Coloring My Own Tarot: Part I

I am planning a summer project where I will be colouring my own Tarot deck. The project is one started by Benebell Wen (my mystic guru in all things Tarot) called The Spirit Keepers Tarot which she has designed and offered completely for free to the public. I cannot give props enough to Benebell for her generosity to the Tarot community and I am extremely grateful for all I have learned (and continue to learn) from her. However, before I begin colouring her deck, I’ve decided to color the BOTA deck as I am truly a beginner Tarotist.

The Builders Of The Adytum (BOTA) deck (pictured below in it’s box) is designed to be coloured by the “initiate” (that would be me) and is a near-replication of the Rider Smith Waite deck with a few exceptions to some of the symbolic elements of the cards.

(Please refer to the site for more information but only if you are interested in going a little deeper down the Tarot Rabbit Hole.)

Inspired by Benebell Wen’s Spirit Keeper’s Tarot project, I have decided to color the BOTA deck I have purchased from my local used bookstore as a primer before delving into colouring the 78 cards she has designed. My understanding of the goal of her project is to put the ‘colourist tarotist’ into a meditative state so as to have communion with one’s higher-self (Holy Guardian Angel). She has laboriously designed a deck containing all of the 22 Majors and has nearly completed all of the Minor Arcana as well. I love this project but am a little intimidated by the enormity of it. So my thought process instantly went into Gemini mode. “Why not color two Tarot decks?” One I can do to learn about the colors and about the RSW system a little better and then the other I can delve into the symbolism as Benebell sees it. I want to make sure that when I start the Spirit Keeper Tarot project, I have worked out all the kinks in my methodology. So far here’s where I’m at:

Step 1: Holy Annointing Oil preparation (complete with kinks):

Benebell’s guidebook advises that an annointing oil be prepared prior to the consecration of the deck and the start of colouring activity. I’ve prepared what I believe is an acceptable anointing oil, although I had taken some liberties with how I procured the ingredients (looking to some of the teas I take internally for cough and cold and for detoxification to substitute for some of the raw herbs mentioned on her blog). I chose today (the New Moon with a partial solar eclipse in the Southern Hemisphere) as a good day to prepare the oil (although not so good according to YouTubevangelist Paul Begley). Apparently today is the most unlucky day of the year according to some so I guess I’ll see if my annointing oil burns (us precious)!….or not…

I heated the No-Name extra virgin olive oil on the stove and added the ingredients and brought them to a good ‘bubble’ for about 20 minutes before straining the oil into a clean mason jar. At this point I felt like a total newb as I’m looking for an appropriate strainer for the finer bits of plant material and ended up using a tea ball. I’ve created a bit of an oily mess on the counter but use the drips as an opportunity to test the oil on my skin. So far so good! I cannot say that I performed the whole operation in a sacred space, nor had I fasted or prayed over my oil as I added ingredients. I realized that I’m having a problem getting my thoughts to come out as words and wonder if that will affect the outcome? I think it’s also the reason why I choose to type in a blog rather than “vlog” on YouTube…I think my voice sounds weird when I hear it played back to myself. I stammer a lot too, with “ums” and and “uhs” and think that this might make for bad viewing. So, I write and think quite clearly (and I feel, more authentically) while in my own headspace and so I think I was thinking very intently into my oil that it should be a protective anointing oil, one that had elements of Holy (holy basil) and Angel (Angelica) as well as myrrh resin, lemongrass, rosemary (Rose – Mary) and cinnamon.

Step 2:

Collect colouring and drawing materials:

In order to do part one of this project (using the BOTA Tarot deck) and eventually part two (diving into colouring the Spirit Keeper Tarot, I’ve begun collecting the colouring materials I feel will last me through several colouring projects. I’ve purchased soft and harder wax pencil crayons that will work well for blending and filling as well as acid-free coloured pens (Sharpie, Bic, Sakura – Micron, Staedtler) so that they do not wreck the paper over time. When I start Spirit Keeper, I will have to make a decision on how I am going to print the cards and on what kind of paper to achieve the best results possible. I have purchased 140 lb multi-media paper with which to make my own enlargements of Benebell’s card designs.

The next steps will be to consecrate the BOTA deck, create a sacred space and begin my colouring journey.

Stay tuned until next time…..

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