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Saturday, February 11, 2012

An Interview with Mickie Mueller

I first *met* Mickie Mueller about a year ago through Etsy and Facebook. Mickie is a fantasy artist, illustrator, writer, and lecturer whose art can be seen in divination decks (Voice of the Trees, The Well Worn Path, The Hidden Path); in various new age and occult publications such as Llewellyn's Magical Almanac, Witchcraft & Wicca Magazine, The Witches' Voice, and Magickal Light Magazine. In her Etsy store, Mickie offers handmade gifts and jewelry in addition to limited edition and open edition prints. She even has a special Voice of the Trees shop, where you can purchase Voice of the Trees mugs, jewelry, bags, and more.

You can learn a lot more about Mickie on her web site at  http://www.mickiemuellerart.com/ . The site even includes a fascinating series of pictures showing how Mickie creates her gorgeous works of art: http://www.mickiemuellerart.com/Art-Step-By-Step.html.

Welcome to Tarot Notes, Mickie!

Tarot Notes (TN): You grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with prominent artists as parents. How did your surroundings and family life influence you?

Mickie Mueller (MM): Albuquerque is such an inspiring place to live, they call it “The Land of Enchantment!”  My parents knew all the big artists in town, and those artists all treated me like just another person, not how many adults treat kids talking down to them, artists are very open minded folks.  So lots of these people loved to show me techniques or chat about inspiration, and I grew up going to gallery shows and even sat in on some of the watercolor classes my dad taught.  There was always something creative going on in my life when I was a kid.  Every kid in town went to the State Fair, but my parents usually had a booth selling my dad’s paintings or my mom’s puppets or other crafts. Creativity and thinking outside the box was always encouraged.

a sconce I recently purchased from Mickie
TN:  When did you first become interested in the fairies, nature spirits, and goddesses living in the trees and forests? Have you had any experiences with those folk that you would like to share?

MM: When I was a kid, I used to think that the textured window in our bathroom was a magical portal to a castle on a hill.  Looking back, it was probably the neighbor’s house through the tree tops, but I believed.  My sister Robin, and my childhood friend Lisa and I all believed in magic, we just knew it was real, and I guess I never lost that.  I used to drive my teachers nuts daydreaming out the window! 

Being from the Southwest, I was always fascinated by the Native American concept that everything has a spirit or life force, then when I discovered my Celtic roots later on in life I found those same concepts in their spirituality and never turned back.  I remember believing in spirits of nature/fairies, and feeling their presence in the mountains near my home in Albuquerque and in the gardens my mom tended.  The house I lived in later in life here in Missouri had lots of fairy activity.  There was an old community well on the property near a circle of trees.  I remember one evening in particular in that house while my husband Dan and I were drifting off the sleep, we actually heard tiny bells making their way across our bedroom floor, and our cat didn’t wear bells. 

TN: You and your husband, Dan, ran a new age/metaphysical shop for a time. What did you like most and least about that?

MM: We ran that shop for a couple of years, it’s an experience we’ll never forget.  Dan and I both agree, the best thing about running a shop like that is all the people we got to meet and help along the way, people tell you their personal stories and ask for advice.  It’s very fulfilling to get to contribute in some small way to a person’s spiritual journey.  The vibe in the shop was great, it was a very uplifting place to be.  The hardest part about it was the long hours and dedication, you really don’t get a day off, even when the shop is closed your whole life revolves around the shop.  We’re doing that now also but in a much different way.   We run our online stores and I’m working full time as an artist and writer, but doing it from home.  It’s a lot of work, and also positively magical!

TN: I love that you add magical herbs to your paint. Can you tell us a little more about that?

MM: I came up with the concept long ago that I wanted to add magic to my art so that each piece is more that what you just see, but also what you feel.  When you work with watercolor paints, you use water mixed in with the paint so I decided that instead of just water, it could be an herbal infusion of herbs that would lend the right vibrations to the art that I was looking for.  If I’m working on a specific fairy or Goddess, etc. I ask myself what herbs are associated with this entity or concept and that’s what I use.  When I created Voice of the Trees, each piece had a bit of that tree infused into the watercolor.  I gather up my magical materials into a teaball, pour in piping hot water and let it steep.  Once it cools, I strain it though a coffee filter and that’s my watercolor water.  I use it to mix with the paint and create magic on my illustration board.  Sometimes I think this process wakes up my muse, gets me going and opens the flow of creative energy between subject and artist in a way that is very magical.  I do all of this with the specific intention that the vibrations created in the piece of art will carry over into all of the prints, cards, or anything made with that art.  Whether you have a print, coffee mug, or deck, the magic that created the art is accessible to you the same as it would be in the original. 

TN: You wrote a wonderful companion book for Voice of the Trees. What other writing projects have you been working on?

MM: I’ve been writing for the Llewellyn periodicals every year since 2006, mostly for the Magical Almanac and Spell-A-Day Almanac. I also get to illustrate for the Magical Almanac, so it’s really great to be able to contribute to those great publications every year.  I’m also writing materials for the class I’m offering at Pathways in St. Louis on the Celtic Tree Calendar and for those who can’t make it to St. Louis every month; I’m offering the class in an online version at my Voice of the Trees website.  It’s a really cool class, we do a different Celtic tree every month and I include lots of material, full color pages, printable candle labels and extras, spells and rituals for working with the Celtic trees.  Because this is a cyclical calendar that turns along with the Wheel of the Year, there is no beginning and no end to the class. I've broken this class down so that no matter what month you begin with, you will build tree wisdom and magical tree techniques while you cycle through the Celtic Tree Months.  The years worth of lessons will include over 200 pages of tree wisdom, and over 60 spells and rituals, it makes a really nice book when you’re all done. 

TN: I understand that you and Dan have adopted a grove of trees in the Caledonian Forest in Scotland. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

While doing research for Voice of the Trees I discovered Trees for Life in the U.K. They have lots of great information about the Celtic Trees, and one of the reasons for that is that they’re actually planting and growing them. There are areas all over the world where forests are in trouble, the Caledonian Forest in Scotland is one of them. Trees for Life is an organization working to replant and renew these areas by planting groves.  They allow people to adopt their own grove there to celebrate a birth, a wedding or in remembrance of a loved one, this helps fund the good work they’re doing over there.  Realizing that it takes trees to create a deck and book, it occurred to us that it would be a great idea to offset our footprint on the earth from the creation of this deck by planting a grove dedicated to Voice of the Trees, and replant trees in the areas where some of this great tree lore was born.  We decided to open it up so that anyone who feels moved to can be a part of this very special and magical grove by donating a tree, and forever be a part of the magic there in the Scottish Highlands.  You can find the link on the Voice of the Trees website.

TN: What's next for Mickie Mueller?

MM: What isn’t next?!  Haha! Creating art and writing full time is keeping me very busy.  Sometimes I have more ideas than I have hours in the day; I have to schedule my time to stay on task.  My next big project is very exciting, I’m working on artwork for a new deck, a tarot deck this time called Mystical Cats Tarot with fellow cat lover and traveler to the magical place where cats go, Lunaea Weatherstone who is doing the concept and book for this one.   We haven’t shown any of the art yet, as this project is in its early stages, but I can’t wait until we begin to show some of the pieces publically.  I’m very excited about this project, it will be like no other cat deck you have seen, slated for release by Llewellyn in 2014.  I also have a couple of book ideas brewing so we’ll see what comes of that.

TN: Anything else you would like to share with us? Words of advice? Words of caution? A favorite recipe?

MM: It’s so much easier in life to do what you’re supposed to according to society.  Sometimes other people might not like it if you don’t do things the way they want you to, they might try to impose their ideas of what your life should be upon you, herd you into their way of thinking and living, sometimes it’s the people you least expect. It’s so much easier not to rock the boat.  But sometimes the easy path is not the right path, sometimes you have to dream and dream big.  The big truth I’ve found is that what you focus on in life is what you get.  Never ever give up!  If you spend all your time thinking about how unhappy you are with your current situation, you just get more of the same.  Focus on what you want your life to be, and that’s where life will steer you.   The most powerful magic in the world comes from right inside you!  Be true to yourself no matter what and you can make your dreams come true.

To read my review of Voice of the Trees, click HERE.

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~ Zanna