Sunday, March 11, 2018

Tips for successful self-employment

Here are some tips I have learned about being successfully self-employed. 

Develop a skill.  More than having a business plan, having a skill is essential.  Find something special and unique about your product or service that you do well.  And then practice--and practice some more--to become really good at it.

Being a visual artist may not be that remarkable, but being skillful with my craft is. With skill comes wisdom and integrity.  The wisdom to know how I work, and why--and the honesty to express this clearly.

When people purchase one of my drums, they often remark on how well made they are.  Something being well made translates as being durable and beautiful.

Develop discipline. Having discipline does not mean having lofty intentions for your craft.  It means staying home from the dinner invitation, choosing not to watch just one more episode on Netflix, resisting an afternoon scrolling through facebook. 

Develop a web presence that is excellent as you can afford.  If you are not tech-savvy then invest in someone who is to create a online presence for you.  I maintain control of how my art is presented by inserting blogs within my website that allow me to update, delete and manage how and when my work is seen.

Tell your story.  A large part of the Journey Oracle divination deck is the story of how I created the oracle cards across 23 years of puzzlement, mystery and insight.

Teach what you know.  This is the fastest way to discover what you do not yet know. 

And this of course creates more opportunities to practice more skills.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Free Oracle Reading: Why am I afraid to take action?

Think of a situation happening now in which you are afraid to take action. You have skillfully completed the preparation and nothing seems to be preventing you from moving forward, but you are experiencing a frozen inaction.  What is the change that will shift your fear?  Is it actually fear that is blocking your action, or some other feeling? 

Your inner wisdom will lead you to a resolution when you follow the prompts of this four card oracle reading and meet the Journey Oracle. The reading will be even more effective if you print this post, and then write out answers to the questions posed by each oracle card. This way you will have a record of your Journey Oracle reading for reflection.

An Oracle translates a problem or question into a language of image and symbol like that of dreams.  It changes the way you experience a situation to connect you with the inner forces that are shaping it.  An Oracle dialogues with your imagination—the creative basis of experience we call the unconscious.   

This is a picture of

Describe your first impressions of this image using simple phrases.  Do not analyze, doubt or discard what your inner voice is saying.  When you feel inner quiet, go to the Oracle’s identity.

Identity of Oracle: Hunter's Full Moon Qualities of this Oracle: finding balance, slowing from growth, protection, release

Time of year associated with this Oracle: October Full Moon
Why this is the Oracle of your situation?

Question from the Oracle about your situation: Are you holding back what's just right?
Why are you receiving this question?

An Oracle reveals the forces that are moving beneath your situation.    These sentences are not statements of logic or reason.  Write brief first impressions next to the statement.  If a statement draws a blank from your unconscious, move on to the next sentence.  


This situation began by unexpected arrival.

 The prevailing energy of this situation is shifting fog.

The core energy pattern of this situation is black.

The Mother of this situation is red opening.

The Father of this situation is growing on stone.


Your relationship to the prevailing energy is flowing with light.

Your perception of the situation is veiled.

The impact of your perception is red.

The connection between the core energy pattern and the situation
 is felt as warm.

The momentum of this situation is fed by found treasure.


This is a picture of

Describe your first impressions of this image using simple phrases.  Do not analyze, doubt  or discard what your inner voice is saying.  When you feel inner quiet, go to the Oracle’s identity.

Identity of Oracle: Saille/Willow  Qualities of this Oracle: adaptable, hardy, intuitive, enduring  
Time of year associated with this Oracle  April 15 - May 12
Why this is the Oracle of your experience?

Message from the Oracle about your experience:  tension
Why are you receiving this message?


Why is this the name of your experience?


unexpected calm, multiple focus
not to stop here, competence
this is the one for me, falling into insight off spirit tower

Which of the above phrases are you experiencing most directly right now?

Which phrases are you trying to avoid experiencing?

Which phrases are you seeking to experience?

If these phrases and spaces are a map of your experience--where are you on the map?


An exterior or support system for the situation is non-importance.

What is the meaning of this for your situation?

The Journey Oracle’s answers change the way you see things. Your anxieties, fears and desires emerge to be recognized and resolved, and hidden transformative energies are released.

This is a picture of

Describe your first impressions of this image using simple phrases.  Do not analyze, doubt or discard what your inner voice is saying.  When you feel inner quiet, go to the Oracle’s identity.

Identity of Oracle: Nion/Ash  Qualities of this Oracle: initiation, patience, expanding awareness
Time of year associated with this Oracle:  February 18 - March 17
Why this is the Oracle of change?

Message from the Oracle about change:  endless dancing
Why are you receiving this message?

These statements bring an in-depth recognition of the change you feel coming.  This change is an expression of the healing that is asking to happen. Write brief first impressions next to each statement.  If a statement draws a blank from your unconscious, move on to the next sentence.  


The power needed to shift this situation will be a sound of contentment.

Change will come by starting a war.

Your relationship to the change in this situation is frigid.

The moment of letting go into the change will smell of sex.

The concern to be avoided within this change will taste of famine.

The wisdom of life still going on will empower the transformation.

Completed transformation will be felt as a quality of drifting in and out


Are you willing to trade places?



This is a picture of
Describe your first impressions of this image using simple phrases.  Do not analyze, doubt or discard what your inner voice is saying.  When you feel inner quiet, go to the Oracle’s identity.

Identity of Oracle: Mystery Qualities of this Oracle: finding truth, wisdom 
Time of year associated with this Oracle: all time
Why this is the Oracle of your resolution?

Question from the Oracle about your resolution:  Are you happy here?
Why are you receiving this message?

The dense weave of meaning in a fairy tale provides insight into the hidden forces behind your situation, and points to the resolution sought by your unconscious wisdom.  In this fairy tale, your unconscious wisdom knows the names of all the characters, all the connections to your situation, and what is the happy ending. 

A pair of robins built a nest outside a woman’s kitchen window. Back and forth the sleek, strong parents flew, and yet she did not much attend to the new life’s manifestation that might be curling inside that twiggy bowl. Then one day she saw a wee curving form and a flash of translucent orange greet an adult bird’s arrival. The gaping mouths wavering on rubbery stalks counted three, and from that moment the woman’s attention often rested on the little family.
The hatchlings grew until their jostling with each other for the offered morsels threatened to send one over the edge. The woman began to wonder what she would do if a chick fell out, or if the nest itself came down. She plotted how to keep the birds safe, but always stopped short of action because it seemed this is how they are, even when the chicks were so big that they would teeter on the edge of the nest, buzzing their wings like whirligigs, reaching out always to say there is not enough food.
One morning the woman saw a chick sitting on a branch near the nest, receiving a morsel from its skinny overworked parent. It was weaving a bit on its untrained feet and rebalancing frequently with wild flutterings. “How can this be?” The woman thought in alarm. “Surely it’s not time yet for the survival of the species story.” But she resisted trying to help and just kept watching. And then, as if someone said “one of you has to go”—all the birds were gone. No chicks were left in the nest, the one on the branch could not be seen, and the parents no longer came.
The woman went outside, and saw a robin a distance away in the garden. Then another flew past in the yard. A third dropped to the ground at the edge of the forest. “Is that you, my friend,” she wondered, “or maybe your child?” Suddenly the woman was seeing what she loved everywhere.

Who are you in this story?  

What is the meaning of the story for your resolution?

Based on your character in the story, now what are you now going to do?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Make a thank you gift for the forest


There is an intending consciousness in all things, in the forest itself.  This consciousness may not be easy to recognize or available to our human version of awareness. Yet this consciousness in everything, each in its own version, is my understanding of the Spirit World.  Access to the Spirit World is through the physical.  So when we are out in the forest, we are in the Spirit World.  And the Spirit World is awake, and watching us, to see how good a guest we are when we come into her house.

What are we doing to say thank you to this forest that doesn’t need us to carry on her daily business, but which includes, increasingly, the presence of us in her house?  What do we do for the forest, for the Spirit World within the forest that is watching us—that is a gift just for her?   

If you are my age you were probably taught to bring a hostess gift when you went visiting, and especially if you were meaning to stay awhile.  And I recall it was better if the gift was something I made, or that it be at least “hand crafted” instead of “store bought.”  This is because a hostess gift is really about the effort, and not about the thing.  It is the effort of making the jam or knitting the mitts that is being given; our effort honours the effort our hostess is making for us.

So here is something to make. Something of great value, altered with our effort, and then given it to the forest—to the Spirit World—as a thank you gift.

Find some seeds, or maybe a few kernels of dry corn, and pound them into a meal between two rocks.  You might hum a little tune as a gift to the rocks as you do this, since they are really doing the work.   Seeds are a gift of great value because of their potential to make more of themselves. Yet when we alter seeds with our effort we make them into food instead, which is their other great value.   Twist the meal into a square of paper, and tie it into a little bundle  with string so you can put it in your pocket.  The more effort you put into the fineness of the meal, into decorating the paper, into the string that ties the bundle—the more valuable is your gift. 

Then go for a walk in a forest, even if it’s the forest along your road or just out your front door. 

Notice a place that feels like a place...the open end of a nurse log, a hollow in an acient tree.  Once you find a place, put your breath on your bundle...and put the bundle in the place.  That’s it.  If you want to say anything when you are placing the bundle, don’t say “Thank you” say I remember.

It is your effort to make the bundle, to make time to take the walk, to find the place, to remember to put your breath on the bundle, to remember as you give it—this is the gift.  The Spirit World eats the energy of our effort which is released as the bundle opens and slowly decays…while the creatures of the physical forest eat the meal.

And if you do this, if you take a quiet moment to look at your probably soggy little bundle there amidst the wet leaf litter and moss, I suggest you’ll feel like it’s a pretty OK gift, maybe even a very nice gift to give such a gracious hostess.

You may notice that there are no pictures of the little gift bundle as part of this story.  This is because when we take pictures of what we give the Spirit World, it is like we are eating the feast of energy ourselves.  The picture does not decay, and so neither the Spirit World nor the creatures of the physical forest receive that part of the meal.  So just leave the bundle without taking a picture of it on your device, smile, and walk away home. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Seeing light and shadow in an art meditation

Go to a place in nature that has both a grand vista and small details to focus on.  During a week spent hiking near Ucluelet on the west coast of British Columbia, Florencia Bay in the Pacific Rim National Park is a perfect choice.

Find a place to stand that has light and shadow, near details and far views. A rocky beach is just right.
Begin with your head to the far left, then move your head to the right VERY SLOWLY--noticing only the lights.

See the way light defines surfaces and textures. Keep slowly moving your head to the right rather than stopping to study the stones.

Keep trying to see only the lights of each object that your gaze passes over.  Pause when your head is turned far to the right.  Close your eyes for a moment and relax the muscles around your eyes.

Open your eyes and this time turn your head to the left VERY SLOWLY gazing only at the darks. Shadow defines form just as light defines surface.   See only the darks as you keep moving your head.

Notice how the dark gives weight and mass to the textures and surfaces you noticed during the first pass of your head from left to right.  Again close your eyes when your head is turned back fully to the left.  Let your attention rest.

Bring your head to center and turn it down.  Open your eyes and let your gaze fall on something small.  Let your eyes move over the object slowly, observing only the lights, then observing only the darks.

Really look deeply into the lights and shadows.  Find smaller and smaller areas of light and shadow.
Close your eyes and rest for a moment.

Open your eyes and expand your vision to take in the entire vista you originally selected. You will feel an artistic flow of  lights and shadows.  Everything will be more vivid and visually unique when you train your vision with this art meditation.

This is the technique I use when painting the images on the Journey Oracle cards.

For each oracle card I began by letting my gaze pass over a natural object--first slowly to the right seeing only the lights, then slowly to the left seeing only the darks.  I would close my eyes briefly between each pass. I would next look deeply into the object to see the smallest details, and finally let my gaze expand to see the entire surface.  Only then would I begin to paint.

This Oracle card represents the Path in the Journey Oracle deck.  And this art meditation is a path.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Developing artistic vision

It is possible to develop artistic vision, and its easier than you might think.  My thoughts on training  artistic vision are illustrated from beach walks while on a winter holiday enjoying the Pacific Rim National Park, between Ucluelet and Tofino on the west coast of British Columbia.

Go for a walk where there is lots of nature and only a few humans.

Do not spend too much time gazing out at the view.

Artistic vision is better developed by finding what is small, ordinary and unremarkable.

 See deeply into the forms and textures.  Take time to really see, not just look.

Developing artistic vision requires curiosity.  Be like Leonardo de Vinci, always observing and then asking questions about the why and how of phenomena so commonplace that most of us don't notice them at all.

How did this rock become such a complex texture and color?  What is the story of its forming in time and temperature that it would be worn by the ocean and elements into such beauty?

Have the patience to bypass the drama that shouts for attention.

And sit instead in front of what is quiet.

Go deeply into the quiet that allows you to experience each tiny life as it burgeons forth, clicking and murmuring toward its destiny.  Why are barnacle shells striped? And why these colours instead of some others?  And what pigments would I use to mix these colours?

One of the stories I wrote for the Journey Oracle divination deck is about a young girl being taught by her mother to sit still enough to really see.  The little girl is our inner artist, and the mother is certainly Nature.

A Journey Oracle fairy tale
There was a young girl who was always moving. She had a determination to be useful and so she moved her hands in purposeful ways, but sometimes to the loss of her eyes and ears, which mostly saw and heard the world in a maze.
As she grew her mother encouraged her to be a student of stillness, and taught her a special way of looking at things. “Do you want to see this eye?” Her mother would ask, which meant do you want to see this object in a way that belongs to the object and not to the human looking at it. She would show her how to look at the surface of something, and then find a smaller space on that surface and look into it, and then find a smaller space in that smaller space, and to do this smaller and smaller looking until finally the young girl was seeing cells of wood and hairs on plants and dust on butterfly wings. And of course her mother knew that to look that closely, one must hold quite still.
The young girl’s mother taught her a special way of listening to things. She said “Be in your heart when you listen.” She told the young girl to sit by water and listen for a small sound, like a gurgle riffling over a stone. And then listen for another, slightly larger sound, like the chuckle of water pouring over a rock—without losing the little gurgling sound, and then listen for another larger sound without losing the two smaller sounds. The young girl practiced listening by holding these separate sounds together. When she was able to hear many at the same time, it seemed her awareness expanded into a vast dreamscape of stillness.
       When the girl was older she still moved her hands in useful ways, but was also able to go inside, meditate, and be still. She would pause in her purposeful work—and see a spider’s eye looking back at her; she would close her eyes, and hear the voices of water.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Imbolc candle ceremony for setting an intention

Even though the ancient pagan festival of Imbolc begins the evening of February 1st, and marks the heart of winter, it is also a fire ceremony that marks the return of the light.  Because my birthday is in early February, for many years I have honored this cross-quarter day of Imbolc by creating a candle ceremony to set my intention for the year.  Here is how I prepare and what I do.  This year I am sharing my small ceremony with friends, which is why you are seeing nine of everything.

I begin by trimming a birthday candle to a size that will burn for about 5 minutes, and fit this into  a small plastic holder so it will remain upright for the time it is alight.

I want something tasty to "receive" the energy of my intention, so this year I am melting chocolate, oats and honey to fill candy cups. At the conclusion of the ceremony I will certainly eat my good intentions.

The candy cups required a second one for added stiffness, and the chocolate got dribbled around, but most of it made it into the forms.  Jiggling the cups causes everything to settle nicely.

Once the chocolate has begun to stiffen, I press a candle into each center.  Some take a bit of fiddling to keep them nicely vertical until the chocolate is firm.

The next part of the preparation certainly appeals to my inner child.  I purchase a Kinder Surprise chocolate egg with a little toy inside, but I don't open it yet.

I begin the ceremony by clearing my thoughts, bringing my body to quiet, smoothing my emotions.
I light the candle with the sentence:  "This is my intention for the year." (It is also possible to use a different focus for the intention.  You might want to finish the sentence this way:  This is my intention for this relationship or this new job or this next step.)

I meditate gazing at the flame. When the candle goes out--the word, phrase or image I hear in my head or see in the smoke is my intention.  Just that.  No editing, adding or deleting.

The ceremony is as simple as it is profound.  I just watch the candle flame, trying not to anticipate,  project, or plan what will happen.  I only have two requirements:  Don't miss seeing the small puff of white smoke when the candle goes out.  Don't edit whatever I hear or see.

After I write in my journal exactly what I heard or saw, I open the Kinder Surprise.  The little toy is my guidance to realizing my intention.  Its creatures and their actions are a visual oracle telling me how to proceed, and who will help.  And like all oracle cards and processes,  meaning can hide in plain sight.

These two mice on a teeter-totter over a flowing milk jug was an oracle for an Ombolc candle ceremony some time ago, when I asked "What is my intention this year for the Journey Oracle divination deck that I have just completed ?" 

I understood the jug was the Oracle deck itself, and the milk was the nourishing flow of inner wisdom set in motion with oracle card readings.  But who are the mice?  One fat and one thin.  For me these are the successes and anxieties of promoting and marketing the Journey Oracle, the ups and downs of attention and isolation.  The teeter-totter especially seems to represent the emotional highs and lows--because of its bright red color--of trying to bring the Journey Oracle out into the world .  Interesting that the fat mouse is in the narrow seat, and the thin mouse is in the wide seat.

 Keep everything in balance.  Keep moving. Don't fall off.  Pretty good advice from a plastic toy.

Happy Imbolc from the Journey Oracle.