Thursday, August 18, 2011


In a recent class that I gave on making portable shrines, I made this new one for myself. It is a shrine about my own creative process. I am working toward a routine/schedule/habit of working creatively each day. This sounds like it should be so easy, after all, who wouldn't want to play with creative expression on a daily basis? But I find it so easy to have excuses why other things need to happen first; errands, house cleaning, tending to the needs of others. Creative work (and I use the term work on purpose, to help me see that this is what I want to be doing) seems so self indulgent and not to be placed in a position of priority.
I am gently retraining my thoughts to hold my creative work as a priority and of equal value to washing dishes or other chores that tug at my thoughts. I am learning to place the creative work earlier in the daily schedule so that I don't come to it tired and having spent my energy elsewhere. I am also learning that a daily creative habit, while it feels good, does not ensure great work. But, with more writing, or image making, or whatever, there is more likelihood of the work getting better and better, and this is more than worth the effort. Practice, while not making anything perfect, can make it good.
And I can live with that. There is always time for the dishes etc. afterwards.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Morag the Wonder dog

We love her, even when she eats our socks, even when she wakes up and needs - to - go - out - right - now!
She is a yellow lab that we got through a rescue group, and she has moved into our house and our hearts. I love how she wakes up every morning ready for a new day with the kind of enthusiasm I normally reserve for special occasions. She loves unreservedly, and with all of her amazing tongue.  And she is happiest snuggled in between all of us, touching as many of her human family as possible.
It's a dog's life, and I forgot how good that can be.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dreaming My Business

I worked on this collage based on the Chariot card in the Tarot. It was exciting and eye opening to look for images and colors and shapes that said 'forward progress' to me as well as balance and harmonious use of both assertive and receptive energies. I really love the collage I ended up with, although I don't think it is quite finished yet. Now it hangs on the wall near my desk, inspiring me and nudging me forward as I dream my way into my new business. I am working my way through several books about business planning and envisioning, using both traditional methods and newer, visionary methods to create a business plan and model that reflects my passions, interests and background. I am doing this with a few other people who are also designing their own business plans and visions. It is hard work, it is scary, it is enthralling and invigorating. I am learning so much about myself, and about what is can happen when we open ourselves up to possibility.
I thank my fellow travelers on this amazing journey, and hope that we all find ourselves at the end of it in the future we had dreamed for ourselves, or even better!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reading, reading, writing

While school is out of session, I am filling my free hours with as much reading as I possibly can. It is wonderful to have so many books sitting on my shelves, just waiting for me to reach out and open them up. I am reading fairly indiscriminately, picking up whatever comes to hand that attracts my attention. I finished: Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman, Great House by Nicole Krauss, Jack's Black Book by Jack Santos, Divining Women by Kaye Gibbons, Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott, The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy, The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg, The Listener by Bo Huston, not to mention many nonfiction titles related to the classes I am teaching. I am currently working my way through Freedom by Jonathon Franzen. It feels great to tear through a few of the volumes that have been stacking up on my shelves. Next week though, it is back to school and reading for class, at least through June!
Are you finding time to read? What is worth seeking out? What have you read recently that has proved memorable?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

New Classes for the spring and summer

May and June 2011 Classes at Sacred Paths

Intermediate Tarot
This class is a further exploration into ways to interact with the rich symbolism of the Tarot. We’ll look at more reading spreads (including how to design your own spreads), as well as path working, using tarot cards in spell work and other ways to play with your deck. Familiarity with the meaning of the cards is recommended to get the most out of this class.

Six weeks        Thursday May 12th – June 16th                       7-9:30 pm
$120 or $20 per session                    
  taught by Nell Morningstar

Envisioning and Designing Your Dream Business
Have you always dreamed of starting your own business? Do you have a small business that needs redirection or clarity of purpose? Does writing a business plan seem overwhelming and uninteresting? Over the summer, meeting every other week, we’ll use creative and imaginative approaches to develop, map out and write our individual business plans. Using visual techniques, intuition and strategic planning tools, we’ll address how to turn passion and enthusiasm into actual business opportunities. Don’t miss this chance to embrace your most creative self and prepare for the entrepreneurial leap that can transform your dream into reality.

Alternating Saturdays:  June 4th, 18th, July 2nd, 16th, 30th and August 13th      1-4 pm.
$120 or $20 per session                     
taught by Nell Morningstar

The Ritual of Writing, Writing as Ritual
This workshop will explore how a writer creates their entry into the writing habit and life, finding a place that allows words to flow easily and the writer to access their creative center as well as dismissing their internal critic and the accompanying doubts and blocks.
We will also examine the idea of writing as a sacred action, looking at how to embrace this in our own writing practice. Open to all genres, beginning and more experienced writers interested in investigating their relationship to their writing. Bring notebook and pen to use during the workshop.

Saturday June 25th                               1-4 pm
 taught by Nell Morningstar

Making Portable Shrines
Using mixed media, we’ll fashion small portable shrines that can go anywhere with you. Bring any specific images or items you might wish to include in your shrine, and come have fun creating!

Sunday June 12th                                 1-4 pm
taught by Nell Morningstar

All classes held at Sacred Paths Center, 777 Raymond Avenue, St. Paul, 55114

preregistration required, call 651-644-3727.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Still Writing

I am still writing, working away at the novel I began in the novel class that I am now finishing up. 100 plus pages, and I am just beginning to feel like I might know where it is all going! But then, this is the kind of writing that I really enjoy, hold on to your seats and lets go for a wild ride kind of writing. When I know too much at the beginning, I am not likely to finish. It is too boring, heading toward and ending that I already know, that is too expected. With unknown elements still at work, I have something to look forward to each time I sit down to eek words out onto the paper. I like to be surprised, I like to be amused, I like to find myself in a new place (literally and metaphorically) and most of all, I like to see, hear, read, experience new things that are outside what I have already had the pleasure of enjoying. So, onward and upward, looking into a spring full of words and filled pages, and possibly some writing sessions out of doors eventually.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Writing the Novel

I am back writing again, this time for my class The Novel. It is enthralling, this process of watching how a novel is created from 'nothing'. I walked into class the first night with no idea at all of what I might be engaged in writing for the semester. By the time I had done the writing exercises in class, and continued to work on them that week outside of class, I found myself knee-deep in the 'dreaming' of what I now think of as 'my' novel. The characters, setting, theme, and yes, eventually plot are all unfolding themselves as I continue to explore, write, question and dream this still untitled novel. I am in a trance state much of the time as I wander around, half in the real world, and half in this world that I am just beginning to know. I still have to push myself to sit and write each day, and I am not always successful, each week I have a day or more that I don't quite get my butt in chair. But overall,  I have produced 10 to 15 pages each week, and I am deep in the birthing of a creative project that came from seemingly nowhere. I still have ten more weeks of class, so I hope to be sitting on somewhere between 150 and 200 pages of spanking fresh material. Not bad for a cold, snowy winter in the frozen tundra!

Monday, January 24, 2011


Between snowdrifts of a monumental size, and air temperatures bordering on torture, this time of year in Minnesota is a great time to hunker down and work at all of the indoor hobbies you mean to get to, but don't always. I am pulling out my sketch book and pencils, I am going back through lots of photos that have been languishing in my camera and on my computer, and I have been reorganizing my workroom. The dog doesn't think this is much fun, although we have equipped her with new chew toys to while away the time. She would so much prefer the leash brought out, and the door to the great outer world opened, until she gets her paws onto the icy snow, and then she is lifting one paw after another and looking longingly at the house.
I am loving Traci Bunkers' daily challenge of rubber stamp carving, accompanied by a sketch or two each day.
I like the idea of a daily challenge, and think that may be just what I need to help me get through the hardest month of the winter - February. What are you challenging yourself with this winter? How is it going?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Muse pays a visit

It is always fascinating to me where ideas and inspiration comes from. The muse seems to find the most interesting times and places to show up. On
my last night visiting with my mother, I was taking a long, stress-reducing bath, enjoying a few moments of calm and the lavender scented bathwater. Suddenly, as I floated with my head partially submerged, listening to the sounds of the pipes and water flowing in other parts of the building I saw/felt/knew a story I needed to write. When an idea comes to me like that, suddenly and out of the blue, my first response is to stay as still as possible, when the channel is open, I want to make sure that I am getting all the information there is to receive. Staying as still and silent as possible seems to be the best way to do this.
For the last few days then, I have been writing, working on taking that glimpse of an idea, and making it into a story. It is fun, though as with all expressive art forms, challenging and work. I have the opportunity to take almost nothing, just a hint of an image and a ghost of a feeling, and make something from them. I feel lucky to have at least the occasional brush with that mysterious force I call the muse. Now, if I can just write a story that is even one one hundredth true to the original flash I experienced, I will be satisfied.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Visiting Mom

I have been visiting my mother, and her dogs. She currently has four (down from five a month ago). These are dogs that she has chosen to bring into her home, or that have been left here by previous roommates, and now she can't bear to give away. She just turned 82 a few days ago, and my sisters and I are slowly scooching her toward a different living situation (she is becoming forgetful, and it is too dangerous for her to live alone much longer). But of course, one of the hardest parts of this imminent change is all these dogs. My mother's heart is as big as Texas when it comes to dogs, it always has been. Growing up, we had multiple dogs, and then litter after litter of puppies. She is happiest when she is sitting (sometimes sleeping) in this big chair, a football game on the TV (preferably the Green Bay Packers, once a Wisconsin girl, always a Wisconsin girl) and all of her dogs around her. I guess it can be this simple, sometimes.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Deep Freeze

It is getting colder again here in the north land and Ana Purna, my kitty has the right idea. The lovely radiators pump out heat that is irresistible right now. Fortunately, after seven years in our house, we have finally found where to hang curtains, and learned which windows must be covered with plastic. Now, no matter where I am in our wonderful home, I am cozy and warm. One of the best places to be right now is sitting at my desk, shoulder to shoulder with the radiator. It makes it easier to look out the window, watching the people and vehicles struggling with the ice and snow, observing the deepening snow piles and the new snowflakes beginning to fall. Why do we stay here? Bragging rights! And there is nothing better than crawling under the down comforter to snuggle and dream through these longest nights of the year, listening to the gurgle of our faithful radiators.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Tarot Class

In a few weeks I will be teaching my Tarot and the Kabalah class at Sacred Paths Center here in Minneapolis. It is a class that I originally designed and taught with my friend Loui Pieper. We taught the first session of it in the early 1980s, back when tarot was relatively obscure and mysterious. There were only a few books out on tarot, and only a few decks available. Now, tarot is everywhere, books are published weekly, new decks (and reprints of old ones) appear monthly. Teachers, and information abound, and that is not to even mention what can be found on the internet. And yet, when I taught the class last spring for the first time in years, I found myself and my students still captivated by what there was to explore in the material and in our decks. The layers and depth of the symbol systems associated with the tarot are astounding (or, to use the terminology of the year, epic)! So it is with great enthusiasm that I offer this course, looking forward to the journey and those who will join me on it this time around.

Tarot & The Kabbalah

The following four classes cover the entire Tarot deck and various reading techniques. The information will take a student from beginner to reader. Both those new to Tarot and experienced students will find this course reveals more of Tarot's layered mysteries and offers new perspectives.

Each class can be taken separately, but a discount applies to students taking the full set. Prepaid discount price is $300. Repeat students are welcome and may take the class at a 20% discount.

Minor Arcana

Basic Kabbalah and elemental knowledge presents the students with an understanding of the numbered cards of the suits and insight into how the meanings of each card were derived.

4 Session beginning Thursday, January 20th, 7-9:30 pm $80

Major Arcana

All the rich symbols and archetypes associated with the 22 trump cards will be discussed and correlated to the Tree of Life as well as the paths and transformative changes in our own lives. Both esoteric and practical day-to-day meanings will be explored.

6 sessions beginning Thursday February 17th, 7-9:30 pm $120

Court Cards

Representing the people in our lives as well as aspects of our own personalities, these 16 cards can be tricky to get a handle on. We will look at them in depth in this 2 week session.

2 sessions beginning Thursday March 31st, 7-9:30 pm $40

Introduction to Reading

Covers basic card spreads, reading techniques, communication styles, ethics and responsibilities of reading for others. Knowledge of definitions and familiarity with the meanings of the individual cards are required.

4 sessions beginning Thursday April 14th, 7-9:30 pm $80

These classes taught at Sacred Path Center, 777 Raymond Avenue, St. Paul

Call 651-644-3727 for more information or to register. Preregistration is required. Taught by Nell Morningstar.

Nell Morningstar has studied and read tarot professionally for over 35 years. A lifelong journal keeper, writer and artist, she is also a doll and puppetmaker and devoted to studying myth and mystery.