D.W. Prudence on the Alchemystic Woodcut Tarot

A selection of cards obtained by Google search. Click on image for Source.

Gratefully, Mr. Prudence was able to reply to my analysis of his amazing Tarot deck. He clarified his intention with the use of color and how the background was chosen. Of course my impression was no where near the actual symbolic meaning of the color choices. I am, after-all, a novice with regards to all things esoteric, but I am a willing student. Let me repost his explanation so that you, dear reader may have the full benefit of his knowledge…

Thank you very much for the review. I greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into it. To answer your question regarding the colors, I think that within Mysticism, there are not any definite rules or correct answers. As with the guidebook, my intent was to provide a framework and a starting out point for people to explore the cards and concepts. Everyone starts their spiritual journeys from different places, cultures, ages, etc…, so all of our paths are different. I hope my interpretations within the guidebook are helpful, but I’m sure the interpretations you come up with on your own will be more meaningful and relevant to your life. With that said, I will tell you my thought process regarding the selected colors within the AlcheMystic Woodcut Tarot (AWT).

The Yellowish/Gold color found throughout the deck is a reference to the Alchemical pursuit of transforming base metal into gold, and represents the spiritual purification of the soul of the alchemist (we are always trying to make gold – of our souls). The first river flowing out of the Garden of Eden had Gold in it (Genesis 2:11), which I link to the Prima Materia, Heavenly Waters, or Living Waters (Water of Life).

There are three that bear witness in Heaven, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood (1 John 5:8). The Spirit is the Living Water/Prima Materia, besides the alchemical conjunction with the Ruach Elohim, we are saved by Water (Water Baptism) and by Blood (Christ’s Blood of the New Covenant/Baptism of Fire). Blue = Water, Red = Blood.

Red: The background of the Suit of Shekinah is Red, because it represents sacrifice, suffering, and facing adversity. It would correspond with the Suit of Swords in the RWS deck. The red represents blood and on the Kabbalah would represent the Pillar of Severity, learning through experience (by facing challenges), and the male principle (Adam was made out of red clay). In alchemical symbolism Red would represent the Red King and heat. The letter Shin in the Sefer Yetzirah.

Blue: The background of the Suit of Mystics is Blue, and I view mysticism as a spiritual quest for understanding and wisdom derived through Contemplation. Blue is also associated with Water, and would be most closely aligned with the Suit of Cups in the RWS deck. Water represents the sea of intuition and the subconscious and would be associated with the Pillar of Mercy on the Kabbalah (receiving Mercy and forgiveness through water baptism). I like this suit with the female polarity, and the alchemical symbolism of the White Queen (she is white after being purified with the blue water of life). The letter Mem in the Sefer Yetzirah.

Purple: The background of the Suit of Alchemists is Purple, because a central theme of alchemy is the Chymical Wedding or the Marriage of the Red King and White Queen. On the color wheel, Purple is made by mixing Red and Blue together (Heat and Coolness/Sun and Moon/Male and Female). Purple represents the union of Red and Blue, with the union of opposites being one of the main objectives of spiritual alchemy. Purple would be associated with the Middle Pillar of the Kabbalah, which is also a system focused on the union of opposites. Since Alchemy involves the manifestation of a person goal or objective, I think this suit would be most closely aligned with the Suit of Wands/Staffs in a RWS based tarot deck. The AlcheMystic Woodcut Tarot (AWT) is not a RWS clone and does not follow the same patterns exactly, but I’ve found that people like to associate the AWT with the suits of pentacles, cups, wands, and swords. This suit is about combining two elements to produce a new creation, and would be associated with the letter Aleph in the Sefer Yetzirah, since Aleph combines the Above with the Below and is the Air that balances the Water and Fire.

Orange: The background of the Suit of Mages is Orange, which is a reference to creativity and self-expression (I am not sure where I got that connection from, maybe from the chakra system). Mages (magicians) would correlate with the suit of Pentacles in the RWS deck, as the Suit of Mages contains Pentacles from the Keys of King Solomon in it, as well as other magick circles. Magic involves art and self-expression, what Eliphas Levi considered to be prayer in action.

Green: The background of the Major Arcana is Green, which symbolizes Growth. I consider the Major Arcana of all tarot decks as dealing with higher (Heavenly) spiritual (divine) forces, and the Minor Arcana dealing with our earthly experiences in life. Major Arcana are divine spiritual concepts, and the Minor Arcana represents us trying to apply those forces within our lives.

The Border: I did not design the border on the cards. It was made by the publisher’s graphic designers, and I think it was done to match the box and book. I do think the border has a goldish coloration, which would coincide with the theme of transforming base metal into gold, which is a theme found throughout the deck.

For more decks by D.W. Prudence, see his website HERE

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