Not many know that during the development of the Wild Harmonic Oracle Deck, it had an eighth suit called Vortex. The deck was less formed then, and cards were changing places daily, even hourly at times. At this point, I had not conceived of the Shadow pseudo-element as a suit. The Vortex suit was the summit of the deck, taking the place of an eighth element and resonating with the eighth chakra.
In my experience, the eighth chakra is a bit vague to define. My experience is that it is a sort of divine drunkenness from which spouts an endless flow of oracular poetry, sacred geometrical translinguistic threads, and a profound sense of living, waking dream. I like to call it the Rumi Chakra. While each chakra is a vortice, this suit got the title of Vortex because it is a deep penetration into the Vortex field of incarnation from which we emerge. This chakra heavily influences the entire deck and book.
As the suit took form with the rest of the deck, I began to feel that this suit was a challenge to grounding the deck. The concepts it held had two problems. One, they represent very subtle understandings of the dream of reality, which were difficult to put into words and even more so to try and position them in a deck that was supposed to speak clearly on oracular subjects. I think some of my audience would have gotten them, but most people who would be into the deck would likely struggle with having any idea of what to make of them.
The second issue was that the deck itself was already a collection of very subtle ideas, and adding these Vortex notes seemed to make all the other ideas less coherent. Again, some would have gotten it, but likely far more would have less of a sense of the deck as a whole with the inclusion of the Vortex suit. So I dropped it, but I didn’t just throw it away. Many of the cards merged with others elsewhere in the deck. Some stepped their energies down an octave or more and found other suits. Of course, some simply moved to the background as guides for the deck. The Shadow suit emerged, and the deck took the form published quickly after that.
I had not looked at the Vortex cards in years, but I recently came across them and thought others might enjoy the gallery of wyrdness that they are. The art and names on these were all WIPs, so they don’t have the same finished feeling as the published deck. But you can get an idea of where they might have been going. Enjoy!
This card was sourced from a chakra initiation practice I have taught for years wherein one reclaims their energetic space, access to more energy, and an expanded sense of capacity for life, such as improving resilience and enthusiasm. This card is related to the Root chakra.
A card representing how empowering ideas have been coopted and demonized to either turn people away from them or trap their meanings in watered-down versions of what they indeed are. The perfect example of this is the symbol of the pentagram. The pentagram has come to mean devilry, especially in its downturned form. Even upright, it is commonly considered a dark symbol one ought to avoid. This is why those who attempt to reclaim the atavistic and chthonic, such as many forms of modern witchcraft, take this symbol on as a prominent mark of their path. Yet even this understanding of the symbol is missing the deeper truths, the powers it contains. Breaking the pentagram down into various logical sections reveals it is constructed of the golden ratio. This ties in with the golden spiral. When put together, the pentagram is a linear, staff-based image of the most potent curve of Creation itself. This card is related to the Throat chakra.
The deck was always an attempt at a fusion between the occult mysteries and the new age mysteries. I am the result of a ruthless inquiry into both, and the deck is my expression of where the common ground had been found. And it is a lot of ground. The original cards had a lot more witchy elements to them, and over time, I filtered these out and opted for more of the psychic/energetic ideas. The elemental lattice of the deck was proving witchy enough to relay the teachings, and I felt that too much overt witchcraft aesthetic was somehow pandering.
This card was largely based on the stories of Cerridwen’s Cauldron. In a brief and to the point version of it, though leaving much of value out, the cauldron is used to distill “Awen,” which is the divine inspiration or touch of the gods. When it reveals the Awen, the cauldron cracks, and the world around it is poisoned. In my mythic mind, this describes how once we distill our divine nectar, our Awen, and regain our clear-sightedness, the world is revealed as it truly is: riddled with poison and decay. And this is where the journey of the divinely anointed one begins. Of course, the card was meant to represent the alchemical process in general as well. This card is related to the Sacral chakra.
This card was the one that said either it goes in the deck or the whole Vortex suit is out. I still laugh when I recall the conversations I had with it. It represents all forms of “other” ways of knowing, including trance work to talk with entities and other layers of self, channeling, and psychedelics. It was a heavy card, not in a weight sense but in a gravity sense. It asked me to take what I was creating seriously even though I was required to stay light-hearted about it throughout. The card is a sort of council of teachers helping with the deck overall. And it was a very strange gathering. They certainly all did not see eye to eye with each other! This card is related to the Crown chakra.
This card is based on Wittgenstein’s idea of “true enough,” which I first heard from the very eighth chakra-inspired words of Terrence McKenna. It represents that we cannot base our choices on absolutes, for we do not find those in reality. We must learn to see what is true enough to act upon. From such ideas, this entire deck was born. This card is related to the Heart chakra.
This card holds the image of what many refer to as “Hekate’s Wheel” or Hekate’s Strophalos. It is a symbol found on an ancient Greek ruin’s pillar with no verifiable origin or association. I think it is common for those new to Hekate to cling to it, but as one progresses and learns it has no known connections to the goddess other than hype-driven fanboys, they leave it behind. This symbol came to me before I knew about Hekate directly. I found it while looking into old symbols we know little about. To me, it came to represent a symbol of going beyond, for it came from out of the mists of time. I later encountered Hekate, and the symbol seemed to have that in common with her symbols, in that Hekate is very much about going beyond. I have sat with this symbol for years, and it keeps telling me more about it. One of my favorite lines, of course during my early time working with Hekate, is that it is Hekate’s Labyrinth and that only witches get in and only dragons come out. I am not saying that is what it is. But isn’t it? This card is related to the Third Eye chakra.
This card attempts to speak to what was and is by far the most pivotal experience of my life. Not to the details I experienced myself but to the nature of such experiences. It is a difficult topic to relay without a campfire to sit around and stars above to guide the words. Let’s just say that it had a lot to do with how we describe reality changes what we experience of it. Then, when we take that to narrate a crisis point of radical departure and transformation, well, you get something like what this card is inspired by. This card is related to the Heart chakra.
I suppose this is a real Zen card, but perhaps more directly, inspired by the Toltec teachings of “not doing.” It represents, in a general way, getting out of our own way to allow the life force, the creative energies, to do their magic. The arrows are pointing down because this is a card about embodying something, making something come to be through not doing it. This card is related to the Root chakra.
The following two cards were the first of the Shadow cards that came into being when the Vortex suit was intact. This card represents how other people can play the role of our shadows and reflect them to us by wielding some form of power over us. It is a Toltec teaching wherein you use such situations to temper your resilience and hone your empowerment by waiting for just the right moment to take the reigns back and topple the tyrant. It is not a victory that can be found through obvious battles. It is an inner battle to master oneself in the face of adversity and then a critically-timed and intuitively found emergence of the warrior’s spirit that takes the practitioner through the veil and into the reclaiming of their power. This card is related to the Crown chakra.
This card came to mean too many different things to contain it in one card. It broke apart and became many of the published Shadow cards. But it is still a valuable reference point for me to gather them all up and realize what they all have in common. All internal conflict is a preoccupation with the mirror of the self. This is a mirror we must shatter to reclaim Inner Silence. This card is related to the Heart chakra.
This card represented the process of working with one’s alchemical vessels to promote the aims of one’s process. The image was inspired by a dance-yoga photo I once saw where a person was showing how they could make their body into a sort of Celtic knot. I didn’t quite reach satisfaction with the image I was making, but I still love the idea. Whether it is our body, mind, home, community, or work, these are all bodies that need preparation and refinement as we go so that they can contain not just what we have achieved but what we want to create. It is the alchemical teaching that the substance will take on the form of the vessel. This card is related to the Sacral chakra.
In a way, this card became the Shadow of Inflammatory Response. It is the remedy of that card in that as we encounter extreme irrationality, we must be willing to sink in and make compassionate concessions to work with the situation and eventually raise its inclinations. It is not just a “make peace” card but a profound alchemical approach for dealing with things that have gotten out of hand.
At one point, this deck had a lot of pentagrams in it. See “Reclaiming Meaning” above for some reasons behind the fixation. In the end, I could reduce it to just one, in Collective Insight. Of course, the hexagram played similar games with me, and I could only get it down to two of those. This card represented the secret knowing of the equilibration of the elements, which was what the deck was about as a whole, and so this card emerged one day only to dissolve into all the others the next. This card is related to the Throat chakra.
This card was what later stepped itself down into Holistic Synergy. Early on, it had a lot to do with pan-dimensional assistance. As it became Holistic Synergy, it took on the more local, earthly forms of collaboration. It also lent itself to the inspiration behind Infinite Expressions. This card had to do with the Crown chakra.
This card later became Creating Sacred and Spiral Time, but initially, it was an expansive reclaiming of all we are. This card didn’t seem to speak clearly enough about the different sides of the situation that it represented. So, it split off and took on two forms to better relate.
This card is pretty tricky to talk about, so it was a big part of the unseating of the Vortex suit. On the Psychic Path, even as the path becomes more and more discernable, that to which we relate becomes less and less describable. For example, in dreamwork, we may begin with recollecting and writing our dreams. As we gain traction, we can explore all sorts of approaches to teasing wisdom and meaning from them. As we progress, we find ourselves learning to simply sit with the psychic image of a dream as a whole, as though it were one big moving painting taking place all at once. I think I will just leave it at that for this post. This card holds the image of a sort of Dharma Wheel and how it interacts with gears from beyond the borders (of the card and reality). It also has an eight-pointed star, which points to endlessness.