You might have noticed things have been a little quiet over here on the blog - and by a little quiet, I mean, yikes, I haven't posted since November. What's up with that? Well, I'd always rather save a post until I have something truly epic to share, and while that might not have been the case for the past couple of months, I definitely have something epic for you today!
I'm always on the lookout for new, independently published tarot and oracle decks that exemplify beautiful design and interesting, original ideas, so naturally when I came upon the Minimalist Oracle, I knew I had to have it! As is usually the way when I find a gorgeous new indie deck, I get a copy for myself, and a truckload for the shop, too.
What better way to get to know a new oracle deck than to chat to its creator? Today, we're joined by mystical creative person, Rachel Lieberman (clearly "mystical creative person" is the best descriptor of any artist I've interviewed so far!), who's here to tell us a bit about marrying up minimalist design and divination for deep soul work!
Welcome, Rachel! Tell us a little about yourself as an artist and oracle/tarot reader and human person.
Hi! Thank you so much for having me, Marianne, and for supporting what I have created. Let’s see – I live in Portland, Oregon, where I was born and grew up, though I’ve traveled and lived in lots of different parts of the USA and world. I have a very “normal” non-creative corporate day job as a Project Manager at a large translation company.
I live a sort of double life as a corporate employee and a mystical creative person, which I love. I am really inspired by aesthetically beautiful objects that also hold wisdom and meaning, so it would make sense that I would be drawn to tarot and oracle decks.
I actually knew absolutely nothing about tarot or divination or the mystical world until about two years ago when some unexpected life events introduced me to some unseen things I didn’t know existed. I wanted to make sense of what I was experiencing, so I turned to tools like tarot to help me process. This journey for me has turned out to be about self empowerment, self love, and some very painful but rewarding deep soul work, and the tarot was a very important guide for me.
Tell us a little about your creation, the Minimalist Oracle. Where did the inspiration for this deck first come from? What was the process of creating the deck like?
I knew I wanted to create this about a year and a half ago, but I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know how I would possibly translate the vision inside into something physical. By January of last year, the inner whisper to do it had turned into a scream, and I knew I needed to drop everything and make it happen, so I pretty much did literally that. Last minute I took a week off from my job, and spent the whole week shut in my apartment formulating what this might look like. I’ve always been attracted to minimalist art. I also loved tarot and oracle decks but wasn’t seeing something that I felt really reflected my aesthetic. So, I figured I would create it. That week I only accomplished a fraction of what would be the final deck, but at that point I knew I couldn’t stop. The art I put in the deck is a combination intuition and precise calculation. I would typically sit down and let myself go wild with the color, shape, etc. Then I would carefully edit it until I felt that the emotion I wanted to convey was distilled to the most simple and powerful form possible.
It took almost exactly a year to finish creating it, printing it, and launching it, and a lot of edits and changes took place along the way, but I made it happen! It’s exciting to do something completely new.
Backtracking a little bit, could you tell us a little about your artistic background, and how that has informed and influenced the way you envisioned and created your deck? What does your art practice look like, day-to-day?
To be honest, when I set out to create this, I really didn’t consider myself an artist. I’ve always felt the desire to create, but as an adult I didn’t make it a priority. In a way I think I had a fear and judgment of that impulse in myself, which actually has made this process even more powerful, so I’m thankful for it. Two years ago, I randomly found myself at a point in my life where I had a lot of solitude and space from the rest of the world. I started asking myself the big questions – what do I NEED to do with my life? The answer was – create something visual. So, I started painting, drawing, making paper cut outs, everything I could, just for the sheer joy of it. I had no direction or idea what I was doing, but I came home every night and worked a little bit. Eventually I found that I was getting better at taking what was in my head and finding some way to make it real.
Even now, I don’t create art everyday. Sometimes I don’t create anything for months at a time, though I think that is changing. I make sure to leave the space in my life for it, and when I feel the visceral need, I go for it. However, everyday I consume images through tumblr, instagram, blogs, pinterest. There is something inside of me that feels hungry for it, so I take a little time everyday to “feed” myself. This inspiration helps refine, expand, and stimulate my aesthetic sensibilities.
As much as you feel comfortable sharing it, what role (if any) does reading cards have in your own spiritual practice, and how has working with your own art - both making the deck and reading with it - in this setting influenced and shaped your personal journey?
This deck is, in many ways, based on my own personal journey. The cards I chose to create were themes or feelings I experienced in my own life as I decided to start overcoming fear, limited beliefs, and old patterns. Creating the deck actually helped me define and gain perspective on how I saw both myself and the world, which was really beneficial. In a way, tarot and oracle decks are an organization system for the most chaotic thing in the world – the human growth journey, in all its messy glory. To see my journey in a more objective way was helpful.
Holding my own physical deck for the first time when I printed a test copy was such a magical feeling. Then, I worked with the deck everyday on my own for months before finalizing it and printing it to be released to others. I wanted to make sure that every card’s message was clear and expressed exactly what I wanted to say. Creating this deck was a huge victory for me – it made me feel powerful, free, and confident. It has changed the way I view myself and the way I operate in the world. I’m so glad I get to share it with others but my own desire to make it and use it was really my motivation.
Because we at Two Sides Tarot can never resist a good deck recommendation, what are the tarot or oracle decks that you love to read with? Are there any decks that have been a big influence on the Minimalist Oracle?
The Osho Zen Tarot was my first deck and I would say it was my biggest inspiration for the Minimalist Oracle. It’s a quirky, playful deck with a lot of personality, and I love that about it, though I rarely use it anymore. All of the independently published decks are my favorite now – I met fellow Portlander and tarot deck creator Coleman Stevenson of The Dark Exact during this process, and I love her everything she creates, including her deck The Dark Exact Tarot. Right now I am loving Rachel Howe’s Small Spells Tarot, Spirit Speak’s Iris oracle deck, and the After Tarot.
Finally, how would you like to see the Minimalist Oracle used? Any pro tips for working with it?
I really wanted this deck to have a friendly, loving, but direct personality. It will tell you the truth, but in a thoughtful way. So, I hope that the owners of this deck develop a relationship with it as a companion. It’s a deck that can be used everyday, since it helps connect with emotions, and those are constantly changing. It’s also a great addition to tarot spreads, partially because the clean lines go nicely with almost any aesthetic, which was my intention.
I designed the packaging specifically so that it could withstand being thrown in my bag everyday and come along – it travels well. I bring mine with me everyday to work and draw a card or two for inspiration that day, or use it as a journaling aid. For me, personal growth is at its best when its practices are integrated into our day to day lives – not as something that is limited to any one time or place. Use this deck to turn anywhere into a sacred space for you to connect with yourself!
You can find out more about Rachel at her website, and I'm so happy to say that the Minimalist Oracle is in stock now at Two Sides Tarot!
Thoughts? Questions for Rachel? Reflections on these beautiful cards? Leave us a note in the comments or come and say hi on Twitter!