Ash and Stardust, a monthly column by energy worker and artist/writer DHIYANAH HASSAN explores the intersections of tarot with healing and creativity. You can read the rest of the series here.
For October, I came up with a personalized tarot-inspired inktober challenge that I named after this column, #ashytober. I drew a card for each day and then illustrated my response to that card. The result is a series of digital art illustrations that gave life and ambience to the vibrant things that pulsate vividly beyond the surface of my days. Save for a couple of lags, I spent my October making art that I had no chance to plan for since each day’s prompt only happened when I pulled a card from the deck. I documented the work and shared some insight about the process for each piece on my Instagram (they’ll also be up on my website once that’s back out of its hiatus).
The ways in which I work has changed. Instead of squeezing effort to make things, I’m more focused on allowing things to happen. There’s so much that wants to come through me, so much that’s getting ready that wants me to be gentle with it.
Working on #ashytober after months of light sketchbook work allowed me the space to let the different parts of my work – my art, my training as a healer, my words, my aspirations – find their own ways to integrate and merge. I also found out that working intuitively was a great way to allow old strategies of art-making to adapt to where I’m at now.
Like how with each piece of #ashytober, I was building – finding – a fantastical world that housed its own cosmic cartography with strange landscapes, multiple suns and moons in the sky, and characters living diverse lifestyles.
Building up a cosmology for magical worlds – like building up the narrative behind the theory behind the symbology of a series – is something I’ve grown so accustomed to in my work as an artist. Except that I used to pressure myself to the point of paralysis that not much of this work gets to see the light of day. And so it was really delightful – like unwrapping candy to find a surprise toy packed inside with it – to see an entire universe of characters and narratives being spun out so spontaneously with each piece.