A funny thing happened with this card. I really wanted to paint her, but that's not so unusual as she is the first queen of the royal arcana that I've painted so far, and I have been strongly drawn to the cards that I have chosen. I have noted before that the plan was to draw the major arcana first, and then the pips, but before I had finished the first 22, I was nudged to the V of Cups, and since then I have done more pips than majors. What was different is the card itself. I had a clear idea come into my minds' eye of how I wanted her to be, and the resulting illustration reflects that much more than the traditional image, which I have been sticking to, by and large. This Queen is standing, there is no carved throne nor tapestry behind her, and she didn't end up to be holding a sunflower. She is still holding the Wand in her right hand and gazing to her left. The pyramids, desert and blue sky appear in my illustration, as does her cloak, yellow robe and red brooch. She retains her black cat, but here she holds her little friend, carrying him, as opposed to the original, where he sits at her feet. I have read that the cat is a bit of a mystery on the original, but I just love him. It is a card of vibrancy, creativity and understanding. Of course our beautiful Queen should have a familiar. I debated a wooden flute- like an elegant shoot of bamboo, with leaves here and there, carved with holes, as the wand. I may add this element to another wand, perhaps the IV, but to me this Queen felt like she was on a journey. She's protective and determined. Thank you so much for joining me! When I've got more done, I am going to look for a publisher, and having you lovely souls following will surely help both energetically and in numbers- so I appreciate it! Please leave comments and ask me anything about this process, I am so happy to share. On a sort of side note, I've been studying up on Reiki. I decided to wait on my next level meditation instruction course because it just doesn't feel like the right time to dive deeply into a very specific dogma. I'm overjoyed to learn more about Reiki, as it's something that I have known about for a long time without really understanding how it worked, what was happening. Universal energy! Of course! This is really great, and I am looking forward to learning more and receiving a level one attunement. More on this as it comes, except to say, several months ago, I received a Reiki session from a woman I met online. I really wasn't expecting much from the session, but at one point, there was this sense of being... kind of snapped into place, in a grid. Really connected, in a system. It was quick, but a powerful jolt. A month or so after that, I was honored to receive a sound healing session. This was unlike anything else I have ever experienced- except for the connection in that Reiki session. It didn't feel as specific as the grid felt, but it felt beautiful, and when the healer asked me which Goddess I felt most aligned with, it surprised me. I had never really thought to align with a Goddess; I thought of them as more mythical creatures, archetypes- more of a tradition and legacy than a living, breathing entity that is still around. Even so, Pele popped into my mind, being the only Goddess I have ever directly sacrificed (O'helo berries, the first berries that grow on a lava field when it's cool). Calling on Pele in that session, I realized that I really do think of Pele quite a lot. For one thing, learning about her in Hawaii was an amazing, awe inspiring experience. Hawaii is a powerful place, and also where my grandparents married, which makes it extra special feeling for me. But also because I live at the base of a volcano, and it's been growing lately. I mention is specifically because I am painting the Tarot images in stages- each card will be stage one painted, which is what I am doing now, and then I will go back and detail, highlight, outline, etc each one. I am doing it this way because- as the Queen of Wands illustrates, I want the deck to be cohesive, and over the course of 80 paintings, I am sure to wander stylistically somewhat... I am trying to keep them the same, but I feel it's just as important to allow the energy to flow through me into the paintings, just like when I *recognize* someone in a painting- they come to life. It has been interesting seeing how this happens within the fairly specific framework of the Rider-Waite deck- and in this case, how changes can happen. If I finished the paintings completely, it would be so much longer on each one that I worry the style would change a lot. This way, they'll all be finished in the same style, which will pull together any variation. I know that the deck will be just right. In the meantime, I am digitizing images at various stages. Right now I really like the symbolism and aesthetic of the stained glass, but this might be somewhat different on the final deck. I love all the Tarot art that I am able to create in this process! When I photograph the paintings, I am also adding energy- some of the digitals have literal rainbows captured in them. At all stages, I am intentionally, consciously funneling love and light into each image- each brush stroke. I love to paint, but I also love my mom, and I know that painting these cards is a step in my healing process. I want the clarity, the love, the light, the energy, the realizations and the shadows into each card, infused, imbued- viscerally. These images are just elements- symbols, colors, things, but they're more than that. They mean something. When you put them all together, they mean something else, something bigger and encompassing. They are a life journey, a story each and every one of us will tell in it's entirety in our lifetime. I am infusing the story, the joy and the pitfalls, into each card so that energy can be used for those of us that are still here. We can look at the pieces, and see what we need to be whole, what we can learn, and what we already know- because each piece does mean something. Every story is meaningful, even the ones that end too soon. There's this line in Ani Difranco's song "Talk to me now" that goes "I was blessed with a birth and a death, and I guess just want some say in between." I've always loved the song, oddly, for years whenever I heard this lyric, I assumed that she was talking about Jesus. Maybe it was the word blessed? But for whatever reason, I totally read that belief into it. My mom didn't though- when I said I thought she was talking about having been "sacrificed" for- totally thinking that was the birth and death in question, she just looked at me and asked, "Aren't we all?" She was right. We are all given a birth, and we are all given a death. As I paint each familiar scene and ponder how each one fit into her life, more and more I wonder, just how much of a say in between did she have? Any? All? In any case, in betweeners, we know for sure, we are here now in a vessel that knows how to live. Let's do it, let's have a say.