New Occult Deck by Caroline Smith & John Astrop

New occult deck by Caroline Smith and John Astrop

Caroline Smith, one of my favourite tarot artists, is working on a new Occult Deck with her usual deck collaborator, John Astrop. According to the description on the website:

“We are currently working on a new OCCULT TAROT with a much more symbolic approach to the traditional tarot deck with seventy-eight beautifully illustrated cards using the signs, symbols and magical correspondences of the hermetic masters to show their message. Rarely do the images appear outside of old grimoires and learned tomes in private libraries. Caroline Smith has combined her brilliant artistic talents and knowledge of occult symbolism in bringing new life to the images of the Golden Dawn, Eliphas Levi, Alastair Crowley and the work of the other magicians of the late 19th century. “

I don’t know enough about the occult tradition of magic to make sense of the preview (though my recent acquisition of an ebook reader and tons of free reading material on Sweet Mother Internet will likely change that!), but the prospect of new work from Caroline is very exciting. I’ve been running into her art all over the place and was amazed to discover that one of the reasons it appeals to me so strongly is that Caroline used to work as a fashion illustrator, creating the art for many of my most beloved and treasured fashion books!

Fashion illustration by Caroline Smith

Of course, rather than sating my need for the pretty, finding these extras has only fueled my lust for more more more of Caroline’s modern Deco style! I think part of the reason I relate to it so strongly is because it reflects my own style so strongly. Art either inspires me because it is something overwhelming and completely unattainable, or because I can see myself able to achieve something equally as lovely and wonderful. Could there be a lesson in that?

Life Lesson Reading (by Tarot Dame) using the Elemental Tarot of course!



[1] What lesson do I need to learn (about what motivates me to actually create something) most right now? – 5 of Earth: Quake

5 of “Pentacles” again. A core belief that art is suffering, plain and simple. There is a very strong feeling of not seeing what is plainly before you; what is accessible. Easily accessible. It reminds me of a rude little Afrikaans saying about the sun shining and the birds singing and JY FOKKIN IRRITEER MY!! :D But it isn’t so much a willful ignorance; it’s learned. Simply not knowing how else to react. A bad habit, really. Stuck stuck stuck in the mud! Everyone else seems to be having a real ball of things, but if she’d just get off her ass, she’d find her own magic box of stars to work with.

Ushas is the Vedic goddess of the Dawn(s). Awakening, to the light.

[2] What will help me learn this lesson in the easiest way? – Ace of Earth: Seed

I think the key here is in the title of the card: Seed. The beginning, the potential; the time before something is decided, when it can grow in any direction. Don’t make decisions about what the end should before you get there; let it evolve naturally. Non-judgement.

It also implies being open to these possibilities and the gifts available to you. I recently discovered for myself that the reason I never make a move in any direction is because saying “Yes” to one thing, means saying “No” to many (all?) others. I don’t ant to say “No”, so I just don’t say “Yes.” To anything. That’s what this card is: saying “Yes”. Just “Yes,” to whatever may be.

[3] What will be the result of my learning this lesson? – 4 of Air: Ozone

I know why the caged bird doesn’t sing! This looks like laying the conscious body-mind to rest and letting the unconscious, the imagination, intuition, fly free from its box. This would be creating in the way I desire to be able to (and used to be able to); in the style I admire in other artists. It’s a blending of mind and spirit. I can break the tradition, the bad habit and though I will never be free from (over-) intellectualising the creative process, this doesn’t have to mean death for all my seeds.

Oh, ha! The shadow (bottom of the deck) card is The Fool: Potential :D

4 thoughts on “New Occult Deck by Caroline Smith & John Astrop

  1. Digital Dame says:

    Oh lordy lordy lordy, just what I didn’t need to hear. I haven’t had time to delve into the three decks of theirs that I already have! Those two fashion illustrations remind me greatly of the Maddonni Tarot (I think it’s the basic face shape, and the tiny mouths, oversized eyes. What do you think?).

    I do wish they’d spell Aleister Crowley’s name right, though.


    • submerina says:

      Oops! I missed the Crowley; already took the liberty of correcting “Eliphas”. It looks a little… *off* when occult “experts” spell those names incorrectly! It looks like this deck is a ways off from being completed, so you’re safe. For now ;) Very Maddonni – good catch! It’s the style as well as the soft, fuzzy pencil medium that makes them so similar I think.


  2. rahm1111 says:

    I am so so late! Caroline Smith never goes out of style, though! I found you because I have an extra of her decks I’m listing on eBay and you came up in a search. I love your blog, love the fashion illustrations–so totally unique.


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