Sunday, September 12, 2010


I am the One who holds women's secrets out in the open.

I was in Michele Manos’ introductory SoulCollage(R) course last fall. She had spread a bunch of images on the floor and has asked us to take one and journal with it. I saw this across the room and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I couldn’t believe others wouldn’t beat me to it first.

Immediately the image told me she was the High Priestess, but it took me a little while to see the correspondences between this image and the traditional Rider-Waite imagery.

Fist she's masked. Her upraised arms stand in for the pillars. (We will see this detail again when we get to the Heirphant.) The red scarf subs for the pomegranate magic curtain (where Carol Merrill is now standing....)

A significant difference is she seems to be out in the open, which is an interesting take on what is supposed to be shrouded in mystery. Hidden right in the open. At the beach yet, in broad daylight.

(And yet, Rachel Pollack points out there's a scene with water and land behind the Rider-Waite curtain, if you look closely enough.)

This National Geographic image is from Iran, I believe. I remember a student film from my college days by a Middle Eastern student (male) called "Women's Secrets." Being not particularly sensitive to cultural difference at that time in my life, I couldn't figure out what the big deal was for him.

And yet, there he is, the guy in the back looking on at the untouchable and ineffable. I couldn't cut him out. One of these days he'll have something to say to me.

The High Priestess is associated with the cult of Isis, the concept of the Shekinah in Kabbalah and the introduction of duality into the world. She represents potential, passivity and intuition so deep as to be unnameable.

Psychologically if the Magician is the energy of Yes, the High Priestess is the energy of No. Think of toddlers learning these two different concepts. Next we will meet the earthly parents of the Fool.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I. THE MAGICIAN: Shakespeare

I am the quintessential actor, the quintessential playwright.
I distill. I synthesize the pieces into a masterpiece.

I do have magician images in my stash. I am fascinated by the traditional adept imagery of the Magician. I particularly am drawn to the turn-of-the-century magicians (so beautifully captured in movies like The Prestige and The Illusionist), and that combination of occultism and mass entertainment. Which brings me to this Community card for William Shakespeare. Whether you think he was a man or a committee, he earns this placement for his knowledge of alchemy and use of alchemical language, while keeping the groundlings amused with spectacle and broad comedy. Scholars love to see magician Prospero in The Tempest as Shakespeare's stand-in. At the end of this, Shakespeare’s last play, Prospero throws his grimoire into the ocean, and that is supposed to symbolize the playwright giving up the theatre. I always thought that bit was a little too pat and opportunistic. I seem to remember that literary criticism is similar to tarot, about pattern making and association :)

Rachel Pollack in 78 Degrees of Wisdom sees the Magician as a channel or conduit, drawing power from above to below. Which also is a good way of looking at Shakespeare. None of the stories he told were new, he was just really good at taking popular culture and transforming it into something deep, and vice versa. Highly mysterious, a genius in his socioeconomic class, he defied all the expectations of his education. There are plenty of people who think he couldn’t possibly be one person or that brilliant, that the canon is the work of several people, or a pseudonym for some upper-class twit. Possibly it’s a case of educated people not giving credit to genius when it strikes without prejudice in a generation.

I have invoked the Magician in my theatre directing, particularly. Directing is kind of like juggling, which is another name for this card.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

THE FOOL: The Traveler

I am the One Who travels light. I am the one who enjoys the view.

I am a perfectionist or at nature lazy, I'm not sure which. I seem to exhibit both extremes of Virgoness. The first cards I made--in fact the cards I love best to make--are usually single images that turn out to be perfect. Either that, or I tend to spend hours moving tiny elements around with a toothpick. But this one, The Traveler, is a single-image one.

In the traditional SoulCollage(R) suits, the Council cards are archetypes active in your life. Seena Frost suggests that there are Council archetypes that everyone possesses. The Fool is one.

I wouldn't have called this my Fool card, but it certainly fits. It reminds me of a wonderful cartomancy deck The Desert Oracle, which employs a similar desert background for the entire deck. I thought about using this image in a similar fashion. The figure reminds me of Ginger, my friend who taught me to read Tarot over twenty years ago on Nantucket. Once we were reading on a bluff near the ocean, a pretty steep bluff as I recall, twenty or thirty feet. As we read, a young man, an acquaintance of ours, ran up to us and through our space. "Hmm. Nowhere to go but down. Guess I'll have to do that." He ran deftly down the bluff and continued his jog on the beach below us. It's not always that you get a timely visit from the Fool.

This card is also unique in that it's currently my only horizontal image.

The Fool is the Zero card, related to the Joker in playing decks. The Fool represents us at the beginning of any endeavor, ignorant of danger with only our intuition to guide us. The Major Arcana is considered the Fool's Journey. As the Fool travels, he passes through various trials, gaining experiences on the way to becoming The Wise Fool.

The Fool surveys the path below, but looks ready to step into the precipice. She travels light. All she is missing is her dog.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Fool's Journey, a personal odyssey in SoulCollage(R)

I spent the last couple of weeks in July “on a tear” assembling ten new SoulCollage® cards. TrueNorthArt's blog party turned out to be a good excuse. I put together four Community cards, one character card, two Council, two Committee, and my first Companion card.

When I told my husband I had 22 paper cards, he said, “Good, now you have a Major Arcana.” That set me to thinking. That, and Kathryn Antyr's use of collage for the Hero's Journey.

How might I fit my existing cards into a Major Arcana pattern?

I tossed and turned for a couple of nights running through how I might move things around. Then I got up and did it. Then the cat sat on my cards. Then the monsoon rains on the only humid day of the year caused the cards to swell, so I had to press them back into shape with the help of a couple of thick phone books. (Phone books are still good for something. You can't press stuff using Google.)

I'd done something similar once before. I’d heard a writer using tarot suggest collaging a set of Majors for your writing project in an afternoon. I'm not nearly that brave, but upon discovering my in-progress 50's noir had 22 characters...I once spent forty-five minutes in Starbucks moving them around into a Major Arcana pattern. And guess what, it worked. Very well, in fact.

Writing coach Steve Barnes says if you internalize the Hero's Journey as a writer, you're golden. Your subconscious will make the story for you. I've been a tarot reader for 22 years. (There's that number again!) I wondered if I'd internalized the Fool's Journey enough for it to affect what cards I created first.

The following is a very subjective trip through the Fool's Journey using what's on hand, including Community cards as well as Council. Some are very obviously archetypes. Others fit into the sequence through design elements.

I hope you enjoy this syncronicitious journey.

Friday, July 30, 2010

New Cards! SoulCollage(R) Blog Party

Hello, Blog Partygoers! Welcome to my SoulCollage(R)Blog...Thanks to Kathryn Antyr of for hosting the party and encouraging us to get to work...Here's an eclectic group of goodies from my "current" folder that were only waiting for a deadline and a glue stick :) Enjoy!!

Update: Go here for a slideshow featuring my old cards. And here to see cards and commentary from a SoulCollage(R) workshop I took last fall. Thanks for stopping by!

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Old Cards...

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Cards from a SoulCollage(R) workshop...

...led by Michele Manos, October 2009, Amado, AZ

Ancestral Gifts

...We have been warriors and peacemakers, mothers and fathers, mystics and simple people. We have been priests and rabbis, priestesses and witches....You are so much more than the limits of your body. You can tap your strength and also your legacy. You can heal your DNA.

High Priestess

I am the One who is the High Priestess.
I am the One who is aware of the sacred in the profane.
I am the One who bears the pain of my tribe.
I am the Woman of Mystery.
I am the One who holds women's secrets out in the open.

Fire Mummy (Death)

I am the One who is a dessicated shell, purified by transformative fire.

Make a Noise!

I am the one who expresses my self with the freedom of a child.
I am the one who is willing to make a fool of myself.
The guidance I offer is:
Open your mouth.
Don't care what the judges think.
Keep your eye on the prize.
Embarrassment is for sissies.