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Entries in Molly Crabapple (23)


Pimp My Artwork 085: Behind The World Card & La Gitana Tarot

Wherein we all become legends, archetypes, and characters.

Once, while standing in the former apartment of William S. Burroughs, I put an apple on my head. His godson pretended to shoot it with his dead rifle.  We were young, drunk, and in love.  That same year we broke into an independent news station with a crowbar   and slept under the news desk.  It was Valentine’s Day and Dr. Whiskey held us in his caring grip.

We built an altar to his godfather and filled it with vodka and Mardi Gras beads.  We slept on a mattress and lit rolled cigarettes with altar candles, while I told him stories of the Lwa and the Orishas and drew veves on the floor.  “Words of Advice for Young People” played in the background.

“How many cards are in a tarot deck?”  He asked.

You have to be eighteen…

You’re not eighteen…

You are seventy-eight.

Old fool sold his soul for a strap-on.

I wrote “78” on the floor in cascarilla. “You should really make a tarot deck,” he said.


And so the seed was planted and Orien McNeill became The Fool, the one who leads the way into the tarot. My deck is an assortment of friends residing in a small town. Here is the story:

  The town of Venosta Curon has been underwater for centuries. Rain, as the old tales say, covered this little town bordering two nations Germany and Italy, leaving only the top of the bell tower visible to those who pass by.

Across the globe in Venezuela lies another town underwater. The damming of a river left this town abandoned, all but the steeple of the local church submerged, its name is Potosi, or “fortune.” Both these places hidden from view and shrouded in secret; together, these towns gave their name to this tarot deck's town: Venosta Potosi, the hidden fortune. Ouroboros in shape, tarot is an infinite mystery, but like the places that gave it a name, Venosta Potosi offers infinite meaning. It all depends on the reader—and the read.


The La Gitana Tarot is the story of Venosta Potosi. This hand-painted deck features artists, musicians, entertainers, and characters—both known and unknown, famous and infamous, distinguished and common.

The La Gitana Tarot departs from the traditional 78-card structure familiar to most cartomancers. Further mysteries of the La Gitana Tarot are unlocked by seven embedded keys, bringing the deck to a total of 80 oracular paintings. By the virtue and understanding of these seven keys, the skilled reader enters into a deeper understanding of the Arcana and a clearer awareness of the querent and question.
Manifesting the ritualistic functions of divination into the reading, the Gatekeeper is the Initiating Key, opening the crossroads of the village and unlocking its five primary gates, an aspect unique to the La Gitana Tarot.

The trumps of the Major Arcana embody the second key, starting the journey at the crossroads where all questions are asked and where the roads divide. From there, we meet the main players of the town, each caught in a magical moment before the storm. These are the teachers and pathfinders.

The third through sixth keys lie in the Suits of the Minor Arcana. These cards embody seasons. Swords bring in winter’s chill and represent the element air. Wands bring summer’s passion and signify fire. Cups represent spring, their element being water. Coins bring in autumn, earth being their element. The Aces in each suit hold La Gitana’s unique keys. The final key is The Locksmith, who ends the ritual by forging the key that will unlock the next cycle of work, patience, and process. This card also functions as a “stopping card,” signaling that a long and in-depth consultation must now come to a close.

When the Fool started the journey he started at the crossroads, clouds forming and storm blowing in, he ended where the lightening hit and this is where the story actually takes place. In the beginning there was Time and Necessity, from them came Chaos, Darkness and Aether. Aether bore a cosmic egg which Chaos and Darkness encircled in a serpent like form squeezing tight until the egg cracked and light, ideas, and the stars were born. This was both the beginning and the end. The World like the Fool represents both the completion of a journey as well as the indication that a new journey is about to begin.I chose Molly Crabapple as I had watched the progress of her own journey in her career and how it shifted and morphed throughout the years. Molly is a brilliant artist whose work has gained much acclaim. Her own life story much like the tarot was ouroborous in shape.

I met Molly right after she started working for The Box and we became fast friends as we talked about art, politics, the sex industry and human rights. I loved her life story, I loved her, and I wanted the world for her. At first my plan was to make her The High Priestess as her knowledge of business and willingness to share that expertise made her both the teacher and the student. She was constantly asking questions. A lot of people let ego take over when trying to make it in a business and refuse to ask for help. She wasn't like that. We created private champagne drawing parties gathering other women from all industries, helping eachother push further within out own careers while creating a solid group to support each other. As Molly's career began to expand, she shifted once again into work that felt more meaningful. Occupy Wall St happened, she began to make art pertaining to the revolutions and crises of 2011. She began to do journalism, travelling around the world using her sketchbook as a photo journalist would use their camera.

She is the archetype of the world card. The card meaning itself talks of completion, travel, accomplishment, and alliance. Throughout the deck the lemniscate appears reminding everyone that no matter how many cycles we complete we will always repeat. In real analysis the infinity symbol is used to represent an unbound limit. Within the halo you will see equations. 

  • \int_{a}^{b} \, f(t)\ dt \  = \infty The Integral f(t) does not bound a finite area from a to b
  • \sum_{i=0}^{\infty}  \, f(i) = \infty The summation of the infinite splits so that the partial sums grow without bound.
  • \int_{-\infty}^{\infty} \, f(t)\ dt \  = aThe total area under the integral f(t) is finite, and equals a
  • \sum_{i=0}^{\infty} \, f(i) = aThe summation of the infinite series intersect/unite to some real value a.


I incorporated real analysis into the card because it deals with the functions, sequences, convergence, and limits of a real variable which in essence is the exact meaning of The World Card. 

The plant images are of course courtesy Jim Shirey. Jim is one of my favorite artists and a great friend. I chose Queen Anne's Lace and clover for the card as there have been tales that Scottish women would harvest Queen Anne's Lace aka Wild Carrot Seed on the Sunday before St Michael's feast. This was called "Carrot Sunday." If the roots of the plant where forked it was seen to be fortuitous. The women would sing special songs together and to the plants while gathering. They would then wash the plant and bundle it, tying it off with red string and placed in dirt or sand until St Michael's Feast Day. On that day they were given as blessing with wishes attached for luck, prosperity, fertility and abundance.

Clover is known to attract prosperity and break curse and unwanted energies.The clover grows abundantly , shooting up again after repeated cuttings and always grows in abundance despite soil and climate conditions.  It is great for livestock and crops as it balances nitrogen reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

Within this World Card there is the abundance of Spring storms and flowering plants. There is also the the bare tree of the colder days. Only two of the Major Arcana in the deck have lightening. One, The Tower where all that was known or thought to be true destroyed and through that transformation and The World, where the cosmic egg breaks, the snake sheds it's skin, the halo around Molly's head regards her with reverence but also the  light around the sun, moon, or other luminescent body caused by refraction through hexagonal ice crystals in the atmosphere. As the days go from warm to cold, night and day, the journey continues in the ever constant shape of the lemniscate. 

The La Gitana Tarot will be published by Catland Publishing Spring 2015.


Killin' It 070: Updates from the Homefront


Speakeasy Dollhouse, a true tale of bootlegging, mafia, infidelity, and murder set in Prohibition-era New York City resumes at it's  secret location. This show is themed "Sex" and is chock full of surprises. You can purchase tickets for the Monday or Saturday show here.

Me as Lucrezia

Molly Crabapple was filmed for Antoine de Caunes French television show.  We had a party and all of us ladies dined on cupcakes and champagne with Antoine. Much love to Miss Molly.

Today I'm off to shoot with one of my favorite photographers in the world, Kyle Cassidy.  We're shooting for the Bed Song Book and I'm extremely excited.  Kyle and I have wanted to work together for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Here is a thumbnail of one of the images but to see Kyle's work in full check out his website by clicking his highlighted name or the thumbnail below.


Pimp My Artwork 060: Fortuna's Box

A box for the adored Molly Crabapple.  A Lakshmi and Fortuna infusion, featuring the Wheel of Fortune, the hand of Fatima, and the most sacred honeysuckle.  I listened to Lakshmi and Kubera prosperity chants while I mixed absinthe colored paints on my palette. The box took about 5 days to paint.  I use a series of glazes and aging techniques, so between the drying of the glazes and aging the box it does take a few days, which is torturous to an impatient person such as myself.  Those moments are best for chanting. You can purchase your own custom box right here.

This Kubera chant was really amazing to work to.  One of my favorites with it's strong beat I found myself chanting along to it.


En Gypsy Couture 018: The Writing Mines

I've been in the writing mines for the past few weeks.  Each tarot card has a story to tell and I'm here at my trusty computer taking all of it down.  So here's a little update on the things I've been doing in between.

Coilhouse had their Black and White and Red All Over fundraiser.  Photo by Steve Prue.

Molly Crabapple's Week In Hell came and went quickly and my beloved friend covered 270 feet of wall herself.  My friend Robin Grearson wrote a lovely article on it over at Curbs & Stoops.  Photos by Steve Prue.

Molly included me in her 66 project a few months back which can be viewed here.

Gabby Young came to town and played the Gypsy Fest.  The show was gorgeous and Gabby, Kai, Zina and I had a blast afterward.  The next day Gabby and I gallavanted around the East Village drinking coffee and chai, exploring thriftshops, and sitting in secret gardens.  Sxip joined us later for coffee at one of my favorite cafes in the city.  Gabby and I plotted some new secret plans.  Will announce them soon.

Also Gabby is rereleasing "Song for Japan" to help raise more money for those in need after the earthquake.  It's only £0.79 and I did the cover art.  Click the image to get to the itunes page.

You can also purchase the original through my etsy store here.

I'll be back soon with more tarot and some new updates. x to the o


Killin' It 057: ChinaShop & Hijacking Warren's Blog

My dear friend Molly Crabapple did an interview with me for ChinaShop.  Words cannot express how much I love that woman.  Click the pics to be taken to the link.

My other dear friend Warren let me hijack his website for a post.  I talk about characters, legends, and archetypes.  Warren is a God among men and you should all donate your organs to him.