Database Circles and Mandalas

I bought The Circle Deck in 2007 when the artist published a first edition of 500 copies. It came with a spiral bound book. The deck came in a velvet bag with a drawstring and a plastic tag in the shape of one of the cards tied to the string, which is cute.

I bought it because he talked about the shape of the cards and how you could lay them out in a mandala, which got my attention because I like to draw mandalas occasionally. I liked the primitive artwork in watercolour and the colours and balance of colours.


The fellow who created it was an art teacher and one of my friends commented that he taught art because he couldn’t do art. I felt that was harsh as I like to see the “hand of the artist” amongst all the digital collages and photo-realism.

Some of these cards work though and some are a bit too blobby. As an example, here are six to show the three on the left (which predominate in style throughout the deck) as those that lack definition and subtlety of colour, and the three on the right as some of my favourites, showing some nice detail and techniques in watercolour.


I wanted to do a review of the deck and got quite enthusiastic about it. As usual when I review a deck I like to spend several months using it and creating art or craft things in response. I had taken one of the cards, the Choice card (on the far right, my favourite card) which reminded me of the halls of history, and took a snippet of the stripey looking part and made some beads. I had planned to make some wild impasto beads, hand painted, and maybe a polymer clay pendant using the intense yellow and blue colours.

I told the artist my plan, and he sent me a long and stern e-mail outlining several numbered points including that I wasn’t to sell anything I made from his art. I understand copyright issues and use low resolution images and copyright watermarks on most of the images I use here. I was shocked as I hadn’t intended to sell or use the beads except as a way of showing people how they could connect to their cards in a deeper way, perhaps using them as a jumping-off point in colouring their own art. Plus I was keen on a necklace, albeit in an abstract way through colour rather than an identifiable full image. He threatened me with legal action among other things. I replied with an equally scathing e-mail and that was that.

Here is a shot that I use in my database of two other favourite cards and the back. I love that violin and the shading on the blocks is wonderful.


However, as I worked with the deck I came to realize that the book was very repetitive and full of meaningless gobbledygook: all the love and light, New Age verbiage that repeats and repeats and gets tiresome if you want some depth. I eventually shredded the book as I found the keywords on the cards to be an adequate prompt without wading through the vacuous book.

The cards do look interesting laid out in a circle or segment of a circle, which you can see. Perhaps as a gentle, cheery sort of oracle they work. That’s not a bad thing, just not something I wanted in an expensive deck.

6 thoughts on “Database Circles and Mandalas

  1. I’m amazed by the ways in which the cards inspired you – thinking of making your own beads and a necklace! As for the artist, perhaps he’d had so many comments about teachers not being do-ers that he felt excessively protective? After all, I can’t see how you selling beads you had created and coloured yourself would be anything to do with him! As you say, it’s not like you’d be copying his art, it was an inspirational jumping-off point…

    • I made beads and a necklace with the Diary of a Broken Soul when I did a review too. I make stuff for all my reviews. The old Mirrors from the Heart review I did a number of projects for, and the Graven Images Oracle I did a bead-embroidered necklace, some embroidered bags and a small sketch. I made some paper trapezohedron shapes for the Dark Grimoire review. That’s what I do, I make things for reviews, that’s part of the deal for me.

      He objected to me using the yellow and blue stripes from the one card on paper beads. Even though I was never going to sell them, it was a necklace for me and I had not used the whole image or even a recognizable part, just stripes from the doorways. Then I was making my own impasto painted beads to go with those and a pendant or cabochon out of polymer clay.

      I don’t know where he got the idea I was going to sell anything with his images on it. Perhaps because at the time I had a website where I sold jewellery? You have to be careful of people ripping you off on the Internet but this letter he sent me was way, way over the top, assuming all kinds of nefarious deeds that had never occurred to me, couched in legal-speak.

      It was the erroneous assumptions about my purpose that put me off. Ironic that he gives seminars (or used to) on evolving etc. It seemed to be more about teaching his personal philosophy, and making money by doing so. No deeper meaning, no depth of philosophy.

  2. I got this deck in a trade, so I didn’t shell out a lot of money. A good thing since, like you, some cards I really love (Consequences, Friction) and some I don’t care for. I was surprised at how tiny they were! A shame that the artist didn’t take time to ask questions about your project before he threatened you with legal action. I understand his worry. I had someone tell me when I started the lojong blog that eventually someone in Ukraine would be selling my deck. That might be true, but I can’t be happy and paranoid at the same time.

    • I understood his worry but he didn’t seem to get what I was saying at all. He never bothered to listen, just assumed and reacted. He was never going to try to understand what I actually said or what I had actually planned to do.

      Bev, I wonder if you have the miniature version of the deck? I seem to remember he printed a small version. The cards I have from the original edition are 140 mm height and 100 mm width at the widest point of the arc, so about 5.5 in length x 4 inches

      • What a shame he couldn’t see that you were celebrating his art, not stealing it. It’s always a bit disappointing to find the artist is not as likable as his/her art.
        I definitely have the small size – 2.50 x 3.00 inches.

        • Yikes, those are really tiny, I had no idea. By the time you factor in the border and the wedge shape, the area for the graphic is minuscule.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s