A Lot Can Improve in Half a Year

Night Crone

I started this piece on May 15, 2017, as a part of my Oracle Deck. I ended up with the image on the right which didn’t fit in well with the deck. This is partly because it feels less grounded than the other cards and partly because it was really poorly done. Creatively, I sometimes find myself painted into a corner (metaphorically or otherwise). When this happens I find that the best solution is to set the entire piece down. This one had to sit for six months, but the end result is a finished work which feels like it belongs in the mystical world which I am creating.

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Creating a Witches & Wizards Fantasy Oracle Deck

I’ve been working on a series of fantasy pieces for a potential oracle deck. Each piece is created in Photoshop using photo manipulation and free-use imagery from Google. My goal for each card is to create an image which is rich in magick and meditative mysticism. Creating each character and their surrounding environments is an essential part of that process. I want each card to convey its themes without the use of any outside material. The Regent, for example, looks somewhat melancholic despite her material wealth and majestic backdrop. I have had to discard several pieces which I dearly like because the art simply did not have the meditative quality I was trying to achieve. Perhaps those pieces will find a home in some other project.

I made a video talking about the personal process of creating one’s own oracle cards. At the end of that video, there is a quick slideshow where I flip through the various photoshop layers of several cards. I also created a time-lapse of the entire two-hour process of creating The Sage card.

THE PRINTED WORD

Somewhere in the stacks
all answers surely lie.

Within these book-lined walls
the printed words appear infallible.

Bound in illustrated manuals
once stamped by printing blocks
— gold foiled.

Dust jacket PhD’s promise wholeness
for the price of $19.99
— softcover.

The storefront clerk offers insight,
assaying each by way of conversation.

For a lust for truth will go un-sated
on pyrite printed letters.


The second issue of The Black Bear review came out last month featuring an appropriately titled poem by yours truly. The magazine is quite literally a work of art with phenomenal displays of colour and artistry alongside the literary works of a great number of talented writers. Some of those writers shared a classroom with me this year, and call me biased, theirs are some of the wittiest and most moving pieces in the collection.

The cover art Guilt Trip by Jesse Stasiuk blew me away. The quality of this first print issue of the magazine itself is superb. I am very proud to have my work featured alongside so many brilliant pieces. Many thanks to everyone involved with the project and Selkirk’s creative writing faculty.

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Freshman Mathematics

Year twenty three;
the third of the First of Four.
The first of the third,
of which the third is three,
was half of half
the same as second.

The fourth,
or should I say
the second Second,
—it’s Two of Four—
now once removed,
though from the First,
year twenty one,
it’s three.

Years Three and Four,
no; five and six,
are variables unknown;
now: c & d.


Due to several stumbling blocks, both within and outside of my control, this has been my third year of first-year university studies. The Elementary Education program which I’m undergoing is supposed to take four years, but I’ll complete it in a mere six! This year I’ve been attending Selkirk College, where I have been able to take Almeda Glenn Miller’s excellent creative writing course. Today I was given an excellence award in the study of creative writing. “Freshman Mathematics” is one of my favourites to come out of the program, and it seems the perfect piece to share in celebration of this milestone.

The essay “In Which A Woman Agonizes Over Death” also came out of this program.

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Tree Frog Tattoo by Sylvie le Sylvie

pacific tree frog tattoo by sylvie le sylvie

My first tattoo. Inked and finalized by Sylvie le Sylvie.

Pacific tree frogs (Pseudacris regilla) are the most commonly heard frogs in British Columbia. They can change their colour in a matter of minutes. As amphibians, they live their lives in two worlds: the submarine life of a tadpole and the semi-terrestrial life of a grown frog. They embrace the elements of Earth and Water, making their homes in each.

The hind legs of my frog are represented by a feather and a leaf of the broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). The feather is a representation of elemental Air. Broadleaf plantain leaves are used to soothe stings and small cuts. They are like natural bandaids!

The square together with the intangible circle represents the altar, a sacred space, with its magickal circle of power.

Surrounding the altar are four offerings. In the upper left is the flower of the bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), an edible, if bitter, taproot. Following clockwise is a representation of solar Fire: the sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). An ammonite fossil (Ammonoidea) resides in the lower right corner. As the remains of an extinct mollusc, ammonites represents the element of Water and mortality.  Elemental Stone (or Earth if one prefers) is represented as a quartz cluster (SiO2).

These were not the original symbols and meanings, though the central image of a frog and its connection to the four elements has remained consistent throughout the three year revision process.

From the beginning I was keen to design the tattoo myself and have that design translated by a tattoo artist to better fit the medium of skin and ink. I wanted to have the tattoo inked in my home town of Nelson, BC. After careful consideration, I found the work of Sylvie le Sylvie, of the Timber Tattoo Co. Animals and plants are plentiful in her work, which has a rich, black and white, aesthetic. After a consultation, she made several changes to the design, arriving at the finished product a week later. The tattoo was inked on a drizzly morning on the day after the vernal equinox.

This is my first tattoo. It may not be my last, but for now I could not ask for a more magickal connection to nature, the elements, and the mineral, floral, & animal kingdoms.

Magickal Ostara Update

Spring has come reluctantly to my part of the world. The clouds have hugged the ground and wept their daily tears. With the coming of the equinox, the seasons have indeed turned on their wheel. The sun is once more shining brightly above, driving the winter drifts back beneath the soil. The crocuses will soon begin their flowering.

With this changing of the seasons, I felt a shift. Spring is a time for decisions, dedications, and new adventures. For three years I have been working on the design for a magickal tattoo. My creation speaks to the elements and cycles of the natural world.As a portion of my sabbat ritual, I made a consecration and dedication. It has been some time since I performed a proper magickal working. Ritual and prayer are a much larger part of my spiritual practice, but this called for something more direct. Tomorrow, the day following Ostara, is the day I take this design into my being.

Wishing you all the happiest of equinoxes,

Callum.

Turning Paperbacks into Beautiful Hardback Tomes 

Recently, I decided to revisit my long standing project of re-covering the books in my library. I’ve been using a new more versatile technique which allows the artist to create many different styles of books. The covers are made from card stock much as the ones made in this blog post. The covers are then decorated with raised designs and covered in a fine paper mâché. The mâché technique ends up looking a lot more impressive in person than I had at first imagined.

For more information on the building of these books, you can watch the video I made documenting the process. I used several other articles for the inspiration and technique behind the creation of these books: For the Love of Books: A Guide to Knocking Together Your Own Journals’08 Halloween #12: Making Creepy Books, Altered Halloween Books Tutorial, new and improved!, and Crafty Mommy & Me.