I was inspired to do something different based on a prompt today. Instead of writing a poem as I usually do, since the prompt was thelemite, I thought I’d write a little about an artist I love whose work sometimes gets associated with the thelemites.
I don’t take an interest in the occult as defined by Alistair Crowley & company, including, by the way, several well-known British writers & poets of the time. These interests were very popular in England in those days, as were the spread of associated thelemite philosophies.
The interest in mysticism & ‘the occult,’ of the period, had to do with a number of things; including how Europeans were extracting ideas from the colonies. These included spiritual & mystical ones; as well as philosophies of cultural resistance & revolution within art movements of that turn of the century era.
Within this context, Pamela Colman Smith, a Black Jamaican & British artist, created her wonderful Smith tarot deck; the first ever to be printed in the English language. Pamela Colman Smith was an amazing, writer, designer, folklorist, publisher, mystic, & illustrator. You can read more about her here.
Of course, & unfortunately, she was neither adequately paid nor properly credited for this absolute chef d’oeuvre, cherished to this day by mystics, book & art lovers alike. Today we call it the Colman Smith deck, instead of the Rider-Waite deck, for rightful attribution to its creator.
The Colman Smith tarot deck is an incredible card set of 78 illustrations. The artwork is stunning.
I like tarot cards. But honestly, I’m just such a fan of her artwork, sometimes I can’t tell if that’s more it with me & tarot.
There are so many beautiful tarot decks out there, & there are many I adore, but I still love the Smith deck so so much.
Illustration is probably my very favourite two-dimensional art form, & she is such an original designer of concepts.
The depth of field in the cards’ illustrations is so well rendered, with these gorgeous fantastical landscapes. The characters, equally beautiful & compelling. Such design excellence.
I love the colour schemes & the artist’s line work. Lines in drawing & illustration, in the expressive style she uses, is an aesthetic I just love. & Pamela Colman Smith’s approach to it is completley unique & psychically sensitive.
These cards take me away every time I look at them.