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Friday, November 12, 2021

The Spirit of Tarot - the search for God's picture book exhibition

 The Spirit of Tarot : The Search for God's Picture book is an exhibition at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley California from 28 October 2021 to January 28, 2022. At the moment is it only an in-person exhibition, but it will probably become an online one next year, according to the exhibition archivist David Stiver.

The exhibition is entitled The Spirit of Tarot : the search for God's picture book and is introduced with a quote from the book, The Tarot of Lenora Carrington.

The tarot is not meant solely for divination purposes. Each suggest navigation devices where a poetics of the unconscious is available for immediate exploration. These cards may be consulted as subliminal objects, separate from rationality; they give access to magical environments. Because the subliminal body might be conceived as an out-of-the-body experience, it also entails a liberation from the rational corporeal form. The body is able to travel through subconscious doorways. - Susan Aberth and Tere Arcq (Fulgur Press, 2021)
The Graduate Theological Union is a private college founded to support graduate theological education and promote ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, the GTU’s location enabled access to the resources of the University of California, Berkeley, as well as with Stanford University according to the website www.gtu.edu
My work was submitted for consideration to be included in the exhibition by Prof Kate Barush, author of Imaging Pilgrimage. See my previous post.


A selection of 12 tarot decks were chosen for the exhibition, reflecting an inter-spiritual, intercultural spectrum and both the Mysteries of Mary and the Mysteries of the Black Madonna have been included. According to David Stiver, the exhibition is done in a circle with each display facing the centre. My decks are flanked by Vicky Noble's Motherpeace and Paul Foster Case's Bota tarot deck.
Other decks included are The Cards of U'Ut by Ellis Nadler, The Tarot by Lenore Carrington, The new tarot for the Aquarian Age by John Starr Cooke and Rosalind Sharpe, The Jungian Tarot by Robert Wang, The Native American Tarot by Magda Weck Gonzalez, The Bay Area Tarot by Melina Alexa Ramirex, The Hoodoo Tarot by Tayanna Quillar and the Rider-Waite tarot.
What an incredible honour for the Mysteries of Mary and the Mysteries of the Black Madonna to be included in this selection!

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Imaging Pilgrimage: Art as Embodied Experience by Kathryn Barush


Imaging Pilgrimage: Representations of Sacred Space in Contemporary Art

by Kathryn Barush published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts 2021

In her book Imaging Pilgrimage, Kathryn Barush brings together the study of medieval representations of pilgrimage to a number of contemporary art that is created after a pilgrimage and intended to act as a catalyst for others to experience, grace, healing and contemplation.  I am so honoured that she included my work with sacred altars and pilgrimage into this beautiful and enlightening book.

Images from Kathryn Barush's Instagram posts

One of the chapters in the book is dedicated to 'South African artist Hettienne Grobler (Sri BhaktymayiMa), who creates shadowboxes of assemblages of souvenirs collected
from Lourdes, in dialogue with medieval art which is rooted in the same impulses
of memory, imagination, and devotion.  

In addition to Marian imagery, Grobler also draws from Bhakti theology, and widening the aperture, her work forms an important case study to show that art that
engages two or more traditions can be used as a window into a dialogical
approach to comparative religion.'

The chapter is sub-divided into

'How and why an apparition was first 'made material''

'Mary, materiality, and message: a pilgrimage through art'

'Water, water everywhere! The Lourdes replica tradition

'Bhakti the essence of this love relationship that one experiences with the Divine.
I think one can describe bhakti as 'being absolutely madly in love.'
At first one is in love with God and the realizations that God is 'in love'
with you; then this expands and you start to see love in everything
and eventually you see the 'face of God' in everyone and everything.'

'For Grobler, 'love' is the foundation of her personal beliefs and the visual
expression it finds, and she acknowledges that this means that she can relate
to many religions and paths.  

As with her other Marian art, Grobler's Black Madonna deck has been a deep dive
into this imagery and a prayerful experience.  It has also been a way to explore
'how far back racism has been forcefully applied and internalised. One cannot really separate the Black Lives Matter ideology and the Black Madonna and I have at times felt such
awe that this deck is being created in these times'
Her social media posts with images of these works-in-progress have been interspersed
with essays on the Black Madonna as a way to celebrate Black Lives.
Although less overtly political, Grobler's project has every
potention to be a powerful tool for reflecting on, and advocating the
abolishment of, anti-Black racism through the Hindu and Catholic
theologies that her work engenders, via both her artistic process
and the iconological content.

Kathryn first approached me a few years ago and we have had 'conversations' online
and through email.  This is an incredible book;  Katryn has a wonderful way of using
language and she has opened my eyes to the incredible wealth of medieval texts and
research and her own incredible understanding and sensitivity to art as a vehicle of religion across all traditions.  This in-depth work has underscored all that I experienced within myself.  I regard
myself as 'one who walks between two worlds' and Kathryn is a kindred soul.

Dr Barush is Thomas E. Bertelsen Jr. Associate Professor of Art History and Religion

Dr. Barush received a D.Phil. from Wadham College, University of Oxford in 2012 and has held positions as Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and as curatorial assistant at the Yale University Center for British Art.  She is the author of the monograph Art and the Sacred Journey in Britain, 1790-1850 (London: Routledge). Shifting the focus to the present day, Dr. Barush's current book project (Imaging Pilgrimage: Art as Embodied Experience, Bloomsbury Visual Culture) explores the transfer of 'spirit' from sites to representations through a critical examination of contemporary art (including assemblages of souvenirs, built environments, and reconstructions of sacred sites) created after or during pilgrimages with the intent to engender the experience for others. 

Dr. Barush takes an interdisciplinary approach to art history and is especially interested in expressions of belief across a number of religious traditions. She values a contextual and hands-on approach to learning - her students closely study ritual objects and sacred artworks up-close and in person wherever possible. Such objects, especially in places of prayer and worship but also as re-contextualized in the secular space of public museums, offer crucial insights into the study of historic and contemporary lived religion, devotional practice, and popular piety.

In addition to her research and writing, Dr. Barush is an advisor to the British Pilgrimage Trust and a member of the advisory network of the Yale Center for Material and Visual Cultures of Religion. She is also an avid walker and has led a group of graduate student pilgrims along the Camino Ignaciano in Spain.  

Follow Dr. Barush' adventures and research on Twitter @pilgrim_travels

From the website of the Graduate Theological Union -  https://www.gtu.edu/faculty/kathryn-barush

Crucible of the Heart


We are forged and fired in the crucible of the heart and art gives life and meaning to our stories.

My prayer is that I share the right medicine for you and that my words will create a sacred altar reflecting the beauty, truth, wisdom and justice which is potent and potential in our world.

The ancient tradition of creating sacred altars used to belong to the Great Mother and her devotees and it was incorporated into religion by the nuns and convents. I call it Sacred Altars and it is my offering on the Altar of Life. Twenty years ago I became a pilgrim to sacred places on the Earth and especially to where the Divine has stepped through the veil to reach us and where Mary had appeared to others. I bring waters from the holy springs and rivers; I bring back oil and salts sanctified by the Presence of the energies at these sacred places.

Pilgrimage and sacred ritual is my foremost spiritual practise. Raised Dutch Reformed Protestant, the rich lustre of sacred and holy places offered a well of inspiration for my parched soul. My travels have taken me to many different religions, cultures and traditions. Until I came into contact with the mystical side of Christianity. 

My first ritual I attended was the festival of Archangel Michael in Mont Sant'Angelo in Italy, then visiting Padre Pio. Then followed walking the pilgrimage of Bridgid, the sacred well and labyrinth in Kildare, Ireland. And that is when my art appeared in the form of paintings. 

Ritual grounded in the knowing of the unconscious, awakens us from the dream of habitual seeing and thinking. The conscious mind lacks the ability or maybe the neural pathway to communicate the new-found wisdom intellectually, and thus the expression through art steps in. Well, that is only my experience and understanding, of course. But I had not been an artist till I participated in sacred ritual. My stay at Lourdes and participating in the rituals daily, turned me into a full time artist. When one participates in a ritual (probably any ritual, but when you regard it as sacred, you add a certain 'light' to it) you are transported into a different time and space : colors are different; the light is different; everything has meaning and the ordinary become extra-ordinary. My art novena for Lourdes in particular, highlights my statement that our lives are the altar to the Divine and I strive to capture that numinosity of the sacred ritual in my photographs and altars. I only started creating sacred altars on my return from Lourdes. These small shadowboxes are vignettes, a moment in time in the life of ordinary human beings, lifted out of the mundane into the numinous, merely by seeing life as sacred.

I create from the eye of the heart, rather than the eye of the mind and hope to illuminate and show the underlying image and Divine Presence in the vignette of our personal stories.
blessings, Sri Hettienne Bhaktymayi Maria Ma

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck


The first batch of the first printing of the Mysteries of the Black Madonna decks have arrived.  All the pre-ordered decks are spoken for.  A large number of the decks that were delivered were missing a card and it as these are digitally printed, one card cannot be replaced as there will be a colour difference.  The missing card is an error on the part of the printer and a new batch is being printed which I am now waiting on.  I am shipping in the order of orders received and the first orders were placed in December 2020 by my patrons.  That will give you an idea where you are in the queue. 

Creation of both the Mysteries of Mary and the Mysteries of the Black Madonna decks are an outflow of my own spiritual practise and devotion.  I never set out to become a tarot creator and I still do not regard myself as a tarot creator.  These decks follow a spiritual path and calling of a very specific devotion to Mary and Her many aspects.  I share my work with Mary and these decks with a Temple of Mary community on Patreon.  (www.patreon.com/templeofmary) and patrons were given exclusive access to the deck for a month. 

Right now there are no extra decks available and I am planning to print another small batch once all the decks have been shipped.  Shipping is a slow process due to many reasons.  Everything is done by hand by myself and one other pair of hands;  we double check everything and everything is prepared.  I work through a DHL agent with a single employee.  In order to get the special rate that I am offering on DHL Courier shipping, the numbers I am allowed to ship a week is limited.  We are in lockdown for Covid pandemic and all businesses have reduced staff which means everything is taking longer.  But know that I am doing my best to get your deck to you as soon as possible.

When I hand your parcel in to DHL, I send an email notification from the online shop informing you that it is now with DHL and the steps that will follow with tracking.  There has been a few incidents with USA parcels going through the Customs in Germany.  I am taking steps to try and minimise their interference in the parcels.  Please read my blogpost on this issue.

If you need to update your shipping details or any other details, please send an email to me at hgsacredart@gmail.com and kindly do not send messages on social media.  It is difficult to gather information from everyone all over the place and this will lead to some mistakes to be made.  If I am uncertain about your info or there are details missing from your order, I will send you an email and I will not ship until I am certain.  DHL also double check all information such as phone dialling codes.

There is a separate listing on the website for shipping of the Black Madonna deck which was sold without shipping as I did not have a price at the time.  I am not willing to ship with airmail currently as decks take up to one year to arrive.  I managed to get a special rate from DHL for bulk shipping and all decks will be sent with DHL Courier Express. The special rate is only $10 more than international registered airmail.  International mail is still extremely erratic and delayed and parcels take months to arrive from Africa to Europe and US.  Please add your telephone number to your personal details on your account page on the website.  I am in the process of sending out emails to all buyers, but it will speed up the process if you can complete your purchase and add your telephone number. 

Patrons from the Temple of Mary on Patreon (www.patreon.com/templeofmary) 
always get first option. 

I only print in small batches as every single deck and parcel is consecrated and carefully prepared for shipping.  Each item is handmade by myself .   When the deck arrives with you, you will feel the sacred and  healing energy that it carries.


Monday, May 17, 2021

Update on the Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck

An update on the progress on the Mysteries of the Black Madonna deck.

The Mysteries of the Black Madonna decks are with the printers; I did receive the first batch of cards but I was unhappy with the quality and the decks were returned.

 I am hoping to start shipping by 20 May 2021. If you ordered the Mysteries of the Black Madonna deck without shipping costs, please buy your shipping. There is a separate listing on the website. I managed to get a special rate from DHL for bulk shipping and all decks will be sent with DHL Courier Express. International mail is still extremely erratic and delayed and parcels take months to arrive from Africa to Europe and US. Please add your telephone number to your personal details on your account page on the website. I am in the process of sending out emails to all buyers, but it will speed up the process if you can complete your purchase and add your telephone number.

Patrons from the Temple of Mary on Patreon (www.patreon.com/templeofmary) always get first option.

I only print in small batches as every single deck and parcel is consecrated and carefully prepared for shipping. Each item is handmade by myself : the beautiful tarot pouches are sewn by hand, the small statues I print on a 3D printer and paint by hand; our paper is eco friendly and hand stamped, etc etc. When the deck arrives with you, you will feel the sacred and healing energy that it carries.



Monday, April 19, 2021

Update on the Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck


I was hoping to have received both the decks and books by now,

but we have had a few hiccups and delays in the printing process.

I chose to rather send the decks out later than promised

than to compromise on my vision.

I also opted not to gild the edges of the decks until

I can find a different option to the few that is available to me

Right now shipping is expected to happen during May.

I will send out updates and mails regarding the price of shipping.

I can only determine the price of the options once I know the weight of the

card sets.

I am as eager as you to get these decks into your hands but

I want it to be an amazing experience



Friday, April 9, 2021

Giveaway on Patreon for the Month of May

Mary Magdalene giveaway

We enter the month of April through the Holy Week, Easter, Lent and those in the Northern Hemisphere, the celebrations of Ostara.

We are initiated into the mysteries of the Holy Gardener, the gestation of the seed in the tomb and womb of the Black Holy Mother by the Three Holy Marys. After three days and three nights in darkness,  we are initiated into the mystery of resurrection and regeneration.

And on the eve of these Great Mysteries, we are a witness to the anointing of the Holy One by the priestess and Holy Bride, Mary Magdalene.

For this month’s giveaway I am gifting two of these Mary Magdalene statues; each with a Mary Magdalene holy card

a miniature skull

and an extra card for your altar

and for one of these I am including the amulet set of the Priestess and the sacrificial Son.

Here in the Southern Hemisphere we are entering the descent of the sun into longer nights and shorter days; either way, spring or autumn, all of creation is aware of the cycles that cannot be controlled by us.

The amulet set includes the goddess moon, the sun, the chalice, rose, crown of thorns, the star, a small apothecary bottle for the sacred oil and the pouring pitcher

Anyone across all tiers can enter and I will change the game every month : this month patrons will be the judges. I will share your submissions here, anonymously, so that no-one is influenced and I will ask you to vote for your favourite entry.

If you want to enter, please send a few lines, or art, or doodle, or musings, or collage, or poetry about the meaning that this theme of sacrifice, death, loss and resurrection has for you. You can send it via email to me personally on Patreon.  The cut off date is 25 April 2021