Just finished and uploaded a new design to the shop, and I’m pretty satisfied. Ereshkigal is a section out of the Scroll of Wisdom, the second goddess, after Athena, in the Alphabet of Desire.
Ereshkigal, Mesopotamian Goddess of the Underworld
She’s a little bit creepy, but she’s an embodiment of death, so, what’s she supposed to do?
This drawing gave me a lot of trouble, both the original and the digital version. I sort of felt like she was watching me with her hypnotic eyes, as if to say, “Soon enough, you’ll come to me.”
I first met Ereshkigal in Alan Moore’s Promethea, where he retells the story of Ereshkigal having her younger sister, Ishtar/Inanna brought low. The goddess of the heavens is forced to give up all her clothes in order to descend into the land of the dead, in much the same way, I imagine, as a seeker of knowledge must shed certain thoughts and ideas that have adorned her in the past in order to unfold new mysteries.
Athena, goddess of wisdom, offers the Scroll of Wisdom. She bears the head of Medusa, encircled by the ouroboros, on her girdle, and carries the sword of the Tarot, which is a symbolic tool for cutting through illusion to reveal truth.
The idea of alphabets in general has always fascinated me, long before I ever even hear the term “font.” I read calligraphy books in grade school and often wrote out fancy alphabets as a centering technique. I liked the idea of decorative caps, and wanted to write an acrostic story with twenty-six chapters, which I would illuminate with twenty-six initial letters.
Inking the illustration for chapter C: the magical rowan tree. Mandalas feature prominently in the scroll.
Illustrating the Scroll of Wisdom was a new challenge for me. Graphic storytelling had become fascinating to me in recent years, but my ability to draw in a regimented way, maintaining a consistent style and moving a character through a magical landscape, seemed overwhelming. However, the mission seemed clear. After spontaneously drawing Pallas Athene on a sheet of butcher paper, I realized that, rather then cutting her free from the roll, I should utilize this old method creating a text and simply let one drawing follow the next on a continuous sheet of paper.
The completed tree
The story gradually revealed itself: a journey from initiation to mastery. The magician’s journey. The journey of the will. We’ll get back to this in a little while….
Title for the Alphabet of Desire. The lettering is based on Gothic Versals.
I don’t remember where I first heard the term “Alphabet of Desire,” a magical device invented by artist Austin Osman Spare, but it was something that synchronistically popped up here and there, until it occupied a firm space in my mind. I went so far as to sketch out the ideas I would use in my own Alphabet of Desire, and would find them every couple months or so.
The first initial cap for my acrostic novella. The wood symbolizes the Tarot wands and the concept of generation. A sprouting stick signifies new beginnings and earthly ventures. The snake represents the mystic male generative principle.
At the same time, I had also been long kicking around an idea of writing a story whose plot was based on the Tarot’s journey of the Fool (i.e. a work of twenty-two segments, each based on a Major Arcana).
For every chapter of the Alphabet of Desire, I also do a page of hand drawn letters in various fonts, which serves as a centering exercise.