This is a short story about creative living, self-realization and playing card games. I weave in information about Carl Jung, dream analysis, and tarot. I cover 33 years of my life and end with Original Odyssey-Beautiful Artist Puzzle.
Compelled by an inner drive to seek out beautiful images, I struggled to balance health and a creative lifestyle. My path to find a balance illustrates material and psychological development.
Life is a journey of individuation. According to Jung (1972), “Individuation means becoming an ‘in-dividual,’ and, in so far as ‘individuality’ embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as ‘coming into selfhood’ or ‘self-realization.’” (p.173)
Figure 1. mitra_art (2015) Collection of Mitra’s Art
Destiny had a hand in the choice of my name because it foreshadowed a future that would be about bridging worlds. I was named after the twin Gods of Indic culture, Mitra-Veruna. Haldar describes the Mitra-Veruna deities as, “Separate yet complementary, anti-thetical yet symbiotic. Mitra-Varuna are solar deities or, perhaps more correctly, solar-lunar deities….the day is of Mitra…the night is of Varuna’” (p. 7). The Vedic Mitra is the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings. Mitra has found a way into other cultures too, as seen below in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Relief of Roman Mithras, in atauroctony scene.
Mitra calls attention to the deeper pattern in a creative life purpose–balancing and uniting opposing forces. Le Grice (2013) explains the challenge and purpose of creative individuals living today: “The aim of the hero’s journey is to bring together masculine and feminine. This process is also described in alchemy, as Jung has shown, as the union of Sol (sun) and Luna (moon)” (Kindle Locations 1794-1798).
My first encounter with a divine purpose happened in 2001. Inspired by the meaning of dream images, I discovered tarot cards and a gift for reading fortunes. Within a year, I was reading cards at parties, for friends, and at paid public events. By sharing the experience of discovering meaning from cards, I connected emotionally and creatively with others. At any time or in any place, the cards were ready to reveal secrets and offer meaningful insights. As Jung (1972) said, “spontaneity is the very essence of creative thought” (p.185). Maybe people know the joy of playing cards with others, as seen in figure 3.
Figure 3. A French tarot game in session
Ten years passed, and the special, or numinous sense I felt while reading cards starts to fade. I was familiar with the magic, the stories, the questions, and the characters featured cards. I had managed to acquire a nice collection of other types of cards such as unicorns and angels. I wanted to move into another level of playing with cards.
The physicality and process of playing cards still intrigued me as a way to bridge between skill and fate. Cards can be a link between the physical and the spiritual. Cards start conversations and games involve rules but the also remain open for negotiation. I thought maybe there was a way to make my own deck using what I liked best about cards.
Responding to the call for adventure, I started to imagine my own card game based on life tasks, creative practice and collaboration. I considered the daily routines in my creative lifestyle. I collected digital artwork that reflected my personal history. I started to construct the story of my past life as a mythic collection of images and words, as seen in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Collecting and sorting images and words from my life.
According to Le Grice (2013),
Myths are stories that provide perspective and meaning to help individuals and cultures orient themselves to the requirements of living. They serve as a record of humanity’s spiritual heritage, and they have inspired all the great religions and cultural world views (Kindle Locations 170-174).
The Birth of Original Odyssey
The result of my card making efforts, so far, has become Original Odyssey–Beautiful Artist Puzzle. The cards are somewhat like fantasy “choose your own adventure” stories that encourage spontaneity. The cards are intended to be used at transitional moments in life. Individuals and groups who wish to switch their mode of thinking, for example, from work to play at the end of the day will appreciate this game.
The 33 square cards feature a series of digital drawings created over a three-year period. The style is childlike and playful. Le Grice (2013) explains that “in its positive aspect, the child suggests continual creativity, spiritual freedom, and playfulness” (Kindle Locations 3458-3460). The cards can be separated into three groups – inside, art, and outside – as seen in figure 5. The three groups loosely reflect the three stages of the hero’s journey of individuation that Le Grice (2013) calls “separation, initiation, and return or incorporation” (Kindle Location 1768). The cards come in a bag and can be arranged as a map or visual instructions. Professional artists and creative-thinking novices alike can play together. There are three basic ways to sort the cards.
Figure 5. The cards are labeled and divided into three groups.
Figure 6. The games can be played with one or more people.
Suggested rules for the single-player game are similar to classic oracle divination. Shuffle the cards and select one or more cards from the deck. The challenge of selecting a card is to start a new creative project and record the event on the map. Over time, the history of recorded creative work that comes out of these sessions can become the source of a personal myth. Le Grice (2013) and others advocate the importance of personal myth because it provides “a living meaning, relevant to the heart and to the spirit, as much as to the mind— to be conveyed through painting, dance, music, poetry, and literature, and not just through rational discourse and theories.” (Kindle Locations 244-249).
Figure 7. mitramap (2015) Selected images from Mitra’s Personal Myth Map.
Suggested two-player rules are similar to the classic matching memory game. The play starts by placing the cards face down in a grid pattern or as desired. Gamers take turns selecting cards and sharing memories they associate with the cards. Since none of the cards actually matches, the challenge is to find a creative connection. This game amplifies symbols and initiates creative dialogue.
Suggested multi-player game starts by shuffling and passing out the cards. The task is to describe the card selected and its meaning. After a card has been described, the other players respond in a free, open form. A spontaneous collective meaning naturally forms during multi-payer sessions and inspires self-reflection on the persona. Jung (1972) defines the persona:
It is, as its name implies, only a mask of the collective psyche, a mask that feigns individuality, making others and oneself believe that one is individual, whereas one is simply acting a role through which the collective psyche speaks. (p. 157)
In conclusion, Original Odyssey is for freethinking individuals living in a global culture that seek to make bridges between worlds and maintain a balanced life. The cards, if used in a ritual like process, aim to “divest the self of the false wrappings of the persona…and of the suggestive power of primordial images” (Jung, 1972, p. 174). Ideally this creative game will help individuals, like me, maintain the delicate balance required in the cycle of self-realization as we fulfill our unique purpose.
Haldar, P. (n.d.). Sovereignty and Divinity in the Vedic Tradition; Mitra Varuna, Prajapati and RTA. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/2571373/Sovereignty_and_Divinity_in_the_Vedic_Tradition_Mitra_Varuna_Prajapati_and_RTA
Jung, C. G. (1972). Two essays on analytical psychology. (G. Adler & R. F. C. Hull, Trans.) (0002 edition). New York: Princeton University Press.
Jung, C. G. (1977). The symbolic life: miscellaneous writings. (G. Adler & R. F. C. Hull, Trans.). Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
Le Grice, K. (2013). The rebirth of the hero: Mythology as a guide to spiritual transformation (first edition). Muswell Hill Press.
Rowland, S. (2012). C.G. Jung in the humanities. Spring Journal, Inc.
mitramap. (2015 May 20). Retrieved from http://mitracline.com/?attachment_id=6610
mitra_art (2015 May 20). Retrieved from http://mitracline.com/?attachment_id=6609