So you will find a deep grounding in meditation and mindful practices in this deck. These are my go to areas for assistance. Nature also features strongly in my world and we moved into the countryside from the city just as UFO was being completed. Mostly I wanted the deck to accompany the querent on their own inner journey of introspect and discovery, whilst suggesting subtle shifts in focus and renewed or strengthened practice. Very often I have used the card as a springboard to explore an idea further, whether that is a new area of visualisation, or a deity or masterful entity to connect with at an energetic level, a healing or ritual technique to try or even a real place to discover or research. Many of these themes flit in and out of UFO.
What you will find consistently running through the deck are the crystal references, both as an anchor energy for each card and also sometimes showing up as part of the story and narrative. That probably deserves further exploration here as one of the things in my toolbox that works.
Crystals consistently run throughout the deck
Creative License, Coincidence and Crystals...
When the deck came together it was such a feeling of accomplishment and handing it over to my publisher was just the best feeling. I gave US Games free reign on the presentation and packaging. Having had a short lived life as a graphic artist in the 80's I knew I didn't want to undertake that part of the process and had full trust in what they would do with the deck. Publishing queues can take a while so I mostly set aside UFO and stepped fully into the Tarot creation again whilst waiting. The day I got the proofs back made it all real again. Of course I loved every aspect of the design, the colours to me were just perfect and the card backs had pulled in the little woodpecker from my Uncover card. I had woodpeckers in my city garden and also here in the countryside now. They follow me around, so this was the perfect little coincidence. Later when I would get the deck in my hands for the first time I would marvel at how soft and sensual the box felt, each detail had been perfectly thought through and even my small hands found the size perfect for a decent shuffle.
The one change I pondered on was the numbers on the cards. They weren't really intended to be there but I had numbered the files I sent and the graphics team had included them on the proofs. I slept on it and went back and forth in thought until I felt that they really ended up there for a reason. I'm glad they remained because more often than not they send me down a path of checking out the numerology when I read them and I feel it brings another really cool dimension into play for those who are interested.
I knew at the start crystals would play a part in this deck. In the early 90s I remember walking into a new age style gift shop and being entranced and very interested in the crystals there, on handling them I could feel very immediate and subtle energies at play. I could lose myself in a Quartz point quite easily, finding beings or otherworldly places to explore. The delight at finding a rainbow or a tiny dragon is an earth magic that speaks to me and I find quite hard to put into words since I don't even consider myself to be what people these days call "woo woo". I liken it to the same sensations I get when handing other inanimate objects that carry a vibration or feeling. To give an example I have a pottery hedgehog and if I handle it I can feel the joy of it's creation. I have several animals in the series but only the hedgehog makes me really feel and the smile it brings feels like the creators smile and not my own.
Crystals are like this for me, not all want to talk but when I can feel one tune in with me it is very immediate (and primal, like tapping into the creation of the earth somehow). Reading that back I guess everyone has a "woo woo" that feels normal to them. Back then I went on to using crystals in my personal practices and rituals for many years, even running workshops for a time. This is something I have picked up again fairly recently in the personal work I do, after years in the crystal wilderness. There were so many new formations and rocks to discover that I just jumped in and started to make friends with them again. Of course there is an incredible amount of information out there, intensive courses and worrying ethics to manoeuvre in this area now if you are inclined. For the curious I would say enjoy natures gifts as a starting point, experiment and find out if crystals enhance your world.; but above all buy and source ethically. If you use crystals already I hope I did justice to their inclusion and involvement in UFO, for me they provided a grounded base for the writing and an intuitive filter for the energy I wanted to bring through in the deck.
I'm going to end up with a few acknowledgements of thanks and teasers.
Elaine Reid was the writer friend who provided great advice over a couple of chats.
The cover art for my deck "Roma" (Knowing Card) depicts a beautiful jewellery collection by UK Silversmith Victoria Markham (Silver Orb Jewellery), we have collaborated a few time now and Victoria also has the official crystal charms made to accompany UFO. You can contact her directly for availability.
My partner Phil provided proof reading for UFO, one of his many talents in this life.
I would also like to thank my dear friend Tammy Wampler, fellow artist and deck creator. We share a Face Book Group "Starling Grove" which is our little corner to connect with fans, whether it's through the art or via our decks. Everyone is most welcome there. Exclusive behind the scenes things happen fairly often.
Finally a huge thanks to the team at US Games for their trust and guidance. The final product packaging and their vision exceeded my expectations in every way.
I think one of the nicest and oddest reviews I read was that the deck felt "very special for a mass produced deck" I hadn't even considered this angle since I'm certain all decks however they are distributed start with one small person with one big dream. I feel incredibly lucky to be picked up by the US Games family who really have started me off on a course of new discovery.
What's Next ?
Well "Universal Folk Tarot" is complete and safely in the hands of my publishers. I am really excited for you to meet this new deck which has been a labour of love. You can expect the same underlying energy in UFT hanging firmly on the classic RWS framework ,with a few twists and turns and surprises I hope. I discovered how much I enjoy drawing male characters with this new deck, it was important to include them visually after a all female oracle, my folio has not included many male characters up to now and because my art language leans to the feminine you will still find a prominence of female imagery in this deck.
I also discovered that creating a Tarot deck is a huge physical and emotional undertaking, every line and detail is a journey peeling back many layers. I am certain it's a once in a lifetime thing for me on this scale, each artwork was huge in terms of my average ink drawing size and each card was a lesson to be uncovered and worked hard in the creation process. I hope you will enjoy this deck as much as I did in the making of it.
Once you are on this journey it is fair to say you cannot stop and ideas for Oracles were already swirling around between projects long before the completion of UFT. At one point I thought I would need to jump back into service and do readings and people centred work in order to stand by my UFO when it was birthed in the world, but I realised quite quickly (and very thankfully) that my gift or my service is exactly what I am doing now via the art and the writing, and that's a beautiful realisation very in line with my Hermit nature.
Right now I am tentatively working on a new personal Oracle Deck yet to be named. The deck will centre around bird lore, messages and mythology, I am really passionate about drawing birds so it combines many of my favourite things. I have been experimenting with automatic writing recently with interesting results too (I am not sure if it will surface in the new deck). I have two interested publishers in this deck, so I'm very hopeful it will get picked up once I am a little further on.
The deck will centre around bird lore, messages and mythology
I am also working with an established author on another Oracle too. We are keeping things under wraps for now, but it is due for completion at the end of next year all going to plan. It is nice to draw for someone else's vision this time, I thought this would be difficult but we have really blended well so far as a team and the artwork is a joy to create. I can't say too much more but I'm so excited about both projects going forward.
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@anitainverarity and @returninghermit (Instagram)