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

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

Be More Bohème

 

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Source: Aëla Labbé

Be More Bohème , that is my message but what does that actually mean?

According to the trusty internet a bohemian can be defined as a carefree soul that defies convention.

My definition? A bohemian is a magical being that moves through life sprinkling glitter with every gesture, they are always reaching for the moon and dirtying their nails in the earth. They appear as artists, Mothers, teachers, light workers, writers, witches, and mystical beings.

Bohemianism is a very romantic word; it conjures up images of starving artists at rowdy parties and caffeine highs in the cafés of Paris. This is, as I say, a romantic view but what does this mean today? From my observations and numerous conversations; we have become disillusioned. The world is moving faster than we can manage, more is expected of us and we feel like the art of creativity is “just a hobby”. We are not expressing ourselves enough, we aren’t allowing ourselves to live creative lives; we must embody the magic we were born with.

As a child I saw life as birth and death. Anything in-between was a day in, day out struggle. You were born to work and if you had a good job you were obviously more intelligent and better than anyone else (yeah right). I yearned for more, I knew there was more to this life and all these years later I have realised there really is and it is amazing!!

The bit in-between life and death is a journey and instead of trudging your way through it we must paint it with bright colours, throw glitter at it (I really love glitter) and understand who we are and where we came from. We need to explore ourselves and what is around us, understand we have the ability to heal ourselves and connect to our primal nature. We have lost that connection and being able to bring it back into your life will conjure up that sense of happiness we all wish for.

I believe the bohemian soul knows itself through and through and feeds itself until it wants to burst. You can feed it with long country walks, reading a book, sipping tea, painting, writing, dancing, playing games with children, eating a comforting dinner, cuddling up with your significant other, buying a warm blanket for the cold nights, dressing up, making pottery, filling your fingers full of rings, getting tattooed, lying on the grass staring at the stars, worshiping the moon, sowing seeds…this is food for the soul. We must learn to do what makes us happy and what makes our heart sing and not what people think we should do.

This blog was created to inspire. It is a continuous resource of inspiration and wisdom. Despite what has happened to us, what we are going through or what we try and plan for the future we must accept that this is all one big journey. We have two options; we curl up in a ball and live it in misery or we open ourselves up to the beauty of our journey. As soon as we open up, so does the world around us. So turn off the phone and tune into yourself.

Just remember one thing: you are magic my dear and I hope you can follow my journey and if you want, come on it with me.

Katie

The Artwork of Mystic Mamma

Mystic Mamma is a fabulous website that is packed full of thought provoking articles, wisdom and inspiration.

As a regular reader, I desperately wanted to feature her artwork on the blog. The artist behind Mystic Mamma is Mijanou Montealegre –  a mystic, an artist and a mother. Her combination of ancient wisdom together with clean and striking imagery makes it an absolute sight (or should I say site) to behold.

Her work (as featured below) are limited edition Glicee Prints of her Digital Art Collages. If she wasn’t amazing enough, she says she will plant a tree for every piece of artwork sold.

A truly wonderful soul. You can find her site here

 

SURRENDER B MYSTICMAMMAHEAL-MYSTIC MAMMA artVISION-Art by MYSTIC MAMMATRANSFORM-ART BY MYSTIC MAMMADESIRE-art by MYSTIC MAMMA

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

view-from-the-cheap-seats

I call Neil Gaiman my gardener. He helped to plant seeds and constantly water my creativity. I have a lot to thank him for.

The View From The Cheap Seats is a huge tome filled to the brim with brilliant essays on just about everything. From his life as a writer, making good art to introducing us to some of the people he has come across in his life that have made a difference. From start to finish this is a wonderful read that just inspired me so much I thought I might burst at the seams. Libraries, bookshops, music, fairytales and a bounty of creative influences – this is absolutely jam packed with so many amazing tales and inspiration for the modern day writer.

Neil isn’t someone who thinks he has a gift and that no one else can have it. Some writers tend to have egos that are so big that there is no room for anyone else in the literary world. Neil is very down to earth and open about his craft, the very nature of writing is to share stories and he does this well both in fiction and non-fiction, as you will find out in this book. He is passionate about his work, even after all these years his mind is still churning up stories that are as magical as they day he started writing these fantastical tales. He is a true gem that everyone should treasure and if you have never read any of his work then go out and find a world you will never want to come back from.

 

The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins

the-art-of-creative-thinking

Discovering this book was a fortunate stroke of serendipity. I was in a creative black hole, it was pretty bad and I had considered just become a normal person. My personal life had made being creative a chore yet the desire was still there but I didn’t know how to get it out. So, one day, my train home from work was delayed and I went into the WHSmith at the station to browse and kill some time. This book was staring at me; I stared back at it. I took it as a sign and flicked through the pages only to find some really interesting concepts and ways of thinking. I was straight to the till and I was reading it on my late train home with a hot cup of tea.

Each piece is taken from the perspective of a creative so it isn’t a stuffy writer telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing; these are the trials and tribulations of real artists making their way through their creative life.

The format of this book is not linear. Of course it isn’t, why would you want it to be? This book is something you pick up, turn to a random chapter and be inspired. Rod Judkins, of the world-famous St Martin’s College of Art has studied creative people for most of his life and this really shows in the passion behind the words. He knows how creativity is crushed and pushed aside at school so he gives you this opportunity to open up this book and get back to being that child. It urges you to try various techniques, methods and thought processes, which can help artists, writers and even office workers to indulge in their creative side.