The Deck that is No More


Attic Cartomancy - The Mirabai Oracle Deck

I enjoy talking about the creation process of my decks and I absolutely adore when someone gets excited over one. So it makes me a little sad when I find a reason to talk about a deck that I didn’t find to be quite so enjoyable or successful. There comes my Mirabai Oracle deck. I am very sentimental about this deck but I don’t include it in my portfolio or offer it for sale any longer. There are probably only forty decks out there in the world and I personally know most of the people who own those decks. So first, a little history.

In 2010 my husband was contacted for permission to include some of his artwork in an author’s new book. This person was Bethany Grenier and we became friends with her and her husband, who happened to live not five minutes from us. Through her we were introduced to fellow local artists Ted & Kate Jauw. We were invited to join their artist group to create a group entry for a local event called ArtPrize. Our theme was a circus out of time; a very steampunk inspired tinker toy type of affair. We each created characters for our vintage big top. It was fun, it was stressful, and ultimately many of the things we went through trying to get our event to the finish line was ten years worth of lessons packed into three months. It was very bittersweet.

A lot of my art was used for our circus posters and our group’s logo. My character was a cartomancer of course. I wanted to have a deck to go along with my part of our entry. So I made the Mirabai oracle deck. It was quickly done and was a combination of existing artwork and portraits I created of the other members of our art group. The only thing that was unified about it was the color scheme and our group’s logo (created by Ted) in each card. The card meanings were based on the Victorian language of flowers. That was something I especially liked about the deck. I also liked being able to create portraits of my new circle of friends. (Pictured above left to right Cassie Truskowsie, Ted Jauw and Bethany Grenier.) Click that wee arrow for the rest of the article.

I sold the deck during the three weeks of ArtPrize and then soon after tucked it away and forgot about it. A few years later my laptop had a bad crash and the original deck files were one of the things I had neglected to back-up. So I thought the printable files were gone and I wasn’t actually too upset about that. It’s the one deck I don’t actually have my own copy of anymore as well. I wasn’t terribly bothered by that after the fact either. I guess some of the hard lessons and irritations with that project carried over and I–oh this is bad to say–felt it in those cards.

As time has moved on my memories have grown more fuzzy and therefore irritations have faded and I can remember those few months of my life much happier. I gained some very great friends through that group exhibit. I pulled out some of my circus posters and hung them in my studio so I could remember the good times we had while our project balanced on precarious edges. When I began creating my deck shadowboxes I remembered I didn’t have a copy of that oracle neck. It felt kind of like having all my beloved pets around me and remembering there was this sweet and well intentioned stray in the back-yard I’d been ignoring for quite some time. Ouch.

My main portfolio site, bajema.com, is currently being given a facelift as it moves from my old host to my new one. When I backed up my many years worth of stored site content I was reminded that I backed up nearly everything of mine on that account. And low and behold there was a complete printable back up of my first oracle deck. It was like opening the door and calling out to that stray and having it come trotting up to me all smiles and purrs.

The major problem I found with the creation of this deck, setting aside it annoying my perfectionist nature, was the lack of true theme and system for the cards. When you’re making an oracle deck you’re basically making your own system from scratch (albeit most likely from influences taken from other works) and there are so many fine details to be thoughtful about. You don’t want to offer this creation of yours and have a user scratching their head as to what they’re looking at. You can always offer it as something to meditate over, but I tend to think that needs to be clearly stated.

Above are a few of the portraits from the deck. I’m going to add it to my deck collections, at least part of it. I’m still not happy with the deck or it’s rushed nature, but it is still one of my creations and I did learn quite a bit about rushing the workings of an oracle deck. I intend to revamp my original ideas for the deck, especially the use of the Victorian language of flowers. I just feel that idea is not enough for the cards and there needs to be some complimentary ideas paired with that. And that deck I’ve already started to document the process of making. 🙂