Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cutting Through Confusion

The five of swords is one of my least favorite cards in the Waite-Smith deck. It seems to me that the message of the five is subtly shaded: whereas Waite-Smith tries to meet the challenge with ambiguity and contradiction, Crowley's Thoth is no better: it takes sides in the argument and falls on the side of Defeat. 

I looked at a lot of different decks and saw them all struggling with this card's meaning. Until now, I couldn't come to grips with it myself. I went through a lot of different texts and even dipped into the thesaurus, following leads like a detective to find a single keyword that would nail this card down for me in a way captured its tension without getting lost in ambiguity. In the end it really was just like having a lightbulb come on over my head. Of course: it's not defeat, it's not conflict, it's not a vague prevarication: Opposition is something that actually creates an energy, and once I had the keyword, the image dropped into place in my head. 

The central figures were ones that I had intended to use on a different card: but they worked better here, especially after I colored them in mutually opposing shades. The lush background is actually the artist's village of Portmeirion in Wales (where the original PRISONER TV series was filmed. Although I don't necessarily feel obligated to stick swords and wands and cups onto every card in their given suits, here the balance was just right. 

The five of swords is now one of my favorite cards in this deck... and -- dare I utter the sacrilegious words? -- I think my version is a big improvement over both RWS and Thoth. There! I said it! 

Just fourteen cards left for me to complete this deck. The Kickstarter project to raise funds for the deck's printing will launch sometime in June. Watch this space for details!

Onward --

-- Freder