One upon a time, I chanced upon a wondrous woman called Victoria Moseley and fell head-over-heels in love with the supreme product of her imagination, the Vintage Wisdom Oracle deck. The cosmos definitely threw us together quite deliberately! This oracle deck raised the bar for me. It's undoubtedly true that I have been waiting for something like this on the oracle scene for a great many years now. I couldn't quite pin down what I wanted - I just knew it hadn't been created yet! I needed an artist to give form to the world I wanted to enter, and when I first saw the Vintage Wisdom Oracle, I knew that had finally happened! I deepen my relationship with the cards more and more as the months go on..
It makes me happier than a bird with a French fry to be able to ask Victoria some questions about the creative process for this deck and how she feels about its completion. I have come across lots of cardslingers who also adore Vintage Wisdom Oracle so I know this will make a riveting read for many!
I'm absolutely in love with the Vintage Wisdom Oracle deck and since my glowing review is up on the deck's official website, I know that you're already well aware of my enthusiasm! Have you been pleased by the responses people have shared about the deck and did you seek a lot of outside advice/input during the creation process?
Victoria: Thanks for your kind words. Yes I have been really humbled by your review and the response to the deck. The good thing was that once the deck was complete, I knew it was important to not attach to a big expectation.. I just did all I possibly could to make it as resonant as I could. It felt like there was no choice but to go with the flow and trust that the deck would 'speak' to the people who are meant to connect with it, just as my muse had 'spoken' to me during its creation. Having made the decision to start it, things moved very quickly and the creative process was pretty well none stop for some time. I worked long hours, often late into the night. The inspiration behind it came very much from the inside out and from lots of time alone, so seeking outside advice on the creative side didn't feel relevant. I am blessed with the companionship of a very close friend and a fantastic partner who were both immensely supportive and encouraging throughout the project.
Did you do any preliminary sketches or brainstorms to help you envision what each card would look like or was it a spontaneous process for each one?
Victoria: I knew the vibe I wanted to create and that we would not be using stereotypical New Age imagery. Although there's room for all styles, not everyone with a spiritually enquiring mind feels comfortable with ‘cosmic style’ art. With this in mind, each card happened very naturally and I felt I could have carried on and on (although I regret not dedicating one of the cards to the virtue of forgiveness). I had already honed my artistic style and gained confidence to design big spaces and visualise the end result as an interior designer, so working in miniature was comparatively easy and -hurrah- no teams of builders involved!
Over the decades I had also gained a general knowledge and experience of shamanic nature totems, Eastern philosophy and Tarot symbolism and collected antique ephemera, textiles and ecclesiastical art on my travels . Antiques of this nature have always held my attention from quite a young age and I find myself more in sync with the way things were made back then and the very obvious love and toil that went into their creation. I think this also influenced my style of working and -having collected quite a few decks- I had very clear ideas about how I wanted the deck to look and feel from the start and felt immensely grateful to have the time to devote to bringing it to life. My publishers were also very respectful and open to my ideas which was a real boon.
Did you experience any creative blocks during the creation process and if so, how did you deal with them?
Victoria: At the risk of sounding horribly smug and boring, no. But please don't think I don't know what that is. I'm also a self-taught pianist and I have struggled with this problem for many years and am still looking for a way out of the labyrinth! But regarding the deck, I put that down to the fact that I had already accrued massive energy for the project which had been unconsciously stored up for years, so it flowed abundantly and organically. I was also filled with a very strong sense of mission once the decision to make it had been made.
However, working late into the night often resulted in tiredness and technical mistakes would happen. I don't think we can call it a creative block as such, but I lost count of the times I accidentally deleted a whole days work and have to start again. But, without exception, my subsequent attempts were much improved.
Coincidentally my Mac developed a mind of its own during the creation of the deck and began spontaneously doing its own thing -changing and rearranging things- often for the better. Initially I would become very frustrated and angry when this happened, blaming my technical incompetence (which is very real). But it was impossible to not notice that seeming mistakes turned out to be real blessings. When things went wrong I just knew there was something more I needed to learn before completing that section/image/paragraph etcetera.. I grew to trust this as the voice of my muse and integrate it into my style of working..
You've used so much imagery from different artists and photographers from different time periods. It seems as though the deck was your chance to reference so many of your passions and interests in one place. What kinds of emotions and thoughts did this bring up?
Victoria: Hmmm, it's a bit like trying to fit a pint pot into a thimble, so perhaps the easiest way around this question would be to provide a brief context. I was raised in a traditional Christian family and, like lots of little girls, I was obsessed with fairies and the invisible realms and I was always out in nature making mud pies for the elemental spirits in our local woodlands. I also had the good fortune to visit Findhorn in its infancy, when it was little more than a muddy caravan park back in the ‘60s. I remember being completely spellbound by Peter Caddy, who was leading some kind of group trance meditation chant, whilst sitting cross-legged on the grass. I selected a stone for a souvenir so I could connect with the memory of this place and the magic it held for me.
That same fascination and deep passion for the mysteries of life led me to the ashrams of India, Aboriginal Australia, sacred Crete and The pyramids of Egypt to name just a few, as well as southern France -home of the Cathars- where I lived and worked for a while. I also had the privilege of meeting and knowing some extraordinary leading lights who have helped to shape the face of modern spirituality through literature music and holistic thought.
People are saying that the deck is powerfully feminine but I have spontaneously witnessed at least three lifetimes where I was occupying a male body during different eras of military history - ancient and modern. This could explain why I thoroughly enjoy and cherish being a very feminine, petite woman this time round! There have also been times when I have felt profoundly disempowered as a woman but with it came fantastic lessons and compassion for the oppression of women and the freedom of women.
So in answer to your question -yes- the deck was a perfect place to begin directly expressing just some of those influences in art and words. It was much like 'coming home '. It was also immensely cathartic in helping me to retrace and remember valuable experiences which have helped me to grow and express myself in the art and in the advice offered in the little guidebook.
What kind of advice would you give to anyone who wants to create a Tarot or oracle deck for the mass market?
Victoria: I’m not really much of an expert on this because unlike many decks on the market it wasn't planned from a commercial perspective. However, the years of interior design equipped me with the ability to anticipate trends and my esoteric knowledge enabled me to work energetically as well as creatively to bring harmony and balance to homes and workplaces. It was immensely rewarding at that time, but I'd just never put that skill to the test in my own personal artwork. It just so happened that I was already collecting vintage ephemera, bits of old lace and textiles etcetera which just happens to be current at this time.
Initially, I decided to experiment with some of the oracle images by first turning them into pictures and then later into greetings cards to see if people would actually buy them. To my amazement they did, and they are still selling well to this day, so this was a helpful selling point when approaching potential publishers for the oracle.
It's worth bearing in mind that no matter how soulful your ideas are, if you want to be published your work will still be perceived quite rationally as a product by your investors. I would say most artists really do struggle with this and you need to be objective about it. It may sound cold and corporate but that's the way it ticks and the Tarot/oracle market is no different than any other. Publishers will also be looking for ways in which your deck stands out from the crowd and you must expect your work to be modified to suit the market, so be clear about the areas where you are prepared to compromise and where you are not before approaching a publisher.
Many artists chose to have an agent which is a good idea if you are able to find a reputable one who is well connected and is genuinely passionate about promoting you. I initially had an agent but it didn't work out - so decided to go it alone. After lots of rejections, I managed to attract two publishers. But the legal side of things was a very steep learning curve - I found myself buried in all kinds of gruelling research which was the most difficult part of all. I ended up paying a lawyer to help me understand the legal speak, but I'm happy I chose to sign with US Games rather than opting to self-publish. Although it's not for the faint-hearted, going it alone by representing myself was the right way to go for me at that time. It took two years to actually publish it which is fairly standard, so bear in mind things rarely happen quickly in the world of publishing.
Finally, creating a deck is definitely not something you do to get financially rich unless you're a very good business person, a rare talent or have an established global reputation for what you do - ideally all three! Decks take a while to get into circulation and become known. Depending on its success and popularity in the marketplace, it may well be a door-opener for new and exciting opportunities. However, in my opinion, there is no reward greater than using your artistic gifts for the purpose of linking your readers to a deeper understanding of their own spiritual potential.
What have the key lessons been for you during this process?
Victoria: Aghhh, there were so many! For the first year and a half, I wasn't aware that it would take two years to publish the deck and that it was one in a long factory line of other projects all vying for the attentions of the publisher, so I had to learn patience in a very big way. This was not my strong suit and I still have a long way to go but I have definitely earned a healthy respect for the virtues of patience! It was also patience that helped me to gently work with errors and to loosen my attachment to outcomes. This influenced the entire creative process in what transpired to be a very conscious three-way rapport between my work, my muse and me. And it was because of patience that I grew in faith.. There were times when I was at breaking point due to frustrations during the publishing process and it was faith that kept me hanging in there. I have to say though - the project felt guided from the very start and I knew that this was far bigger than me so it was more a question of stepping in line with that.
Writing the guidebook was also a major opus and I lost count of the occasions where I would be tested on the very subject I was writing about (surprise surprise), often on that very day! The lessons would come thick and fast so although I was learning a lot experientially, I was never allowed to imagine that I had all the answers or that I was any great authority on any given subject. And we are all still learning until the time we take our last breath. It was truly a fantastic journey and I loved marrying inspiration with a healthy respect for words and the discipline of writing about abstract concepts in a simple, accessible way.
Many people struggle with self-sabotage and procrastination, nursing their creative ambitions for years without getting started. I've always seen the creation and publication of a deck as a major creative accomplishment, which undoubtedly requires a lot of dedication. It therefore makes sense to ask you what kind of advice you would give to creative types who want to birth their ideas into the world but worry about failing or falling short.
Victoria: I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer this because I'm not someone who suffers badly with procrastination, and although rejection is not something I take easily in my stride, the maxim, 'if you don't ask you don't get ' usually wins, or, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ In spite of the fact that I've had many rejections, if it's something I whole-heartedly believe in, I guess I'm more aligned with hope than I am with lack.. And I don't give up in the face of rejections. They can be constructive because they either show you you're not on the right path or make you even more determined to continue on, so if you think about it, there is nothing to lose! We may live many lives but this is the moment that counts here and now, and we are all responsible for the valuable experiences and lessons we attract to us.
Artists by definition are generally sensitive creatures who are porous to life from a young age, and I was no exception. Furthermore, I had to consciously 'undo ' a lot of early conditioning which was preventing me from finding the courage to blaze my own creative trail.. I had the most fantastic and loving parents I could ever have wished for, but their well-intentioned ideas for my life and future were wildly out of sync with my own at that time. My brother and sister responded more favourably to this conventional framework, so for most of my growing up years, I often felt like the odd one out, lacked confidence and felt very much on the outside.
I'm sharing this because I think many artists and spiritually motivated folk will identify with this type of estrangement. It's often these plights of isolation, separation and confusion -be they in families or otherwise- which drive the need to find the deeper meaning in life, and for expression in some form. I am very grateful, as they were the vital ingredients which helped build the bridge between this world and the next and to eventually give life and breath to the creative soul that was always longing to find its authentic expression. So I reckon the trick is not to focus on limit and lack or become a victim of circumstance by hiding behind it as an excuse for not moving forward. If life is tough, use your experience as a vehicle to bring fresh and original things to the table because of adversity and not in spite of it. Turn it sunny side up.
I also know that inspiration alone would not have been sufficient to earth and birth the project and that discipline and structuring my days was an essential part of the process. A calm, methodical approach helped contain that sense of overwhelm you get when you feel especially inspired and don't know where to begin. Discipline was one of the things I most feared and rebelled against in my younger years, believing it to be dull and boring but it has turned out to be one of my greatest teachers and allies.
What's next for you?
Victoria: They say that life is what happens when you're planning other things and with this in mind, the deck has inspired me to carry on in this vein, expressing myself through art and words. I’m open to working with the inspiration which flows through me - be it another deck, perhaps a book, and more greetings cards for sure. It’s more a case of waiting and listening rather than forcing and projecting.
In fact I’ve declined what most people would deem to be the opportunity of a lifetime - selling my greetings cards en masse to the American market. Knowing the huge logistical strategies and implications involved, I don't feel ready to forfeit the peace and spiritual prosperity of my very simple creative life right now. I've found that knowing my strengths and weaknesses are essential for this type of decision and key to a happy, fulfilled life. Having witnessed other artistic friends and clairvoyants who sell out for the glory of large financial reward and then lose the core essence of all that made their creativity or gift so remarkable, I feel very wary about this.
As a self-taught pianist I'm also greatly inspired by the work of David Darling and am currently looking for a freelance cellist with a view to possibly creating my own album of compositions and improvisations for piano and cello, so if there’s anyone out there with an improvisational style -let me know! Meanwhile any new products or designs will appear on my website at vintagewisdomoracle.com or misshavishamsattic.com
This deck has been a game-changer on the scene. It stands the test of time and the quality and vision which has been fed into it is wonderful. Thank you so much to Victoria for granting this interview and for giving us this gorgeous gift of her imagination!