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!
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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 🙂