Paths, Portals, Elements:  an Oracle for the Traveler

Above and below is a sampling: ten images from the deck of 40 cards plus their explanatory writings. To manage the images in the slideshow, move your cursor below the paintings until the control panel shows. Click "Pause" to stop, then click on any image to enlarge it
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1  The Labyrinth

From simple turf spirals in Yorkshire to the complex inlaid floors at Chartres Cathedral, the labyrinth has long been used as a tool for contemplation. In this image, small rocks curve into three circuits. The journey begins with the Traveler’s attention spiraling within, pausing at the center, asking a question and preparing to move outward again.

This card advises a quiet moment of contemplation before embarking on a new venture.

 2  The Hatchling

This image shows a “time lapse” view of a single developing human. The whirling spiral, reminiscent of the shell of the Nautilus, implies the passage of Time, suggests movement, a journey. This spiral opens up and out; the newly awakened Being follows the curved path of her own unfolding.

This card implies that the current situation is part of an organic process, rather than being due to, or influenced by, deliberate choices.  

3  The Launch

            A tiny boat is drawn up on the beach. One oar is visible. Is there another? Do I dare get in, follow that silvery road? The water is not so very rough, is it?  And this boat: who brought it? Perhaps another traveler, who followed last night’s moon path here, one for whom my side of this water is the journey’s end.

This card indicates a choice: the Traveler can get into the boat or not, can decide now or wait till tomorrow. Of course, the boat may be gone by tomorrow, weather may move in . . .  

4  Dance of Five Elements

            Earth, Water Fire, Air and Space are momentarily in balance – and how precarious that balance can seem! This card advocates assessing one’s own energies — am I up for such a journey? —and/or the larger patterns in one’s own world. Is anything awry? If so, can I help fix it?

 5  Water in Earth

            The plant represented here is Horsetail, [Equisetum] one of the few plants existing today in forms virtually unchanged from those of primordial times. This suggests a consistent pattern of forces creating the same events over and over again, and invites the Traveler to consider the very deepest sources of the current situation.  This card also shows a happy balance of earth and water combining (along with some fire!) to create a totally new substance, implying a surprise result from the “marriage” of two different aspects of the situation.

 6  First Landing

            The first steps of the journey have been taken, waters have been crossed, and the Traveler has tied his boat safely to a dock. The weather is still fine. Now is the time to rest, replenish supplies and consider the next steps — which may require leaving this particular boat behind.

 7  WindWater

            “Weather” is one thing to consider before continuing. How are wind, water and air — all those things beyond my human control — behaving today?  How shall I prepare myself for storms, for dry spells? Is there someone I can ask for advice about the Weatherways on the roads ahead? 

 8  Surrender

            The Traveler has learned something about Weather, and is using that knowledge for a moment of play. An open, windy spot; a kite made from just the right kind of paper, a good long tail, strong string, a strong fast run. The wind does the rest.

            This card implies surrender to the powers-that-be after having done one’s best to prepare — and finding joy in that surrender.

 9  Celebration

            Before continuing on what will sometimes be a lonely path, the Traveler takes time to celebrate with friends. The hungry jungle may surround them, but inside the charmed circle the friends enjoy the simple fact of existence and find support in each others’ presence.

 10  Garden Door

            The lush garden “filled with the ten thousand things” [from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Tao Te Ching] is a delightful place to be, but the Traveler is ready to continue his journey. The open door at the end of the garden “rooms” seems to invite by its very emptiness, to promise a place for contemplation without distraction.


 About the Traveler’s Oracle

 This deck of 40 cards derives from large series of watercolors created between 2008 and 2014, depicting a spiritual journey.  It is an attempt to portray, in color and form, the invisible portions of our world: the way in which different combinations of the five elements creates distinct layers of phenomena; the portals or doorways that open between one stratum and the next; and the pathways that the inquiring mind might take to visit these alternate spaces and return intact.

 The imagery is a fusion of both Asian and Western mythological and philosophical thought: the archetypes and symbols made visible in the many renditions of the Tarot; those that stem from the Goddess religions; those appearing in the traditions of Northern Buddhism and the ancient Bon religion; excerpts from some of the “travelers’ guidebooks” which accompany all the major spiritual traditions. All these elements have nourished my own spiritual journey and appear in personalized form in this series.

 All original paintings are upon 140# Arches natural white paper, with Winsor and Newton tube watercolor paints. They range in size from 5”x7” to 12”x16.”

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