Those looking into the mystery of the Ouroboros symbol meaning and history will certainly find themselves delving into the ancient past and secret knowledge.  Humans have been using the symbol of a snake biting its own tail for more than 3000 years.  Here, I will exploring some of the history of the symbol, what it means, and take you into my studio during the creation of my own ouroboros design.

Designing my own Ouroboros

As part of an ongoing series paying homage to old alchemical and gnostic illustrations, I did my own ouroboros symbol.  I decided to base the design on the knotted patter from the very first memory I have of the symbol.  It was the Auryn from the “Never Ending Story” where I first saw the ouroboros.  It was one of those symbols I just understood by looking at it even as a child.  In the following video, you can watch the inking process in awesome time lapse video with some questionable commentary.

History and use of the Ouroboros

The use of the Ouroboros symbol spans many cultures throughout history.  Although the first image of a snake biting its tail comes from Egypt, we can find the symbol being used by a number of cultures all over the world.  I have complied several historical cultural examples of the use of the symbol.

Ouroboros in Egypt

The Ouroboros symbol’s oldest appearance was found in Egypt in the tomb of King Tutankhamun from 1323 BCE.  Within the bounty that was plundered from the tomb of King Tut was a gilded shrine.  Upon the shrine is a unique type of book called an “Amduat” which means it deals with the Netherworld.  This book is written mostly in code and is yet to be cracked so we can only know a small amount of what the text is all about.

ouroboros symbol from king tut's tomb
Detail of Ouroboros from Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld discovered in the tomb of King Tut.

Scholars have dubbed the book “The Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld” as it speaks of the journey of the sun through the underworld and the creation of a sun disc.  The section including the ouroboros symbol involves a pair of them.  In the center of a panel is a large figure (some say Osiris, some say Tutankhamun) with a snake biting its tail around his head and another around his feet.  It is theorized that this was a way to depict Mehen, the serpent protector deity of the sun god Re.

The Papyrus of Dama Heroub from the 11th-10th centuries BCE has an illustration in which Horus the child god rides the sun disc surrounded by the ouroboros and riding on the backs of lions.  Not only is he the crowned and conquering child, but Horus knows how to ride in style.  Most likely, the ouroboros symbol used here is also meant to represent Mehen.

Ouroboros symbol surrounding Horus
The Papyrus of Dama Heroub Ouroboros

Next, we find the symbol used in a work coming from a 3rd century alchemical text known as the Crysopoea of Cleopatra.  The ouroboros symbol is found surrounding the greek word “ἕν τὸ πᾶν”, (hen to pān) which means “one is the all”.  The other illustrations from Cleopatra’s Crysopoea (which means “lead into gold,” by the way) are a set of cryptographs which appear to be about distillation and astrological dating, in my opinion.  It is said that Cleopatra the Alchemist actually knew how to create the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Ouroboros symbol from Chrysopoea of Cleopatra
Chrysopoea of Cleopatra Egyptian alchemy text containing Ouroboros symbol.

The use of the serpent biting its tail as a symbolic image must have been in somewhat common use during the times before and after King Tut.  If the first use was sealed into King Tut’s tomb, it would not have been seen by humans again until 1928 and therefore could not be copied from that source.

Ancient Greece and the Ouroboros

In the land in which we get the word “ouroboros” meaning “tail-devouring”, we find more of an allegorical ouroboros within the writings of none other than Plato.  In his Timaeus, 33, Plato describes a universal animal that encompasses the concept of the ouroboros.  He writes:

“Now of the four elements the construction of the Cosmos had taken up the whole of every one. For its Constructor had constructed it of all the fire and water and air and earth that existed, leaving over, outside it, no single particle or potency of any one of these elements.

And these were his intentions: [32d] first, that it might be, so far as possible, a Living Creature, perfect and whole, with all its parts perfect; and next, that it might be One, inasmuch as there was nothing left over out of which another like Creature might come into existence; and further, that it might be secure from age and ailment, since He perceived that when heat and cold, and all things which have violent potencies, surround a composite body from without and collide with it they dissolve it unduly and make it to waste away by bringing upon it ailments and age. Wherefore, because of this reasoning, He fashioned it to be One single Whole, compounded of all wholes, perfect and ageless and unailing. [33b] And he bestowed on it the shape which was befitting and akin.

Now for that Living Creature which is designed to embrace within itself all living creatures the fitting shape will be that which comprises within itself all the shapes there are; wherefore He wrought it into a round, in the shape of a sphere, equidistant in all directions from the center to the extremities, which of all shapes is the most perfect and the most self-similar, since He deemed that the similar is infinitely fairer than the dissimilar. And on the outside round about, it was all made smooth with great exactness, and that for many reasons. [33c] For of eyes it had no need, since outside of it there was nothing visible left over; nor yet of hearing, since neither was there anything audible; nor was there any air surrounding it which called for respiration; nor, again, did it need any organ whereby it might receive the food that entered and evacuate what remained undigested. For nothing went out from it or came into it from any side, since nothing existed; for it was so designed as to supply its own wastage as food for itself, [33d] and to experience by its own agency and within itself all actions and passions, since He that had constructed it deemed that it would be better if it were self-sufficing rather than in need of other things. Hands, too, He thought He ought not to attach unto it uselessly, seeing they were not required either for grasping or for repelling anyone; nor yet feet, nor any instruments of locomotion whatsoever.  For movement He assigned unto it that which is proper to its body, namely, that one of the seven motions1 which specially belongs to reason and intelligence; wherefore He spun it round uniformly in the same spot and within itself and made it move revolving in a circle; and all the other six motions He took away and fashioned it free from their aberrations. And seeing that for this revolving motion it had no need of feet, He begat it legless and footless.”

Despite the greek origins of the etymology of the word ouroboros, I was unable to find any further example from ancient Greece.  It seems that the concept survived through Greek culture to some extent to carry on to other cultures.

The Jörmungandr, a Norse ouroboros

In Norse mythology, the Ouroboros appears as the serpent Jörmungandr.  The mighty beast was so large that it wrapped around the entire sphere of the Earth and bite its own tail.  It seems that the tail biting serpent of the Norse ends it similarities to the other cultural uses of the ouroboros in form alone.  The great and terrible beast was attributed with all sorts of maleficent deeds and was enemy to Thor.  According to the Norse, when the Jörmungandr releases its tail, the Ragnarök will begin. The Ragnarök is a time in which the current world is submerged and a new one arises from the waters.

Jörmungandr Norse ouroboros symbol etched in rune stone
Many Rune Stones found around Europe depict Jörmungandr, the Norse ouroboros.

Ouroboros Symbol use by European Alchemists

Around the 8th Century AD, the arrival of Islam into Spain brought with it the ancient secret knowledge of alchemy and hermeticism.  The knowledge of alchemy had been carried through all of the major ancient cultures since Egypt (and maybe before?).  It was in Medieval Europe that the use of the ouroboros symbol really blew up.  I would be hard pressed to even begin to scratch the surface of the numerous uses since its arrival into the West.   Alchemy brought the rise in western secret societies who continue to use the ouroboros symbol to this day.

Ouroboros symbol

Ouroboros symbol Sacra exequialia in funere Jacobi II (1702)
Sacra exequialia in funere Jacobi II (1702)

 

Ouroboros Symbol. Devises royales di Adrian d’Amboise (1621)
Devises royales di Adrian d’Amboise (1621)

What does the Ouroboros symbol mean?

Double ouroboros symbol

Lastly, I will discuss the mystery of the ouroboros symbol meaning.  The fact that the symbol is sometimes called the infinity snake reveals part of the meaning to us.  In short, we can say that the symbol means endless return or rejuvenation.  There is more to it than just that.

In order to better understand the ouroboros, it is helpful to consider the hermetic principle of correspondence.  The phrase “As above, so below” is most commonly associated with this idea.  If we look at Plato’s description of the universe as a living animal that sustains itself, it provides an illustration of the concept very nicely.  The same idea can then be applied to other studies.

In alchemy, the ouroboros is a symbol of the relationship between the science and the scientist.  The purpose in creating the philosopher’s stone, other than to turn base metals into gold, is to make the elixir of life.  The elixir is a distilled substance in which the alchemist extracts pure life energy.  This elixir of life can supposedly be consumed to regenerate the body of the alchemist.  The base material to create the elixir is made from the alchemist’s own body fluids.  The ouroboros symbol is used to indicate the self generation and purification of alchemy.

The process of distillation itself used by alchemists also relates to the ouroboros symbol.  For this reason, we see the increase in popularity of the dual snake or dragon ouroboros.  The use of the two serpents better illustrates opposing forces.  In the alchemical process, the elixir is distilled by heating and cooling to various degrees of intensity over a long period of time.  The opposition of the forces of hot and cold drive the cycle central to the distillation process.

In later years, the ouroboros symbol is used by psychologist Carl Jung to illustrate the relationship of a person with their shadow.

“The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself.”

– Carl Jung

That’s it yo.

With understanding, we can see how and why the ouroboros symbol has endured the ages.  In many ways, it relates to all of us as modern people using our life energy to sustain ourselves.  Just by living our lives, we emulate the universal model.  On a personal note, I feel life becomes more perfect the closer we each get to true self sufficiency.  The ouroboros is the perfect symbol for how humans should be living in the future.

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Ladies' ouroberos shirt design by Closet of Mysteries Ouroboros original screen print shirt design on Grey by Closet of Mysteries


	
Original reindeer drawing with amanita muscaria pattern

I made a short video of the process of screen printing my 2 color Amanita Muscaria Mushroom Shaman reindeer t shirt design.

The design is based on an ink drawing I had done while studying Siberian Shamanism.  The shamanic cultures of Siberia often herd reindeer and consider them sacred animals.

There are many interesting theories relating to the consumption and use of the Amanita Muscaria in relationship to the Yule celebration.  One in particular, is that the idea of flying reindeer came from the shared experience of the reindeer eating the mushrooms and then people would also partake.  Then when all of the beings were good and tripping, the deer would jump around and the humans would perceive them to be flying.  Of course, that is just a theory but an interesting one no doubt 🙂

In this video, you can see my original artwork and then the two color process of me screen printing the reindeer t shirt with that design.  Enjoy the wonder!

reindeer t shirt amanita muscaria triblend raglan

Amanita Muscaria Reindeer shirt is available in the Closet of Mysteries Shop.

mushroom shaman shirt design from Closet of Mysteries

I recently completed some new artwork for a Mushroom Shaman shirt design.  It was a fun project that I made a nifty little time lapse video of some of the final stages.  In this video, I introduce the use of a voice over.  It is an amazing tool that can deliver a lot of very important information.  One day, I hope to use the VO tool for that purpose.

I had been wanting to make a Mushroom Shaman shirt design for quite a while.  When I sat down to finally put it together, this design sort of popped into my head.  I began by sketching the different components of the design.  From those, I created a pencil drawing of the entire composition.  In order reproduce the image as a screen print, I finished the line art in acrylic ink.

This video includes a time lapse of the entire inking process along with my awesome aforementioned voiceover.

Once the inking process was complete, I scanned the work and cleaned it up for output onto film which will be used to make the screen print stencil.

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Shirts are available in the shop.

For Men:Mushroom shaman t shirt original design by Closet of Mysteries

For Women:Women's Mushroom shaman shirt original design by Closet of Mysteries

 

Rod of Asclepius t shirt from Closet of Mysteries

When I make a design, I like to research the symbolism to really understand it.  Recently, I designed a Rod of Asclepius; an ancient symbol most easily recognized from its symbolic use by the medical profession. Often confused with the Rod of Hermes or Caduceus which has two snakes wrapping a staff, the Rod of Asclepius has a single snake.  Where did this symbol originate and what does it really mean?  Well, I wanted to know so I did some poking around to find answers.

Who is Asclepius and what’s up with his rod?

Rod of Asclepius stone carving

Asclepius is the ancient Greek god of medicine and healing.  He was the son of Apollo (the sun) and father of another famous doctor Hippocrates.  As with many archetypal characters, there are several versions of the story of his mother but none end well for her and Asclepius was raised by his father.  Apollo taught the young demigod how to heal using plants.  Asclepius was so skilled that it was said he could even raise the dead.  The gods felt he would upset the balance and had him assassinated by Zeus.

The Rod of Asclepius symbol is made up of a snake wrapping around a staff.  Scholars debate over the meanings of the snake and staff.  The truth is, like with most symbols used by mystics, their meanings are many.  The most popular meaning of the snake is that it represents rebirth since it sheds its skin.  Since healers in the old days had to travel on foot, the staff was also associated with the medicine man.

The magical snake of Moses

The Rod of Asclepius symbol seems to make a cameo in the Bible also.  The use of a magical serpent on a stick by Moses would give this symbol an older usage than ancient Greece.  In Exodus, the Hebrew God tells Moses to make a fiery serpent and place it upon a pole.  When he does this, anyone who is bitten by a snake is magically healed by looking at it.  I would really like to learn that spell!  Moses also performed a neat little trick turning a staff into a serpent.

The Rod of Asclepius archaic roots?

I believe that the origins of the use of the serpent and staff date back to the archaic times.  The Rod of Asclepius was made out of symbols taken from shamanism and the archaic medicine man.  Let me explain.

The Shaman snake

Use of serpent symbolism predates our known history.  Many archaic shamanic cultures have beliefs involving serpent symbolism.  Some Siberian shamans tell ancient stories about riding the serpent rainbow into the upper world.  They also spoke of following snakes into tunnels that lead to the underworld.  The encompassing symbolism can be summarized to the best of my ability: shamans viewed the snake to symbolize the solar energy and path through the sky.  It’s energy is the source of all life and, therefore, healing.

The Shaman Pole

My understanding of the symbol of the pole is that it connects the worlds.  The pole is a simplified world tree.  The world tree varies from culture to culture but is a sacred tree.  It connects this world to the underworld with its roots and to the heavens with its branches.

Many shamanic rituals involve climbing a sacred tree.  The shaman goes into trance and climbs the branches. As he climbs, he enacts different adventures at each level of heaven the tree leads him to.  Anyway, they would strip the tree of most of the branches not needed for the ritual.  Over time, many cultures ditched the branches all together and it became a pole.

The Universal Healer

The serpent on the pole is a symbol of a healer.  A person who can harness the power of life represented by the snake.  They are also a person who can ascend and descent through the worlds by climbing up or down the world tree into the underworld or heavens.  In those ancient times, they knew that sickness was a spiritual battle.  The archaic shaman was a healer who dealt in all of the worlds and understood life energy.

…And so I drew my own adaptation!

Below, you can see some of the work in progress.  I will explain some of the choices I made in my version.

Rod of Asclepius t shirt design work in progressI went with the winged disc at the top of the pole to reiterate the solar connection.  This was meant to particularly reference Egypt.

 

The snake is loosely modeled after a python.

Rod of Asclepius t shirt design work in progress

 

Inking was completed with a Micron pen. Actually, that’s not true.  This drawing took up about five Micron pens…

Rod of Asclepius t shirt design work in progress

 

 

 

 

Well, after digging through some history and some of my own hogwash, here I am in a very comfortable shirt.  Sign up for my newsletter and get yours for 10% OFF!

Rod of Asclepius t shirt from Closet of Mysteries
There’s a dirtbag in a nice t shirt!

 

Solve et Coagula modern alchemy diagram by Scott Myst

I need more drawing in my life.  I found that the best way to accomplish this is to draw more.  That sounds so easy but when you have a house full of kids and screen printing orders backing up, it can prove to be quite challenging to find time for such things. I feel that putting a resulting image onto a t shirt will prove a good enough excuse to make some new work.  It did.  Here we go… This is a basic overview of the creation of my “Solve et Coagula” modern alchemical illustration t shirt design.

I have often looked at old alchemical illustrations and wondered “what is it trying to tell me?”  It wasn’t until I was aware of a bigger purpose that I realized that the creation of alchemical artwork is part of the transmutation process.  By creating intricate illustrations, the coded alchemical process becomes embedded into the psyche of the artist to bring about the philosopher’s stone.  Transmutation is therefore carried out, in part, by the process of communication about transmutation.

genesis in the retort alchemical illustrations

Drawing an alchemical illustration

This new perspective has inspired me to participate in an old practice and create a basic alchemical diagram.  My intention is to create a t shirt design with the finished image.  I want that image to reflect the ancient alchemical diagrams while still feeling like it is my own true artwork.  The one thing I cannot escape when dipping in to such a project is time.  There is no substitute for the time and patience it takes to make intricate images.  What I will create is not very intricate but will still push my patience (not my strong point).  If you had to pick one over the other, I would say patience is more important in making this sort of art than talent is.

Solve et Coagula alchemical illustration work in progress

Solve et Coagula

“Solve et Coagula” refers to the universal on-going process of breaking things apart and bringing them back together.  It is this natural process in distillation that brings about the purification of a substance.  The physical story of alchemy tells us that the elixir is distilled over long periods of time where it becomes vapor and then condenses into liquid once again.

Solve et Coagula modern alchemy diagram by Scott Myst Solve et Coagula modern alchemy diagram by Scott Myst

Watch video of drawing IN ACTION!

My final alchemical illustration design

solve et coagula alchemical illustration by Scott Myst

Of course, you can purchase your own Solve et Coagula alchemical illustration t shirt from my shop.  I screen print each shirt by hand with care.

Solve et coagula alchemical triblend t shirt

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looking beyond - A Magical Grackle ink drawing by Scott Myst

I thought I would share the stages of progress of my most recently completed original magical grackle ink drawing.  I called this piece “Looking Beyond”.  Grackles are abundant in my area and I have been fascinated with these birds for a long time.  The males sport flashy black feathers that shine in iridescent colors of blue and green around their heads.  They have appeared to me in dreams a number of times and I always have seen them as a messenger from beyond and a sort of spirit animal.  Let’s take a look at this magical drawing in progress.

This is a detail of the completed artwork:

Detail of magical grackle drawing by Scott Myst

The process

I began with a pencil drawing which is my typical approach.

Work in Progress magical grackle drawing by Scott Myst

I recently purchased a new calligraphy pen for drawing.  It will never look this clean again…

Calligraphy pen

I commence the work by following along the original drawing for the most part but add a lot of detail as I see fit.  I like the way the trees are coming a long at this stage.  This new pen pleases me.

Work in Progress magical grackle drawing by Scott Myst

Once the pen work is done, I add in the tones with a watercolor brush.

Work in Progress magical grackle drawing by Scott Myst Completed magical grackle drawing by Scott Myst

Here is a detail of the eye at the bottom.

Detail of magical grackle drawing by Scott Myst

Final artwork

Here is the final magical grackle ink drawing scanned and made pretty:

looking beyond - A Magical Grackle ink drawing by Scott Myst

Two random side notes about my experiences with grackles:

I once observed a small group of these clever guys ripping into packets of sweetener and gobbling up the powdery content at an outdoor coffee shop.  The method was quite clever; nap packet from table and take it to the grass, stab beak into paper packet then open beak to make a nice sized hole, then feast on contents.  On a side note, these were the worst looking grackles I had ever seen.  Their shabby appliance reminded me of Gollum (artificial sweeteners turned them in to the bird equivalent of tweekers).

When I worked at ASU, I used to walk from a neighborhood across the street to avoid paying for parking on campus.  The road I walked down on campus had some very large trees along the sidewalk in which grackles would nest.  As I walked along that sidewalk during the spring when there were hatchlings in the nests, the males would dive bomb my head making a strange clicking sound.  The first time scared the hell out of me as I did not see them coming.  After a couple of times, I learned it was a better idea to walk on the opposite side of the street 🙂

Thank you for viewing!  I hope you enjoyed it.  Feel free to leave comments.  Sign up for updates with the form below to be notified when I post new content.

I recently completed my hand drawn “World Tree” t shirt design.  Here is the behind the scenes look at the design from beginning to end.

world tree muscle tank top from closet of mysteries
While reading Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy by Mircea Eliade, I was inspired to make a shirt design around the concept of the World Tree.  The tree is an archaic concept of a life force that penetrates all levels of existence; the underworld, our mundane or physical world, and above into the heavens.  This concept is present in most cultures from Siberia to the Norse traditions and are even the original basis for modern christmas trees.

The Drawing 

To begin my work, I pulled out my antique compass which was originally my father’s.  He bought the set brand new in the 1930’s.  It is a work of art in its own right.

Vintage compass set

I laid out a standard five pointed pentagram as the background and added the tree in the center.  Next, I added the alchemical elements around the outside.  Once the pencil work was complete, I began inking with illustration pens.

World Tree Original Drawing by Scott Myst World Tree Original Drawing by Scott Myst

World Tree Original Drawing by Scott Myst
World Tree Original Drawing by Scott Myst

World Tree Original Drawing by Scott Myst

The Screen print

Once the drawing was complete, it was scanned and prepared in for output onto shirts.  I removed any remaining pencil marks and made the artwork a solid color for the best screen print.  World Tree original art screen print from Closet of MysteriesThe image is printed large on the front of the t-shirt in a single color for a bold and unique shirt you can’t find anywhere else!
World Tree original art screen print from Closet of MysteriesWorld Tree black t shirt from Closet of Mysteriesworld tree tank w
I love creating unique graphics by hand since it always results in something that is a truly unique expression.  My two passions come together when I create artwork based on ideas I contemplate while studying the mysteries that intrigue me the most.  I hope you enjoyed this look into my process of creating this hand drawn “World Tree” t shirt design.  Feel free to leave comments and suggestions for future projects.

I also welcome discussion about the mystery schools, shamanism, magick, and spirituality 🙂

Sketchbook magick drawing eye of providence in pentagram drawing by Scott Myst of Closet of Mysteries

I have a pretty nifty sketchbook that I purchased while a student in Florence, Italy in 2003.  I could not bring myself to draw in it for the longest time.  I broke out of that a couple of years ago and now it is my go-to sketchbook where I hash out most of my ideas and studies.  Here are some of the magick drawings I have been working on lately….
Scott Mytst's sketchbook for magickal drawings

Pentagram Drawing

This is a basic experiment with in sacred geometry originally drawn with a compass and pencil.  Other elements from hermetic and alchemical illustrations are added with my own personal twist of course.IMG_2245

eye in pentagram magical alchemy  IMG_2246

Ouroboros

I have long admired the ouroboros symbol for its deep meaning and overall aesthetic appeal.  Do not be surprised to see a new design featuring the twin snakes consuming themselves in my shop in the near future.

IMG_2247

Hand of Mysteries

This magick drawing a sort of self portrait with the hand of mysteries or philosopher’s hand but I think I lost my likeness when I inked the drawing.  I expect a larger version would be more successful in capturing facial features…

IMG_2249

IMG_2248

Thank you for checking out my sketchbook and magick drawings!  If you enjoy this sort of content, leave a comment and share this on your social media.

screen printed Lord Ganesh T Shirt from Closet of Mysteries

Please enjoy this “behind the scenes” look at the process involved in the creation of my hand drawn Ganesh T Shirt design.

 

Somewhere along the line in my drawing career (if you can call it that), I have become impatient.  I noticed this unsettling fact a few years ago but kept on doing things in my normal, fast way.  I found that I was no longer satisfied with the work I was creating in my old way.  As a response, I have been challenging my patience with projects involving higher demand on my concentration and loads more time than I used to.  I find that taking a new approach by incorporating a greater amount of detail has refreshed my interest in drawing.  Taking on the challenge of creating a Ganesh shirt design proved to be just the challenge I was looking for.

This drawing of Ganesh was intended to increase my mindfulness and push my patience.  Here, you can see the progress from beginning to end.  Follow the process as I worked from drawing to screen printed t shirt design.

The Drawing Process

As with any drawing project, I began with a pencil drawing.  Since this is going to have a lot of detail, I want to get most of it down before spending the time inking.  As a sort of creature of habit, I always draw with one of the same two .5 mechanical pencils I have used for years. My favorite is the Sakura which is very comfortable to draw with.  Also, I always keep a white plastic eraser around as they are the only ones that actually work.

Once the graphite part is generally established, I went at it with a black 05 Micron pen

I really enjoyed drawing the hands and feet since they are kind of like a baby’s…
This is the final inked drawing which I scanned for screen printing:

Screen printing the Ganesh T shirt

I make stencil from a film positive version of my drawing by burning it to a screen.  This is the screen ready to print a Ganesh Shirt.

 

Traditionally, Ganesh is depicted seated on a throne so I added this background element to the t shirt design:

The final printed Ganesh T Shirt still hot on the press

You can find this Ganesh T Shirt available in styles for Men and Women in the Closet of Mysteries shop.

Feel free to comment, ask questions, and share 🙂

One of the more popular prints from the Closet of Mysteries is the hand drawn Deer Shaman T Shirt.  Here is the story of how I developed this design.

The Back Story

Before moving to northern Arizona, I spent a lot of time venturing into the area for recreation.  On one adventure, I noticed a metal sculpture of a deer headed man at a gas station in Flagstaff.  After that, the image seemed to jump out at me every time I came to the area.
  Since moving northward from Phoenix, I have seen this fellow quite a lot.  Finally, while visiting a gem shop in Cottonwood, Cristina inquired about one of the metal sculptures of the deer headed man with the shop owners.  They explained that he is a shaman and that is why you will always see him with a medicine bag around his neck.
  After doing some research, I found that this particular motif of shamanism has been common around the world since ancient times; mostly occurring within tribes of people who, not surprisingly, sustain themselves by deer hunting.  This is yet another example of the curious connection between cultures with supposedly no contact and separated by oceans yet doing the same things…
  I decided to create my own hand drawn version of this character for a deer shaman t shirt design.  Here is a sneak peek at the finished product:

deer shaman screen printed shirt by closet of mysteries

 The Drawing

Below are the various stages of the creative process through completion…
I like to work with a .5 mechanical pencil for most all of my drawings before inking.
I begin with the deer head since it is the main focus of the piece.

As I began to work on the body, I decided to give him a staff to aid him in his magical endeavors…
You can see that I started out giving him two of them but thought better of it.

I then added more detail with the fire resulting from his conjuring, the essential medicine bag, and lots of folds in his rough robe.

Once satisfied with my pencil sketch, it was time to do the inking.  I use a waterproof acrylic ink and calligraphy pen to get the line quality and contrast I will need in order to get a good screen print image.

The Final Deer Shaman T Shirt Design

The final stage was done by scanning the drawing at a high resolution and adding some cool tribal elements to create a background to make my shaman stand out.  At this stage, I am ready to turn this design into a screen printed deer shaman t shirt!

deer shaman shirt detail
deer shaman shirt deer shaman shirt for ladies
Thanks for visiting!  Be sure to follow the Closet of Mysteries Blog for the latest and greatest in magical, mystical, ethereal, and always mysterious happenings from the shop.
– Scott