Drink in the Vista

Unhurt, Alice gets up and catches sight of the White Rabbit as he vanishes around a corner. Alice approaches a long corridor lined by doors. The doors are all locked, so Alice tests them with a key that she finds on a glass table. After searching around, Alice discovers a small door behind a curtain”.

Within moments of deciding to join this Yule Expedition, seeking the creative grail or elixir of creativity, you pass through a special portal and enter an imaginary world.

Back in 2006 pilgrims who joined me on an Advent Calendar Grand Tour, documented their first impressions of the world beyond the portal.

The door opens and a vista spreads before you.

As you step into this new world you are greeted by a figure who gives you a special bag filled with talismans for your journey. In your bag you will find a packet of dream seeds, spectacles, a candlestick, a tiny anchor, a medallion with the imprint of the Unicorn and a set of wings. Each bag contains something that has been chosen specifically for each recipient.

Do not misplace this bag or let anyone take it from you. Keep it with you at all times.

Establishing Your Personal Setting

Most of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe takes place in the fantastic land of Narnia, which Lucy and her siblings reach through—you got it—a magical wardrobe.

Narnia is everything we’ve come to expect from a fantasy novel. It’s a vaguely medieval place in which people live close to the land, fight using bows and arrows and swords, and are ruled by kings and queens who live in palaces. Mythical creatures populate it – not only the stock characters of today’s fantasy world like centaurs and dwarves, but more Greco-Roman-feeling characters too, like minotaurs and dryads.

A master class writing website explains that as a writer, you might be tempted to dive right into your plot and start giving detailed character description of the figure who gave you the bag of talismans. Such a character and this story “needs a space in which to exist—that space is the setting. Taking the time to properly describe your setting will give your book more vibrancy and keep your readers engaged”.

So many of the tarot and oracle decks that we love provide us with rich setting. I look at the pile I have bought with me and I know that I can apply path working, meditation or guided imagery techniques with either the exquisite Arboridium Oracle or Tarot of the Sweet Twilight. I know that these decks will ignite my imagination and help me describe the world I have entered.

Choose a pictorial deck to spend some quality time with. You literally wander inside the image and drink in as much detail as possible.

Using scrap paper get down as many ideas about the environment you find you in as possible. Keep it simple, don’t set unrealistic expectations, include sketches and experiment with using all your senses.

Make this world come alive through writing or your favorite artistic medium. Share with us what you see, hear, smell, sense, taste, feel or simply make a card depicting the world you are entering.

You have permission to do whatever you like.

What Others See

When I stepped through the portal I found myself in a Gypsy encampment (Gypsy Palace Tarot) and was greeted by some very colorful characters.

I stopped to listen to a poets reading.

Like you, I can remember other days,
The early morning air so fresh and clean,
Caravans as bright as popinjays,
Moving through a world forever green.
They called us vagrants in those days, my friend,
And what were we but entertainers,
Travellers on a road that has no end.

Like you, from crossroad dance to county fair,
I followed the road wherever it might lead,
From country byways to the city square,
From lake to shore, and always we were free.
They called us vagabonds and rogues, my friend,
And what were we but entertainers,
Drifting in an ocean without end.

That’s why we thought we knew each other well,
Even though we’ve never met before;
What you and I know only we can tell,
Of days of freedom lost in gypsy lore.
The world may change, but we do not, my friend,
For what are we but entertainers,
Voices in a song that has no end.

In the distance you hear the sound of their laughter,
Of tales told and of drink and of dance,
It lures, entices and enchants you
In to the heart of the gypsy’s night camp.

Far away from the crowd are hung blankets
a small fire burns bright on its own
Shadows of a woman are seen clear in the night
As she holds herself and she dances alone

She steps toward the light of the fire,
To reveal such a haunting, pained face
How sad is this woman called Sadie
Dancing alone in her black satin and lace

In her tent she reads cards for the strangers
As the candles burn dim on the shelf
Black Sadie sees into their futures,
She helps others but can’t save herself

The pain buried so deeply inside her
Makes her live in a world all her own
Where she feeds it and nurtures it lovingly,
She can heal it, but won’t leave it alone

She falls to the ground crying into the night
For the girl who once danced not alone,
For what she once was, before pain touched her heart
For the man, and the life she had known

Her silenced soul screams at the tools of her trade
Telling fortunes, for her, hold no place
The crystals and tarot are just symbols of fate,
Not the real, not the pain she must face

She backs once again into the shadows
Where no one can reach her dark place
She hides in the folds of her dresses
And tears soak her black satin and lace.

by Bobbi Fetterly
© 2005

Setting Out: Yule AdvenTURE

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, `Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’ (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoatpocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again. Chapter 1 Alice in Wonderland

The door may appear locked but if you say the right words it will magically open and you can join a Yule Adventure.

It is recommended that, unlike Alice, you spend a little time thinking about what you are going to need. Think about what you would pack in a creative medicine bag to carry, to protect you as you wander in strange new worlds.

A Native American medicine bag or medicine bundle, upon which this idea is based, is a container for items believed to protect or give spiritual powers to its owner. Varying in size, it could be small enough to wear around the neck, or it could be a large bag with a long strap called a “bandolier.” The size of the bag is determined by how many items need to be carried.

In historical times, medicine men and shamans generally carried a large medicine bundle that could hold numerous items such as seeds, herbs, pine cones, grass, animal teeth or claws, horsehair, rocks, tobacco, beads, arrowheads, bones, or anything else of relatively small size that possessed spiritual value to the bundle’s owner. Warriors also carried bundles that included important items, such as rattles, animal furs, special stones, or anything that meant something to the owner.

Packing to Go.

Check out some comments by people who Packed to Go back in 2005.
Share an image of the bag you pack to come on this Yule Adventure.
What will you pack? Tell us what you are putting in it and how you feel about heading out during this festive season.

Some Creative Medicine Bags

Trick for LearningTarot

Far too many people worry about reading tarot cards the “right” way. There are actually far more helpful reading techniques, depending on the situation. It is also believed that when reading for others the reader must do what the client expects. This all too often means to predict the future and tell people how to obtain their desires. Is the job of a foot doctor to cure lung cancer? As readers we have a right, even an obligation, to discover what we do best and to offer that in readings both for ourselves and for others. The task becomes learning what we do best and offering that with clarity and confidence.

One of the tricks I have found to be very successful is to regularly complete challenges and by using the cards to kick start story telling.

Recently I have been working on a project helping Aussie Wildlife learn about tarot and I have found that drawing Australian wildlife in tarot settings has helped refine my knowledge of the cards

Big Red is the King of Wands

For example, in response to the Tarot Storytelling Spread I drew the Big Red Kangaroo as the King of Wands.

Kangaroo’s are herbivorous. They reside throughout Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. Kangaroos have powerful, long hind legs and feet for leaping and jumping with. Their long tails thicken at the base to help them balance. Each of their hind feet has 4 toes, this number represents foundations.

This big Red Kangaroo, proudly wearing his crown of authority, has the power to create a safe and secure environment for his mob. The Red Kangaroo has an innate capacity to adapt to new situations and environments. Kangaroos are extremely focused beings, with their energy fields tightly woven around them with no room for distractions. 

If hunted by a Dingo, human or a rare Tasmanian tiger, the Big Reds are very fast and hop effortlessly to safety without a moments thought about where they are going. They use their strong instincts to guide them.

For us humans, there is a great lesson to be learned from this – instead of thinking about every single, most minute step we take we must let our instincts guide us.

The Spirit of the Fungi

I pause to commune with the serene spirit of the Fungi. She may live in darkened places but her light shines brightly and she is full of wisdom. 

“For millennia, western thinking has been dominated by the idea that we are separate from, and superior to, the rest of nature. Plants and fungi are seen as dumb, mechanical processes that we can plunder for materials and chemicals without considering how we relate to them. Other cultures see other lifeforms as peers. They are viewed as creatures deserving of respect and from whom we might be able to learn something. 

From our human-centered perspective, fungi seem rather inert and unimpressive. They don’t move much and seem to be uninteresting passive objects rather than intelligent beings. Just because they don’t move, however, doesn’t mean they don’t have behavior”. 

Life as we know it would not exist without fungi. They are the critical link in the biological cycle of life and death. 

Fungi are the great recyclers. They play a major part, with prokaryotes such as bacteria, in breaking down organic matter. Without them we would soon be up to our ears in dead plant matter and animal carcasses. Worse still, we would be surrounded by mountains of dung that would not rot. 

Plants would soon run out of fresh nutrients. Animals in turn would go hungry. 

There would be no forests. Few people realize that trees rely on networks of fungi working in partnership with their roots. Without fungi to make nutrients available, trees would be unable to survive. Consider the many roles trees play in supporting life on earth and you’ll realize the importance of this union. 

Reference: The Fungus Amongst Us

Pausing to Listen

I pause to talk to the spirit of the Wattle. She is feeling joyful as she dresses in a golden ballgown that she will wear for her coming out again this season. She tells me that her yellow gown will swirl when she dances on the Spring winds. As she talks a pleasing memory of youthful days, wearing my yellow taffeta ballgown, dancing with my father at the local ball drifts by.

A Fools Journey

Once upon a time, long before there was once upon a time, an old crone decided that she needed to make one final creative journey and add another star to the constellation in the skies that shone within her private universe. She was not in the least surprised when a Raven and a Donkey insisted on coming along, for they had travelled with her before.

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What did startle her was the arrival of a flamboyant, charismatic Sulphur Crested Cockatoo named Bonnie. She suspected that Bonnie was one of the flocks that had raided her beloved Ornamental Pistachio Tree each year because she was quite sure that she had seen and photographed a bird, with attitude, who looked just like her.

Duncan the Donkey made it clear that he was getting too old to carry heavy loads and while the Crone agreed that it would be good to travel lightly she did ask Duncan to carry some of her art supplies and made sure to tuck a few of her Tarot and Oracle cards into her bag. She had relied on them during the long ‘lockdowns’ and wasn’t about to go anywhere without her most trusted ones.

Bonnie’s sharp eye caught a glimpse of these boxed treasures and, because she is such an inquisitive bird, wanted to know more about them. The Crone began to explain the Major Arcana to her and was surprised to discover that Bonnie was more fascinated than any of her human friends had been.

“Perhaps you will teach me about these Majors as we travel” said Bonnie.

“What a good idea” said the Crone. “There is so much that I am yet to learn and we could always learn together”.

A Fools Journey

Brand Bonnie

From the Crone’s Diary

Other material of interest

Interested in Mythic Journey’s? Check out the work of Christopher Vogler and his book The Writers Journey

Getting to Know You

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed me on Instagram that I do not profess to be a Tarot reader. I certainly do not claim to be familiar with the meanings of all the cards. My primary interest has been exploring the potential of these mini galleries of art to inspire the creative arts and support healing.

I began the process by listening to Julie Andrews sing Getting to Know You as I shuffled the Everyday Witch cards. It was the Six of Pentacles, a card all about giving and receiving that emerged. So clearly the Witch depicted in this card is prepared to help even the playing field and share some of her knowledge with me; teach me about the world of Tarot.

So when I was told by an experienced Tarot reader that she wished that the Everyday Witch had been available when she was learning 20 years ago, that she strongly recommends this deck to beginners I figured it was time to go beyond the interview process and actually get to know this deck, get to know Tarot better. Of course I have made resolutions like this before but I am not going to beat myself up because I am aware that PTSD issues and the nature of technology have impacted on my capacity to focus.

For now it is my intention to set up some Tiny Tea each day and work with some cards. I am hoping to study the Everyday Witch in detail and draw comparisons with cards in other decks that I have in my collection.

Tarot Play Time – Play Theatre

I think I am not the only one intrigued by the picturesque of early Tarot cards. What do they really represent? Who drew them? Who put all these icons together?

Then I saw Dario Fo, the great Italian comedian of Comedia dell Arte, play writer and Nobel Prize winner, acting on stage playing the hilarious figure of a barbarous Pope (I cannot recall who). and I thought that something of the medieval feasts, mysteries and banquets were radiating from the stage… from Origins of the Tarot Cards from Medieval Mystery Plays

I spied with my little eye the Magnetic Play Theatre that I obviously kept, which belonged to my daughter when she was little.

It only took a moment to find out about the connection between Tarot and Medieval Playhouses and for my inner child to point out that this would be a fun way to play with Tarot and write all at the same time.

So I set up my Rose and Swan Playhouse and called upon the Fiddler on the Roof Matchmaker to make me a match. The Lions Gateway Tarot by Jessica Henry was the obvious choice and I have to say it was love at first sight. These two may have quite the romance as they bounce off one another.

As I laid down the card that emerged from Henry’s beautiful deck I thought of fairy stories and the Canterbury Tales.  Given Tarots power to teach about morality, I might even be happy to  write a scene for a morality play.

Aperture Stories

“Everyone has a story,” renowned anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff stated, and these stories “told to oneself and others can transform the world.” The name Story Aperture is inspired by Barbara Myerhoff, who described the way a personal story can provide an opening to understand not only one person’s life, but larger truths about the human experience.

Aperture stories are stories which come when we put the light on symbols to be found within Tarot, Oracle, Lenormand or Playing cards.  When we focus like on what the symbol is telling us, we are find deeper meanings which enable us to adapt and adjust our narrative. When we work with an aperture we see well beyond overt meanings and tap into important healing structures.

When we work intuitively with Lenormand, Tarot and Oracle cards we hold micro art galleries in our hand and we have access to insights that have been drawn from the collective unconsious.

When we use a camera it is the depth of field that will determine:

  1. where your viewer’s eye is drawn in a photograph, and
  2. whether or not the photograph is telling a story.

If we keep the camera lens in mind as we examine the cards that have emerged more light is shone on particular features. Often it is the understructure which reveals an entirely fresh model for telling a story. When we work intensively with an image it can help us  face a difficult situation or deal with and heal trauma.  

I have found it inspirational to sit with another person, over a Devonshire tea (Coffee), to sling cards, work intuitively and to listen to the stories that rise up. In the process of working out what the understructure is telling us, at a particular moment in time, we are telling aperture stories.

Writing Portraiture

“The portrait is generally a form of description, and like all descriptions it is a particularly enjoyable device to reread. Anais Nin is the master of descriptive portrait in the diary. Nin made an effort to be fair and free of malice in her word-portraits of friends and acquaintances, though she was aware of weaknesses as well as talents of those she described. In writing portraits she tried to include as many details as possible about herself and the other person”.
Tristine Rainer The New Diary.

‘The Hand’ is a device I have repeatedly used in writing classes. I have people place their hand on their notebook and draw around their fingers. Then I suggest that they lay down some cards. The card for the thumb is the primary figure for this word-portrait. The other four fingers represent people and events that have impacted on this persons life.

  • Carefully look at the pictures. Make sure to take in as much detail as possible. It is important to look very closely. 
  • What are the different elements? Plants? Buildings? Flowers? Animals? What is the landscape? Are there people in the card? What is the person in the picture doing? What objects do you see? Why do you think they are there? What’s in the background? What’s in the foreground? How do all of these different elements come together into a coherent story?
  • Notice every small and large detail and make a note of it. Absorb the entire card into your mind.
  • Now set your timer for 20 minutes. And start writing remembering that you are not in a writing competition.

“Remember that a portrait done like this is never really finished. You can always recolour it, revise it, contradict it, add to it. The mobile,  evolving quality of the portrait makes it a useful tool in recognizing the psychological process of projection. Rather than just seeing the person on his or her terms you are likely to see a mirror reflection of yourself and gain insights about yourself. By writing portraits you begin to see if the face you are describing is your own”. Tristine Rainer The New Diary