The Ancestors Speak: In Conversation With Kelly Harcus

Kelly Harcus is an artist who has created the most wonderful deck of oracle cards. After using them a few times, I really wanted to talk to her about their creation and she very kindly agreed to answers a few questions.  
You can read a review of the cards here

Oracle

Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative life
 Sometimes I say I’m a recovering teacher. I loved it, but I burned out a few years ago and it would have been foolish to continue. I’ve always been a maker, but I didn’t feel like an artist until I discovered art journalling in 2005. It gave me permission to pull in all sorts of techniques and influences. I could express all the feelings that I had no words for. Within the pages of a journal, I didn’t have to please anyone but myself and didn’t have to worry about “good” or “pretty’.
In 2007, I discovered artist books and fell hard. They are still my main practice, at least in what can be called fine art. When I need validation, as we all do sometimes, I can remind myself that my books are in artist book collections and one of them even won a prize. 18 months ago, I took the plunge and started renting a studio, about 20 minutes away from my house. It is a refuge and a joy. I think of everything now in terms of studio rent. Sure, I could have that new dress, but it costs a week of studio rent – no thanks!

What inspires you to create?
 The material itself is often my inspiration, especially with clay, yarn or fabric. Exhibitions often inspire me, not to create how like the artist shown, but just to get my hands into paint and clay again. If you saw me, you’d know how inspired I am by a show, by how tightly I’m clenching my hands behind my back. If you hear I’ve been arrested, it will be at a Henry Moore exhibit for touching everything! Otherwise, it’s usually nature, especially my home province of Nova Scotia in Canada. The curve of a beach rock, a bit off drift wood, a bright leaf tucked into green moss. Another big theme for me is the wabi sabi beauty of human creation returning to nature in peeling paint, dripping rust or sea glass. Even typing this, I’m wiggling my fingers the way I do when I can’t wait to get stuck in – my husband calls them my happy paws.

I absolutely love your oracle deck; can you tell me a bit about what inspired this?
 I was fortunate enough to be at a retreat in Glastonbury held by Erin Faith Allen. It was over Halloween, and we were working with intuition. Polly Pring led us in some powerful ancestor meditation and ritual. Erin’s teaching is very process driven rather than result, so everyone’s work turns out differently. We weren’t “supposed” to be making pictures, or to ascribe meaning to our cards, trusting that this would become clear in the future as we used them. On the contrary though, I awoke early one morning, when my cards were just bits of collage on plain cards. In the liminal space of early morning, I suddenly saw all those faces, nearly human, but nearly spirit too. When I went back to the studio, the faces made themselves even more clear and meanings came through strongly from what had just been random collage the day before. They aren’t like anything anyone else created that weekend, or even like anything I’ve created before. They just really wanted to exist.

Why did you choose to create an oracle deck in particular?
 I’ve craved it since I went back to the cards in 2013 after a long absence. I still want to make a tarot deck, but it seems like such a massive undertaking – I’m sneaking up on it. I was lucky enough to be a teacher in Mindy Tsonas’s Wishcraft Tarot course this year and worked with The Hanged Man for that. I never intended to make these public. They were just for my own use. After a year of reliably powerful guidance, and enquiries from a few friends, I looked into how to have them printed. When I am looking after myself properly, oracle cards, meditation and my journal are part of my best morning routine. There’s something extra powerful in using cards you’ve made yourself. Having said that, please don’t stop me buying more decks!

What are your thoughts on the subject of magic? Do you incorporate it in your daily life? If so, how?
Oh, it varies. I believe in a lot, and then my skeptical side comes in. Often with the cards, when I’m doing a reading, I offer this disclaimer, especially if it’s for someone new to cards: “Maybe this is just a bit of fun. Maybe it’s a way for us to access the wisdom of our subconscious. Maybe it is a message from spirit or the universe.” It’s like I need to give myself permission. The thing is, they’ve been spot on too many times to count. What I really believe is that there is a lot beyond what we know, and maybe a hundred years from now we’ll understand it all better. I have a main altar at home, and several small ones. I take part in a Women’s Full Moon dance – such an amazing experience! I arm myself with crystals suitable for whatever situation I need support in. So I can’t really say I don’t believe, can I?

Do you have any projects coming up you would like to share with the readers?
 Early this year, I got a lot of clarity that as well as my own creative work, part of my purpose in the world is to support others with their creative work. So I’ve been supporting other creatives with tech and admin; so many people have so much to offer, but are stopped because making a website or an ebook feels hard. I’m making aprons, journals and sketchbook wraps to sell on Etsy. I’m running art journal playdates in my studio, and a small story-telling group. In my personal work, I’m just diving deep into my own art journals.

The cards available to buy from her Etsy shop

Oh, Dylan by Katie Doherty

Dylan Thomas

Portrait by Peter Ross

Oh Dylan. How my view is so different to yours.

We may share the same blood and the tongue we speak

clatters around our mouths at speed.

In the drinking holes of Fitzrovia, I walk in your footsteps,

I stick to your every step

but how my view is so very different to yours.

The amusement rides, the distant view, the dialect,

even the birds sing a different tune here.

The sea, it stares at me but not like our sea Dylan, the waves

don’t crash about me, they just roll away because they know

I’m not a mermaid in these parts, I am just a guest watching this tiny world float by.

Oh Dylan, how my view is so different to yours.

Poem published for International Dylan Thomas Day May 14th 2017

The Power Of The Witch (1971)

Doreen

Welcome to the 1970’s.

Interest in the occult was rife and the rise of Wicca brought many people to the craft. Although I am not personally someone who follows Wicca, I found this documentary of interest for historical reasons. It has to be said that this is a very naive documentary in that we are faced with those that proclaim that witchcraft is devil worship and there are some, what we call, “media witches” on there. If you can put this aside and enjoy it for it is (it is very much of the time) then you will enjoy it.

It features Cecil Williamson, Doreen Valiente, Eleanor Bone and others.

Full Moon In Scorpio

 

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Source: danaboulos.tumblr.com

This is a very special full moon post. I am a Scorpio and I am as intense and emotional as this full moon implies. The sensitive nature of this moon will indeed heighten your own emotional well-being hence why this is a good time to do some intuitive work. So, I have put together a little meditation dedicated to this particular lunar event.


If you can go outside this evening then do so.  Assuming you can see her, take it as an opportunity to moon bathe. Light a candle of your choice, a good one would be red that represents the fiery passionate that comes with a Scorpio moon but the colour is your choice.

You can sit with your legs crossed or you may choose to sit on a chair/beanbag/cushion etc.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply for the first few seconds and then return to your normal breathing. Feel your body relax from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Allow yourself to be filled with powerful energy; courage and passion. Feel the strength enter your body and allow the clarity to fall upon you. Anything that you feel may be unfinished or a little bit messy in your life, then this is the time to re-focus and kick some ass!

You can remain in this meditation until you feel ready to open your eyes. Blow the candle out and go to bed. This is a good opportunity to write down any feelings and thoughts that came to you and to record that night’s dreams.

Blood and Ink

People either love the fact I am a poet or they rip into me like poetry went out of fashion in 1889. I’m sorry that poetry isn’t your thing but neither is watching reality TV or eating animals; we all have our own lives. I do however feel, as a woman, I sometimes get a hard time as a poet. I have heard people write off Sylvia Plath in favour of Ted Hughes as “the real poet”. A comment once made by someone who will remain anonymous was that “poetry suits women, they are great at whining”. Yet male figures who open their hearts to the reader is seen as the hero. Women poets are seen as weaklings.

Sylvia Plath

Before this ridiculousness came upon me as an adult, I was a child poet, unpublished and happy as hell. I started writing poetry in school and I loved it so much I decided to keep writing on the weekends. I was enveloped by the idea that the use of colours, textures, landscapes and feelings could be put into one little poem. Of course, I copied the major poets in style and although that was enjoyable, I felt I didn’t quite have my own style yet, that would come with practise, I knew that much. Over the years I read poetry religiously and what has occurred to me is that my style is not of the formulaic way. I appreciate good rounded poetry with its certain number of stanzas etc but that is all I see it as, a great poem, in a technical sense. I however, believe that art should make you feel something. I hear amazing guitar solos in songs but sometimes they just have no groove, I hear people singing songs written by others but they have no soul, I see amazing landscape paintings but they give me no warmth…I want to feel, I want to be upset, surprised, disturbed, happy, sad, I want to laugh because it has simple made me feel something.

My poetry comes from a very deep and dark place. A culmination of thoughts, realities, experiences and feelings all collide in lines upon lines of poetry. I can’t write about pretty flowers or cats; I write about feelings, observations; it is cathartic and my very own way of expressing myself. It is a therapy that stops me from feeling utterly insane.

Anne Sexton

“Meanwhile in my head, I’m undergoing open-heart surgery.”
― Anne Sexton

It has occurred to me over the years that poets have so much in them but they feel they have to write in a certain way. Please don’t let stuffy old poetry magazine editors put you off, create your art for you and always remember this very simple thing:

Art is subjective.

Patti Smith

We cannot please everyone. If we did, then how boring would that be? Keep at it, be true to yourself and in the words of Patti Smith:

Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire.

“The Ancestors Speak” Oracle Deck

Oracle

Created in Glastonbury on Samhain in 2016, these are a wonderful deck of cards that are unusual in the most glorious arty way. “The Ancestors Speak” oracle deck has been created using a mix-media collage technique and they are so unique.

Created by artist Kelly Harcus, these cards can be used for daily guidance or can be used in a more comprehensive spread. They are the same size as tarot cards and comprise of 22 cards which matches the number of the Major Arcana in Tarot. They are very handy to pop in your bag if you fancied doing a reading for someone or maybe just a contemplative moment in the woods. There is no complicated explanation for these cards, or symbology that leaves you baffled; they speak to you through the practical use of text on the cards and most importantly; using your intuition. The images are very thought provoking so that will certainly get you inspired for your reading.

For those of you who undertake ancestral work then these cards are something you should look into owning.

You can buy them right here