THE KING OF DIAMONDS, seeker of knowledge and bringer of light. Alongside his laboratories and the unimaginable libraries contained within, all other wonders of the four kingdoms pale.

It is the subject of some debate how many decades he spent shut up in the darkness, bent over scrolls and beakers - but legend generally puts the number between ten and fifteen. The fruit of his labors: a kingdom renowned for its ceaseless industry and unsurpassed wealth, whose heights and depths alike are perpetually illuminated by the harnessed light of alchemical fires.

For my ongoing playing card project, Wicked Kingdom (


UNIVERSA MYSTERIUM by Santiago CARUSO / Ink and scratch over plastered cardboard, 26 cm x 35 cm

The universal vibration of the snake, as a path to go through the mystery of creation, from the unveiled to the obscure. The seven spirits of the universe, the seven planets of the antiquity, the seven keys of the scale that is the experience of the world.  Music is the question, and can be an answer.


Just before the filming of X-Men 2, I was approached by Gordon Smith of FXSmith to come up with a tattoo design for the Nightcrawler.  Gordon’s dilemma was the challenge of making the tattoos show up on the Nightcrawler’s blue-black skin.  I suggested that an etched scarified effect, inspired by the traditional Maori moko would show up well and would give an added dimension if it were implied that the wounds were self-inflicted.  

My challenge was to create a tattoo design that reflected the psychospiritual dimension of the character who was Roman Catholic and spoke High German.  My wife Raven suggested angelic sigils (i.e. signatures) that would reflect the Nightcrawler’s faith, combined with alchemical symbols that emphasized his spiritual conflict because of his outward demonic appearance and sulphurous smell.  The apparently opposing forces of spirit and form would be balanced and integrated into one harmonious expression of wholeness in the tattoo.

Initially Bryan Singer and his committee wanted only half the Nightcrawler’s face tattooed.  After he saw my drawings, however, and heard our proposal, he decided on the whole face, and, later, the upper torso and arms.  The writers had to rewrite parts of the script to incorporate the Nightcrawler’s tattoos in a new backstory of the character.

Gordon’s special effects team made casts of Alan Cumming’s face, torso and arms and I mapped the designs on the casts.  I was later told that Alan found the whole plaster cast experience claustrophobic and anxiety-inducing; the FX team had to prematurely pull it off his face. Fortunately, the plaster cast stayed in one piece.

Prior to X-Men 2, the tattoos I was asked to do for films tended to be the stereotypical gang members and criminals.  I am grateful that in X-Men 2, I was finally given the opportunity to express in a film the essence of tattoo as a spiritual healing art that realigns body and soul.

“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”

-Alan Watts

Man’s origin was as spirit, not a physical body. These souls projected themselves into matter, probably for their own diversion. Through the use of his creative powers for selfish purposes man became entangled in matter or materiality to such an extent the he nearly forgot his divine origin and nature.

~ Edgar Cayce

♡ ☼ ॐ

The Pathway of the Two Serpents.

Gold Solar Serpent and the Black Lunar Serpent are alchemical opposites with different paths through the alchemical container of the body. When they meet, the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon takes place and this is when there is a possibility of immense energy. When the two serpents reach the crown, they become known as the Uraeus, which anoints the higher brain centres and leads to increased intelligence.

As they ascend, they crisscross one another to form nodes at each chakra, and magnetically energise them, as they go. The chakras spark into life as each one is touched in this alchemical weaving dance. In this way, with the interwoven pattern, the two serpents create what’s called the Central Column or Central Pillar. Eventually the two serpents reach the crown and then the hypothalamus, which is visualised as a Chalice.