Full Circle. The bittersweet wonder of a project completed

From The Healing Light
Tarot. Lo Scarabeo. 2017.
It's been fairly quiet on this blog of late, mainly because my energies have been channelled into completing The Healing Light Tarot and writing the accompanying book. The day before yesterday was a landmark as I finally sent the finished project to my publisher, Lo Scarabeo.

Like the dancer on the World card, I'm experiencing my own process of completion as I hand my child to its adoptive parent and wait for it to take form with ink, paper and card stock. I'm beginning a new journey of trust as I hand this child first to the publisher and eventually, to you, the reader, the collector and lover of tarot.

As yet, I have no idea what relationship you will form with this child when you meet them. Will you understand its language? Will its images and symbols touch your heart and resonate with your soul? More importantly, will this baby give you clear readings and sound guidance?

A child who brings healing

These are all things close to my heart and in formulating the deck I aimed to create a clearly focused traditional tarot whose images may transport you to a place of divine healing. The Time Between Times is a Celtic  description of dusk and dawn; the portal between night and day when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. The almond shaped mandorla is a similar portal; a sacred space where we find healing and commune with the spirit world. Both feature heavily throughout the deck and I hope that when you finally hold these cards and begin to read with them, your journey will be as healing as the one I made while creating them.

It seemed especially fitting to focus on the World card today; not just because this project has reached completion, but also because it was the first card created specifically for the deck. It started life as the poster design for the first Sacred Tarot workshop, co-facilitated with Petronella Devaney last June. At the time, I had in mind to create a hand painted deck but the preliminary images felt wooden and unauthentic. Creating the poster was the turning point as it showed me a stylistic way forward and brought me back to an old lesson: stick with what you do best. I'm an artist of many media and especially a painter of portraits, but as for Tarot, my inspiration has always flowed best through Photoshop. If I am ever to create a hand painted deck, now is not the time. Once I'd embraced this, the deck began to take shape with heartening speed.

Cards waiting for their true home

The World card also highlights another form of fulfilment where this project is concerned. Over the last few years, I've worked on several deck projects that I eventually abandoned. None of them proved feasible but all contained images that  I was immensely proud of in their own right.  Following on from the World card, I re-opened the old files and eventually salvaged or adapted thirteen further cards, bringing them into the new deck. Everything has its time and I now realise these cards were waiting patiently for their real project to be born.

Healing fire

The gestation period of this deck proved to be a time of transformation in my own life and I think it shows through the cards. I presented my first workshops in over ten years and overcame huge barriers in terms of self confidence. I also got involved with the Radical Faerie movement and whilst experiencing an extraordinary sense of homecoming with the Faerie tribe, I also found myself connecting on a new, deeper level with my raw masculinity through ritual, sharing and celebration. A Faerie gathering aims to create safe nurturing space for LGBTQI folk and in effect, the community becomes its own healing mandorla for the duration. So much of the fire, light and movement connected to the mandorlas in these cards was inspired by my experiences at the Faerie gatherings and the artwork I created for the Albion Faeries web site had a huge influence on the subsequent development of the deck. My Faerie experience modelled healing to me, in all its wonderful but challenging forms. I hope it shines through these cards. This is no fluffy or feel good journey to wholeness, but it is an authentic one.

I now have my own hand printed test copy of the deck to do readings with. Several close friends also have these home produced copies so I've been able to give and receive readings now the deck is complete. To conceive, create and complete such a large scale project (78 images plus back design) leaves me feeling triumphant like the World Dancer; magic wands in hand as she dances on top of the World Tree. Completion is a place of healing and like her I feel surrounded by a glowing, protective Mandorla, knowing that my sense of fulfilment spans from having been able to freely express my inspiration and give birth to it in artistic form.

Moving forward

Yet for me, this is also an exciting new beginning as the completed project moves to a new and higher level. It will take on a new life when it goes to print and I have many further joys to look forward to, not least the joy of seeing how my publisher chooses to package and present the deck and book. Which card will they choose for the front of the box? Which image will grace the cover of the companion book? Better still, what surprises await me when I finally take delivery of my box of courtesy copies? All these things are a long way off yet but they bear out the connection between the last of the Major Arcana and the first.

The World is the card of conclusions but it is also a card of higher new beginnings. You could say the World Dancer is the Fool transformed, like a caterpillar who has grown and pupated through the course of the Major Arcana, only to emerge triumphantly at its end, ready to fly away on a new journey.

We've come full circle as we stand on top of the World Tree. Within the golden mandorla, end and beginning are all part of the circle of life and this is the portal between one sphere and the next. The dancer herself is very much an inhabitant of the Time Between Times.


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