This is going to be bit graphics intensive. Here are some of the revisions, first the new, then the old:
First we have the 8 of Cups. This is a new painting. This time I didn’t go nuts with the terre verte underpainting and wanting to have a cool skin tone next to a warm rest of it. I kept having the urge to ‘blue’ it but resisted. I think the new skin tone is a little orangy still but it also goes with the rest of the lion skin and kind of says they are one and the same. I thought it kept the gentle expression on the child where the first one, even though its hard to pinpoint the change….had an anxious expression – not what I wanted. Overall the style goes better with the rest of the cards as far as sharpness and contrasts.
When I was doing the 8s I had the distinct feeling that they were the Magician being manifest. I don’t know that I fully realized how much this one was until I compared it with the new Magician as I was scanning them in.
Let me put them side by side:
The Magician is covered in a mysterious shroud. The 8 of Cups is covered as well but it isn’t mysterious at all, it is a lion skin, a symbol of strength and courage. The Magician’ face is in shadow, the 8 of Cups’ face is very clear, young, innocent, gentle, accepting. The magicians hands are barely seen holding out an abstract symbol of life…the 8 of Cups again is very clear and they are holding in, cradling, a generous, glowing heart. The Star on the wrist is like a remnant of the abstract metatron’s cube.
I’ll get back to more about the Magician down the page but this 8 of Cups reflects perfectly the progression of development throughout the minor arcana, to me. Eventually, after the 9s, this person will be complete and will go back to the start of the circle, or the next rung of the spiral to help the next generation of development, as the mysterious Magician.
This is a new painting. The old one really suffered from overpainting and over thinking. I actually had to do a lot to get this scan because of all the hot spots. I like the new one much better because it is much simpler. The emerald and the eyes are much clearer (this scan is a bit small to show it off) and aren’t competing with the sky. I do like the old sky but it made it very hard to see the white snake, and that’s when I started adding this and that to pull it out, and overpainted it. The new one stayed more natural and simple.
The Knight of Cups. The changes look minor but are pretty dramatic to me. I think it will make a lot of difference in the finished card in the ability to comprehend what is going on in it. There is that awful black smear that I changed into an embroidered shirt which really sets off the lotus well, and then I went over and pulled out a lot of the details all over the painting. Awwe hell, let me stick a bigger scan here to show you….
A lot of the details just weren’t that visible before and now they are. I really like it, I think it’s one of my favorites now. Do you notice that in almost all of the paintings on this page, there is some item hanging down the right side? Not intentional, but I have noticed that throughout the deck (and maybe others, I haven’t checked) there are elemental type zones in the image, left, right, top, bottom, middle, etc. The same things appear over and over in the same zones. I will need to map that out better so I can articulate it.
The Ace of Cups. This isn’t a very dramatic change, (ignore that the old scan is a little on the green side and the new scan still needs some adjusting.) Mostly I deepened the red of the fabric, don’t know why I didn’t do that in the first place, and changed the hair a bit. Just those small changes made him/her more feminine looking I think. I wish there was a good term for an androgynous gender
The Magician. Again, I wasn’t planning on repainting this but it brought itself forward and impressed itself upon me. Yes, yes, I know I am the one that did it, but it was just so easy! If you look below the light in the sky (is it a sun or moon, I don’t know) you will see a blue area. That is where my cat walked across a db of paint on my palette then across this painting! I got most of it blended back in but that spot was a little more stubborn! Now, if you remember the Aces correspond with the Magician and so they have very much in common. In each of the Aces I had tried to think of what the element in its purest form would be, or I should say an anthropomorphized form, and then that was bringing forth this seed of the beginnings of the new element, which was a glow in their bellies. That was then, now I see it more as the whole cycle is contained in the Ace and in the Magician, the beginning and the end, just like the 10s. But the Aces become the point where things begin while the 10s become the point where they end, a difference of POV.
I see so much reproduction in this image! The two trees are the great yin and yang, our mother and father, they could even be seen as our converging family trees. They are male and female, masculine and feminine, etc etc etc.
The lemniscate is the analemma, the apparent yearly path of the sun through the sky. The neverending cycle and circle of life. The Magician him/her self is very phallic rising out of, or going in to the water. The Wake he is making is ….well at first I didn’t like it, I think that is one of the reasons I abandoned the first painting that looked like this, because it didn’t look very natural, that wake, but now I look at it and it looks like a stylized lotus, growing out the water, it looks like a Hindu God sitting on his lotus seat. It reminds me of creation myths where a diver goes down into a word with nothing but water and pulls up some mud which then becomes land. This Magician is land rising from the Water, reality rising from spirit, earth manifesting from divine energy.
Metatron’s Cube is a pretty interesting symbol that contains a lot of other symbols, it is lie a symmetrical tree of life glyph , something that one cane ponder in many different ways and unlock the mysteries of the universe. It, here, is like a dividing cell, and is like a new life being held forth by the Magician. It is like divine life force being presented. I think of it as Joseph Campbell’s pearl of great wisdom. It’s the real nucleus of this card. It’s the fruit of the trees and the Magician is the vehicle for bringing it forth.
Trees are such an incredibly ancient symbol, I think these are all of them, the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Yggdrasil the world tree of the men of the North, the pillars of Mercy and Judgment, Jachin and Boaz, the doorways to the temple, and as these symbols repeat over and over in different layers of existence I think they are also like a woman’s legs which are the doorway to birth, just like the mysterious light in the sky there is the light at the end of the birth canal as well as the fabled light at the end of the tunnel.
Its birth and reproduction, male and female working together to bring forth an eternity of life.
I also have a personal connection to this image. I know I’ve discussed this before, maybe many times and I plan on subjecting you to it again. Long long ago when I was a kid and growing up one of the recurring dreams I used to have was of this figure that floated toward me on water and tried to hand me something. I never could quite grab it though before I woke up. It was pretty much the image you see above. The difference would be that it was darker and there always seemed to be a whole lot of other figures behind the main one. It was always a very very powerful feeling, it always made me feel terrible when I woke up like I had missed a giant opportunity. Something so important there were no words for it, perhaps you know that feeling. Well, it’s one of the hings that has driven me all these years, wanting to understand it, wanting to know what it was, who that was, what the ‘pearl’ was. Even though this was personal I don’t think I am the only one who has this, again to Joseph Campbell, because he is so brilliant in describing these things, I think it is a call to adventure. It doesn’t have to be something GREAT, like saving the human race or anything, I think it is a call to do your own part, to find that thing that you and only you were meant to do in life. Everything affects everything else, large and small, we all change the fabric of the universe by our existence, everything does. This is the beginning.
I was aware of some of this when I painted the old Magician, but it was a long time ago and I have learned a lot since then. I had the feeling but not the understanding. Then about midway I tried again and was able to partly develop this idea but there still wasn’t a complete understanding. It was the seed though, that travelled forward in time and grabbed me, now at the end,unawares and got me to do this, the last, (I hope) of the Magicians. It’s very right that it worked out like that, isn’t it?
I’m so sorry if you were a fan of the old Magician, but I will have to send him packing.
Let’s see, there was also the 3 of Swords and the 10 of Cups but the changes are so minor I’m not going to bother posting them right now.
I also had a very cool dream but I think this is getting long enough. I’ll maybe post that tomorrow.