In January of 2018 I came across a blank deck of poker sized cards, 80 in total, and decided to take notes on the Tarot that way, using each card as a basic list of the symbols embedded in each card. Originally I was planning to create a traditional painted tarot deck using these symbols, though reinterpreted into a more modern painted deck style, rather than keeping them as line art. However, as I got further and further into the drawings, I realized that the little figures I was creating would look really clean if I drew them up in a vector design program.
I have been studying and practicing graphic design (especially logo design) for over 8 years, and this has been a tremendous back bone while working on this project, I already had a working knowledge of the tools necessary (and the obsessiveness of a minimalist designer), and I had been studying the Tarot for a couple of years at that point. I never expected how much more I would learn as I began to dig into this project, both in terms of graphic design techniques, and in terms of the symbols hidden in each Tarot card.
The Thoth deck serves as the base for the Sigil Arcanum, though originally I wanted to try to harmonize both the Thoth and the Rider Waite. As I learned more about both decks, I discovered why Crowley made the changes to the structure that he did: in an effort to correct mistakes that were Made by Arthur Waite, because this information was intentionally obscured from the public by the religious institutions responsible for protecting the Tarot.
Whether Crowley was right, or merely lying, he provides some very convincing reasons supporting his decisions in his book “The Book of Thoth,” available here through Weiser Books (The justifications and reasoning is actually available in the free preview, as the first chapter or two of the book).
With the decision to use the Thoth Tarot as the basis, I suddenly had a lot more to learn about Tarot. Anyone who has studied that deck will know that it is not nearly as intuitive or straightforward at first glance as is the Rider Waite with its emotionally relatable people (albeit ALL white people, but let’s consider that it was made in 1910).
The Thoth structure is more mathematically rigorous, it is dependent on an understanding of the numerology of each card; how the numbers present relate to each other, and to their correspondences on the Tree of Life. For example, to understand that the number 2 isn’t just two things, it is the presence of duality, it is the first manifestation of a real idea, it is a fulcrum, a pendulum, and a pivot. Then there is the sphere of Chokmah, the planet Neptune, and a whole myriad of other things associated with the number 2 in Kabbalistic and Hermetic thought.
As an explanation for why I am choosing to use the Western Esoteric tradition as the key basis for this project, it is the occult tradition that I grew up with, the one that resonates the most for me. Through this lens I see the Universe. I try very hard to appreciate and see through the lenses of many other cultures, especially to understand more about what I can learn, and perhaps what I can lend. At the end of the day though, I made this deck for myself, because who could deny that all human endeavors are in some ways self-centered, even the efforts of Mother Teresa. That being said, this is only why I choose not to compromise the integrity of the Thoth system, and the Alchemical, Hermetic, Neo-Platonic, and Kabbalistic history rich in the wheel of the Tarot.
My part is nearly done, and then the role of this project will be turned over to all of you. This deck is for you, everyone of you, to be able to see the Tarot in the same light that I do, that ancient practitioners of secret magicks saw it. These keys are the symbols that make up the meaning at the core of each card, as true to the historical record as possible. The goal is to help teach people how to interpret tarot in a new way, and perhaps how to see these abstract ideas in every day life, throughout all of the wild experiences we live through. The Tarot is the language of the universe because it is a story: the simplest of stories, that of all human life and the hidden spiritual functions that take place all around us every day.