadly sense of humor.
People don’t get Pacifism. They think it is for the weak. Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought harder and more effectively than any warrior. They were not unarmed. But their weapons were their words and their enemy wasn’t necessarily British Colonialization or angry racists. Their enemy was the ideas stuck in culture that perpetuated injustice. Often the sword is associated with justice and truth.
Nowadays, countries aren’t just fighting with guns, but with information. There is something very threatening about truth. Often we hold onto our bullshit. When you feel angry because of what someone said, often times its because you’re attached to bullshit, delusions, and beliefs. And when you feel this rage in you, another type of bullshit, maybe you should look at why you felt so angry when someone insulted you and your clothes. Often, you will find that your ego is another sort of bullshit.
The physical sword is an easy weapon to wield, but a sharp mind takes finesse, elegance and is reserved for a much more civilized age.
May the Force Be With You.
For now, I’m going to hold off on writing a description.
Why? Because my interpretations of the cards should be written in sequence. I should have painted The High Priestess because she comes after The Magician. But I painted The Hanged Man because I haven’t seen anyone else depict The Hanged Man in this way. I just wanted to beat everyone to the punch.
And for a basic explanation on the Hanged Man, check out learntarot.com
I’m going to start to jump around the deck now. I have no idea what Star Wars symbolism to use with certain cards. Part of this is the lack of women in the Star Wars films. Hopefully, by the time I get to those cards, the new JJ Abrams Sequels will fill in those gaps.
May The Force Be With You.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… someone did something that made another thing happen.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
There are a lot of magicians in the Star Wars Universe. They all have cool laser swords, awesome beards or even gnarley looking horns. Any one of them could fit this archetype, but let’s talk about why I chose Qui-Gon Jinn a little later.
We started from zero and now we are at “1″. We started from “nothing” to “something”. A long time ago, George Lucas took a blank piece of paper and wrote on it. He took a perfectly clean, pure and virginal piece of paper and soiled it with his ink and his words and his ideas. How offensive is that?
Well if you don’t think that’s offensive at all, consider the graffiti artist or the tagger. He sees a blank wall and its just a shame. That wall should be something, his something. And usually the wall will boldly state his name.
How dare he?! That’s vandalism! Its a crime! He should go to jail! What gives him the right?!
The Magician doesn’t necessarily work with the rights he is given. He doesn’t necessarily work with the “the law”. He bends the law, the unspoken laws of society, or the laws of limitations. He makes reality bend to his will so something can change. He invents the airplane or he installs the cable. He makes peaceful protests, proclaiming his dream. No matter if he waves his wand with a grand gesture or if its the wiggle of Samantha’s nose from Be Witched, something has changed. Something intentionally happened. Back at the number zero, nothing was happening. Everything was potential energy. Now there is something and that something consciously happened.
This is what Qui-Gon is doing in the card. His hand is extended, using the Force to effect the world. It takes a lot of knowledge, concentration, and WILL to do this. He’s taking this raw energy that already exists everywhere and wills it into something useful. And he does it with little effort.
Above Qui-Gon’s head, a lemniscate glows like his green lightsaber. It is the mathematical symbol for infinity. Its also a symbol of eternity, eternal energy or, if you will, the Force. The Force is with him all the time, even in death. In his death, he teaches Obi-Wan Kenobi how to come back from the dead.
He’s in a garden, of sorts. It contrasts greatly from our last card where Luke, in the Fool card, is on Tatooine. On Tatooine, nothing happens. Its all just open, empty dessert. On Naboo, everything happens: art, culture, technology, politics, war. He’s in a refined and civilized place. And refined and civilized places cannot exist without imagination and will. There are roses and lilies in this garden. This is taken from the Rider-Waite deck. Lilies traditionally mean purity. Roses can mean a lot more things. But doing research online, it can also mean “A New Hope”.
On the Khabbalistic Tree of Life, The Magician is often associated with the path between Kether and Binah. Kether is the highest sphere on this map of consciousness and creation. It is God in the highest. Binah, meaning “Understanding” in Hebrew, is where form starts to take place. So it takes a Magician to make something appear from thin air.
When I was designing this deck, I decided to use Roman Numerals in this faux Star Wars Language font. I had the choice of using modern digits or dots in an alien language. This card made me decide to use the Roman Numerals because the number one looks like the letter “I”.
The Magician is about the “I” or the ego.
“I wrote this.”
“I painted that.”
“I am the one who imagined this story.”
When we were babies, or actually, when we were fetuses, we had no self. He had no concept of the self. But as we developed into toddlers, everything was “mine”. Everything was about “me”. Everything was about what “I” want. And at this stage of a child’s development, you’re running around and breaking things. You’re drawing on the walls and making a mess. You’re making things happen. Not necessarily good things, but you’re doing something. Newborn babies don’t do anything to intentionally effect their world…. except cry.
I always find it surprising when people are amazed that I can draw. And not just draw as a hobby, but draw at a professional level. I’m like some kind of f#cking wizard. I’m magically spewing shapes and forms which, to me, is just so obvious. But people gush over it as if I’ve done the impossible.
Sometimes I feel like a charlatan. You might as well be amazed by my breathing or brushing my teeth. I’m doing what I’ve always been doing and always will been doing. It makes praise uncomfortable at times. But the difference between my drawings and, say, a teenager who just uploaded their first webcomic, is that I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I am aware that my skills as an artist has made my view of the world different than others.
“Your focus determines your reality.”
I’m sure that a surgeon’s view of the world is different because they are a surgeon. A monk’s view is different. A scientist’s view is different. Their experience made them. Their jobs initiated them to grow. And they grew with their career. The Magician isn’t just about doing things. Any Fool can do something. In fact a Fool can be victorious by completely f*cking up their plans. But the Magician is confident. The Magician is skilled and trained. He’s so trained that doing something, like drawing, comes second nature to him.
So, why Qui-Gon Jinn? I found another Star Wars Tarot project where the artist followed the Fool’s Journey. Its a story inspired by the Tarot. The Fool meets the Magician and the Magician starts him off on an adventure. That’s a good interpretation of Qui-Gon as The Magician. But the interesting thing about Qui-Gon’s role in the entire Star Wars Saga, is that everything directly or indirectly happened because of his decisions. If Qui-Gon left Anakin on Tatooine, the Jedi wouldn’t fall, Luke and Leia would have never been born. If Qui-Gon didn’t die, he would have trained Anakin, Anakin might have never become Darth Vader. Who knows? He used his skills to make these decisions. And in the long run, they weren’t the best decisions. But he willed it into being. He started the plot. And without plot there would be nothing, just an idea in George Lucas’s head.
“Somebody thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it’s done so far.”
But it was a good idea. This idea was so great that George Lucas had to take it somewhere. First he put his imagination on paper, and then he willed it into being. Not just using everything he learned in Film School, but everything he learned working in Hollywood. He played his games with producers and execs. Those keepers of the status quo all scratched their heads, skimming over a screenplay and trying to figure out what the Hell a Wookie was. A lot of people didn’t believe in him. He had to create a special effects studio because no special effects studio could do what he wanted. And in the end, he took this raw energy from the Collective Unconscious and his I/MAGI/NATION and made a film. A film that changed how Hollywood works, how films are made, how the toy industry works, how our popular culture works. George Lucas made this all happen. I’m not saying it was all him and he’s the great nerd Messiah we never asked for. Maybe the Stars were aligned in the right place and post-Vietnam War America hungered for his kind of escapism.
But the important thing is, is that he made magic. It was movie magic, but magick is still magic.
May The Force Be With You.
Poker has been around for about 200 years, but it has only managed to capture the cultural zeitgeist in the past ten years or so. Nowadays, you can find amateur poker players almost anywhere in the world. Playing with them has been made even easier thanks to the Internet. There’s nothing quite like winning while playing at a real live poker table, though.
If you want to play poker in a live setting, you need cards. Playing cards have always been a pretty ubiquitous household item but the poker boom has made them even more in demand over the last ten years or so. The boom has also made the market more open to custom and special edition card decks. The US Playing Card Company, for example, has rolled out more than a few beautifully designed decks over the last few years. Even partypoker, the World Poker Tour’s major sponsor, has its own branded deck.
The cards available today aren’t slouches, either. In fact, advances in technology have allowed designers to make even more beautiful decks. Here are a few:
Infinity Playing Cards by Ellusionist – This deck was made with illusionists in mind. Apparently, the USPCC even thought the design was impossible to accomplish at first. It includes full custom court cards, Ace, Pips, and face cards. The deck comes in a tuck box.
Limited Edition Playing Cards by Hydro74 – This custom deck is a mish-mash of geek icons highlighting the work of Hydro74. The Star Wars and Transformers franchises are represented alongside some beautifully detailed artwork of skulls, masks, and animals. Heck, there’s even a robot lion from Voltron in the set. Hydro74 also made five custom poker chips to go along with the deck.
Custom Cards by