Thursday, August 28, 2014

Physical Box Proof is Here -- And The Burning Question....

Box of Tarot Cards + Pussyquat. (Pussyquat Sold Separately)
Box of Tarot Cards + Pussyquat. (Pussyquat Sold Separately)

I wasn't sure that I was actually going to get a physical proof of the Tarot Box... but they had to slightly re-arrange what I had done in order to accommodate a different cut, so I guess they thought "better safe than sorry."

It arrived early this afternoon, and here are the pics to prove it!

"Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple, Open the Door and See All the... Cards!"
"Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple, Open the Door and See All the... Cards!"

-- Freder.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Printed Proofs of the Full Deck are Here!

 The printed proof of the cards and LWB are in -- and here are pictures. I can see a couple of issues that need to be dealt with: mainly the corners of the cards are rounded off 'WAY too much. Really, they're rounded about twice as much as the Majors deck was... I will have a word with the printer, and I'm sure we can deal with this. I can also see a couple of cards that I might want to brighten (or darken). No matter what I decide, I really doubt that it will slow the process down much (if at all) at this point.

 'Ja like the look of it so far? I like this picture because with just a hint of fanning you can really see how substantial the thing is. The deck has girth and weight... and yet it's very shuffle-able. It gives off a good vibe!

 It looks nice laid out, too... but you'd better have some significant free tabletop space if you want to lay them all out at once! 

 You can really see how the cirners are rounded too much in this shot. On some of the cards, it even comes dangerously close to chopping off text. The other thing that's a little weird is that they came to me stacked up in exactly the opposite order that they should have been. Oh, well. I think this can be fixed with a word, but even if it can't -- you're going to want to go through the cards anyway the minute you open it up, right?

 Without the slight riffling in my hand, it looks a little less formidable... but no less substantial.

 Here's a view from the back. 

 This next sequence of pictures, shows all of the Minors laid out in sequence. I apologixe for the blurriness of some of these pictures. I'm using an iPhone to take photos, and it's sometimes hard to see what you've got before you move on... I do, however, really like the contrasting colors for the wand and cup court cards.

 These images are also very dark. The earlier ones I shot outdoors in natural light came out much more accurately.

 And now hare are three views of the Little White Book, which turned out exactly right. Well, with years of newspaper advertising behind me, if I can't get something like the LWB right, what CAN I get right?

 Next, as I did with the Majors deck, I wanted to get shots of this side-by-side with some other decks that may be right in your home, so that you have something to stack it up against. First, the Zirkus side-by-side with Crazy Uncle Aleister's THOTH deck....
 Okay, Unkie's deck is more substantial looking from head-on, but watch what happens when you look from the side!

 Next, the special 100th annual-versity edition of Waite-Smith:

 Next to the Zirkus, the Swiss IJJ deck looks like it could use some Viagra...

Hans and Franz took one look and said, "De GAIRLEY deck can LEAF de WOOM!"

 Cosmic Tarot, anyone?

 I guess it needs its Consciousness Expanded...

 And finally, The Victorian Romantic.

 Now onto the box: I'm a little disappointed that I'm only going to get a proof of that in PDF form. Risky; but I can see how the cards came out, so I have that for reference. They did completely re-wicker the die-cut line, but I pretty much knew that had to happen.  Boxes are not something I have a lot of experience with:

 In Closing...

I'm about 99 percent happy with the proof, and the other 1% is easily addressed. I'll give them the OK with changes, and I see no reason why production ought not to begin the first part of next week. And because these guys work fast, it is my Deep Suspicion that I will be picking up the decks at their plant somewhere around the 3rd or 4th of September! I don't think it will be much later than that...
Then the WORK starts -- getting the decks and other items out to you! Have you filled out your survey yet? 

Thank you all for making this happen!

-- Freder

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Click to enlarge.
One can never know the Tarot completely: it is always coming up with new angles on The Universe, new correspondences and new meanings. I learned a lot while I was designing the deck: in fact I learned just enough to know that you’re never done learning about the thing. 

Lately, while working on the text to go with the new book — if I ever finish it — I’ve had a couple of lightbulbs go on over my head pertaining to the cards. Most of these have been simple enough to post on Facebook, where I offered them with the qualifier that these may not be original thoughts after all, and who knows but that I might have picked them up in some reading, only to have them not quite make it down the coin slot until now.

The latest “flash” concerns cards one through seven when taken all together, and came to me several mornings ago when I was lying in that state of half-sleep and half-waking. 

I suddenly realized how perfectly placed these cards are, how closely they relate to one another, and how the first four cards play out in the latter two. Again, I am certain that this is nothing new, no new pearls of wisdom to be found here — but when the lightbulb finally snaps on over your head, it always brings with it a flash of recognition and satisfaction and a rush of good feeling that you finally “get” it, you finally made the connection.

For The Seer represents the voice of subjective and subconscious knowledge accessible only by those who dare to dive into the Black Water, and swim through its murky depths. Because she is placed where she is, her influence is felt by both The Magician and The Empress, who benefit from and deepen their experience from Her council. On the other hand, The Hierophant represents a completely different sort of wisdom, that of Learning and Tradition — and because he is placed where he is, he has the attention of The Emperor, as well as (possibly undue) influence over the Common People (The Lovers).

Alas, The Hierophant appears all too often in his negative aspect, where he descends into Dogma and Materialism and his limited experience becomes a cage binding him away from true enlightenment — but still the Emperor will listen to him and take his council no matter the circumstance, unless the Empress can make her influence, and thus the extended influence of The Seer — manifest to him. In every case, The Emperor must make a choice (also as evidenced by The Lovers immediately following this sequence) between the two types of thinking.

If he chooses right, his choice will be made manifest in the positive aspect of The Chariot… but if he listens to the constricting and materialist Hierophant, if he makes the wrong choice (as happens all too often) he will become the worst kind of negative force: a man with conviction who under the influence of False Wisdom will apply whatever force is necessary to bend Reality to his will… which can be quite painful if you happen to be The Lovers — one of the aspects of Reality that needs to be bent. 

— Freder

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Wheel of Fate is Turning....

The final card revision. Click to enlarge. Can you spot all the differences?
ITEM! All of the final files are completed and ready to go to the printer.

ITEM! Late last night I successfully initiated the transfer of funds from Kickstarter/Amazon to my bank. I'll swing by the bank on Monday to make sure the transfer has gone through. If it has, I'm frankly going to sit on that deposit for a few days and just let it "take."

ITEM! The rep that I'm dealing with at J.S. McCarthy printers returns from his vacation on Monday. I'll contact him then, let him know what's going on, try to set up a time frame for it all to happen... and I also want to send them the box design so that they can look it over to see if I've met all the specs. 

ITEM! This thing could go to press as soon as the end of next week, and I suspect that it will go to press no later than the following Monday, They will do an initial press proof, which I'm sure will take a few days. If there are no changes to be made, I'll OK it and they can go ahead with the production.

ITEM! All this makes me believe that we are on track for the deck to be completed and ready to ship ... possibly as early as the end of this month, but I would think conservatively that it can't possibly be any later than mid-September.

ITEM! I'm starting to get excited about the idea of holding one of these babies in my hand and casting my first reading with it!

Thanks, everyone! 

-- Freder

Monday, August 4, 2014

Revisionist History

Recent health issues have made it impossible to write (you can't write without thinking, and you can't think when you're in extreme pain), and so work on the new book has slowed to a standstill. On the other hand, I don't have to think (at least with my front brain) to do design work... and so over the past few days I've been devoting myself to making the final files for the deck ready so that they can go to the printer -- hopefully next week. I'm nearly done with the minors.

Along the way, I've made some revisions to a few of the designs, as I've said I would all along. Here are some of the major changes for you to see. The new, or newest, version is always on the RIGHT. You can click on any of the images to enlarge. These have already been posted on Facebook, but in case you missed them there -- Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Going - Going -

Click to enlarge.

During the run of the Kickstarter campaign, I took listings for the Majors deck down from my Etsy store, and made sure that it was available only through the campaign. Now that the dust has settled, it's back and available again, in case you missed it earlier.

Fewer than 75 copies remain of a total print run of 300 copies.

The Majors deck features a different DEVIL card, different versions of the AEON and MOON cards, and a different card back from the full 78-card version. It will never be reprinted.

The phrase "Scarcer than hen's teeth" springs to mind. 

Clink on the sidebar link to find any number of ways for you to pick up this early version of the deck before they're all gone.

If you already ordered the Majors deck through Kickstarter, have no fear, your copies have been set aside and will ship along with the full deck this fall.

Please note also that The Circus Tarot Book -- the rather silly and eccentric companion volume to the Majors deck -- will go out of print soon. The book that eventually replaces it will complement the full deck will be a completely different animal (that is, I can focus and knuckle down and get the writing done...).

-- Freder.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Here Comes The Circus!!

Thank you!!!

Thanks to all 182 of you who pre-ordered a deck, or supported its publication at other levels. I'm not a person who really knows what to do or say when a project of mine is successful, because ... this deck (and the majors deck before it) is the first one that's met with any success. It's a humbling experience when people actually show this kind of confidence in you, and one that makes me want to get to work ASAP.

Some of you didn't just support the project -- you went out of your way to talk it up and bring others on board. I'm grateful to all of you. I don't think the project would have succeeded without your efforts. Period. Special mention is due to two groups of people: in the first, Christiana Gaudet, who took the time and effort to interview me on her show Christiana's Psychic Cafe; Melodie Liveperson who featured my designs in a big way on her Ask the Astrologers website, and Marcus Katz who brought the full resources of his Tarospohy Tarot Association to bear on spreading the word and encouraging interest in the deck. They're even going to host a special online session they're calling the Secret Circus, featuring this deck. I'm not used to people actually believing in me or my work, and all of this has been kind of overwhelming.

The second group is made up of people that I cam't all put names to. These are the people who have been with me right from the beginning, who made the Majors deck possible, and who have not just used the deck but taken it with them out into the tarot community, used it publicly, and promoted it quietly, so to speak, from within. I could name at least a handful of you, but that wouldn't be fair to the ones I can't name, so -- the fairest thing is just to say, "You know who you are." Thank you!

Finally, the one person we all need to thank is Carrie Paris. Without her kind advice, input, commentary, and unfailing support, from its inception on through its production and promotion, this deck would quite literally not exist. Visit her at

You can still visit the Kickstarter page and read more detailed updates about the deck's production there.

Meanwhile -- I've got work to do!

-- Freder

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Conversation with the Ringmaster

In case you missed it, here is last night's conversation with Christiana Gaudet in Christiana's Psychic Cafe. It's fifty minutes long, so it's barely possible that something remotely sensible came out of my mouth during that time....  on the other hand, you may find that a conversation with me is the perfect substitute for sleeping pills....

-- Freder

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Meet Me in the Cafe!

Tonight is your chance to watch me make a complete idiot out of myself as Christiana Gaudet of Christiana's Psychic Cafe interviews me about the Tarot of the Zirkus Mägi -- now in its final days at Kickstarter. Tune in at 9 PM EST on

-- Freder.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nothing Heartbreaking About This Revision

Revisions are going to happen more or less all through the whole deck as I prepare the final files for the printer... and this is one I've been wanting to get to for a while now. I could hardly stand to look at the first version (still viewable elsewhere on this site). It was one of the first Minors that I designed, and I was still feeling out the style that I was looking for, still had some learning ahead of me. The further I got into the deck, the more this one looked like a lost dog.

Basically the only elements that I didn't change even a little bit are.... ehm, nothing. Everything changed at least a little bit. I wanted the desert more arid, I wanted the broken tuba to stand out more, the figure was too heavy-handed in how it was "artified" and needed to be completely replaced... this new one is actually carved together from two photos of Emmet Kelly, the great tramp clown of the mid-twentieth century. 

More than anything, I damn sure wanted to change the sky and the clouds rolling by in the background, so that it would a) match later card designs and b) not look like crap.

By the way (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) -- this card is exactly how I will feel if the deck doesn't get published. And it won't unless ... well, you know...

We were going great guns and topped the 5k mark the other day, and then in the last two days... whoosh! It dried up just like the desert up there. So -- if you will feel like our disappointed clown up there if the deck isn't published, there's a good way to avoid that!

I'll be updating the Kickstarter project later in the day with Newsy Notes, some questions inserted, and a little background info about the printers. See you there!

-- Freder.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Boxing Day

This was already revealed in an Update to the Kickstarter project, but I realize that not everyone (perhaps even not many) sees those little numbers in the Update Tab at the top of any Kickstarter Project Page. So here it is: the "finished" design for the tuck-box "home" of the Tarot of the Zirkus Mägi!

You can click on the image to enlarge it.

Quotations appear around the word "finished" only because I am always hedging my bets, and who knows but that I'll get it into my head to tweak this thing before the time comes to print it?

The front page of the deck's Little White Book has already been revealed over there, but I'll be posting that image over here in the next few days as well. And, later today, I expect to reveal a page or two from the interior of that LWB over there at Kickstarter. Yup, it'll be in the updates tab. I had quite a lot of fun making the LWB, and am dying to share it!

Thanks to all of you, the Kickstarter project is 49% funded with 27 days left to go. If you don't understand how Kickstarter works, of even if you're just a little bit afraid of it, the project is simply my way of taking pre-orders for the deck in a way that's above-board and safe for everyone. 

It's not, at least as I'm using it, an "investment" thing. You are ordering a product and getting what you order. I hope to take enough pre-orders to pay for the deck's production, but if for whatever reason the goal isn't met, then nobody will be charged and nobody will be out anything... but neither will the deck be published. If you would consider buying the deck once it is printed, please consider pre-ordering it now so that I can make it happen.

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. Without your interest and support, this project would never have been completed in the first place, and wouldn't be this close to realization. I've been blown away by all the nice things people have said and the kindness they have shown personally to me. That alone has made this project one of the best things that's ever happened to me. Thank you!

-- Freder.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

THE FINAL CARD: The Wheel Goes Endlessly 'Round

In the Seven of Rings, the carousel spins continuously, in all conditions, day and night, Going Around and Coming Around, bringing you a bounty that reflects the effort that you have put in.

I saved this one for last, not only because it's one of my favorites, based on a photo that I have enjoyed for many years, but because I hope it bodes well for the deck. With this last card, it seems to me now that I have put the wheels in motion. There's still much in the way of maintenance and cultivation to perform, but the thing has now taken on a new life of its own; it's begun to spin, so to speak, it's begun to grow... and with any luck there will be a harvest in the form of a finished deck that I made.

I hope you've enjoyed these "reveals" as much as I've enjoyed designing the cards. It's not the end, completely, there are still some odds and ends that need posting here, but now having come this far I turn you over to the people at Kickstarter, where we can hopefully make this thing happen. I want to thank everyone for their kindness and enthusiasm, which I must say has been a real light for me through some dark times. Thank you all. And now, onward into the future, with the world spinning beneath us and the skies rolling by.

-- Freder.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Is the Circus coming to YOUR town?

Upon arriving in a new town, the Circus first set up its tent and prepared itself for the public -- and immediately after, they marshaled their forces for a Grand Parade down the town's Main Street, just to show everyone that The Circus Had Arrived.

If you want the circus to come to YOUR town in the form of this deck, you'd best hie yourself over to Kickstarter via the link above. If the project isn't funded, the deck won't be published...

This is the penultimate card. Only one more reveal remains. I'm a little bit sad about that.

It was a complicated card to make, using five separate elements and trying to blend them into what I;d hoped would be a seamless whole. I can see the seams, though. Still, I'm happy with how it turned out.

This is a card of Enterprise. All of your investments, strategies and entrepreneurial hopes have begun to pay off, and your ship is on its way in to port. At least, that's the classical image. For the purposes of this deck, the Arrival Parade was the only metaphor that worked for me.

NEXT UP: The final card, the (almost) final reveal: One of my fave finished designs, The Seven of Pentacles.

-- Freder.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bottom of the Deck

I'm still not entirely happy with this one. After literally hours playing around with the colors, the colors still bug me... although it's better than it was when I first "put it down."

The ten of pentacles is the last card in the deck, the  last card that I "finished," but not the last card that will be revealed here. I have two left that I've been saving.

Most often, the card has ten pentacles superimposed over a multi-generational family scene, It took me years and years to realize this, but the pentacles are normally arranged in a pattern that reflects the Kabbalah Tree of Life. I 've done some reading on the Tree of Life, and I have to say that even now my understanding of it is pretty vague. I get the principle, but all the Hebrew names and all the details of what they represent are kind of lost on me. I know this is something I've got to work on.

For my version... there really are ten rings in the picture, and instead of (or in addition to) sort of representing the Tree, I wanted to put the viewer inside the tenth ring. Inside that ring there are also two generations of Circus family: while Grandfather one tamed lions, and still nurtures a baby, daughter has adopted dogs instead... and dresses them up as more exotic animals. I'm not sure why, unless it is a symbol of faithfulness, but dogs have always factored into this card since Waite-Smith's version. Who am I to distance myself from that legacy?

NEXT UP: The Three of Wands.

-- Freder.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Daybreak Express

In the late 19th / early 20th centuries, Circuses took to the rails. This sea-xhange both extended their reach and limited their scope. It presented new opportunities and precipitated several disasters. For now, this Circus is Moving On... whatever happened at their last gig is now behind them; ahead of them is another night in a New Town, rife with possibilities and rubes to be plucked.

This Train is On The Move: because the big news for today is....

The Deck is Complete.

I expect there will be a few revisions and refinements between now and when it goes to press, if it goes to press, but as a basic piece of work.... all the cards have been created. The Little White Book has been written and typeset. The deck's tuck box has its initial design in place. The Tarot of the Zirkus Mägi, Edition One, MK I, is In The Can.

Later today I will reveal the box design by way of an update over at the Kickstarter page. Just three card designs remain to be revealed here over the next few days. Later in the week, the cover for the LWB (and perhaps a peek at its interior) will go up at the Kickstarter project. From here on through next month, most updates will be happening over there. If you really want to see this deck come to life, be sure to pre-order your copy at Kickstarter -- and tell all your friends in the tarot community!

Thank you all -- I've been overwhelmed in the past week for all of the kind words and support you all have given this deck.

-- Freder.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

All In the Family

I've used a small amount of authentic Circus Lingo in the keywords for these minor cards, and here is another example of that: "Straw House" is the circus term meaning "A sold-outcrowd, a Full House."

For the first time since I designed "The Lovers" in the Major Arcana last year, I was forced to blur the background. I hate doing this, but I did try a number of alternatives and nothing worked. The design was too busy and confusing to the eye unless the background was thus blurred, and I wasn't about to change my main figures in the foreground: I liked them too much.

To longtime followers of the deck: You knew that I was going to put an elephant on this card somehow, right? Elephants have been by Designated Animal for the Suit of Cups, as their species is so reliant on and focussed around water, and among the animal kingdom I find that they are freest with their emotions and expression of their emotions.

This card typically celebrates the virtues of family, completion and fullness, and I knew that it was the proper place to celebrate the Circus Family. Performing is oftentimes, perhaps most times, a Family Business, going down for many generations, and this is especially true in the circus. The Wallendas are only one of the most public examples of this -- and patriarch Carl Wallenda's very public death did nothing to deter his sons from following in the family tradition. Family pride runs very strong in the circus... and "youthful rebellion" often means nothing more than trading in the family high-wire act to become a Lion Tamer, or splitting from the group to go solo.

Beyond that -- in the Performing Arts the concept of Extended Family, the notion that we can choose our own families if we desire, is very strong. Many small circuses are one big family made up of people who may not be related by blood, but are deeply connected in spirit if only because they risk their lives on a daily basis, and trust -- "having your back" -- is a necessity of life. Every high-wire act puts their faith not just in the other members of the act, but in the men and women who rig their equipment. As in any family there are disputes, hitches, hostilities and anxieties; "The Circus eats its own kind." -- But this card in its upright position is all about the Circus Family when it grooves.

-- Freder.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Four of Wands: Come Join the Circus!

The Four of Wands is often defined vaguely in RWS decks as "Celebration," and more specifically in Thoth decks as "Completion." 

Both keywords can be (and are) applied to other cards in the deck: so I drilled down into the meanings behind them and came up with something common to both: Community. This allowed me to use a vintage base photo that has been a favorite of mine for well over a decade. This community of clowns doesn't just play together: as you can see, they all have instruments and make music together as a Clown Band. What's more complete than a Clown Band? What brings more celebration to an affair? I can't think of anything. When the clown band appears under the four poles of the Big Top, it is time to laugh and dance and sing. You've earned it.

-- Freder.