Making of an Oracle Deck, Part One

Making of an Oracle Deck, Part One

This is a revived post from our blog about the making of Inquire Within.

I decided to make Inquire Within a slow project because it began as a slow practice, and the process has been something for myself. It would have been unfeasible as something done quickly – and would have totally thrown me off balance if I stopped everything I was doing to work on only one big thing for a whole month. Also, a project like this is best to be created with thought, care and consideration over time.This post is about how I started the project : )

Throughout the year I made it a point to hold myself accountable in my intention to practice making art / work that comes from an authentic place. The idea for a card deck of simple, healing reminders bubbled up out of the creative ether when I was going through some of my past journals. A lot of the time when I journal I make a lot of realizations about myself, and end up naturally coming up with words of encouragement, affirmations, or just simple phrases that bring me extreme comfort, motivation, or sense of relief at that moment. I can’t help but want to naturally share these things, or rather I am slowly realizing this is something I have to offer. And even more important than me sharing words that have helped me in card deck format, the bigger picture of why I really want to share this is because it comes from the idea that you yourself can heal you yourself. Having little reminders around feels like having access to remembering truths about life that can release us from everyday suffering. Very gentle loving reminders. Grounding exhales.

(this image below is from my trial version of the deck before I worked on the illustrations, read more about the first steps below in the post)

Here is some more back story about my own path of personal growth before I get to explaining my very first steps in the project. I started having panic attacks, a lot of anxiety and very frequent unexplained crying episodes in 2011. I very effortlessly ended up finding a holistic therapist and we connected really well. Although I think our lives are an entire process of waking up, I’d like to think my healing journey really started there. These therapy sessions really helped (and continue to help) open me up. I took a little break from therapy when I gave birth, but 4 months after that  I started a journey into a daily traditional ashtanga yoga practice. One of my favorite parts about this very devotional practice, among many, is the energy awareness. This daily return to practice every morning facilitates a certain type of self study. Going deep into my nervous system, synchronizing my energy with my breath, it puts me so in tune with the emotional body and where + how the energy is moving. As each day passes I feel more connected to subtleties I can feel in my body, mind, and surroundings. Everything (and I mean everything) is brought up to the surface, and I am able to see it clearer and clearer.

That being said, a lot of the little wisdom bits that result from exploring everyday struggles in my journal entries have probably been brought to light by those two main things – therapy and yoga – which both require a willingness to explore deeply, to ask yourself questions – to inquire within.  I have so much gratitude for these parts of life :’) In addition to the journal entries, sometimes I will just be going about my day and think of something that calms me and I jot it down in the most accessible form: my phone notes section. These have become my personal archives.

So that brings me to this: the contents of the deck are reminders/prompts that have already served someone (me). There are 53 hand illustrated cards to inspire inner wisdom, growth and connectedness. (Technically there are 54 cards, one is a little instruction card). Some may call it an oracle deck. I just call it an intuitive healing deck. I feel very happy about sharing this in tangible format (a tangible format that is a group of black and white words & illustrations adorned in shiny gold gilded edges in a pretty box). I have lots of posts to make about the deck, but I wanted to start with an introduction as the above, and the below steps that happened when I started the project.

The very first steps of the project.

This all wasn’t 100% planned form the conception of the idea. I was very careful, and I wanted this to unfold in a very real and heartfelt way.

+ I gathered as many little reminders I have in my personal archives as I could

+ I first put them in a notebook, one per page.

+ Next, I made a trial version of a deck with only the words scribbled, made from scrap pieces of old prints (as seen in the picture above!)

+ After I had my trial deck made, I TRIALED IT to its last wits. Any day I had the space to work on the deck, I would pull a card, and see if it resonated.

+ If it didn’t resonate, I’d take it out. Or if it only half-resonated, I would change the phrase, fine tune the wording, etc.

(*note* a lot of the time, when I pulled a card, it was SO spot on to what I was feeling – like my experiences with my tarot deck)

+ If it resonated, or once it was a phrase I felt was complete, I made the lettering & illustration  (a few examples of some designs below, I drew them much larger than the card size):

The next post will be part two - about how there were some shifts, both resisted and welcomed shifts, and how sometimes a project can take turns you didn’t expect or see coming. Also, ‘how to stay committed to a slow project like this’ was something I got to experience.

Thank you for reading!