Response Time!

I was having a wander around online last week and I came across a video, which I didn’t know existed, following the development of a piece I made for a project called Response Time last year. Response Time is a fantastic project that was launched in Aberystwyth by Scriptography Productions, and has since travelled to other spaces in Wales. It involves a set period of time, normally 48 hours, in which artists, writers and performers are invited into a space to create performance art in response to the art and the space, which is shown on site at the end of the 48 hours. It leads to some excellent work, and inspires some powerful magic in those that join in. For a start, it proves that you can make art with only a limited amount of time. It also encourages new ways of looking at art, spaces and possibilities. There is no time to worry, overwork it or lose interest. There is no time to over think it, only time to create and let it loose into the world.

There are several pieces I’ve made for Response Time that I would love to develop further, but even if I never do they have all given me a great deal of confidence and informed my way of working deeply! Anyway, I thought I’d share the video I found, so you can get a glimpse of some of the work I do (and how excited I get about things…)

Project Response: Transitions Hayley Addis from Ian Smyth on Vimeo.

The piece I ended up making in the event I talk about here was a video, which you can catch a glimpse of here. I visited the gallery on the Friday evening, filmed everything on the Saturday and then edited it together that night as I had rehearsals most of the Sunday. The sketch book I talk about was present for people to look at as well, but ended up being a mostly unseen artefact – which is interesting in itself for a performance art-work.

Now… I wonder if the video I made exists online somewhere too! It disappeared from my computer shortly after the event…

 

(Video made by Ian Smyth, who documented that weekend and filmed the footage which I edited together into my video-art!)

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A Tour Through Blogland!

Hello!!!

Welcome to my little world. I was nominated to join in the blogland tour by the inspiring Wendy Steele who I met last summer in the guise of Dance Goddess… but who has fast become a close friend and partner in mischief when it comes to writing inspiration and other such things. She writes stories full of magical realism and non-fiction about how to be happy, and is currently working on the second in her Wales-inspired trilogy which began with “The Standing Stone” set across the times all in one place. Her books are all beautiful pieces of re-enchantment. Find Wendy here!

I nominate… James Baker of James Baker Performs! James is a performer and writer of plays currently devising a one-man show on the intersection between creativity and madness. He is also my husband, so you know he has good taste.

I nominate Elinor Prędota, an Interfaith Minister and Pagan Priestess from Scotland who I have had the pleasure of being friends with for over a decade. (Website is currently under construction but should be up and running over the next day or two!)

And I nominate Demelza Fox, Rockstar Priestess, Belly Dancer and Mermaid extraordinaire!

I choose Monday 2nd or 9th of March for your postings, lovelies. ‘Rules’ at the end of this post.

Right then, on with the show!

As part of this tour you get to hear a little about my writing process through the Q&A (And if you follow the breadcrumbs backwards and forwards, you’ll find the answers others have given too…)

The questions, and my answers:

1- Why write? Why not sing, dance or figure skate?

Well now, this is a silly question, on two levels. Firstly, why not write? How could I not? I love to let words flow onto the page and it is a wonderful way of communicating ideas with others. I love that I can fossilise my ideas into paper (physical or virtual) and hand it to you to hear those words far away and a long time from here and now. I love that we can communicate at vast distances through writing, and that I can speak to people in the future right now. I also find that writing is the process by which I come to understand. I often feel like my head is empty, like there is no knowledge, no understanding of the world, until I write. Then the words begin to form themselves into ideas, into stories, into whole worlds of webs of connections that make sense of it all.

The second level that this question makes me giggle is that I don’t just write. I couldn’t just write if I tried. I paint, I dance, I tell tales, I study philosophy. I’ve learnt healing skills and fortune telling, I travel and run rituals, I perform am dram and I’m learning the guitar. So whilst writing is something that I have always done, it is not something I do to the exclusion of all else… though I don’t think I’d be any good at figure skating!

I write because I love it, the same reason I do anything else. Writing, more than any of my other activities, though, helps me to make sense of the world and of what I think and feel about the world. It allows me to make a stand, to say; “here I am, this is what I believe, this is what is important.” And once it is on the page in black and white, then I can see the stories that I wish to share with the world.

2- Do you have a musical play list or do you need to write in absolute silence? If you have a play list would we recognize any of the songs or artists on it?

Ooooh, I don’t like writing in silence but I also don’t have a particular play list… I tend to put on whatever artist I’m most in love with at the time or something really familiar, so SJ Tucker and Talis Kimberley get played a lot, or something classic/prog rock-y like Led Zep. I’ll also find compilations by other people and stick them on, especially if they are long ones so the music keeps flowing without a silence to distract me. My husband made me a collection of all the theme songs from True Blood, so that quite often gets put on as it is several hours of music I enjoy with plenty of variation.

My favourite writing set up is in a noisy, busy cafe where I can sit on a sofa and stare out of the window, with my headphones in and a good, long playlist. And a tasty soya chai latte. Nom.

3- Can you see a future for yourself in which writing forms no part of your day to day life?

I don’t think we live in a world where that is likely, but even assuming that writing falls out of favour somehow… no. I don’t think so. I remember catching bits of early episodes of Big Brother and being horrified that they weren’t allowed pen and paper to write. Bonkers idea. I write in my journal most days, I write poems and snatches of songs that probably no one will ever hear, I write ideas and dreams, goals and plans… I’d be lost if I couldn’t write anymore, I wouldn’t know what it was I knew!

4- Which author/s inspire you currently? I am not talking about some of the greats but departed. Authors alive today, which of them inspire you?

Cat Valente is amazing. Her novels are full of imagery that makes my mouth water with its lushness. Her children’s series which starts with “The Girl Who Navigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” is a beautiful meander through fairyland, and full of magic!

Share an article written especially for this tour!

Ok! I wrote something on what the Goblin Circus means to me, and how it came into being, over on the Goblin Circus site here!

Now, for my nominees, these are the rules for this game…

1. Pass the tour on to up to four other bloggers.
2. Give them the rules and a specific Monday to post.
3. Answer 4 questions about your creative process which lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do.
4. Write a one-time article which is to be posted on a Monday (the date supplied by your nominator). This article can be in the same post in which you answered the 4 questions. The article can be anything of your choosing.

Discover your Faery Magic – Upcoming Book!

Exciting news!

This month I signed a book contract with Moon Books, an imprint of John Hunt publishing, for a book of Faery magic which encapsulates my philosophy of Faery.

It is based on my earlier work The Faery Heart but much expanded, revised and improved. For anyone who feels that they are a little ‘other’, a little ‘fey’… this books explores the nature and philosophy of faery and how you can develop your own faery magic.

As a result, The Faery Heart will soon be completely unavailable… Which is a farewell to that chapter of my life and hello to new, published author status! The first book in a long line I hope… I already have designs for a non-fiction sequel, and several novels in mind. One step at a time though, right? Faery Magic and finishing my stint in academia first.

Time to celebrate with a chocolate cake, lots of custard and a manic happy dance!!!

In the meantime, alongside growing the Goblin Circus, which is the manifestation of my philosophy in creative form, I’m developing a series of mini audios for you called… “Thoughts from the Fey” 😉 Watch this space for more.

Brighid’s Blessings; the Spirit of Brighid Conference 2015

Last weekend, on the waves of Imbolc and the rising spring that washed away the snow, I travelled to Penarth, on the edge of Cardiff, to a Pagan conference dedicated to Brighid as the maiden goddess. It was fitting that she was there, as a Goddess of Inspiration, for the launching of The Goblin Circus as a show.

What is The Goblin Circus, you ask? It is a multi-platform artwork, a world, centring around a one-woman-many-goblin theatrical-storytelling circus show. Which is a mouthful, so I mostly think of it as just ‘The Circus’. It’s online home is growing here

My friend Wendy and I were escorted to the venue by her partner Mike, and we set up a table for her books and my art/books/oracles/stuff. The talks were fascinating, with topics ranging from the history of Wicca, Gnosticism, the Ogham and “Meeting the Great Anaesthetist” i.e. how we as pagans can live a good life and a good death.

We met lots of people, I spent most of the breaks re-learning how much I enjoy the company of five year old faeries, and then the talks were over and it was time for the room to clear (hunting for food, mostly) and the sound-checks to take over. I bounced on stage to make sure I knew what not to touch whilst I did my thing… and was greeted with friendly, supportive hugs (Damh the Bard had been informed that I was nervous!) and help getting my head around the mic! Blanche Rowan very kindly made sure the mic would be in a good place for me and told me she’d move things back round when they began so I didn’t need to worry about it (and wouldn’t accidentally drop something, not being used to tech on stage!) and I trundled off to find food and breathe very deeply…

7pm rolled around. Folks were settling down for the evening. I straightened my jacket, pulled on my top hat, and stepped into the wings.

The crowd were silent. A friend later described them as “spellbound”. All I could do was share the Circus and take a bow when I had done my fifteen minutes. It felt good,

It wasn’t until there was a break later in the evening that folk told me they’d enjoyed it and I could finally relax. (And it wasn’t until hours later that I realised… no-one had talked over it… I had their complete attention for the entire thing. Now that was an achievement! Also goes to show just how respectful that audience was 🙂 )

Then there was music and dancing! While I danced I let the energy rise, in honour of the gods, in honour of my work, in honour of the community of cauldron-born pagans who supported me, and in a blessing on all these things.

Blanche Rowan and Mike Gulston were enchanting and Damh the Bard was inspiring! He was both talented and kind, even inviting the five year old fairy onstage to dance while he played (her very first gig!) I escorted her into the spotlight and felt very honoured to be her back-up dancer.

Finally the evening wound to a close, we packed up and left, talking the entire journey home.

This was a wonderful space to launch the Circus as a performance, as a circus, and I feel very grateful for the opportunity to do so. This was organised as a one off event but I hope, very much, that it returns again next year. In the meantime, I’m looking to take the enchantment of the Goblin Circus on the road this summer… so we shall see what magic the Cauldron Born brings!

On that note, if you’d like the Circus to come to your event, do let me know 🙂

Art and Prints For Sale

Hello Lovelies!

I have some beautiful artworks and they’re looking for homes… do you know someone who loves beautiful art? Are you such a person? These would make lovely gifts for yourself or for someone else this winter-holiday time…

Each of these (and most of my designs here too!) are available as cards or prints (without the watermarks), just fill in the order form at the end and I will send you a paypal invoice with the correct shipping for you! Any questions? Comment below!

  • Cards: £2 each or 6 for £10
  • A4 Prints on smooth card: £7.50 each or 3 for £20

Rough Postage Guide:

  • 1 card: 70p UK (1-3 days)
  • 2-12 cards or 3 prints: £3.20 UK (1-3 days)
  • 1 card: £1.50 outside of UK (5-7 days)
  • 1-3 prints or up to 6 cards: £5 outside of UK (5-7 days)

Originals also available, and I take commissions! What would make you smile?

ORDER FORM:

CALL FOR MODELS: Healing Hearts

Something I’ve come to realise is that I paint more lifelike pictures when I paint from reference pictures than when I paint from memory. It is surprising that someone as bright as I am would take so long to work out something that I’ve been straight-out-told since primary school, but there you go. (I think perhaps it is less that I didn’t realise this and more that I was too stubborn to accept it.)

My attempts at creating reference photos of specific poses to use for the Healing Hearts oracle, however, are rather unsatisfactory!  For example:

This, then, is a plea for help! Or an invitation to add ‘model’ onto your CV, however you’d prefer to look at it.

I’m looking for people in Aberystwyth (or Lampeter, though we’ll have to find a space) with a spare hour or afternoon to meet me, in which I’ll ask you to pose (clothed!) so I can create some reference pics for the Oracle deck paintings. In return I can offer you a basic print of one of the paintings that I make from your modelling and your name in the acknowledgements when the deck is finished, if that interests you.

So, consider this your invite to Art Alley Studio… comment below or email me and we’ll arrange a time to play!

Art Alley Studio pic
My humble, slightly sparse studio space now has a table!

UPDATE – Healing Hearts: Y Mabinogi

If you’ve been with me for a while you’ll know I’m in the process of developing a multi-cultural, multi-gendered deity Oracle Deck called ‘Healing Hearts‘. I’ve been wrestling with how to start such a huge project. The crowdfunding fundraiser brought in enough for me to get started with materials, so that’s great, but wasn’t quite enough to support me in the time it will take to make this happen so, sadly, I’ve not been able to do what I’d hoped to and dedicate a day or more each week to working on it exclusively. Cue the combination of gratitude and disappointment that is so familiar in life.

Ready to Paint! At the studio...
Ready to Paint! At the studio…

As a result of the longer stewing time, however, something more fascinating has grown… my many passions are combining in a delicious, bubbling pot and a vast, sprawling, beautiful creation is emerging. And I find myself looking at something so huge and wondering how I can approach it and allow it to support me whilst I bring it into reality… which has lead me to break down Healing Hearts into several projects, starting with a focus on the Welsh stories woven into the land I live upon.

I suppose I should share what I’m talking about!

I have a list of deities that are likely to be included in the final deck, ranging across many cultures, and each culture’s tales are an entire world of magic and meaning, connection and crisis, divinity and drama. To do them justice is a vast work! So whilst I paint the deities that arise, I shall be focussing on specific cultures for several months at a time, weaving through their stories and unravelling the threads so they can be spun into new tales and perhaps shared as theatrical performances. As I live in Wales, I’ve begun with the tales of Y Mabinogi, the mythology of the land. The stories speak to me of our relationship to the land and the environment – important topics right now, given the impending doom that is climate change – and so the four branches of Y Mabinogi and transforming themselves into tales of our connection and disconnection to the land and the wild within our hearts.

As I paint and explore the stories they are weaving themselves into a performance piece… so I’m looking for a venue to share it in next year!

Works in progress rarely look like they'll be any good... raw and unedited, a foundation to be worked upon, not really meant to be shared... but seedlings only grow when given enough light.
Works in progress rarely look like they’ll be any good… raw and unedited, a foundation to be worked upon, not really meant to be shared… but seedlings only grow when given enough light.

I’ve resisted sharing about this because it feels like I’m taking on something far bigger than I should and I worry folk will judge me for being so easily tempted. I’m worried it *is* simply too big and it will fail. I’m worried that I don’t have time and I’m putting myself under vast amounts of pressure if I commit to it.

And I find myself scrawling notes at bedtime, being inspired by conversations, facing open doors. Who am I to deny the magic that leads me forwards? Who am I to turn down the demands of a tale? Who am I to say no to the Muse?

It will all work out. I have faith…

How to Make Your Own Oracle Deck part 2 – Structure!

I hear a lot of people say they’d like to make their own Oracle deck, and I’m in the process of making my second so I thought I’d share and hopefully inspire you to get making! Check out Part one on choosing a theme and other related posts here.

There are several ways of working out a structure.

You Can: Brainstorm the cards you want in your deck and then look at how they fit together and who is missing…

Or: Write up a list of the areas/archetypes you want your cards to cover and then decide how each archetype will be expressed.

Or: Just start making cards and then play with them to find out what feels like it is still required.

Or: base it on an already recognised structure, such as Tarot, the Sephiroth, Elemental correspondences and so on…

For example:

For the FeyHearted Deck I knew I wanted the Queen and King first, then the stages on the journey to Faeryland, then archetypes and other beings, and then action cards. So I started with The Queen, then the King, then the gateway opening the journey, then a card for each major change along the path to Faery and so on. Starting with a structure works well for decks with a clear overall theme.

For Healing Hearts I have some deities who have told me they must be included, so they get top priority. I’ve then negotiated a keyword and archetype for each one and looked at what energies are missing. Those are in the process of being listed so Pawl and I can find deities that fit AND want to be included. Starting with individual cards is good if you are working with individual beings and could also be used for decks based on a story as you already have set characters and events to make the cards from.

For my personal SoulCollage™ deck I began with making cards that expressed aspects of myself, my life and archetypes I relate to and the deck evolved naturally. This is especially good for affirmation type decks and personal decks.

Once you have a good selection of cards listed (or made) look to see what energies or archetypes are missing. This will firstly show you what is less conscious for you (or what you’re avoiding in your life) which is a helpful bit of divination in its own right, and secondly allow you to expand the deck before it is finish to make sure it is balanced enough to be useful for a longer period of time. For my FeyHearted Deck I initially had no challenge cards but I knew something was missing. I printed a copy and some blank cards and played with the deck until it hit me: I had no challengers! I’d forgotten the Thirteenth Faery! Three challenge cards were all that were needed to balance the lighter side and make the deck whole.

 

Your Tasks:

Decide how you want to structure your deck. Is it free-form? Is it based on a system or story? Do you have clear ideas for some or all of the cards, or do you know what the journey and them of the deck is but not what the individual steps are?

Begin brainstorming cards within this structure.

Once you have a list of card names (which can change as you go!) have a look at the mood and archetype of each one and see if your deck leans towards one direction, or if it is balanced. If it leans – do you want it to? If not, what might you include to balance the scales?

Ponder on this list. Maybe label up some blank cards just with the names and have a go at using the deck and see how the cards fall. Make notes as you discover things!

To support the making of Healing Hearts you can check out the project and contribute to the fundraiser here!

Comment below and let me know how you’re getting on with making your own deck! What would you like to hear more about?

The conception of Healing Hearts

About two years ago I made an Oracle deck inspired by my work with the Fae.

And I love it! Since then I’ve been contemplating making another – improving using the lessons I learned from the first deck… but what?

Last year I went to visit my Reclaiming community in Spain (Hola!) and at the start of camp, as we have for each year I’ve been to visit, we pulled a Goddess Guidance card. The feminine divine spoke clearly to us, their voices weaving a story for the camp as well as blessing each individual with what they needed.

But where were the male voices? And where were the queer* voices?

Ours is a mixed community, open to the divine in all its faces. Open to all hearts and bodies. One big thing I adore about Reclaiming is its openness and inclusivity; there needs now to be space for all sexes and genders so that we can heal together, in relationship. (For the philosophers: we are Being-with with others, what more proof do you need that this is how we’ll heal?) I love the work that my sisters have done in bringing the Goddess back into the world and being a cis-gendered, white, female in a hetero-normative relationship, I have benefited immensely from their work. I am deeply grateful. And the wheels are turning further and now we need to make sure that we are working in relationship with each other. Men need role-models that show them how to live in the new world we want to build with them. People of all sexes and genders (and none) need space to be themselves. And each of us need to heal the divine in all its forms in our own hearts. Few of us are all male, or all female. I need to heal the relationship to both the masculine and feminine within myself, and the parts of myself that are neither, or both or other – the parts I don’t even have the language for – and I know that as a society we all do.

So where were those deities? I asked. Where are the voices of those that aren’t just feminine?

And the lady whose deck it was told me this:

I can’t find a deck that has all those voices. Why don’t you make one?

And my heart leapt: Yes, I said, I will.

It has taken a year of letting it percolate, of feeling that I should wait for a better time to make this happen. But there is never a perfect time, except now.

The week I decided to start this deck I saw several articles on violence against women and transgendered people, one after the other. There is much healing to be done and we can only do this if everyone recognises their own divinity and the divinity of others. My belief is that art is healing, and oracle decks are art that gets used, shared, handled, listened to. As such they have great capacity for healing. My hope is that this deck will show the world that many are seeking – where everyone has space to be themselves and are on equal footing regardless of sex/gender. We all need role models for how we can be healthy in our relationships and lives, and to show us how others can be too.

AND it is a good way to meet the deities that are walking our Earth again (or still). Those Gods and Goddesses and Divinities that speak to us, that wish to work with us on healing ourselves and the land – because ultimately healthy people are people that heal others too.

If this sounds like a project you want to support, you can acquire a first printing of the deck through the fundraiser! Or a reading, or art or other things. Or please share this with your communities. I hand this over into your hands and the hands of the gods.

PS: I am new to the LGBTQ* conversation. I do not intend to step on any toes, though I am aware I probably will and I ask for forgiveness in advance – please point out when I say something stupid or hurtful and I will mend my ways. Because I am not part of the Queer community I am not making this as a specifically queer deck, but I am hoping that a deck with queer voices marketed to a broader audience is likely to be helpful in creating space for everyone to relate to each other within regardless.

*I’m using Queer in its broadest sense here as it feels like the best and most inclusive option I know.

How to Make your Own Oracle Deck – part 1

Healing Hearts will be the second oracle deck I’ve published, the third deck I’ve made for myself and the seventh oracle system I’ve created!

When I mention that I make oracles to people they often say “I’ve always wanted to make a deck of my own!” So this time I thought I could share the process I go through and give anyone who has been thinking about making one themselves a peak into how easy it can be!

My first step is one you’ve probably already done, as I had – use as many different kinds of decks as you can. This way I had a good idea of the range of possibilities and knew for sure I love cards.

The juiciest part of making your own deck is choosing a theme!

You could make an oracle deck with any theme that calls to you. The possibilities are endless! Maybe you have an idea already or maybe you just wish you could hold a deck you’ve made in your hands. Either way, now is the time to crystalise and clarify your idea. Here are a few questions to get you started:

What are your favourite things?

Do you have a pantheon or deity you love who you’d like to honour?

What is most important to you in your life? (Home, family, environment, animals?)

Is there a story you adore that has a lot of symbolism in it? (Eg Alice in Wonderland is now being made into a tarot deck)

What do you want the deck to do? (Healing, inspiring, messages from specific spirits like angels?)

Why are you making this deck? Is it just for fun? Do you want to sell copies? If you want to sell copies it is a good idea to check out what is already available to buy, both so you’re not stepping on toes and so your deck is unique. If you find a deck on your theme then you can still make it, just see if you can emphasise the uniqueness of your particular deck. So maybe there are several dragon decks out there, but yours is specifically Dragons of Britain, or Dragons of the water, or Healing Dragons… sit with your ideas and feel which one sparkles the most. And then listen to your heart – what uniqueness can you bring to this theme?

And remember, it doesn’t need to be serious! Humour really helps people to relax into a receptive state – a few years ago I co-taught a series of mini-workshops using Buffy and co (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as archetypes. There was much giggling and much magic happened because everyone was relaxed!!!

Your Task:

Write down all the ideas you have for a theme. Sit quietly in contemplation and feel which one you are most drawn to right now.

Holding that theme in your heart, allow your intuition and inspiration to tell you how you can bring your own uniqueness to bear on this theme.

Now, what do you have? Add a comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!!!

(PS: The Healing Hearts Oracle fundraiser is still live, you can donate to make it happen here: Healing Hearts through IndieGoGo! Or share the link and get other people involved 🙂