Our latest interview is with Jessica Purser, creator of The Crystals Forest Oracle. a series of hand-watercoloured images which she is creating with the help of her backers. The deck incorporates the deep wisdom of the ancient woodlands with the beauty and guidance of crystals.
Jess is also the creator of the Wisdoms of the Forest - intuitive oracle deck.
Kickstarter - The Crystals Forest
Where in the world do you call home?
That's a tough one. There are certain places where we can immediately sense a kind of magic beneath our feet. I felt it when I was very little, living in a mountain village in Cyprus, then felt it again when I lived in West Wales in the mid-late 90's.
If you mean my actual body, it currently lives in Surrey, UK ;)
What was your first experience with oracles and / or tarot and when did you fall in love with it?
Oddly, I can't remember when I first acquired my RWS Tarot deck, but I think it was in my early teens and I've kept the same deck ever since. I don't remember a time when I didn't feel a connection to them and the wonderful depth of imagery. I do wish Pamela Coleman-Smith could have had more recognition during her lifetime.
What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?
I've been pretty much exclusively painting forests for a few years now. In 2017, I realised my life was out-of-balance. I felt physically unhealthy, weak and completely out-of-touch with my own flow-state. It was time to make some major changes.
I started gently, by taking ten minutes a day to sit and meditate, to clear my mind as much as possible and keep to that new habit every single day. I followed it with waking earlier, changing my diet and taking up yoga for 15 minutes per day and walks in nature. If things were going to get better, I had to push myself to make changes.
During this time, I began keeping journals and going through my old notebooks and sketchbooks for ideas. There were so many synchronicities and it seemed all of them could then also be related to the forests and trees I was already painting.
I began making images which I felt related to thoughts and methods of healing ourselves. These images turned into my first oracle deck 'Wisdom of the Forest'.
Earlier this year, I began painting more colourful versions of the forests and felt drawn to the crystals I already had as inspiration. I imagine what the atmosphere would be like in the forests if they were imbued with the properties attributed to each crystal.
Aside from your own deck, do you have a favourite deck? If so, which one?
Of course, my old RWS Tarot deck, then a relatively recent purchase - the Crystal Power Tarot by Jane Wallace and illustrated by the lovely Roberta Orpwood. Also, I feel I'm almost ready to take on the Thoth Tarot again (I had to put it away for a few years as it's pretty intense!).
Do you have a favourite card (either from your deck or just the card in general). If so, why is it your favourite?
I find this changes with different stages of life, but recently I've been more drawn to the High Priestess. As you can imagine, she has taught me a lot recently. I've always had an affection for the childlike sweetness of the Fool too.
As for the Crystal Forests, I'm loving the card I'm currently painting - 'The Malachite Forest'. In this forest, there's no hiding from your own negative traits - it's a place to face your demons down. As you can imagine, it's taking quite a lot of energy to paint, though!
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
Only in a physical sense has it been difficult - during lockdown, I was homeschooling my youngest daughter, so all my usual 'work' time was taken by that and it was incredibly draining, although I'm also thankful I got to spend more time with her.
I found that my creative ideas still flowed, but I didn't have the time to put most of them down on paper. Only really since my children went back to school in September have I been able to get back into a good workflow.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
So far, only time has been a constraint.
I love that you have chosen to allow the backers to vote on parts of the look and design of the cards. Was it hard to hand over some of the design process to other people?
Yes! But it's also so exciting! I love the idea of choosing a few possibilities for each stage of the design process, then keeping that process as clean and simple as possible. I trust backers to make the right decisions. There is also the very real possibility of outcomes putting people off, but that would be just as possible if I had done the whole thing myself haha! I just love the idea of it being a community effort - just like a forest ;)
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
When I've finished all the paintings, the deck will be published during July 2021 at the latest. I'd like to take a few day's break between sending the images to the printers and receiving the decks themselves - time to just breathe before working on the final packaging, fulfilment and getting those decks out into peoples' hands :) Only then would I take a proper break and hopefully travel further afield to refresh and gain new inspiration for the next project.
What is on offer for people who pledge?
There's something for everyone - from £5 digital wallpapers, to the large, original painting tier at £500.
The base Crystal Forests deck itself is available, along with some beautiful, complimentary creations from my collaborators Quire & Quartz (hand-crafting some stunning, crystal-inlaid card-holders), Sur La Lune (Amy has created a whole new crystal tree design especially for us and will be attaching each gorgeous little tree to a hag stone she has found on her local beach!) and Gem Stone Rox (Nick ethically sources some beautiful tumbled pieces from around the world). I will also be making up some beautiful quality prints so if anyone feels particularly drawn to any image (or multiple ones), they can either choose that tier or include them as add-ons in their pledge.
I was so happy when we reached our initial goal that I'm also sending out a double-sided, gold-foil bookmark to every backer who has a physical reward. We've reached our first stretch goal of a sticker sheet. The next stretch goal (£10,000) will be the Kickstarter-exclusive enamel pin. Then after that, we'll be going for gilt-edges to the decks - I really hope that happens because it will look truly AMAZING!
To be one of the first to get your hands on this deck and to also have a say in the final creation, pledge here:
Kickstarter - The Crystals Forest