Wiley Cards – Origins Of The Wild Harmonic Oracle, Part One

“Curiouser and curiouser.” -Alice (in Wonderland)

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

—Alice (in Wonderland)

Creating the Wild Harmonic Oracle Deck was far from a straightforward experience. The process began some 20 years ago when I created a magical language for use in sacred rituals and dream walking. The language, which I call Dreaming Tongue, is based on a cross-relationship between the five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Spirit, and where, inside the mouth, different sounds arise, how they resound and the elemental attributions that go with each. Suffice it to say, it was a deep dive into strange chanting practices that took years of perceptual de-arrangement to discern what sounds fit where.

From these 25 sounds, I constructed a magical alphabet, and from that, a magical language, a language I continue to use today as a key element of my own sacred path. Early on, in addition to the sounds, it occurred to me that the 25 sounds could be translated into 25 symbolic concepts as cards in a deck which I could then use for divination. What followed from that idea was 10 years of madly mapping, remapping, and remapping, again and again, various ideas to the cards.

The first stumbling block was the art. I have a background in traditional art, yet had spent many years as a digital graphic designer, which had made my approach a fusion of both. I played with different styles, looks and feels for a long time. More than once, I hit on an idea, proceeded to make a few cards along those lines, and then got the very lucid feeling that this was not the direction I wanted to go. So I would set the deck aside again until I had a new inspiration. At one point in such a cycle, I had even gotten as far as creating 16 cards to completion before realizing this was not the direction to go.

Years later, I hit on an idea for the deck style, as I had numerous times before, and sat down to work it out. I finished the art of three cards and knew, in some strange overwhelming way, this was the direction to go. I was excited, thinking I was pretty close to done with only 21 further cards to make! Little did I know that was going to change quickly.

Once I had the first ten cards made, I saw into another layer of the deck’s architecture of correspondences. I realized I needed to expand the deck’s numbers to include seven elements: each being in relation to each other, expanding the deck from 25 (5×5) to 49 (7×7) cards. The symmetry of this expanded scope of meaning was too profound for me to ignore, and the prospect of more card art and meanings to make was exciting, so I set off on the path as it appeared before me.

After working with the seven elemental schematics for a time and making the cards to fit it, I began to play with an 8th element called Vortex. This element represented something beyond-beyond in each case and suddenly, I found myself juggling a deck of 64 (8×8) cards. This 8th element, however, didn’t last longer than one test printing, which I was ordering from time to time so I could physically play with the cards in hand. Upon seeing the Vortex element in actual use, I knew it had to go.

What I found was that in almost all cases, the Vortex cards were highly abstract and I was concerned that their inclusion would unground the deck’s communications in a reading. So I removed the Vortex element. Some of the card ideas from the Vortex element were strong and found their way into informing some other cards that did make it into the deck, but for the most part, the Vortex cards are like a lost suit that only I and a few others have ever seen.

Yet this idea of an 8th suit stuck with me, partly because of the symmetry of the 8×8 lattice, which the deck would have if I had eight suites. Of any number, eight is likely the most personally meaningful to me in my life, so I was fixated on the idea though at first, I had no idea how it would happen, for I had seen the Vortex suit was too ephemeral to use here.

Then one day I started playing with the idea that maybe not all the cards would be positive in their basic idea. In my basic concept for the deck, each card could take on a shadow form of itself, and so I wondered, what if I had an 8th element to represent some of these shadows as cards themselves. Would it make the deck too dark for my liking? Would it confuse people by having to understand this deck-within-a-deck? Would I be able to discern what these shadow cards would be?

After a few rounds of shadow play, I became hooked, and the 8th pseudo-element of Shadow was born. It not only satisfied my craving for the number eight to play a significant part in the geometry of the deck, but it also gave the deck numerous ways (I keep discovering more!) that it can play with itself. It also brought the deck much more down to earth, quite the opposite of what the Vortex suit had done. The inclusion of the Shadow cards brought in a vital aspect of Soul-Work into the deck, and the exclusion of the Vortex cards trimmed away the temptations of spiritual bypass that reside in any over-emphasis on the Spirit.

From there, the cards had their way with me. Discerning the meaning of each card, in some cases, even where each card fit into the elemental lattice, was a non-ordinary journey. Cards often came to me in dreams with art instructions, research directions (to reveal their meaning), or told me they didn’t belong where I had put them. Some would communicate I had their location wrong, so I would move them to where they indicated. Then they would tell me that no, I had it right the first time. So I would move them back. Such wily cards!

There were many strange crossroads, experiments, and hidden paths I was guided to take along the way. At one point even, I had a run-in with Enochian magic that would provide, albeit I would say reluctantly, some key understandings about the nature of this deck I was creating. The Faerie realms were far from silent on this project too, which brought a welcome mix of chaos, creativity and nature. The star tribes as well kept showing up to audit my work at odd hours. It was a process that asked me to change reality paradigms at a moment’s notice or miss the blessings of inspiration and understanding that the non-ordinary was offering up.

My aim is that this deck reflects such fluidity in perspective yet simultaneously maintains coherency of empowered interconnectivity throughout, which is what I discern is the very stuff a waking dreamer is made of.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

—Attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci.