“That’s okay, it’s been my pleasure having your stay. Now I can say I hosted and artist.”
I don’t think this person knew how much these words meant to me. I know I’ve written a little about imposter syndrome before but when I accept gifts or help from others it is always the first voice in my head with the microphone. One I am slowly learning how to turn the volume down on.
Over 6 months ago a wonderful human messaged me about participating in my tarot deck, I responded as I have done with quite a large number now of other cards. “Here’s how the queer tarot deck Im making works and thank you for messaging me – where do you live?”
I’ve never considered myself a professional photographer, I’ve been in front of a camera far more it feels like, than I’ve been behind it. Some of my favourite photos have been pure flukes or magical creations by my camera which I have unconsciously facilitated. Feeling my confidence in myself slowly growing is exciting and a constant reminder of the shadow self that comes up with it.
We email back and forth sporadically many more times over the following few months and I like how this person communicates and writes, telling me a story that maybe one day I can share. We move off email to chat and still barely know who I’m talking to but I’m excited about the thought of meeting them.
A queer tarot photography tour. Well that’s what a real artist would have called it. Visiting different towns and cities and taking pictures of magical queers, capturing their magick amd stories to tell through tarot into the future. That’s what an artist does.
I was “traveling to visit my family, and maybe a small wee day trip out to visit this person”. A day trip turned into a week visit somehow with very little sleep with each overland train ride. I arrived and promptly got food poisoning. “This is not how a professional does it” running through my head as I made friends with the toilet bowl. I’ve never felt more looked after and taken care of by people I barely knew, ever before in my life. Yet it felt like there was part of us that knew each other and had done for lifetimes before.
I feel like I’ve fallen in love with a few of the subjects in my tarot deck. I fell in love with the two most unlikely cards that met each other at one of my tarot card gallery exhibitions and have been seeing each other for a while now. I fell in love with the deep eyes of a wolf that I’ll never understand and tried so hard to capture in a still photo. I fell in love years ago with the wandering bush pirate who saw my vulnerability and openness when I newly out in the queer community and saw it as precious magic not naivety. I fell in love with the devilish seductivity of latex and humans who pursue what excites them and stand actively in their community. I fell in love by a muddy icy river watching excitement and laughter wash over this humans face as they did a photoshoot that might have otherwise been completely out of their comfort zone.
I’ve fallen in love with the bravery of the stories I’ve heard. I’ve fallen in love with the beauty that exists so fiercely outside of society’s standards. I’ve fallen in love with the activism and power with which that queers are making sure their voices are heard.
Falling in love with the art I’ve made is the biggest political statement I have made so far. I accepted the magical task of creating a tarot deck with my artistic skills to facilitate voices being heard, in April 2017. It is teaching me the confidence to say “I am a real artist and these voices must be heard!”
I’ve known a while that this project is so much bigger than me. It is the love, art and voices of all of us making magick together. Even if all you did was “hosted an artist”. You changed my life and made this queer tarot deck possible.
I have a public Voice: Deciding to create is scary, deciding to create in a field where there are already thousands of products is scarier. That point of pressing the go button that I realised this project will have so many eyes on it, and that my art is out there for public opinion is daunting. To be rejected and criticised is the tax I will pay on having a public voice. Even really the loudest critic I have to work with is the one that lives inside my own head. Radio K-Fuck has been saying all these things to me in the last few weeks:
– You’re not a photographer
– Your photos aren’t very ood
– You’ve never made a documentary before
– You have no idea how to run a crowdfunding campaign
– You’re not an expert Tarot reader
– What makes you an authority to decide this should be created
– People will think you are narccasistic
– You don’t have any qualifications in this field
– Will anyone really care once it’s been created
– That’s alot of effort to put into creating if no one knows it exists
– What if you get called a fraud?
– People will think you’ve only done it for money
Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Here is my pep-talk to myself.
I am in deep love with my creative project, but am realising that it must not be my child. I can nurture, create and foster it all through the creation process, but once it is done, I must let it go. I am not doing this to get hundreds of followers. I create my art from a place of creative necessity, that speaks from the darkest places in my heart. I create out of pure love of the creation process. Telling my story is the only story that I can tell. The only story I am qualified to tell. Not to tell my story, and how I am finding, learning and growing myself through my Queer Tarot Project would feel like I was living a fake life.
What motivates me with this project is the need to be seen, to be known… Hell I don’t even need to be liked. I just want people to say “I see you.” To me, my definition of being an artist is: walking through the world saying “don’t erase me.” I feel like this is my journey to finding my voice, unblocking the fear of being shot down for speaking up or having an opinion In the case of my Queer Tarot project I think that collective “me” resonates. It is saying that “We matter. Our stories matter, and we have a place in tarot and other forms of spiritual or esoteric practices”.
I need to know that I’m here, and alive. I need to know that you feel that Im here. I’m still learning what it feels like to be okay to take up this space in the world. To create, to make things, to make art, and say to the World, “Here I am”. It is through this project, every time I create a new Tarot card with someone, that I am finding the lost pieces of myself, healing the brokenness of my confidence, finding again the magick and light in my soul. Physically, mentally and emotionally living the lessons of each card as it comes alive.
My older, wiser (some how that seems perfectly logical) future self would say to me, “Stop being so hard on yourself, you’re doing just fine, just keep at it. You are more courageous than you think.” Thanking the inner critic radio for keeping me alive today and deciding to take those risks, and jump into the fire feet first. I realised just now that I live terrifyingly. I consistently and on-purpose, put myself in situations where I absolutely have no idea what I’m doing, then FURIOUSLY go about learning every single thing I can to become proficient at the thing I’m trying to do.
– Moving countries
– Applying for jobs
– Starting my own business
– Making Tarot Cards
– Making a documentary
– Making image-recognition fancy thing for my tarot cards
– Dating… haha
This I guess is the arrogance of belonging. I belong here because I have showed up to learn, create and do the work. I may not be the best or even the worst but I have showed up to my life and I am here and creating shit. “You’re out of your mind.” “Good, all the best things happen outside of mind.” I have to remind myself that this applies to all of this list I just wrote.
Over and over again, but although right now at this very moment of writing I feel incredibly uncomfortable with this change and the flux I’m going through, it is also an environment that I flourish in: It’s challenging, with lots of opportunity to lear and try new things. Thanks Amy for helping make this okay for myself again. I am still getting used to the idea that I find my power when I feel the most powerless. When I feel the most restless I will find ways of channeling that energy into creativity.
Life doesn’t happen to me, it happens FOR me, And I keep doing these things for myself not too myself. It’s not enough to love my art, I must believe my art, my Queer Tarot project, all you wonderful humans who have touched my life with your stories – that you love me back.
What makes it all just a little bit easier is the knowledge that there is nothing I can put out there that is truely my own. Every idea has already been done before, even this idea of a Queer Tarot deck. I started and immediately found 5 or 6 people already creating their own interpretation of what this idea brought to them. All I can do is follow the fire in me and share it with my voice and my experience. That is all that is unique about this – Me.
Fear doesn’t have a volume control – any time you try something new it thinks you will wind up dead. Stop and think about the times fear has saved your life, and then think of the time where fear doesn’t have perspective or the big picture that you have in your consciousness. Fear and creativity will always be linked. Remember the opposite of depression is vitality. There is enough within me that I inspire myself, that my sense of adventure or curiosity can thank my fear for highlighting the risks and encourage myself to make a decisions that move me forward, even just slightly joyfully.
I’ve been wanting to write about this for quite a while. Becoming a photographer, calling myself an artist has almost literally come out of nowhere. In looking back on my life so far, I see all the experiences I’ve had that have taught me the background to what I know. I’m not here by accident, I’m not doing this work because I am unqualified. This is my passion purpose for now, and I will continue to evolve with it as it also evolves, as is the impermanent nature of life. This is my story of gratitude.
I was in the shower when the conceptual idea of creating my photographic Queer Tarot Cards. I’m not the only one who’s had this idea either but I’m excited that I have opportunity to express my iteration of this inspiration. So when my inspiration came to me, in a skin tingling moment of clarity it lit a fire under my butt like I hadn’t felt in ages. I feel calm and clear headed in the shower, a place where nothing else seems to matter past the warmth and water on my skin.
I believe in magickal spirit beings, and to me inspiration is the personification of exactly that. That mischievous sprite flys with the wind, getting carried with swirls and turns to the east and west. In all it’s travels it is looking for a way to become realised, to be transported from the spirit realm into the human realm, and I believe this is not just a one way journey. Sometimes we wake up in the morning and think “OOOOHhhhh I’ve had this marvelous idea, or oh what an amazing dream.” If we do not capture that, weather it be writing it down or taking action to realise that idea, it can and will leave, float away, drift off to another being to be realised. Have you ever heard stories about someone saying “Oh that was MY idea” or “I was going to write that book?” Do you think this is a coincidence. They did indeed have that idea, and maybe they didn’t give it their due diligence, love, attention or action it was looking for. I think an idea or inspiration can also be realised be several people. Maybe that wind of creativity blows through me, I feel it’s magick and bring that idea to life. But I have no ownership of it, I can’t keep it, or lock it up. In fact trying to do just that is a sure fire way of killing that inspiration.
So with that context – I have a contract with my creative work. I have a duty, and wonderful purpose to bring it to life. Right now it is my Queer Tarot project, in future it might be something new and different. My creativity inspires maintains and energises me, and will for the rest of my life. I will feel like a successful photographer, writer, creator and artist, before and after you guys call me a successful one. I am authentically honouring the gift of inspiration that has visited me, as well as expressing my soul through the creative process.
All my art is part of my journey taking me to the next level, and I don’t even know what that level is yet. There is nothing more successful than the person who is confident enough to be stupid, to take risks and put themselves out there. This is where the uncertainty of change comes in. I have been living in a life of constant change and uncertainty for the last 6 months, traveling, working for myself, and stripping my life of all the unnecessary fluff. Now I have just started a job here in Vancouver. My fear has wonderfully piped up and warned me of getting stuck, observing that I now have an hour and a half commute that is “wasted time, scaring me with the idea of losing my vitality and creative energy. I’m writing this letter in part to you, but predominantly to myself, to thank my fear, to hold space it for highlighting to me the things I now can be aware of taking action and making change in those areas. Yes, a 3 hour round trip commute feels like an absolute drag, but I’ve found podcasts I can listen to which light me up, I have laughed, smiled, and almost cried with the joy of listening, learning and exciting my mind. One of the podcasts Elizabeth Gilbert talked to a girl who described herself as having the most boring job in the world. Yes she did exactly the same thing every day, and I am grateful I am not in that position. I have creativity and variety in what I do, that I really enjoy. The thing I really took away is the highlight that nothing is ever static, there is energy all around, and especially in frustration there is much power to create the inertia for change or creativity.
My contract with my creative inspiration currently means I have to make my Queer Tarot project happen, to give up myself, or to give myself over to the call to create. Right now I am choosing the trade off of working and creating simultaneously so I can travel to meet and work with more people globally and create magick with them in 6 month time. What happens after that I don’t know, and I am happy to let that just sit. And I know that my inspiration owes me nothing, following it doesn’t guarantee success, it just offers me the transcendence of working with it at all. The dance that doesn’t include my ego, just the pure gratitude of showing up and actively participating in my own experience.
I feel an entitlement at my inner heart level. The joy and arrogance of belonging, of calling myself and artist or a photographer and owning it. I am, I am here, I have desires, I have voice, I have a statement to make and oh so much pleasure to pursue. I’m here to celebrate this particular magick of creation in my life. This is my curiosity, I am alive enough to see what that is. Today, this month, maybe this year, maybe even next year, Queer Tarot is my creative gift, my inspiration, the creative thing that consumes me. The only unique contribution we will make in the world is the gift of creativity. Creativity in whatever way I end up expressing it, is how I share my soul with the world.
As I write this, my fear crops up again. Am I sounding like a overly optimistic rose tinted dreamer writing all this. Then I think to the times when I’ve been told to “come back down to earth” or that my voice wasn’t worth hearing, or that I wasn’t who I was supposed to be. These wounds I am healing in myself with a ruthless dedication to following my curiosity. Expressing my creativity. You know, it might not work every time, it won’t always see the light of day, I make and create far more than I share or I publish. But everything I do I am proud of, they contain a little of me, and little of that magickal gift of inspiration that I am so blessed and grateful to have been blessed with.
I am happy. I self generate my own happiness, and I am energised by following my creative curiosity. I wish sometimes to date, but getting past my fear of losing myself in a relationship is another story for another day. Thank you so much for coming along on this journey with me, for allowing me to be heard. Pen-pals, please write back to me, I would love to hear about your journey with fear and curiosity / creativity. If you want more, the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is an amazing place to start.
The Emperor card can be super challenging as a queer person as it traditional represents masculinity, power, the law, and basically an unemotional version of the patriarchy. Here I have tried to unpack the Emperor with the help of my beautiful witchy friend Myra, to give you a relevant and applicable interpretation in life as a queer, LGBTQIA or trans person. I wish to encourage and support this magick in my queer community, and my love of Tarot will not let heteronormativity, or patriarchal overtones ruin my love for Tarot.
– The Slow Holler Tarot – The Navigator http://slowholler.bigcartel.com/
– Osho Zen Tarot – The Rebel
– Doreen Virtue – The Organiser
– The Wild Unknown, the cards have less gender influences.
I’m currently working on a Queer Tarot Project: Telling Queer Stories through the Archetypes of Tarot. Each of the Beautiful Major Arcana cards I’ve created tell the story of the queer person photographed for it. You can check out more of it here: www.queertarot.cards