When I was a kid, I made art all the time. I loved it. It was my thing. Then it happened, the same thing that happens to so many of us: some teacher in high school told me I was doing it wrong and made me feel so bad about my art that I quit doing it at all.
In the past, say, 9 months, my inner artist has been re-emerging. This is, I am sure, a direct result of the shamanic healing I've been doing for the past two or three years, and it is awesome.
The truth is becoming more and more clear to: Art or some sort of creative activity is not optional for any of us. We are born to create. It is in our blood, in our soul. It makes sense, especially for us tarot folks (I just assume all my readers are tarot folks). We so commonly view the suits in this order: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. That is: inspiration/idea, soul/commitment, mind/plan, and finally manifestation.
And I am not unique in realizing this now. It is in the air. It is rising to our collective consciousness. Have you read Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic? If not, get your hands on a copy and read it. It will speak to your creative self that is aching to make things.
Our Minds and Our Souls
I used to say that the best way to understand what you think is to write. Of course I said that. I am a writer by nature. Also, I am a product of my culture, so I valued writing, thinking, precision, logic. As a culture, we have been trained to feed our minds until they are full to the bursting point and we all suffer from information overload.
But we don't get a lot of training on how to feed our souls. One way, I think, is to experience art (by art, I mean anything such as fine art, dance, music, photography, sculpture, movies even). Another way is to make art.
Here's the thing about art. Many of us think that unless our creative efforts will have some tangible end goal, they are a waste of time. But they are not. And that is something Gilbert stresses a lot in Big Magic. Whether no one ever sees your work or if you show it in a gallery, it doesn't matter to your soul.
And just as we know that writing helps us understand our minds and what we think, making art helps us understand our souls and what we value or yearn for or feel. A watercolor artist, Barry Toshio Shiraishi, said once that your art may not change the world but in the making of it, you may change yourself. Now, to my way of thinking, if you change yourself, you will also be changing the world. Because everything is connected, you know.
Tarot and Art
Lately I've been having a lot of fun (and learning lots about myself and the cards) by incorporating daily draws with simple art journaling. I have a journal, a free marketing item from a paper company, that I only use marker or paint in (no pencil, no erasing!). For a while, I was drawing mundane things, whatever was around. Then I started pulling a card or cards and later adding charms from Carrie Paris' Magpie Oracle. That's when the magic happened. The revelations and insights and pure joy has been so incredible. Below, I'll share some of my journal pages just so you can see it is not about making great art that will change the world (or impress anybody else) but about making "great" art that changes you!
I think that art is important and works so beautifully with tarot that my friend Melani and I teamed up to create some tarot and art classes. If you live in the area, I hope you check them out and consider joining us. Melani is a fantastic art/craft teacher and I am pretty good with tarot, so I think these are going to rock. You can get the deets right HERE.
And, as promised, here are some of my journal pages.
Last month, the first group of my Novice Program students worked on the lesson about spreads. While spread design was not something I set out to do, it became clear early on that I had a natural understanding of spreads, how they work, and how to create them. That's why I ended up writing a book on the subject (which you can learn more about HERE). Consequently, I was really curious to see how my students did with this lesson.
Part of the homework is to use what they learned in the lesson to analyze a few spreads. Then they pick one and do a reading with it. After that, they modify the spread based on their analysis and do another reading.
Most of the modifications were fairly small, but I was shocked (and they were, too!) by what a difference those changes made for them. Without exception, the readings flowed better, made more sense, and were simply easier to use while providing better results.
For anyone who has never modified an existing spread, let me encourage you to try it. Spreads are not these unchangeable, holy things that must remain intact. They were created by someone to meet a need. It is perfectly okay to adjust them to meet your own needs. Rearrange the layout. Change some positional meanings. Add or eliminate positions. A spread should be, in some ways, like a matt for a framed picture: something that helps show off and highlight the work of the artist. You, as a reader, are an artist. Let the spreads you use showcase your unique skills and style and your readings will be stronger because of it.
First, I want to make sure you all know about Lo Scarabeo's new Kickstarter. You may be aware of their first one for Tarot Fundamentals. It was a huge success and the resulting book is just so wonderful. I wrote an article about it HERE. They are working on Volume 2 (there will be 3 volumes total in the Tarot Encyclopedia series), Tarot Experience. You can read about it HERE.
As for me, I'm up to my eyeballs in my Readers Studio presentation. A few weeks ago I went on a two day retreat to work on it. Everything was in me, no research needed to be done, I just needed undisturbed time and space to get it all down. I came away from the two days with a completed presentation.
The problems began when I started rehearsing it and working on the Power Point. Then I streamlined it. Then I added other things in. It turned into a muddy mess!
Why am I sharing this? People sometimes ask me for advice about preparing presentations. I have tons of advice. What I usually forget to tell them is that for me presentations go through this cycle from the moment I'm invited to present (oh no! whatever do I have to say?!?!?) until the actual presentation (oh please god let it be good for the attendees!). In between is everything from "oh my goodness, this is perfect!" to "oh holy crap, this is total garbage." It seems like an important point. It's like that image that goes around sometimes, something like what does success look like? We think it is a straight upward line but really there are a lot of snarls and step backs that happen along the way. Not always, but mostly. At least for me.
Thank goodness I found my way back to "okay, this is gonna be pretty good" by remembering who my target audience is and what I hope their experience will be like. This is more challenging than it sounds because at Readers Studio there is such a variety of tarot readers, beginners to experts, mystical to psychological, professional to hobbyist. Working with material that I'm currently passionate about and trying to create a great experience for all levels is an interesting task. It's a journey with high points and low points, and it's always fascinating.
If you are thinking of attending, I'd highly recommend it. The line up is super awesome, as it is every year. Check out the details HERE.
May Spirit infuse your work.
May all your projects be filled with passion.
May all your projects satisfy your heart.
May all your projects stimulate your mind.
May all your projects manifest beautifully.
Hello my friends!
How are you doing? Things here are going very well. I'm knee deep into my Readers Studio presentation. Today, in fact, I worked on the Powerpoint presentation. Putting together Powerpoints is such fun for me. I figured out how to include movie clips and gifs, which makes me happy.
Before the Powerpoint, I make a very detailed outline of the presentation and rehearse it through a few times for flow and for timing. Now that the Powerpoint is done, I will continue to rehearse and edit from now until the grand event. It will change a lot over the next few weeks, but it is all refining. The heavy lifting is done.
When I'm not working, I've been continuing to work on art. Tomorrow is the last day of a six week watercolor course I am taking through Wet Paint. So far I have nothing that I am willing to show anyone, but that doesn't matter. There is a great, eccentric YouTube video teacher who says, "Relax, you aren't necessarily making art that will change the world, but the making of it just might change you."
Speaking of watercolor, Lisa and I saw the most wonderful and unusual watercolor exhibit at the American Swedish Institute, the Watercolor Worlds of Lars Lerin. If you are in the area, the show goes until May 22 and is highly recommended. If you go, do make sure to watch the video...so interesting. Part of what is interesting about his work is the size. It is hard to do watercolor so large, so his huge pieces are unusual.
Here are a few examples:
Making marks on real paper is a theme lately, as evidenced by my letter writing. I've written to almost everyone who sent me their address and have gotten some wonderful letters in reply. It's kind of funny how much I look forward to the mail these days. I love the intimacy in letters, both the writing and the receiving of them. It's such a pleasant way to visit with people. I enjoy it so much, I even joined the Letter Writers Alliance. For $5, I got a lifetime membership, a nifty patch to sew on my backpack, and two new pen pals.
Art is becoming an important theme in my life lately, even more actively than it was before. In fact, it is spilling over into my professional work. I can't share all the details yet, but a friend and I are getting ready to launch some awesome workshops that incorporate art and tarot starting in May. I'll announce them first via my newsletter, so if you are interested, don't forget to sign up.
Some people said that they are interested in the next Through the Looking Glass Retreat, I'll have news on that soon as well. All kinds of wonderful, in-person, fabulous tarot experiences are in the works!
Finally, how am I doing not being on Facebook or any other social media? Great! There is one small hiccup. When you deactivate your account, to reactivate it, all you have to do is sign back in. I've not signed in but my account still was reactivating. I'm not sure why but I think it is because some websites say "Sign in with Facebook." I used to do that, so I think that when I go back to those sites, because I originally created my account with them through Facebook that it somehow signs me back in. I don't know for sure. So I've had to go in a few times are re-deactivate it! Even though I saw all those notifications, I didn't check anything. The first time it happened, it was hard. But the last time I had to re-deactivate, it was not tempting in the least.
I don't feel like I have tons of extra time now...because I'm busy reading and writing letters, making art, living life...but I feel less distracted, less stressed. I'm not as upset about the world or about people being mean...because in my actual life, the people I interact with aren't mean. It's nice to have the space to breathe and be.
May you, my friends, have the space you need
May you, my friends, have the peace you need
to enjoy your space
to breathe calmly
to think deeply
to create richly.