Someone wants your attention.
Will you go there?
Years ago my friend Chris Rosenau and I were sitting sheltered from the New Mexico sun while he told me of a vision he had received. He wanted to create a deck of Tarot cards because the creatures of Faerie had come to him asking for “a way to communicate with the people.” Would I consider creating the illustrations for the 22 Major Arcana cards?
Of course Yes. But how? My history with shamanic experiences in the other realms had taught me one doesn’t just go barging in demanding an audience and permission to do whatever. So how to meet the inhabitants of Faerie?
Chris sent me the names of 22 faeries, plus an list of correspondences to each that included animals or birds, plants and minerals. His only other direct instruction was that the cards were to be triangular in format, with each corner occupied by one of these corresponding entities. I remembered that while teaching art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in the creation of Japanese Noh masks. The process of making a mask blindfolded, of being directed by feel and intuition in the shape of features and placement of details, caught my attention. Could I meet the faeries in a place of seeing without sight, of knowing without thought?
Using micaceous clay from New Mexico, because I learned from Martin Prechtel and Felipe Ortega to fire it in a sacred manner, I made a mask for each Faerie. A plastic-covered disc of crumpled paper was the bat upon which the clay was shaped–and the dominant features added–all while blindfolded. If I needed to take a break during the process, I covered the mask so my analyzing mind could not begin to comment. Only after all the features were in place did I remove the blindfold and smooth the parts together.
Once the mask was fired and therefore in this reality,
I used it as the model for painting the faerie.
The masks began to take on attitude,
a tilt of will.
Which in turn directed the energy of the card.
Some masks were not the faerie,
but the energy activating the creature.
The completed cards were very satisfying as art, but were they inhabited? Did they contain the spark of Faerie? As I say in the introduction to the Journey Oracle deck I created: (Divination) “sits in the space of veils and mist, and speaks from your unconscious wisdom. It does this by unveiling mystery more than by offering advice, by prompting insight more than by providing answers.” Chris describes a parallel understanding : “To divine you must rely on chance and the unknown. To navigate the unknown into the known requires that you depend on your feelings and intuition to guide you.” So could one navigate the realm of Faerie with these cards?
Myself and two artist friends, Lynne Barker and Janet Turpin, decided to create an interactive installation at the Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery here on Cortes Island, and invite the faeries into the mix. We created tableaus of masks and cards, focused on 3 questions;
What do you believe?
What do you know?
What do you create?
As it turned out, the faeries did show up, and created moments of mischief during and after the exhibition, ranging from a burned jacket to a required burial. Now as I hold this new Facaria Tarot deck, and reflect on its long history of becoming, I mostly remember the originating vision Chris received:
We want to speak to you.
Will you listen?
You can enter the realm of Faerie
by ordering a deck at