The Muse is truly alive in Joanna Powell Colbert, creatrix of the Gaian Tarot, profound friend of Nature, mythic artist, tarot reader, and coach to many people who bring consciousness and hope to our world through their lives and work. From her home base in Bellingham, Washington, Joanna’s creativity and grouded guidance ripple into our world. I’ve known Joanna for a number of years and participate in her wonderful Gaian Tarot Circle. It’s a great pleasure to offer you this interview with her on the Circle Ways blog. Please feel free to leave comments. You can visit Joanna online at http://www.gaiantarot.com, http://www.gaiansoul.com, and http://www.gaiansoulgrove.com.
1. Joanna, I’ve witnessed the unfolding of the Gaian Tarot over some time. What has it been like to sustain a conversation with one creative project for nine years and more? And how did you keep up your part of that conversation?
It had its ups and downs, like any long-term relationship. 🙂 There were times when I was very focused on it, almost to the point of obsession. Other times, I was more relaxed, and managed to work at it a few hours at a time, here and there. Then there were times when I ignored it completely for weeks or even months on end, when life events took priority. I’m thinking of the 2-3 years when my first priority was looking after my elderly father before he died. My second priority was work that paid the bills, and after those two commitments were fulfilled, I would work on the deck.
Sometimes I was over-the-moon in love with the images, and with the art medium of colored pencil. Towards the end of the project, I was still in love with the images, but (I have to confess) pretty darned tired of working with colored pencils. I actually don’t know if I will ever work in that particular medium again.
The last four cards I painted were the Elders. And even though I was getting weary at that point, I think they are some of the absolute best cards in the entire deck. The Elders carry within themselves the wisdom of their entire suit.
2. Llewellyn Publications has recently released a version of the Gaian Tarot that is available to a wider audience. Many people are thrilled to see this third incarnation of your cards and their accompanying text. Certainly there are plans to celebrate this latest birth. What does the Llewellyn version’s “welcome to the world” party look like?
Well, it’s sure a lot of fun! Llewellyn of course is putting their marketing muscles behind the deck, so it’s appearing on the cover of their current New Worlds magazine, and articles about it are turning up in their e-newsletters and on their website. I started a Gaian Tarot Facebook page a couple of months ago, and did a 78-card-a-day countdown to the official publication date of September 1st (even though it came out at the end of July). I get dozens (sometimes more) comments and emails every day from people telling me how much they love and appreciate the deck.
I’m traveling to New Mexico, Massachusetts and Ontario in the coming month to support the deck at workshops, retreats and conferences. This in-person part of the party started at BATS (San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium) at the end of August. I will also be doing a number of personal appearances at Northwest bookstores this fall and winter, starting with my own beloved local independent bookstore, Village Books in Bellingham, on October 20th. I’m hoping my local community will come out for that one.
Finally I’m in the midst of a Virtual Deck & Book Tour for the month of September. Many of my Tarot friends, like you, are presenting me to their readers, but I also am appearing on a number of blogs outside of the tarot community. I’m hoping that a wider range of people will pick up the Gaian Tarot!
3. You know that I’m a great fan of questions, Joanna. If the Gaian Tarot were a question, what might that question be?
How about a *few* questions?
What kind of a relationship do you have with the natural world? How can you allow yourself to be healed by the earth? How can you offer healing to Her in return?
4. On page 8 of the accompanying book, you state that you hope your deck’s images will help create a culture of strong and gentle women and men, working together to create a beautiful, peaceful and just planet. I stand in awe of that statement! How might that happen? What activities or processes with the Gaian Tarot might facilitate it?
In order for us to create a new paradigm, a new way of living on the planet, we first have to envision it, before we can make it a reality. The images in this deck show a community of people, animals and plants all living harmoniously together. The deck and book together give us a vision (or maybe even a blueprint) of how we might all live up to our own “best selves,” personally, in community, and on a global level.
So, first we see the vision of a new way of living. Then the cards (and book) themselves give us practical advice on how to bring ourselves, and the world around us, into wholeness. We are challenged to step away from stereotypical gender roles, to serve the earth and each other, and to bring our own deep gifts to the world.
The Motherpeace Tarot helped to create Goddess culture, and I hope that my deck will help to create Gaian culture in a similar way.
5. Joanna, what’s the next right thing for you professionally? What’s the new mystery that yearns for embodiment through you? How are you responding to its call?
I am being called first of all to pick up the role of teacher again, which is something I did for many years before creating the Gaian Tarot. I will be offering more and more online and in-person courses and workshops in the coming months. Some are on Tarot, some are on earth-centered spirituality, some on manifesting your dreams. I have a few more ideas floating around as well.
I went on retreat in July, hoping to receive a new “assignment” from Spirit for a new creative project, and I was thrilled with the “divine download” that came to me. I’m now writing and illustrating a book about practices for connecting with the natural world. It’s still very new, so I’m not talking about it a lot. But it’s sitting there, gestating, in my heart, and pouring out my pen little by little.