The Jade Oracle deck has been painstakingly researched, checked, and cross-checked. It has been our goal as the creators of the deck to make a spiritual tool with with great energetic power that is also historically accurate. We wanted to honor the ancient history of the Mesoamerican people by staying true to the knowledge that is available about this beautiful culture. The writers of the deck, Anne Key & Veronica Iglesias, spent many hours on each deity gathering detailed information, sifting out discrepancies and honing in on the most significant aspects of each character.
My job as the artist was to work with the research and sample images provided to me to create an image for each card. Most of these were fairly simple to create since I only had to draw replicas of famous ancient statues, murals, and codices. For example, you can see in the image below that the artwork for Mictlancihuatl & Mictlantecuhtli looks very similar to the reference image beside it. I tried to keep a consistent and attractive style throughout the deck, while adhering to the original historical artwork closely.
My assignment got tricky when I got to the goddess Malinalxochitl. Malinalxochitl is a wise woman, a leader who confronts the patriarchy. She represents the magic and strength in the spirit of the Goddess. She is the heart of the people, leading ceremony and connecting with the energy of the land. The difficulty with illustrating her card is that there were no preserved images of her on record. There is plenty of writing about her, and even descriptions of her – but no pictures or statues from which I could draw reference. So I was faced with the challenging task of creating an image out of the void – an image that would look authentic and evoke the energy of Malinalxochitl.
My process of summoning this goddess began to unfold. I began as I always do by pouring through the research provided to me by Anne & Veronica. After my left brain was sufficiently prepared, I connected to the right hemisphere – the instinctual, feeling side. I lit a candle and burned some copal and palo santo incense. I took several centering breaths and tuned into my body, my art supplies, my place in time. And then I asked for the spirit of Malinalxochitl to come and assist me. I asked her to be with me and guide me in illustrating the perfect image to reflect her essence. And then, I surrendered into trust. I accepted whatever flowed through me as I began to sketch the deity.
Before too long, she came into form. I traced the lines in ink, solidifying Malinalxochitl’s new image. Then I colored her in with colored pencil, following flashes of guidance, colors in my mind’s eye… always trusting the goddess was showing me the way, showing me how she wanted to be seen. Upon completion, I gave a humble thanks to Malinalxochitl for the great gift of drawing her. I blessed the work again with sacred incense, and placed a rose quartz crystal on her heart to charge the drawing overnight.
As the creators, we care deeply about The Jade Oracle being a genuine reflection of the ancient Mesoamerican culture. While the image for Malinalxochitl (and a few other cards) had to be uniquely created for the deck, we sincerely hope that the artwork has captured the spirit of the deity and will be embraced as a powerful tool for connecting with the energy of this ancient wise woman.
For a Free Download of the coloring book page for Malinalxochitl of The Jade Oracle, click here.
Ramona Snow Teo was born and raised in New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” where the diverse culture and thriving arts community has inspired her to explore her creative calling. She earned her Bachelor of Art’s Degree at the University of New Mexico in the Cinematic Arts Department with a focus on Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art & History. Her passions include painting, drawing, clothing design, jewelry making, graphic design, experimental filmmaking and belly dance. Always the creative entrepreneur, Ramona started Guerrilla Graphix (original art t-shirts, custom design and printing services) with her father in 2008 and Divine Nature Arts (her personal brand of clothing, jewelry & sacred art) in 2015. A constant theme in Ramona’s artwork is sacred geometry and the mandala. In 2015 she became a certified Mandala Facilitator and guides workshops on healing with mandalas. In 2017 she completed the illustrations for The Jade Oracle Deck: Deities & Symbols of Ancient Mexico. Ramona is currently a stay at home mother of two (Zena, 11/5/15 and Rafael 2/1/17) and vends her art at festivals and the local farmers markets on the weekends.
“These images would make an amazing oracle deck.” We heard this phrase over and over after our presentations on the Goddesses from ancient Mexico. But moments after the first time it was uttered, we, Veronica Iglesias and Anne Key, knew that this would be a beautiful way to connect people to the deities and customs of a culture that we have given our lives to studying and practicing, a culture that is often misunderstand and little known outside of academic circles and initiates.
The sacred images of ancient Mexican deities are very different than the sacred images of European culture, which we in American – and even Mexico – are far more accustomed to seeing. Instead of a smiling saint in flowing robes, these images have unfamiliar symbols – green feathers, skulls, snakes, nose ornaments – and unfamiliar names: Xochiquetzal, Huitzilopochtli, Tecuciztecatl for example. But these sacred images and names open the door to a profoundly magnificent culture that reveres the connection of the earth and Her inhabitants, that celebrates the small and grand cycles – that infuses ritual and attention to the sacred in daily life.
Both holding advanced degrees in Mesoamerican studies and practicing priestesses, we could translate the beliefs and culture to a new audience, writing a divinatory meaning for each card. But to create an oracle deck, this project needed a visionary artist to design images that were true to their heritage yet inviting to the modern eye, and at some moment we both realized the one artist that we wanted to work with: Ramona Teo. Renowned for her graphic design, murals, and fine art, she was a perfect match for this ambitious project.
Then the two became three, and the Jade Oracle birthed from an idea to reality. This is a story about the interwoven paths from the Northwestern US and Mexico City that converged in Albuquerque, bringing us together to make magic.
Like tarot cards, the Jade Oracle is a spiritual tool used for divination and introspection. The difference is they are not structured by traditional tarot suits. Each card brings a new form to a universal archetype, giving us a window to our soul, a new lens in which to see ourselves. We named this the Jade Oracle because exquisite green jade was one of the most sacred stones in ancient Mexico, as the color represented the teeming bounty of life. There will be 52 beautifully illustrated cards accompanied by a booklet that guides you through understanding the mythology and interpretations of the cards.
We feel that when we understand another culture, we understand ourselves in a deeper way and are one step closer to connecting with our global family and celebrating this magical land that we share. And for those of us with Mexican heritage, this is a path to understanding, and living, our lineage.
Ramona Teo was born and raised in New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” where the diverse culture and thriving arts community has inspired her to explore her creative calling. She earned her Bachelor of Art’s Degree at the University of New Mexico in the Cinematic Arts Department with a focus on Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art & History.
Her passions include painting, drawing, clothing design, jewelry making, graphic design, experimental filmmaking and belly dance. Always the creative entrepreneur, Ramona started Guerrilla Graphix (original art t-shirts, custom design and printing services) in 2008 and Divine Nature Arts (her personal brand of clothing, jewelry & sacred art) in 2015. A constant theme in Ramona’s artwork is sacred geometry and the mandala. In 2015 she became a certified Mandala Facilitator and guides workshops on healing with mandalas. Ramona is currently a stay at home mother of two (Zena, 11/5/15 and Rafael 2/1/17) and is in the process of illustrating The Jade Oracle Deck.
Maria Veronica Iglesias was born in Mexico City, Mexico. She has a Bachelor´s degree in Library Sciences and a Master´s Degree in Mesoamerican Studies from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico). Initiated as a sahumadora (bearer of the Sacred Sahumerio) when she was 8 years old, she studied about medicinal plants, crystal therapy and healing with gems. She was initiated in the sacred knowledge of Mesoamerican shamanism and became a Portadora de la Palabra, bearer of the Sacred Word. A Priestess of Ix´Cheel, the Mayan Goddess of Medicine, Veronica researches gem stones and their therapeutic use, Pre-Hispanic medicine, rites of passage and Goddesses from Mesoamerica and is co-founder and guide for Sacred Tours of Mexico.
Priestess, instructor, writer and dancer – Anne Key, Ph.D. has traveled, researched, and written about Mesoamerican culture since 1990; her dissertation investigated the pre-Hispanic divine women known as the Cihuateteo, and she is co-founder and guide for Sacred Tours of Mexico. She was Priestess of the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, located in Nevada and has edited anthologies on women’s spirituality, priestesses, and Sekhmet as well as written two memoirs, Desert Priestess: a memoir and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love. An adjunct faculty in Women’s Studies, English and Religious Studies, she is co-founder of the independent press Goddess Ink. Anne resides in Albuquerque with her husband, his two cats and her snake, Asherah.