The Magical and Intriguing Inside-Story of the Emergence of the Limited Edition Version of The Oracle of Initiation Deck

I am awe struck. Boy has this been a wild ride. I wouldn’t want it any other way, and even I am surprised by the twists and turns during the emergence of the limited edition deck of The Oracle of Initiation.

I am a Leo, sun-wise, and I have a lot of fire. I also carry the energies of a Capricorn moon, which wants to plan and retreat. These two energies can be at great odds; Oh, these lovely juxtapositions we all get. I was really resistant to self-printing a version of the deck. I felt totally overwhelmed by the process of graphically setting it up, and my Capricorn could literally think of 500 tangents within the deck that needed to be decided upon. I had been printing prototypes at home for my workshops and individuals to work with, and I was completely DONE with all of the time it took.

The final straw was a reading with and amazing psychic, Coleen Renee. We have been friends for 11 years, and she is a powerful ally in my life. In the reading the Spirits said it would be better if the cards were all one size. The self-cutting I was doing was not exact, and that was energetically distracting to the readers, not allowing them to go as deeply into the process and images as they might. Now, I am also a spiritual counselor and psychic myself, so I know when I hear the truth, I feel the resonance. And this information was completely accurate.

So, for about three weeks I was sitting with how to approach all of this. I will not go into a long explanation, but computers and I are in couples therapy. I am actually pretty good with them, but emotionally our bond can be strained. So undertaking a huge Photoshop/ computer project is not the first thing on my to-do list. Back to the fiery Leo. When I get an idea in my head, I am like a Mack truck. Get out of the way if you don’t want to be mowed over. For some reason, On Tuesday, January 21st I got a bee in my bonnet to make the deck. {you astrologers-was that a move-ahead day?}

Now, in comes our savior, Mary Beth. Mary Beth has been a cherished ally on my path of emergence. She is a gifted artist, designer, and very wise in her own perspectives. For the last 4 years we have created all of my websites together. She and I have an amazing synergy where her artistic and design skills seem to merge perfectly with my visions. And she carries the computer skills and patience that I am cultivating. We have had a blast making 4 websites together. I knew I could not make the limited edition deck without her help. So I called my fearless ally to see if I was totally insane to do this. At the very same moment I was calling her an e-mail came through from the online printer I wanted to use {Overnight Prints-they do blacks much better than Vista-important for art}. All postcards 50% off. That was it. It was ON. Thanks Adam for the postcard suggestion in the first place-you have been a blessed carrier and ally for the deck.

Here’s the rub, we had only 13 days {cool number} to completely design and create the decks. I guess it’s a good thing I have the busy-bee Mack truck parts of my personality, because that is quite a timeline for a 66 card deck, when I am a neophyte at Photoshop.

Mary Beth and I began feverishly working, planning the colors, structure and feel of the deck. She spent 5 hours Saturday teaching me how to set up the card template, do layers, and move the images and words into the card format. This much concentrated time in front of a computer has only happened a handful of times. My energy system is much more resonant with the earth energies, and at this point the electromagnetic fields of computers carry a different tone. I must have prayed really well because I believe a lid was opened in my crown Chakra and I was able to receive and retain the Photoshop knowledge. I point this out because in specific situations we may be able to accomplish things we never dreamed possible.

Mary Beth and my collaborative relationship is really extraordinary. I mentioned a very simple concept for the logo using two “Os” connected with an “I” from the initials of the deck, and she immediately got a vision of the incredible graphic she came up with.

This same thing just happened yesterday with the Gateway cards.

Lets talk about the Gateway cards for a moment. The deck has 66 cards. There are 8 overall sections-a pathway of spiritual transformation. Within each section is 8 cards, and then at the beginning and end of the overall sequence are a zero and infinity card =66. The 8 Gateway cards are like the Major Arcana within the traditional Tarot system. When you pull a Gateway card, you are dealing with a core life issue. This is a pivotal piece in your vision quest in this lifetime. Within the structure of the deck the Gateway cards are the threshold into each level of the deck. We have the Gateways of Innocence; Exploration; Initiation; Discernment; Alliance; Balance; Offering and Unity. Each of those sections offers the readers a different perspective on how to meet the challenges and gifts within that stage of initiatory transformation. They are a roadmap, a compass to the complex and shape-shifting landscape of spiritual expansion.

So, since I chose to be the carrier for this deck, I too got to go on an initiatory journey of awakening. The deck has been training me since the beginning in how to receive, listen, surrender, trust and follow. I have gotten to deal with my own ideas about timelines and ways the deck will emerge. Guess what, I AM NOT IN CONTROL. Such a beautiful cosmic joke, to tell a recovering perfectionist, German, Capricorn that she is not the master of her Universe. Oh joy, the shattering of constrictions and expectations.

All along, the deck has emerged at its own pace, in its own manner. My strongest creative language is the visual. You could blindfold me with my hands tied behind my back and I could make some cool visual thing. I grew up in a family of artists. They are all obsessed with beauty and design and aesthetics. They trained every cell in my body to be in resonance with my creative imagination. So recognizing this, the deck makes me wait two years after it began to reveal the artwork. The entire structure, words, and system were all in place for about a year before the creative medium was available. I believe I had to move to the Southwest to allow the energies of the artwork to channel through me, but still, my visual self was confounded by the wait. And it did not seem “real” until I could show people images. More blessed lessons on patience.

Back to the Gateway cards. The deck is channeled. I do Spirit Writing, where I get out of the way and let the muses of the deck flow through. There are 5 notebooks FULL of information about the deck. That is a lot of information. Some of the symbols and ideas in the deck are still revealing their multidimensionality to me. The Gateway cards have been the strongest hold-out in that area. There are some different categories within them that I will humbly say I am still waiting to integrate into the larger picture of the deck. I also knew they were not to be The Painted Body Spirit Beings who occupy the other 56 cards in the deck. So, I have waited, and waited for the inspiration for the Gateway cards. I have explored a lot of abstract photography to see if its right, and nothing has clicked. Mary Beth and I are in the homestretch of designing the cards, and I needed to know what to do about these 8 pivotal threshold cards.

Yesterday morning I got a little snarly and impatient about it. I do call myself a recovering perfectionist, but I also have my standards. I know excellence, and this project means so much to me I would like to do the best I can. I want the Gateway cards to carry their own weight with the startling power of The Painted Body images. I spoke to Mary Beth on the phone, telling her about the suggestions the incredible women in the Illuminating our Temples workshop I am leading offered the night before. Out of the input from them, Mary Beth’s thoughts, and my own intuitive channels I got an epiphany about how I might design the symbols for the Gateway cards. I have a laser-sharp sense of how I want things designed. I know if I want it crisp and bright, or moody and indistinct. Out of this clarity for the symbols within the Gateway cards came the remembrance of some inspirations from my Norse heritage.

Lets talk about cultural influence for a moment. I may get really wu-wu on yah here- hang in there with me. My entire life I have been powerfully drawn to certain cultures beyond my German and Scandinavian lineages. Powerfully may not even be the right word, unexplainably, irrationally so. As my Spiritual cosmology expanded, I came to the understand that those draws were past-life influences. I don’t talk about this very openly because I am acutely aware of the devastation and shattering many indigenous people have experienced in this Western world. And, I cannot deny the visitations, synchronicities and passion for certain traditions beyond my cellular heritage in this lifetime. The strongest magnetism has been to African and African-American culture. I feel really vulnerable writing this, and it is part of who I am. It is time to stop being afraid, and live on deeper levels.

I am not blind to the privileges that have come with this pale skin. This is a very tricky thing to carry, this being between cultures in Spirit. As the Hopi prophesies have said, their Ancestors would return in the bodies of their oppressors. Well, here we are folks. It is time for the Rainbow Warriors to come together openly and lovingly to heal the injustices and inequalities our imbalanced world has created. I am standing up, willing to meet my own prejudices and judgments created out of a world that has a profound soul sickness of disconnection and discrimination; the perceived isolation from eachother and our own divinity. I stand up to meet my own fears and insecurities, with an open heart to create a new paradigm. Walk with me. And as the Oracle deck is concerned, I do not want to deny the potent influence of my African Ancestors. Many of the main guides for the deck are African, and a large percentage of the dreams about the deck have Africans in them. I am coming out of the closet about this, I am calling on my courage to carry this dual-citizenship that has challenged me my entire life. Part of my path as a messenger is to own and say the harder things that most people will not reveal. I am truth carrier, and it is not always an easy job.

Back to the Scandinavians. Part of my own Spiritual journey has been to reclaim the indigenous tradition within the heritage I was put in. The Heathen, Asatru, Pagan, Celtic, and Sami traditions all carry a remembrance of their native European sacred roots. Discovering the Norwegian/ Sami/ Lapp shamanic tradition was a big deal for me. I knew if I was to respectfully navigate the other cultural beliefs, I needed to be grounded in the ones of this lifetimes DNA. The Sami people are a rugged and hearty group, living in the far north with the reindeer, bear, and foxes as strong animal totems. Their Medicine people created incredible drums with diagrams of the others worlds painted on their skins. The image are magnetic. I fell in love with them the first time I saw them. They have little magical dwellings, animals, gods, goddesses and humans on them. Their fundamental power and style lodged in my psyche.

So, yesterday morning, I was inspired to turn to my Norse sacred ancestry for ideas. I googled Sami drum symbolism, and revisited the ones I had typically seen, and discovered some new versions. I feverishly started drawing rough little symbols and glyphs for the different categories within the Gateway cards. I was thrilled, it was exactly what I wanted. Exactly. I sent some of the images to Mary Beth, and she was able to bounce off of my inspirations to bring forth some really cool designs.

Here’s the kicker. And because I am a story-teller, I will have to tell you the tale before this one to prepare you… When I began The Painted Body photography series for the deck, I did not realize it would become the artwork for the cards. I was on a journey of self-discovery through a primal connection with the land through self-portraiture. After the first Painted Body shoot, June 27th 2008, in a graffiti tunnel here in Santa Fe, I asked my Spirits if these might be the images for the deck. I had been pondering and experimenting with how I would accomplish the dreams and visions they had sent about animals and humans shape-shifting and morphing. When I asked if this was the artwork for the deck, there was a vast, cosmic “lack of response.” Not a yes, not a no, a huge, fertile, void. Well, I said to them, if you want to be coy, two can play at that. I then said to them, I have been so blown away by this Painted Body process, that I will continue to do it with out expectations of the outcome, other than the unbridled joy and satisfaction I receive. I now realize they didn’t want me to try to control the outcome, they just wanted the process to unfold in its own way. And honestly, most of my work is getting “me” out of the way so I can be a good conduit. I am not bad at it these days, but boy has it been a lot of work.

I did The Painted Body process for two and a half months, 10 photo shoots, until the truth was revealed. It was the Fall Equinox 2008, and I was sitting in my casita going over some old notes about the deck when I found an entry from 9 months before… As I read the words about wanting the imagery to be moody and evocative, with complex muted backgrounds, as if Spirits were emerging from the cave walls-I was stunned. {I am stunned a lot by this magic carpet ride of life}. I KNEW I had finally found the artwork for the deck.

Well, the same thing happened last night. I was looking through that same powerful notebook and came upon an entry from almost EXACTLY two years ago that suggested the enchanting Sami houses from their drums could be a great inspiration for the Gateway cards. Jaw dropped, because I had forgotten this.

Over, and over again I am reminded that if we pay attention, much of our passions and inspirations are truly our destiny. We have EVERTHING inside of us to accomplish our Souls Missions-we just have to figure out how to access it. And here’s my plug for initiation, it helps to open us up to new ways of seeing things so we can become the people who can carry our sacred gifts. We are truly divinely guided, and there is a piece of the puzzle we each have to carry.

Now I must leave you, I am back to finishing this limited edition of The Oracle of Initiation, a blessed and transformative journey. I shall present the offering of 88 decks soon…with special pricing for 8 days. The 8 ties into the infinity sign, a central part of the multidimensionality of the deck, and the flight pattern of one of the muses, the pollinating, communal, traveling between the worlds, honey filled bees.

Blessed bee. Aho. Thanks be to God. Kiss the Angles and Dance with The Faeries. Great Honor to my Ancestors, in their Rainbow representations. And great love and gratitude to Mary Beth.

I just went to send this to my printer over e-mail, I had 880 messages.. 🙂

  7 comments for “The Magical and Intriguing Inside-Story of the Emergence of the Limited Edition Version of The Oracle of Initiation Deck

  1. February 2, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    wonderful, thank you Bee.
    I feel full after reading this and just sighed a sigh of relief, tension I did not know I was holding left my body….
    I am here in Africa seeking my transformation, my emergence from bindings of family, society and culture.
    This week has been full of dreams, my African grandfather and his church, visions of gardens green and lush, the moon shining into my room each night to wake me….my dog has been closer then normal, needing to be in the same room, insisting on sleeping beside me- she’s usually happy to sleep on the floor in the summer heat- her head heavy on my leg even now as I right this….I feel myself strengthening, lengthening, stretching and growing into my new self. Thank you for reminding me, for joining me on this journey- sisters in a combat to reclaim our true selves.


  2. January 31, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Perhaps the real cosmic joke (and brilliance) in our still segregated world lies in the truth that we do have these multicultural aspects within us asking to be reconciled and embraced. When one of our fellow travelers courageously steps forward to reveal themselves it inspires the rest of us to begin or to continue the opening in our own lives.

    I was blessed this past week with the experience of being truly seen by another. This witnessing came unexpectedly and was all the sweeter for it. A 90-year-old man walked into my practice and began talking about spirit. As he talked he looked at me and said, “You know what I am saying. I can see it in your eyes. Your light shines brightly.” As our conversation continued I found myself opening more to him and he stayed with me – witnessing and reflecting my essence back to me – and I opened – and he held me. I listened and witnessed for him as well. The experience is beyond words. I was energetically so expansive and full that when I went into my treatment room, I simply no longer fit. I had to pull myself back in a bit.

    Yet the experience changed me forever. Once you feel and recognize the fullness of yourself, you simply allow for different choices in your life. Once you allow yourself to be seen even by only one person, the freedom of the experience washes away so much of the fear. There is nothing for it, but to continue to allow and to expand – and to refuse to withhold your fullness any longer.

    So, dear Melissa, thank you for opening and sharing. I hold you in your fullness without judgement or expectation. I am simply honored to share in this unfolding. May all who are blessed to share in it receive your gift with grace and deep gratitude. Blessed Be!


  3. BG
    January 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    M, tears in my eyes, my friend. You inspire me. P.S. put me down to be one of the first to buy your magical deck. ox


  4. mwsteele
    January 29, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Sister, you humble me. We are here for each other, to break though our illusions and constrictions, to shine our true expressions. Keep on Beamin’ darling!! M


  5. January 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    What an intriguing story of emergence! When we are ‘plugged in’, such great things happen synergistically. Thank you for putting into words this journey, which reflects and sometimes mirrors our own personal journeys, through the dreaming and longing, the seduction, the instant of conception, the gestation, and the long awaited birthing….. of ideas and projects, of growing self, of putting ourselves out on limbs, of the sweet co-mingling of our selves with others….. the dancing that we do in this lifetime, AND the connections of our selves from other lifetimes….!!!! Where can it all lead, but to the greatest connection that we all are ONE??? Humbled and in reverence of these great truths……. Keep shining all through your birthing and wonderful receptions!


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