Behind "The Voice of the Trees~A Celtic Divination Oracle"
I had the inspiration to turn the Ogham alphabet into an illustrated deck in 2003. I had begun doing research on this very in depth topic, and visualizing images, even creating sketches a little bit at a time. I put it aside in order to partner up with Raven Grimassi and Stephanie Taylor on The Well Worn Path and The Hidden Path decks, and upon the completion of those projects the voices of the trees called out to me once again, and this deck was born.
The Ogham has been used in divination by carving the symbols (fews) on twigs or wooden tiles. The Ogham system itself is intriguing, rich with history and deep meaning, but until now, it has not been the most intuitive system for the modern reader to pick up and work with without much in depth study. “The Voice of the Trees, A Celtic Divination Oracle” is designed to bring this ancient letter system into a more spontaneous and accessible form for the modern reader. Each illustration is magical and expressive enough to be read easily, not just pictures of the tree and symbol, these cards visually tell a story. The images on each card include the Ogham stave and associated tree, within an in-depth illustration of the divinatory meaning, in order to trigger the feel and meaning of the card for the reader.
I have a magical and artistic practice of using herb infusions in my art that correspond with the subject, and this deck is no exception. I obtained botanical samples of each of the trees in the Ogham and used an infusion of each tree in the paint. This process helps me to connect spiritually with my subject and gain insight and inspiration. I have done this with the intention that the vibration of each tree will be a part of each card printed from the magical original. This proccess makes this oracle a powerful divination deck, ritual, and meditation tool for any magical practitioner.
A Celtic Divination Oracle
Written and Illustrated by Mickie Mueller
The Art: Step By Step
Featuring the Tinne/Holly card
Meaning: Challenge / Justice
Step 1. I have covered parts of the sketch with a liquid frisket (kinda like thin rubber cement) on the areas I want to keep white while I paint the background. I've gathered holly berries for my magic herbal infusion.
Step 2. While the frisket dried, I made a magical infusion from the holly berries. Now I'm using that infusion along with my watercolor paints to add the background and fill in large areas. See how the frisket repels the paint?
Step 3. After allowing the paint to dry (it's hard to wait) I gently peel off the frisket revealing the clean fresh sketch beneath. This is a really fun and magical step!
Step 4. On this piece, I filled in the big leaves with a light wash of green just to give me a little head start getting the color filled in, the pencil will layer really nicely over the watercolor.
Step 5. Now I work with my Berol Prismacolor pencils adding all the detail of the helmet, hair, that cool axe, more to the background, starting with the shadows, and blending the lighter colors on top of that as I go.
Step 6. Still working the pencils, I'm manifesting holly leaves and berries, light and shadows. The pencil work takes the longest time, but it's also lots of fun!
Step 7. The pencil work is done! Sometimes I like to do a really thin watercolor wash over the pencil. Anyone who has worked with colored pencil can tell you, sometimes you get little white holes from the texture of the paper. The waxy pencil repels the paint, so it just fills in the spots the pencil couldn't get, giving the whole thing a nice smooth look.
Finished! Here he is, the Saxon Warrior, he would have been a real challenge to the ancient Celtic tribes. He stands in your path offering a challenge. He has aspects of both the Holly King and the Green Knight. It won't be an easy test of your steel, but if you can face your fears, you'll come out of it stronger and wiser for it.
Here is a detail shot of the Holly card.
The helmet is a loose interpretation based upon a Saxon helmet from the famous archeological dig site at Sutton Hoo.