Monday, November 10, 2014


I forgot to post about this before, but a couple of months ago someone had an image from the deck tattooed on their arm. What an honor!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Golden Moth Review by Charmed Finishing School

Oh my gosh, I meant to post about this earlier. This is a totally awesome review of my deck by Deborah Castellano of Charmed Finishing School. Now I only have 2 more limited edition decks, probably owing in large part to her! But don't worry, I'm going to print more decks this fall. Read the review here:

I also wanted to remark on her comment that she could separate the cards into piles of positives, neutrals, and negatives, but she could also see how they could be interpreted differently depending on the card groupings and positions. When I created the cards, I also had my own interpretations of each card. Even though I wanted the symbols to be flexible, there were some that I clearly saw as positive or negative. For example, card #55 with the cut hand. It was hard for me to see that card as positive. Since I have done so many readings with the deck, I've learned from other people their many different interpretations, and this has added to the deck to make it richer and more collaborative than I ever even imagined! Someone interpreted that card as being open to vulnerability, which was a very positive thing in her particular situation. This is where the magic of the deck mixes with the magic of the people who use it. It makes me so happy that this deck is out in the world.

I also really liked Deborah's comment:
"Not having to worry about more than a century of very intricate and specific interpretations of the cards actually made my readings more accurate."
This was exactly what I was hoping for with this deck. I created it as an artist, from my own personal experiences, and being naturally drawn to certain symbols. I thought about researching more into what each symbol should mean. I'm glad I didn't, because every person brings something different to the table with their own lives and outlooks.

Although after doing a survey of people who used the deck, when I release the commercial version of the new deck sometime this fall I will include an interpretation guide because some people really want it, and it'll serve as a "jumping-off point" rather than "set-in-stone"-type deal.

Thank you so much Deborah for a fabulous (and in some parts hilarious - see her footnote) review! Deborah is a frequent contributor to Occult/Pagan sources such as Llewellyn, Witchvox, PaganSquare and Witches & Pagans magazine. Deborah’s book, The Arte of Glamour is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Deborah also writes romantica fiction, sells handspun yarn and other goodies in her craft shop The Mermaid and The Crow and handcrafted items for magical/occult practice in her shop The Glamoury Apothecary.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Golden Moth 2nd Anniversary...and a Special Discount!

In early February of 2012, I launched my Kickstarter campaign to produce The Golden Moth Illumination Deck in a limited run of 300 decks. In mid-June of that year (2 months later than I had planned) I sent off the first decks to generous Kickstarter backers who supported me. It has now been over two years since it all began. Little did I know that the Golden Moth would sweep me up a whirlwind of fluttery wings and deposit me back on earth as a changed, and hopefully wiser, person.

I mailed deck #254 out of 300 last week, which means I only have around 40 or so decks left for purchase from the original edition and I'm keeping a few for myself. Last week I went through all of the remaining cards and finished sorting out the printing variations/errors so that the remaining cards would be ready for corner-rounding. 

Here are the last remaining cards on my shelf:

Some of you might remember when they took up a kitchen counter and two tables:

Back in 2012 I had arranged for my printers, Parcell Press, to print and trim the cards for me but I had decided to sort, collate, and corner-round the cards and assemble the boxes by hand in order to cut down on my costs. My boyfriend, parents, and a handful of friends helped me out as well. Before I received the cards, I had envisioned assembling all 300 of the decks within a relatively short span of time, maybe a couple months. After a couple of months of almost losing my mind from the pressure of delivering 127 Kickstarter rewards, I decided from then on the decks would be assembled in periodic small batches. I would spend literally hundreds of hours doing the aforementioned tasks for the next two years.

What led me to this situation was severely underestimating the time it would take me to do these tasks by hand. Why, oh why, did I not time myself in making a prototype from start to finish? Take corner-rounding. Each card has 4 corners to corner-round. Each deck consists of 75 cards. That's 300 corners per deck. That's 90,000 corners for 300 decks. Let me repeat that: NINETY-THOUSAND. Hmm, when you break it down like that, that's a lot of corners and a lot of potential shoulder pain.

Here are some other fun Golden Moth statistics: 

* For my Kickstarter campaign, I was backed by 127 people. Most were from the US, and 31 of those people lived in my current hometown of Richmond, VA. I also had 10 international backers from Canada, Australia, England, Singapore, Italy, New Zealand, and Norway.

* I raised $4,800, $800 more than my funding goal!

* 102 decks were purchased through the campaign.

* For the other Kickstarter rewards, I sent out 194 postcards, 67 notecards, 39 bookplates, 26 screenprints, 111 pieces of small original art, and gave 7 Intuitive Card Readings (like tarot readings but using the Golden Moth cards).

* I've given at least 30 Intuitive Card Readings to people using my pre-Golden Moth deck prototype, which was much smaller with loosely-drawn black-and-white images. I've given an estimated 50 or more readings to people in-person and online using the published Golden Moth deck.

The other day when I went through my Kickstarter campaign report to tally up these numbers, I read through the list of backers again. I re-experienced the amazed, encouraging feeling of having friends, relatives, and strangers donate money because they believed in me and my project. At one point during the midst of Golden Moth assembling madness, I told the people closest to me that if I knew it would be this hard, I might never have done the project at all. I don't handle stress well to begin with, but producing The Golden Moth Illumination Deck has been, to date, the biggest and most overwhelming project of my life. Now I look back and affirm that the statement was true, that I probably wouldn't have done it if I'd known.

And so I'm really glad I didn't know, because the deck has also been one of the most far-reaching and positive projects of my life. I made some new friends and became closer with friends I already had through the project. I've had many people tell me how much they've enjoyed and appreciated the deck, and how it has brought some clarity to their lives. I am very thankful for that. This has also been the most "collaborative" project I've ever done. The cards take on different meanings with each new owner, and their use and purpose goes beyond just me. I love that about the deck.

So I'm forging ahead with the next step. I would like The Golden Moth Illumination Deck to reach an even greater audience. I plan to make a larger commercial run of decks so that I can lower the per-unit cost of producing the decks and get more decks into stores and other venues. I don't want to do any more handwork on the decks in order to free up my time for promotion and creative energy (as opposed to corner-rounding). I also plan to revise and expand the handbook.

To celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of the Golden Moth and to pave the way for this new expansion, I'm now offering the limited edition deck in my shop, Sprout Head, for a $5 discount - from $50 to $45. Added to this, I'm offering a super-special (and super-short) sale in my shop that ends on Wednesday, June 15th. Use the coupon code FLYAWAY upon checkout and receive an ADDITIONAL 10% off your entire shop purchase! If you apply this to the deck, it will cost only $40.50 - that's $9.50 off the original price! Remember, you must apply the coupon code upon checkout or you won't get the additional discount. If you've been waiting to get your hands on this limited edition handmade version of the deck, don't delay or else they'll soon be gone!

I'm also offering a sweeter discount for those of you who already own a deck. If you complete this short survey, you are eligible to receive a coupon code for 20% off your entire store purchase. This coupon will expire on August 31st. To take the survey, click here. Please respond by the end of June if you want your feedback to be incorporated into the creation of the new deck and handbook. If you do not want to take the survey but would still like to provide feedback, feel free to post comments on this blog or leave a comment/message on my Golden Moth Facebook page:

Happy 2nd Birthday, Golden Moth!

Monday, May 19, 2014

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trust in a Smile

I don't usually pull cards for myself. I used to quite often, but I found that in the past I relied too heavily on the cards and not enough on my self. The cards are a tool to access the self, but it can turn unhealthy when they start replacing trust in your own feelings and judgement. On the rare occasion when I have wanted a reading, I like to go to another reader for advice who can be more objective than I can be.

But I've had the nagging feeling that I should pull some cards and see what comes up, and today I did. My reading was done on my art desk, and you can see some evidence of art-making in progress. I've been doing a lot of wondering and analyzing in the past couple months about this almost constant anxiety I have in my day-to-day life. One of the greatest sources of anxiety at the moment is my solo art show coming up in June. I don't have much time to create new artwork, yet not only am I trying to create all new pieces for the show, I'm also using a medium which is a bit more unfamiliar to me - printmaking on fabric. The processes alone are time consuming, and I've already spent a couple months just doing research about techniques and styles of fiber art - quilting in particular. It has been really fun to learn about and work in a new medium, but also daunting. I am also working part-time and teaching. I know many people who have schedules far more demanding than mine, but I am perpetually anxious about whether I can do it all. I have always preferred a more slow, relaxed pace to life but the demands of earning a somewhat stable income while also creating artwork make that difficult. I had the last couple of days off from work and thought I'd get a lot done, but I had a lot of trouble focusing due to the pressure I put on myself as well as feeling not quite sure about which step to take next in my art process.

I asked the cards for advice about how to manage all my duties and my life leading up to the art show.

The first card represents "The Past," and shows a bell ringing out. I took that to signify my feelings of alarm, a bell call letting me know that I needed to start focusing on my art show. It may also symbolize the need for communication through my art - this is my time to sing out and express myself. The second card represents "The Present," and shows a flower growing out of the flames. I think this card means that I am going through a "trial by fire" in terms of managing my workload and creative processes. I think it's a time when I am being tested, or testing myself, to show that I can emerge from this period of intensity shining brightly and transformed by the flames. I've always thought of this as the "alchemy" card. The next card, #17, represents my "Challenge or Goal." Again, this is an image of great intensity showing a lightening bolt striking open an egg. I feel this shows outside forces (the art show, my teaching and work duties) coming in and cracking me open like an eggshell. While this split is sudden and forceful, perhaps it is telling me that it's time to get out of my shell right now, to accept all that is going on. Underneath that card is #37 showing my "Internal Influence" - my feelings. I feel like that traveller, staring up at vast mountains and wondering how I'm going to cross. I guess a more positive view of this is that I am an adventurer about to scale mountains. Maybe it's daunting, but at the same time exciting. At the top of this column is the card representing my "External Influence." It shows a figure under a bridge with two faces. When I created this card, I always thought of this figure as the god Janus. From Wikipedia:
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus (Latin: IANVS) is the god of beginnings and transitions,[1] thence also of gates, doors, passages, endings and time. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. The Romans named the month of January (Ianuarius) in his honor.
At first glance, I thought this card showed an element of busy-ness. The figure seemed to be looking back and forth rapidly, constantly switching from one thing to another (for me - my various obligations, as well as the switch from research to concepts to actual art-making.) But I think this card also represents the theme of my art show. I am creating works based on a specific time and place, a small town in Northern New Mexico that I visited five years ago. It was an experience very close to my heart, and something I've struggled to adequately express through words and images ever since. I think the card shows that this show is important to me because it is a way for me to look back at the past, ahead to my future (I'm hoping to continue this series of images and use the images to apply for arts grants) as well as the bridging of the two. This is something I've thought consciously about as I create the work, how I'm using new processes that I would not have used 5 years ago, and how my thoughts and experiences since that time have influenced how I look at those memories now.

Moving on to the advice cards, the "Release" card shows a figure holding the sun, moon, and stars in one hand. I think this card has to do with control. I need to release the need to control my universe. I need to let things flow as they will. The card above it is the "Accept" card and shows a snake slithering over a hill. I think this card is telling me to get over that hump, to just proceed steadily and keep low to the earth. I think that at times I get lost in thought and speculation, and I really just need to keep working and not worry so much. I think this card is also poking fun at my "Internal Influence" card that showed vast mountains. Perhaps I'm making mountains out of molehills at times, and need to just keep a steady pace and stick to what's in front of me- one step, or slither, at a time. Card #34 shows a house on fire. I was not scared of that card. It signified my "Possible Outcome" and I thought of it as a card of purification, of "cleaning house." It seems significant that I have so many cards with the element of fire in them - the flower in the flame, the lightening bolt, and now this burning house. It made me remember that for me, the artwork I'm creating is very personal and getting it in the open is a form of catharsis for me. Maybe this means I will experience intense emotions, perhaps intensified anxiety, but I think in the end it is all for the best. Card #47 shows "Further Possibilities" and it confirms my feelings that the process I'm going through now is a way to bring my memories full circle, as much as memories can come full circle. The plants in this card go through a cycle of death and rebirth. There's more to the story of what these memories mean to me, but I'd like to keep some of it private. But I will say that these memories are a joyful beginning to a road that also led through much pain, and I think that the celebration of these memories will help me to release that pain.

The last two cards in the upper right are the "Theme" cards for my reading. Card #36 flipped out of my deck while shuffling so I set it aside. It shows a boy with a sack, travelling light-heartedly. Card #15 shows a woman smiling. I think that both of these cards show that I need to relax and enjoy the process, that everything will work out and be okay. I can get so caught up in worrying and planning for the future. Every so often I will experience a moment where there is this incredible emptiness in my brain. It happens so rarely that it is immediately noticeable. This emptiness is saying "Nothing is wrong. There is nothing to worry about right now." That sounds kind of crazy, but I have an almost constant low-level anxiety that fills my thoughts and makes me worry about what I have to worry about next! I've been observing these thought processes, and I realize that it's not about what actually pops up in my life. It's about my state of mind. I know I need to find a way to relax and feel okay with life, but it is very hard for me to do. I've been like this for as long as I can remember. Maybe I should carry around the card with the smiling woman. Her face is very reassuring. Every time I panic that I don't have the energy or capacity to do what I need to, I need to pull the card out, take a deep breath, and trust in her smile.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

From "The Daily Draw"

Hi everyone!

I wanted to let you in on another blogger who has posted some well-wrought insights on a couple of the Golden Moth cards. Her name is Tierney Sadler, and she posts almost every day on "The Daily Draw" blog, pulling from her vast and varied collection of tarot decks. Llewellyn is publishing her Tarot Toolkit called "The Deck of 1000 Spreads" in March! Check it out. Even if you are not a tarot-enthusiast, her posts are insightful enough to get anyone thinking about life and the choices we all make.

You can read her Golden Moth interpretations here:

Card #17- What do you see in this card? Does your interpretation relate to something in your own life right now? What message does it hold for you?

Card #58 - What value and import do you place on community? How much do you give to your community? Do you feel there's room in your life to kick it up a notch?

What I love about Tierney's readings is her ability to cut through to the heart of a matter in a sometimes brutally honest way. She also provides historical background information about the cards - something I've never had much patience to do, which is why I created my own card deck in an intuitive way rather than spending a long time on research. So be sure to check out her blog for her individual spin on the cards!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays. For me, it is a time of stress as well as joy, so I'm now making a very pleasant effort to rest and relax. That means reading lots of books, watching television, and not leaving the house much. Ah, such a nice break. In my head, I am also working on a review of the year which I plan to post soon. I wish everyone the ability to enjoy some peace and fun whenever you can!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Man in the Moon

About a month ago, friend, illustrator, and Golden Moth Deck owner Katie Green asked me to write about Card #21, or what I consider "The Moon" card. Forgive me if this post gets a bit rambly, because it has been on my mind for awhile now. It is also serendipitous because when I checked out Priscilla Smith's blog Spirit Speak 444, I discovered that she had pulled this card today! Priscilla is pulling one card everyday this November and writing about it. You can read her Moon/Star post here. It has been interesting to read Priscilla's interpretations of the cards because it further reinforces my decision to keep the symbols simple and in a single color (which was also suggested by Katie Green - double thanks!) I think these artistic decisions make the interpretation of each symbol much more open and free-flowing. With simple line drawings and no color cues, people are able to see what comes to their unique minds without too much outside influence. Priscilla's posts have also shown me that how someone literally sees an image is so very personal, based on their history and personality. It all continues to fascinate me, as both an artist and the creator of this deck. When Priscilla first mentioned this card in her Golden Moth Deck Interview, she called it "The Man from the Moon." Upon seeing this, I realized that when turned upside down, the object in the center of the image does look kind of like a person! Crazy, I did not picture this when I was drawing it. Actually, I meant the object to look a bit like a castle or a weird plant. I left it purposely ambiguous. The image actually came to me many years before as I was doodling some designs for T-shirts and this strange castle-ish image came out onto the page. I certainly didn't think I would end up turning it into a divination card.

When I created this symbol, I was highly inspired by the Moon card of the traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck and the interpretation I found on

The Moon card is often seen as representing fears, anxieties, heightened fantasies and imagination, intuition, and creativity. I thought of this card as a ghostly imagination-castle growing out of a lake reflecting stars. However, the reflections are not total mirror images, which makes them a little less cut-and-dry. In fact, for a long time this card still remained ambiguous, artistically and interpretation-wise. I had some idea of what it meant through studying the Moon card in tarot tradition, but it still eluded me a bit when it came up in readings. Now I can see the symbol of an upside-down Man in the Moon is very fitting for this card as well. It reminds me of the Hanged Man card in the tarot tradition.The Hanged Man is one of those paradoxical cards. While the words "Hanged Man" can sound ominous, the man in the card is very calm and the ring of light around his head makes him seem as though he is enlightened in the spiritual sense. (And isn't it further serendipity that my Moon card is #21, and the tarot Hanged Man card is that number reversed - #12? Woo...believe me, I didn't do that on purpose.) From  
"The main lesson of the Hanged Man is that we "control" by letting go - we "win" by surrendering. The figure on Card 12 has made the ultimate surrender - to die on the cross of his own travails - yet he shines with the glory of divine understanding. He has sacrificed himself, but he emerges the victor. The Hanged Man also tells us that we can "move forward" by standing still. By suspending time, we can have all the time in the world."
I see the influence of this paradoxical and mystical energy in my Moon card. In readings for others and for myself, the Moon card will often come up during times of uncertainty. But I also think it is about trusting the moment and allowing unknowing to function in your life. The moon appears when the clear light of day is absent and we are left with a different kind of light - bright in its own way, but softer, more mysterious and magical. I think that this card often appears in times of life when events, thoughts, or actions have this sort of mysterious quality. Perhaps we are building a castle out of moonlight, letting the castle grow out of the water like a strange plant with its own life-force. Maybe we are simply dreaming, letting ourselves float through the night because we know the dream won't last. Or maybe we are dreaming so that we can figure out how to build the dream during waking life. The light of the moon is our testing ground, a time when we can create, drift, imagine, explore what we don't know. This all sounds pretty ambiguous and mystical, I know. But I do believe that is what the Moon card is about, at least to me. A time of transitions, a time to see our world in a different light. What does the Moon mean to you?

This card also has personal significance for me because I believe it is my guiding force when doing readings for other people. Since self-publishing the deck, I have done many more readings and I think that I have grown as a reader because of it. There have been many instances when people have told me they felt better after a reading, and I could feel it from their smiles and the lightness in their demeanor. But there are times when I feel nervous or unsure of what others are getting from the readings. Sometimes I go into anxiety-mode and start talking much more than is necessary, trying to fill the nervous space by leaving no stone unturned. I've come to realize that reading cards is very much about being in the moment, responding to people's needs as well as knowing what it is in my power to offer them. I can't always tell people what they want to hear. As much as I want to help people who are going through difficult situations, I have decided that my role as a reader is one of facilitator for people to understand themselves better. I try to remind people that they do know themselves and what they need to do, the cards are just there to help them see it in a more conscious way. I am not an all-knower, all-fixer, or there to placate them just so I feel good about myself. I don't think anyone really expects that of me, but it is tempting to wish that I could make people's lives better through my readings.

I am constantly floored by the mystery of life. Who is to say what effect - subtle or larger - that the readings will have on a person? Maybe I helped someone become more conscious of a negative pattern. Maybe talking through a reading helped lightened a burden for someone. Maybe the burden will come back, maybe it won't. I can't know or control it all. All I can do is try my best to be open to what is needed in the moment. Whenever I shuffle the cards, I've come to ask in my head "What does so-&-so need to hear right now? What does he/she need?" which amusingly makes me think about the Oracle in The Matrix movies. And it is amazing when I allow myself to be open to the cards and see them fresh each time. I definitely have personal interpretations for each card, but lately I've been trying to truly be in the moment and trust my intuition. It actually makes a card look different each time. Certain aspects will appear more strongly to me. I also am more open to other people's interpretations. When I am unsure of a card's meaning in the spread, I will ask the Querent what they think. And this is always the "right" meaning for their situation. I have learned so much more about my cards and their possibilities through the thoughts and suggestions of other people.

Whenever you feel confused or unsure, remember the Moon. Don't try to understand right away. Let it be. Let it be scary, let it be crazy, let it be the wrong thing for you. Or the right thing. Maybe they are the same thing. Let it ramble just as much as this post about the Moon. It is your nightmare, your dream, your mysterious and sacred life.