For those who have spent significant time studying the art of Pre-Columbian Mexico, you may find it a bit surprising to see every color of the rainbow expressed in The Jade Oracle divination deck. My reasoning for breaking the rules and stepping away from the traditional palette at this juncture, is because of my own deep connection with color as a magical and healing tool. Receiving the wonderful opportunity to illustrate this oracle deck of ancient Mexican deities meant that I had to bring my best to the table. Vibrant color has always been a significant trait in my artwork, so I felt I couldn’t hold that back now.
Traditional artwork from ancient Mexico typically used a limited palette that commonly featured shades of red, yellow, black & white. The typical colors used in murals and codices reflected the natural pigments and dyes that were available from the land. Tiny coccid insects who flourish near prickly pear cactus were boiled, dried and crushed to powder to produce brilliant crimson dye. Genipa seeds were used to produce the color black, a technique probably learned from the Mayans. Yellow pigment was derived from a variety of cuscuta plants that are common in Mexico, North America & Central America. Variations in the hue resulted from harvesting the plants at different ages. White was made from ground, heated limestone chalk.
Our team, Anne Key, Veronica Iglesias and myself, went through tremendous effort to make The Jade Oracle as historically accurate as possible. Everything has been meticulously researched to provide a truthful representation of the ancient Mexican culture. So why didn’t I color all of the images exactly like their original counterparts found in ancient codices, murals and statues? I felt like upgrading the colors would help each design to communicate its meaning more clearly. Whether we are aware of it or not, humans are wired to respond to color. It catches our eye and it evokes emotion within us. I was initially a bit worried about how the deck would function if the majority of the cards were colored in red, black & yellow. To the modern, untrained eye, the strange ornately detailed cartoon-like Aztec deities would begin to all look the same. I wanted each card to bring out an immediate unique feeling-response when viewed. Color seemed to be the most obvious way to help each card stand out. So after a bit of back and forth with my teammates, we agreed that a bit of creative freedom in the color choices would be useful – and of course beautiful!
Color has been known to have beneficial healing properties around the world for thousands of years. It can be used to bring harmony to the mind and body. Red, orange, yellow and brown are warm colors. They are generally uplifting, motivating and speed up circulation. Violet, blue and green are cool colors. They soothe, tranquilize and assist with diseases of the eyes, ears, nose and throat. Blue light is used to heal newborn babies with jaundice, prisons are painted pink because the color has been known to encourage a docile and obedient attitude, and warm yellows and oranges are used to light rooms for elderly patients with vision problems to help them focus better. Green encourages growth, renewal, equilibrium and circulatory health. I have always been deeply moved by color and as my artistic journey unfolds I am discovering that it is part of my soul’s mission to perpetuate the full spectrum of the rainbow which will bring balance, healing and inspiration to all who gaze upon these colors.
A few of my favorites from The Jade Oracle deck that really demonstrate my intentional deviations in color are Cuauhtli, Tlaltecuhtli & Tecuciztecatl.
Cuauhtli is the Eagle, who soars high above the Earth and enjoys a heightened perspective on reality. From way up there he clearly sees what his heart truly wants. I chose to color him in purple, a color seldom seen in ancient Mexican art. I felt that this color lended the Eagle an air of royalty and greatness. In the ascending colors of the chakras, purple or violet is the uppermost color, associated with wisdom, enlightenment and spirituality. To me these qualities fit the Eagle and I couldn’t picture him in any other hue.
Tlaltecuhtli is the Spirit of the Earth. The original monolith which her image was discovered at the Templo Mayor. It is an intricate stone carving measuring about 13 by 12 feet and weighing about 12 tons. Tlaltecuhtli is the embodiment of the land, often pictured in birth-giving posture, she represents the fearlessness of mother nature, earthquakes, cycles and regeneration. While the stone sculpture is in natural earthy hues of yellow, ochre and white – I chose to color her in blue, green and brown. I felt like she should look like the planet Earth as seen from space, a massive orb of water and land. Though the color appears drastically different from the original, I am totally in love with the resulting colors and earthy feelings Tlaltecuhtli evokes in this card.
Tecuciztecatl, or The Man of the Big Shell, is another unconventional card as far as color choices. I colored him with pale rainbow colors. His story is part of the creation story of the current age. Each deity must give offerings to the fire. Tecuciztecatl offers to sacrifice himself, but lacks the courage to follow through. It takes him four tries before he overcomes his cowardice and enters the fire. It is a card urging you to stop holding back from embodying your highest self. Symbolically, the rainbow spectrum is the full expression of the highest self. I colored him as a pale, washed-out version of the rainbow because it shows how he is holding back his true vibrance.
In conclusion, I hope that scholars, historians and descendants of the ancient Mexican people can forgive me for straying from tradition when coloring The Jade Oracle deck. And I hope the students, seekers, and open-minded card readers will appreciate my unique creative version of this collection of deities and symbols. I hope these images speak to you in a deep emotional and spiritual language, helping you to connect with divine guidance and ancient wisdom. The Jade Oracle is a new path to the sacred, a bridge between distant history and modern spirituality.
Lastly, for those who want to engage further with color possibilities of The Jade Oracle deck, we have created a coloring book with the images! It includes all 52 drawings with interpretations. It is printed on a heavyweight cardstock paper so after you color it, you can cut it out and create your own deck of oracle cards. With this amazing project, you can explore your own relationship with color and the intricate details of these deities. The result will be an extremely powerful oracle deck that you have your own sacred connection with!
Coloring books are available now on etsy.com/shop/divinenaturearts
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.
Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration. If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.
Special Introductory price for the Jade Oracle deck:
$45 until May 5th 2018 (Cinco de Mayo)! Find out more and purchase here.