The Portland Tarot Majors – A Daily Commute
Day “7” – The Chariot
You’re feeling in the flow and catching some of the Universe’s wind in your sails. With a little faith and a little will, you are riding a rushing wave to your goals. Instead of questioning or controlling the process, you do your very best to keep up with the wild ride you’re on. You understand if you concentrate too hard you might “fall off the board”—so you just do your job of mentally steering the vehicle, focusing on the destination and perhaps not being too surprised when you “magically” arrive!
Cynthia is holding an old fashioned phone, downloading the wisdom of the universe and channeling into the world through the power of creative alchemy. The theme of this card is momentum, mojo, magical movement… effortlessly under way. We move not by the force of our feet, but by the grace of our mind, in tune with the timing of our own soul connection. It’s an oxymoron, to be able to move while sitting still. To drive the car without putting your hands on the wheel. But it happens, and when it does, it’s nothing short of magic.
This card has some great nostalgia packed in for me, for a few reasons. First, it’s the card that started it all… The one that began the beautiful cascade — no, avalanche — of events that led to where I am today. Secondly, the subject is one of my best friends in the world, filmmaker Cynthia Lopez (and her wonderful canine companion, Charlie). Third, it features a location right outside of my studio, Cathedral Park, right below the St. Johns Bridge — a landmark that has emerged as one of my very favorite in all of Portland.
This piece was made for the yearly Tarot art show for the gallery Splendorporium in 2012. When I had to choose a card, I decided to leave it up to the Tarot, and was greeted by The Chariot.
Whoever I picked had to have a “rightness” to them, a connection to the card’s energy. I thought of Cynthia. She has been such an inspiration to me, and has worked long and hard with her co-producer on a roller derby documentary called Flat Track Around the World. (She’s also been working closely with the star of The Fool card, Cheryl Green, on “Who Am I to Stop It”.) Since we began our friendship she was always at work on films, but during that year in particular she had made a major shift in her career. She was expanding, moving to a bigger field. At the time she was stepping into a role as a producer (and mingling her own take on the role with traditional approaches in the film industry), so that is the source of some of the visual elements.
At that time she began to step into the flow, making the internal adjustment to let her soul sails catch the fickle winds of the universe. When she agreed to pose for the art, I was elated. She is also a Tarot reader in her own right, and we love to give each other readings over coffee.
We set a day to shoot some photos under the St. Johns Bridge, next door to where my studio is and where her office once resided. We had a fun day of photos and philosophizing about the imagery. We chased the light and looked for the right shots. We let Charlie run around in the grass and watched the sun go down over the hills beyond the Willamette river.
Not only do I fondly remember that day, but I also love the symbols that ended up in the art. I felt it appropriate to bring Charlie into the picture, creating two versions of her, one in light and one in shadow (with differing moods), to express the polarities normally represented by the sphinxes.
Then there’s Cynthia’s amazing car… That blue car IS her chariot. I can’t imagine her with another car. I opened the doors to give it the feeling of having wings. And Cynthia’s phone, which was a real life personal totem for her. It was fun to play with the idea that the phone was a conduit for the magic of the universe, while not using it in a traditional phone-like way.
On the hills I wanted to play with the idea of Hollywood filmmaking vs. the spirit of Portland filmmaking. Both are important, but they have totally different styles and approaches. In this piece the Charioteer is merging the bigness of Hollywood with the heart of Portland. And of course Cathedral Park is a very spiritual-feeling place in and of itself.
The image that unfolded is history, I guess. But the story doesn’t stop there. You see, as I was working on the piece at Cynthia’s kitchen table one night, she started asking me some questions
“If you had a million dollars and could really focus on it, would you create a Tarot deck?”
I had been talking about how badly I wanted to make a deck for years, but it always seemed too daunting a task.
“Sure, of course I would,” I answered.
“Okay. So, let’s say you did. Would you miss anything else? If you focused on it?”
I thought about that one for a bit. If I could really have the freedom to focus on something like that, and make it incredible, would it be worth it to let everything else go for a little while? If I felt truly supported and had all my needs met?
“No, I guess I wouldn’t really miss anything. I would relish the chance to work on a deck.”
She left it there, except for that little knowing nod and smile she sometimes gives me.
An hour later I was still at work, and she interrupted me with an exclamation. “You should make a Portland Tarot deck!”
I felt all bubbly, elated all of a sudden. “Wow, that’s a great idea!” It didn’t take me long to talk myself out of it, but I never got over the idea; it stuck with me.
The shift came when my piece was in the Splendorporium art show, at the opening. I was doing readings, and folks would come by and ask me if I had art in the show. When I said yes and pointed it out, I was amazed by how many people exclaimed, “That’s my favorite!” It blew me away. I went home and settled into that feeling.
Maybe it was time to make a Tarot deck, after all.
Later on I timidly told a group of friends over drinks that I was starting a deck. My art got shown around the bar, and before I knew it I had agreed to do an art show for a salon for a friend of a firend. Now I was on the hook to make something. And so I began scheduling shoots, collecting photos, and talking about it like A Real Thing That Was Actually Happening™.
And here I am. And so it is.
As a side note, I have to remark on how funny it is that we often use “not enough time” as an excuse, when there is usually a way to make time for something, even if we can’t really push other things out of the way yet. Currently I am managing to juggle this project and my business. It’s difficult at times, but because the work is so rewarding I find a way. In fact, the more I do for this project, the more I love my design business, and the more I appreciate my clients. It turns out that joy and creative fulfillment just beget more of the same, in all areas of one’s life. Sometimes the only wall is in our mind… And if we build a door in that wall, it opens all kinds of other doors, too.
And one last shout out to Cynthia, who is supporting me so much in creating this deck. She is a major collaborator with me on this project, and is one of the few I turn to when I need a little extra inspiration to see me to the finish line on a card. And she does so much more than that. I have so much gratitude for her believing in that spark in me, and for fanning it with such conviction. I wouldn’t be following my bliss on this project if it weren’t for her. Her Chariot energy has helped me to embody my own!
Locations/Landmarks: Cathedral Park
Models: Cynthia Lopez, www.EleusisFilms.com; and Charlie the dog