Hello, loves. Today I decided to do something a little different with our prompt. I pulled out my Art Oracles deck, which was written by Katya Tylevich and Illustrated by Mikkel Sommer.
Oracle decks are a different from tarot because there’s no prescribed number of cards or common symbolic language. Most oracle decks are guided by theme, in this case it’s artists. The idea is to pull a card or cards and meditate on the messages in the card. I like oracles because they’re sort of pictorial affirmations.
The card I pulled for you today is an artist I hadn’t heard of before, so it’s a bonus learning opportunity.
According to the book that came with the deck:
“Director if a successful decorative arts firm, William Morris sexed up prudish Victorian interiors with his enlightened stained glass, wallpaper, furniture and tapestry designs. A trained architect, furniture designer, textile master, painter and poet, Morris also pioneered the fantasy genre in literature, fostering the development of a new strain of nerd. In his free time, Morris contemplated Marxist revolution and Socialist action; he changed his own mode of production to be more socially and environmentally just. Rightwing governments everywhere probably kept a file on him, in case of Socialist undead uprising.” (emphasis mine)
Busy guy. But also great inspiration for a group of writers and other creatives, right? Here’s the card—>
The prompts under the image say are divided into thee areas: Life, Work and Inspiration.
Life: Bad truth makes good fantasy.
Work: To be prolific, be versatile
Inspiration: Art is the methadone of the masses.
I’m especially interested in the “Bad truth makes good fantasy” line. When I read that, I think about how one of the things fantasy does very well is it allows us to explore real world problems in an indirect way. There’s this filter of metaphor and symbolism that allows us to tackle weighty topics in a way that can feel less threatening. If you look at the history of all speculative literature, it’s all basically a bunch of authors using vampires, ghosts, aliens, orcs, and hobbits as stand-ins for the cultural themes, traumatic events, important movements, broken systems, or societal neuroses of their day.
Lord knows we have a lot of bad truth to write about now. William Morris’s card asks us to think about how we can funnel those bad truths into stories that are about and also not about those bad truths. How can we find deeper meaning in what’s going on by not directly writing about what’s happening? Is there a prism of fantasy, science fiction or horror you can use to help you work through your thoughts, emotions, and lessons?
The second area, work, reminds us that “to be prolific, be versatile.” Don’t pigeonhole yourself with one form of art, one style of storytelling, or one structure. Feeling uninspired to finish that short story? Write a poem. Or just read one. Learning from other forms of art can only improve the art we’re creating. Also getting too comfortable is deadly for creatives. Pushing yourself to try new things keeps your skills fresh and keeps you growing.
The third prompt is “Art is the methadone of the masses.” Clearly Morris is responding to Marx’s famous (paraphrased) line, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration web site:
“… methadone helps people [recovering from opioid addiction] sustain long-term success and to reclaim active and meaningful lives.”
Morris is essentially saying that art helps people survive. It reminds me of my favorite Stephen King quote: “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
So today I want you to think about the ways you rely on art to help you survive. For example, when I feel oversaturated by the leaden negativity of social media, I often retreat into poetry. Preferably in a book instead of a screen. It’s soothing and helps me elevate my vibe.
In short, today’s advice is: Turn bad truths into good stories. Be versatile. Use art to survive.
In comments, I’d love to hear your favorite way art helps you survive.
Stay safe and keep creating, friends.