I have been trying to find the motivation to restart my reconstructed Etteilla Tarot Project. Funny: The Four of Swords is the card I am resuming on, and it perfectly captures my feelings.

Below are several drafts of my illustration of the Etteilla Four of Swords. Sketches by hand are the first step in my art process. I then scan them, clean up and color digitally. Each feature is also separated as a separate layer so that I can move the pieces around, resize, and so on

I hope the companion guidebook will not be limited to my Etteilla deck but also for Etteilla tarots. Click on any image in this blog post to zoom in and enlarge it.

My interpretative approach is the biggest difference between this Etteilla project and Spirit Keeper’s Tarot. Although the SKT is clearly inspired by RWS and Thoth in some ways, I did a lot of separating from them.

In this Etteilla project, however, I am trying to keep the “book meaning” that is found in authoritative texts as close as possible. Even though I may differ from the Etteilla I or II or III, there is still precedent for the expression of the card via “bookmeaning”.

While I don’t recommend reading with reverses with the SKT, you can certainly read with them. However, you might consider that this Etteilla could be a good choice. That’s the whole point. I don’t mean to say that anyone has to do anything. You do what you want. But, yes.

My initial draft was to fill the kylix with red wine. However, the result looks more like blood. Yikes. The open sky behind her looked a little bare. Open sky and airy make sense for a Swords card, but it’s still not right.

It made more sense to make it a vessel for consecrated water, which is consistent with the secondary theme in this illustration. The silhouette of the trees in the background was taken from public domain clipart. Yes, I did. =) However, I believe that doing so is in complete accord with Etteilla and his printmakers. =D

Recently, I have been feeling a vague sense heaviness. This card is a coincidence. As I was creating the card for entry to the Four of Swords I thought, “oh, man, this exactlydescribes what I’ve been feeling.”

One version of the card I played with had the lonely woman looking ghost-like. It was almost as if she were an apparition and not a person. This ghost-like state doesn’t feel light, it feels heavy. It’s a ghost that feels trapped, anchored to something or someone who’s causing discontent.

The Three of Swords was also my first Minor pips set. Pertinax, a Roman emperor who ruled only for three months before his assassination in 193 AD (the Three of Swords), is featured in the Three of Swords. It’s similar to Etteilla II.

My Three of Coins also features Inanna, as I shared previously. This is a tribute to Etteillas which featured Venus/Aphrodite in the past.

People often refer to the Etteilla Tarot as an esoteric deck. This is not my view. While I viewed the SKT as an esoteric deck and my Etteilla as a fun deck,

The Etteilla’s keywords make it an easy-to-use oracle deck. No prior knowledge, experience or study is required. While I am creating the illustrations, I also keep the deck child-friendly.

To answer the question, will this deck ever be published or made available for sale? No, not in 2023. The layout design that I have shown so far is also in need of a complete overhaul. This will ensure (1) that the font size is legible for keywords and (2) that the design is print-friendly and won’t be cropped.

My current plan is to sell out the SKT Revelation in 2023 – 2024, then I can concentrate on producing the Etteilla in 2025 (I don’t mean it has a deck name …). at this point).