One divine day, a total stranger commented on a post I made on Instagram offering a tarot reading. I was intrigued and unsure. Thankfully, she educated me a bit and my very first professional tarot reading soon took place...and it was amazing! This generous, intuitive person was Sanyu Estelle. More readings happened, trades took place, laughter and wisdom was shared, and a relationship developed.
Now, we are combining forces and passions by creating a Plant Alchemy Oracle Deck!!!! WHHHATTT?!! Yep, you read that right. An oracle deck made entirely with the pure energy and magic of PLANTS!
This (first) Plant Alchemy Deck is growing out of a series I did two years ago while I was learning informally about the Chakra system of the Hindu/Buddhist/Jainism religions. I would do a little, simple research and then create a design while meditating on what that material was bringing up for me personally. I made three designs for each of the seven most common Chakra centers based on the colors associated with them.
At the time, they were done only as a project for self-exploration into my own energetic (im)balances. Little did I know that these plant energies wanted to become a tool for others as well!
To be clear, I am no expert in Chakras nor am I Indian/Hindu/Buddhist/etc. I didn't make these with a future oracle deck in mind or any Chakra-specific teachings to share. The designs were *inspired* by this ancient system, but they are not at all an appropriate source for understanding this culturally-specific system of knowledge itself.
I encourage anyone who is interested in truly understanding the infinitely deep and rich Indian Chakra system to look to more direct sources rooted in appropriate cultural context (i.e. not from "white" or Western sources. Harish Johari is one author to start with. Yes, it DOES take extra work to find these sources. That's how cultural appropriation works). Allow any knowledge graciously shared with you to open your mind and spirit to new perspectives, but always continue to seek personal spiritual practices that resonate with your own roots, ancestors, and culture as much as possible. It is important and difficult (which just speaks to it's importance!) to do the CONSTANT internal work of avoiding exploitative appropriation, colonization, etc. How this deck develops will be full of careful consideration of these questions, despite the mistakes I am sure to make.
In exchange for the first tarot reading from Sanyu, I decided to send her a full set of the 21 images from the series on small cards. I included one extra image because I knew she liked it.
Sanyu started to feel drawn to use the cards in her readings. She would use them before a tarot reading or even on their own at festivals. She found them to be helpful for overall energetic readings, in comparison to the tarot cards. They also seemed to be wanted to be used.
With Sanyu's encouragement and continued use of the cards in readings, I started to accept that maybe these cards really did want to become an oracle deck! Still, nothing really began to happen until we decided to collaborate on the project together. This ("collaboration") turned out to be the "magic word"!
Since we believe that "collaboration is magic", we wanted to to apply this to the way we developed the deck. We see even the cards themselves as Beings, created from and with the Plant Beings that make up their images.
With that in mind, we are letting the cards speak for themselves, so to speak. For a short amount of time, Sanyu offered free real-life readings with a beta-deck. We took notes on what the cards were bringing up and are compiling the information over time, noticing the energetic patterns at play.
In essence, we are listening. I didn't make these designs nor did I send them to Sanyu with a deck in mind. Sanyu didn't even start using them with the idea of an oracle deck, but the cards kept whispering. So, as we move forward we honor that and listen.