special considerations and protocols on the use and reproduction of the twinstar

The upcoming curriculum announcement due in a few days will have more information on which mirrors are permitted physical presence on a student’s altar, according to grades (currently we only have one accessible grade that applies to the vast majority of our members, so my Magisters can ignore this. 

First, a surprise. The entirety of the Book of Mirrors has been uploaded in its original form and format in order to keep our new students busy, and to address a few deficiencies in our curriculum. Even more exciting news about a huge new data release can be found in the thread. TAI-members only access. 

http://abrahadabra.freeforums.net/thread/427/link-book-mirrors

It has come our my attention that some students might be unclear when and how they might safely use the tools that we have lying around here at TAI. The simple answer I have for you all, is when in doubt, ask – and a few of you who will join us in the future will probably need to doubt a little more  than you already do, if you are to avoid being taken for a fool. The extreme trepidation exhibited by a few of you is often well founded, and it’s one of the reasons why I responded to one member’s concerns by posting my own personal journal detailing the possible extremity of what we refer to as ignition. I am also extremely appreciative whenever someone takes the time to follow proper etiquette and asks me for permission to reproduce one or another mirrors. I am often able to grant these requests and there are very few mirrors we have restrictions on, usually based on the advanced nature of the technology inherent in the image. This post will deal with one of those mirrors that requires special consideration – the TwinStar. The TwinStar comes in several dozen different forms. One of them, a very carefully chosen form, is included in analog print form with the first year curriculum and made available to self guided students who wish to work independently (non-curriculum members). 
      We do not grant permission to any member to use the TwinStar above and beyond the meditations available on the site without prior authorization:  either from Abrahadabra itself or from necessity itself, in eons to come where there is no Abrahadabra Institute, or this order is just a distant memory. This is a more recent decision at TAI based on decades of experience.
       We cannot be held responsible for the fallout for failing to attend to this first mandate concerning the mirrors. We warn people all the time that they are not to be treated frivolously but it has become apparent after much completely unnecessary bloodshed and suffering that we have not enunciated this well enough for it to be taken seriously.
      We do occasionally release TwinStar mirrors, but these are always produced with the highest level of ability and precision, and always on the finest giclee process and paper available. A shortage of available prints does not mean one is justified in creating one for oneself. The last open selection in the catalogue raisonne was in December. Certain mirrors, such as the TwinStar and Four Elemental Worlds, or the TwinTrees, were unavailable, even during this special event, due to their special nature. The Four Elemental Worlds and Koshas TwinStar may only be created at the behest of the TwinStar itself, on rare occasions, and it decides who it goes to. 
       Permission to wear the TwinStar, in bronze or 10K gold is granted immediately following successful completion of TAI’s third year testing. After that point you may purchase them at cost in the desired material, once per year. This was mandated by the Magister Ouroboros 729 himself, before his death. 14K and 24K gold are not permitted as a material as that are too soft and would end up becoming distorted over time, which is unacceptable for such a holy image.
      At the time of your death they may be buried with you or given in your will to another suitable party (anyone past year three testing,) or melted down, or returned to the Abrahadabra Institute where they will be kept, with your name on them, forever.
      Occasional other permissions, for more specialized applications or creation of the TwinStar in other formats, in the past, for those with enough etiquette to ask the creator, has been granted very rarely to a few individuals, in order that they might use the TwinStar for one or another purposes agreed upon between us to be mutually beneficial. Even these individuals were warned that their dharma would be accelerated, and they really needed to think carefully about the decision.
      Even I was not permitted to wear the TwinStar until my fifth year under m1thr0s, as he was worried about several issues I might face without proper preparations. It was only after several scheduled observations between the world during multiple entheogenic sessions in various positions on the Tree of Life that was permitted to wear it. I  was not allowed to access high-res, printable files until my second year when it was made clear that I understood the importance of maintaining the physical perfection of the form. Unsurprisingly we hold students to the same standards.
      This brings us to another point. Creating the TwinStar with anything less than digital tools is not recommended, since it’s very hard to control the physical perfection of the image in traditional mediums. It has been done before of course – there are a number of examples of the TwinStar in our archives on drafting paper using pen and ink that are nearly indistinguishable from the “real” thing, that were created by the Magister Ouroboros 729 before digital drafting tools were made available to the public. Even with digital tools, students are advised to be very careful in reconstructing these mirrors on their own. 
      A 3D file of the image of the TwinStar was created by friend of the Institute after extensive back-and-forth dialogue between m1thr0s and one of the friends of TAI. This is the same file that will be used to create your TwinStar pendant upon graduation of the third year of study. It is pixel-perfect and quite a stunning piece of jewelry. For his merit he was awarded one of two framed kaostar-003.ai prints, the Black Akasha Edition, the only two that exist in the world to this day.

As an example of what we are talking about here though, at the time of its creation, the original file the 3D artist had made and sent to us alongside the request was imprecise, squashed, not at all the beautiful and elegant TwinStar. It was only due to the fact that he wrote us asking for permission to use m1thr0s’ design in a casting that we were able to tell him he was about to create something that wasn’t the TwinStar at all. This would have been a disaster for him if he had not come to us, as a deformed TwinStar is extremely dangerous, and by his own admission he only had a very small amount of money to put towards the fee for the casting. 
       TAI is not an institution  separate from the TwinStar itself, much as the flag of the United States of America is considered inseparable from the nation itself. Most people can’t seem to understand that, but when did the understanding of people ever really matter when it came to the matter and business of universe? All noticeably imperfect TwinStars must be destroyed. Like the flag, any TwinStars that must be destroyed should be burned in a solemn ritual. The same goes for the Hidden Diamond, Abrahadabra Grid, or any other magickal mirror that we have and use around here. 
      Despite the fact that peoples’ lives were being destroyed over their presumptuousness and easy familiarity with the master, the TwinStar, few people made the connection between their foolish (if unintentional) irreverence and easy familiarity with a hyper intelligent class of beings light years ahead of them in evolution. It’s not like I want people to blow themselves up. I’d much rather be left with a friend or someone who was actually useful to the star agenda. Life goes on and so does the train that is this work. I can’t afford to get off of it for any and every passenger that falls off from their own foolishness. 
       And just on a personal note, aside from all of the real consequences – do whatever you wish at TAI – but do not presume that I take kindly to my husband’s work being treated as a hotel buffet that one may do with as you wish. I thought that I had seen the last of it as we wiped the slate clean from the last round of Abrahadabra Forums – where every remarkably profound essay by the master was followed up on with inane “me too!” posts, excitedly squirting out whatever popped into their heads, rock crystals in the shape of the TwinStar, ugly copycat variant colors of special TwinStar editions m1thr0s and I released (of my Solstice gift no less,) or other mildly interesting garbage.
      The rest of us who understood that it wasn’t all about producing a lot of noise amounting to very little were forced to ignore these inanities for the sake of forum harmony, and we focused on the original conversation as best we could until the anvil hit these morons. I don’t give a damned if this offends anyone. What I have found out over the years is if a person acts like low-class trash, they probably are low-class trash everywhere else in the universe.
      You are not in competition with any of the material here, with m1thr0s 729, or me, or anyone else within The Abrahadabra Institute. The only way you could hope to be in competition with me is if you achieved ignition, and then you would see how fucking stupid that idea is.  Your only hope and wish should be to understand what is going on with the Body of Light and its Mastery. Once that happens, all of those idiotic notions of competition will vanish.
      The goal here is to always work in perfect harmony to the ultimate goal: Perfection itself. While there will be disagreements and fighting due to the lofty nature of the work and its importance to Mankind, there will never be any room for competitions of any kind. 
      Being able to wear the TwinStar, to be allowed access to possess forbidden mirrors only granted to those who won their way through the ordeals of our order, and bear the title, Mutational Alchemist, is a very high honor and achievement.
      The TwinStar is not a trinket, a toy or a pretty design. It is an intelligence of the loftiest order, far and above anything anyone on Earth has yet experienced in their everyday, common grimoires, practices and religions. There is nothing stronger, in this world or the next. Treat it with the respect and tribute that it is due and it will lift you up. Mistreat it, fail to make good on your word, and disparage its messengers and allies and you will be in a world of hurt. It does not, as far as I can tell, differentiate between intentional harm and foolish ignorance – much. “All fools despise.” as the book said. Crowley was not aware of it as far as I can tell and this is unsurprising – he didn’t have the clearance to know about it. We do not fetishize Crowley around these parts.
      The TwinStar is also, as I and Magister 729 have discussed countless times before, a weapon of the highest caliber. The only thing stopping the intelligence it represents from vaporizing you and reclaiming its atoms from you is its own intense desire to help you. It doesn’t have a sense of humor about anyone who dares to fuck around with any of its own servants, which makes it just about the best friend a Magus can make in this universe, and as far as I can tell, and the next. 
      So no, you may not wear the TwinStar. You may not make pictures out of it – whether out of rocks, or pixels or plants or crayon. It doesn’t belong to you, for starters, and you have not earned that right. The few TwinStar images we have released were released at the behest of the TwinStar itself, and they find themselves into the hands of the right people. Nobody will be punished for disobeying this mandate. I will not kick you out of TAI, and I will not make a big deal out of it, although you may find me less than pleased. Our mirrors have a way of policing themselves and they are much more efficient and far reaching than I could ever be, so there is no need to belabor the point beyond this guide. 
       Some of our members, I realize, as I have been contacted by them before, may be living such miserable lives that they would give anything to have a superior intelligence rework their life in order that you might attain some semblance of happiness, or maybe they’re on their deathbed and want the assurance of something better (and longer lasting) than Buddy Jebus Heaven, “I Give Up Plox” Nirvana or whatever else people are peddling from the Afterlife foodtruck these days. For these I can only say: Do What You Will. In these cases one should contact me so that I can fast track you into alignment with the TwinStar. There are ways to do this. It isn’t always pretty, and it’s often nerve wracking, but occasionally, it is the only real solution in certain dire situations…       

Izi Ningishzidda

Magister Ouroboros 777

how to get your tarot published

After showcasing our timeline album over at IMGUR of The Mutational Alchemy Tarot a few people asked me to cover the publishing process from start to finish. I’ve seen a few Kickstarter projects asking for absurd amounts of money for low runs so in my opinion transparency is a good thing here. 

Publishing a tarot is easier than you might think, especially with the ease of access to resources via the internet. While in the past hand cut decks were popular, they are very time consuming and thus they are very limited in distribution, numbering between 15-100 copies. Large factories can handle tens of thousands of copies as long as you can pay for them, and offer a wide array of services like gilding and different paper types.

During Creation

The first thing you need to make sure of is that your art is of a high enough DPI, or resolution. The bigger the image the higher the quality of the final printing. 

mat-ptah
As you can see the art is MUCH bigger than the final card, this will help your final print quality tremendously.

If you are painting or constructing the images digitally you’ll need to make sure that you’re painting with CMYK in mind, the inks that a printer uses. The computer you’re using has access to a lot more colors than a conventional printer, and more than even some of the advanced industrial printers you’ll possibly be sending your images to.

If you are painting traditionally you will need a good working knowledge of cameras, lighting setups and have the equipment itself, either rented, borrowed or owned. If you don’t wish to deal with this you can also hire a photographer to take pictures of your work. Expect to shell out at least $20 per photo for the photographer’s time, if they are professional. Make sure you get a high DPI digital version, and not prints. You can put this images in a photo editing program to make adjustments later on or send them directly to the printer.

I shouldn’t need to mention this, but under no circumstances should you ever use someone else’s images in your work. Whether it’s the likeness of a celebrity or a photo you cut out of magazine and painted, it’s stealing. (see http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/heart-of-stars-tarot/ for an example of what not to do – this is literally a crime and could never be picked up by a publisher or printer legally) If you use photo manipulation please make sue the image has the proper creative commons release or is in the public domain. There’s nothing wrong with that and it doesn’t hurt anyone’s livelihood or infringe on their individual rights. If you put a likeness of your friend in the tarot, make sure they’re okay with it first.

Getting it Published

Finally when all of your images are done and they are in digital form, (JPEG with at least 300 DPI resolution.) what do you do now? You can send it to a local printer if they have the equipment to handle a tarot deck. Most printers in the USA do not – they will print a sheet for you and you have to cut it yourself. There is a niche market for such handmade decks. Other times you’ll find that the quality is lacking and it can get expensive testing one printer after another.

Tarot cards used to be exclusively hand pressed and painted, so it is definately a real option for one-off’s especially, and well done lithographic tarot can become extremely sought after.

"Look if the Visconti's can do it so can you" says the Pierpont-Morgan Bergamo King of Pentacles.
“Look if the Visconti’s can do it so can you” says Visconti di Modrone’s King of Cups.

A Publisher

Some go with the publishing route, but if you do this you need to widely publicize your work on the deck during its creation and target a niche audience that represents the common occultist – highly advanced or innovative decks will not do well and publishers will rarely take a chance with them. As an example, we wrote to two publishers before deciding it would be in our best interest to retain all ownership rights. US Games told us outright that while they could see it was based on the Thoth, the nudity would offend their customers. 

By Paul-in-London - http://www.flickr.com/photos/epaul_07/7169673527/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19852478
Definately not US Games customers. (By Paul-in-London – http://www.flickr.com/photos/epaul_07/7169673527/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19852478)

Llewellyn just ignored us despite writing to them twice. 

Small Local Printers and Hand Cutting

Our first real option after this lull of publisher rejection was offered by a student of m1thr0s’s, MythMath who already had a lot of experience making homemade games and had made playing cards before using a corner rounder. We had been working on the pack for nearly five years at that point and he wanted to get The Mutational Alchemy Tarot printed right away, and ordered some difficult-to-source poker paper to get it done locally. The paper was luxurious, durable and flexible but the images were noticeably off center. The printer wasn’t equipped to handle cards and it was extremely cost prohibitive. To make one deck would require an investment of $200, and I knew there had to be a better way, considering companies churn out decks for $15 a pop over and over again with few major problems with centering.

If you want highly professional service dedicated to tarot printing alone, on state of the art machines, you will have to go to Los Angeles, New York, or…Asia.

The TwinStar Orders Us Around

In 2014 that taskmaster the TwinStar began pushing me hard to get the deck published en masse. Its urgent demands were something I knew could not be ignored, nor would it be overly difficult for me to obey them as it probably already had a printer lined up. You have to work with the TwinStar for a few years to begin to understand just how perfect it is in action and conversation – it’s never wrong, it always has your best and highest interests in mind, and it’s not worth arguing with it, as you will lose, badly! 

header-wp
REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME YOU FUCKED WITH ME PUNY HUMAN

I started researching possible companies to self publish, and found Make Playing cards.com, which was very expensive at $15.00 per deck and while the colors looked good the paper stock was flimsy like a run of the mill massmarket deck according to other users. I uploaded all of our images and ordered a test copy to see if it was worth ordering a big batch. They wrote us back stating they had a policy against nudity! I couldn’t believe it. There was no other option in the USA for wholesale printing jobs.

Ali Baba and the Forty Tarot Factories

Asia was a labryinth, but m1thr0s and I absolutely wanted to get our cards printed in China for magickal reasons. Navigating the maze of trade liasons, importers, manufacturing companies and factories however, was daunting and indimidating. Sending thousands of dollars halfway across the world is even scarier, since it was a business loan and there was no way we could afford to do it again, especially since we wern’t sure if it would pay for itself. It was an investment in the long term for TAI itself, so that the website, annual taxes and licensing would begin paying for itself at least, and m1thr0s and I could gift the ownership of the MAT to TAI to help any future leaders of it.

I did some research and found out that dealing with factories directly was more cost effective, while the alternatives such as importers who go to factories on your behalf are more expensive, but supposedly more reliable. 

After reading an article on the topic of doing business in China I decided to seek out factories. I started on Ali Baba, the trade hub of the world for everything from handbags to 3D printing machines sold wholesale. I hung my signpost out that said I was looking for a publisher for high quality art cards with nudity “not porn”, hoping to avoid any surprises later on.

I got quite a few responses and had to take days looking at all of them, talking to agents about what I needed and what they were willing to do. I sorted them out by weeding out people who seemed to abrasive or hasty, people who didn’t represent the factory directly (they call these importers or trade liaisons, and while they can be very helpful I was trying to cut all of the extra costs to put everything into the decks) factories that seemed to focus only on poker cards instead of oracle and tarot, and finally I was left with my choice, Shenzhen Wanjing Printing Co. They had a very nice website on Ali Baba with lots of photos of their staff and factory, a very responsive and polite agent as well as lots and lots of details about what they could do. The pricing was up front and they took the time to give me quotes based on what I asked for, instead of just throwing a cheap number at me without any details on the weight of the paper and packaging options.

I was lucky in that I didn’t have to make any compromises, except for paying more than I would have going to another company. We got exactly what we wanted, from the neat tuckbox to the black bleed-to-edge border. We did have to resize each image very slightly to fit their template, which was a little bit bigger than what we had planned, although this was actually a plus. Everything cost about $5,000 for 500 decks. It can go a lot lower for lower quality paper such as the kind you find in mass-published tarot decks which are seemingly never more than 300 gsm. (ours are 350 gsm art paper)

sales9@wjplayingcards.com is the email address of our contact Fanny Yeung at Shenzhen Wangjing and they are the best. If you decide to use them tell them The Abrahadabra Institute and Izi sent you. They are very reputable and are used by big publishers as well. 

The team at Shenzhen Wangjing Printing Co. sent us this photo after I chatted with them about the art. Apparently they all love wolves and call themselves “The Wolf Pack” lol so I sent them pictures of the wolves I had growing up.

Even if you can pay for it, can you afford it?

We hadn’t been recieving very much financial support for our work on Abrahadabra even though people would come to us constantly with questions and requests for advice. This was very upsetting to our local busines advisor and she told us to stop doing it. We had to put the entire amount on the credit we had built carefully over the years. m1thr0s was on disability since he was hit hard with COPD around the time I was familiarizing myself with his work. I had been working on the deck for 5 years while doing customer service  and freelance on the side at very low paying jobs to support him and the entire Institute, so we didn’t have any savings to put towards it. There just isn’t enough time to work on these important scholarly subjects and work at a full time typical career job, that’s the bottom line, especially with m1thr0s needing more and more assistance physically at home due to his poor health.

Both m1thr0s and I are highly skilled artists, so I knew we would be able to sell them once they were published. I know a lot of occultists want to publish a deck but if your situation is fragile like ours usually is you shouldn’t dump everything into publishing a deck that might not sell. I knew all of these risks and the reality of the situation well before I started on the project, but after talking with others involved in the Abrahadabra Institute I knew it was important to have a graphical representation of the kind of ideas we are always going on about in a fun form factor. 

Shipping is very expensive from China for heavy boxes and you should expect to tack on at least a thousand dollars for every 500 decks. They initially wanted to send it to a port but I couldn’t get any of the ports here to explain how to pick it up, so the easiest option was by air with UPS. The best part of choosing Shenzhen Wangjiang is that they reassured us and guided us every step of the way, and we ordered everything sight unseen without sending a quality controller. This is very risky but I had to trust that since things were going so smoothly my spirit lodge helpers were managing everything as they always do. 

Marketing

m1thr0s is way more marketing savvy than I am having been the chief director of marketing at the Anarchist-Chaote publisher Loompanics for years before being hit with COPD. First he had us notify our clan at Abrahadabra, asking them to check out the deck and give us reviews at Aeclectic which one person did. The rest of our loyalists who had eagerly been awaiting the deck to hit purchased one and we rewarded them with signed cards from the first printed copy as well as free shipping. 

We posted ads on Facebook, Reddit and locally and received quite a response. A customer asked for us to do a video review and I did so using my smartphone which wasn’t hard. It’s pretty easy to do marketing like this, we could probably go harder at it by advertising in magazines and such but I don’t feel like it’s necessary at the moment due to selling them pretty quickly as it is. The biggest tarot site on the internet is Aeclectic Tarot so we felt like we should put the pack in the directory there, and generated quite a bit of activity surprisingly. Aeclectic tends to be a Rider-Waite crowd but it is inexpensive and important to register there as they are basically the only directory of tarot on the internet aside from Amazon. If you can’t afford anything else at least get on Aeclectic. 

Whether you are looking to publish your own oracle deck for personal use, or you are an artist looking to make a name in tarot, I hope this article has been useful for you. As always feel free to ask questions in the comments and support us by buying your copy of The Mutational Alchemy Tarot!