Interview: Joanna Powell Colbert (#2)

“Writing is flying in dreams. When you remember. When you can. When it works. It’s that easy.” ? Neil Gaiman

Almost two years ago, I had the immense pleasure of doing an interview with Joanna Powell Colbert. I asked her to use her gorgeous deck, the Gaian Tarot, to answer each. Now that Llewellyn has released the mass-market edition, I wanted to revisit Joanna to ask her a few other questions. She is on a month long blog whirlwind tour in celebration of this release.

In full disclosure, I am a bonafide Gaian Tarot nut. I have three mass market editions and two limited editions. It’s an amazing deck that I highly recommend. I’m mad for gorgeous Tarot and Joanna’s deck constantly delivers.

Arwen: Your deck celebrates a connection with the natural world. Where is your favorite urban spot for reconnecting with nature?

Joanna
I love urban parks by the water, like Jericho Beach in Vancouver BC, where I go to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival every summer. There’s something about a borderland where water meets land, that is always magical, even in an urban setting. Here in Bellingham, I love Boulevard Park. Even though it is manicured with grass, trees and shrubs, the setting is spectacular. I can look across the bay to my island home and the islands beyond. I love walking the boardwalk and path that connects the park to Fairhaven, as there are lots of native trees and plants along the way. The Taylor St dock is my favorite place for watching sunsets.

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Arwen: You highlight animals throughout your deck. What animal carries the most significant personal message for you?

Joanna
I guess it’s no surprise that this card should show up here. It’s a self-portrait, and I added the Great Blue Heron in the corner, as it is my sweet medicine animal. We always see Heron at the border of land and water, or air and water, or air and land. So she is a creature who easily moves back and forth between the worlds. The grace of her flight always takes my breath away. We named our house on the island “Heron House.” For me, Heron is an epiphany of the Goddess — whenever I see a heron (especially in unusual places), the message is: “I’m here. I love you. I have your back.”
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Arwen: You personally foster community connections for those who have your deck by offering an online community. What motivated you to build this online community?

Joanna
The creation of this deck was rooted in community — my local community of friends and soul-sisters and soul-brothers. I wanted to continue that by gathering together a group of people who love this deck and are inspired by it, as well as being inspired by the natural world. I wanted a safe place, free of internet “trolls” where people could share from their hearts. I think that this deck calls to certain people at certain times, and the Gaian Tarot Circle is a place where they can go to give, to be nurtured and to discover they are not alone.

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 Arwen: Many of your other projects are about soul-centered work. How do you personally define that for yourself?

Joanna
Soul-centered work is about awakening to your life purpose and to your spiritual evolution or unfolding. It’s about awakening, literally! It seems to me that many people are driven by the clamoring of the ego, or by survival needs, or are not driven at all because of a lack of imagination. The soulful person, on the other hand, is driven by the quest to find and fulfill their life purpose and to come into greater wholeness and unity with Spirit.

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Arwen: What has been your greatest joy about this launch of the mass-market edition of the Gaian Tarot?

Joanna
I love how everyone who plays with the deck begins to play their own sweet songs of peace, like the Elder of Air and his flute. Each person has a personal relationship with the deck. I continue to receive notes and emails and comments that tell me how meaningful and inspiring it is. It seems to take people to a deep, soulful place. What more could anyone want?

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Arwen: When you are not creating art, how do you spend your free time?

Joanna
I actually have not been creating art much lately, and I take the 3 of Fire as an inspiration to start up again! So even though it is not really reflected in this card, I love to relax by reading and by spending time in nature, sinking into the energy of Place. And spending time with good friends. Oh — and dancing! I discovered 5Rhythms dancing a few months ago, and it is a new love of mine!

 

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Arwen: Who is a personal inspiration for you in the Tarot world?

Joanna
Can you tell I put each card back into the deck before shuffling again? I would say that the tarot teachers out there who emphasize soul-centered work, and the awakening of the spirit, are my inspirations — people like Mary Greer, Rachel Pollack, James Wells and Beth Owl’s Daughter, among many others.

 

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Arwen: What is one piece of advice you would offer someone who wanted to create their own deck?

Joanna
Fan the flames of your creative spark! Search your heart and find a unique take on the tarot that hasn’t been done before. What is your unique take on the tarot, that no one else has? What can you bring to the conversation? Don’t do it because you want to be published, do it because there is a message in your heart waiting to be expressed.

 

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To win your own free three card Universe spread with me, Arwen, using this deck, tell me what card is mentioned in this interview and in the first one! Make sure you email me the answer unless you just want to help everyone out! The winner will be chosen from all the correct answers.

 

You can see all these cards at Joanna’s site. You can also buy the Llewellyn deck here.

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