Thursday, 4 February 2021

Piracy and Psychic Protection

You have worked hard on your creative endeavour: it is finished and you are proud of it. Your magnum opus now exists in the real world, the spiritual world, and for better or worse, the online world. 

Piracy, plagiarism and misappropriation are unpleasant but all-pervasive features of today’s world, and, short of hiding your work under your bed, there is nothing you can do to guarantee that no one will exploit your work for their own reasons. They may scan a print and then sell copies, lift the image from the internet and stick their name over it, copy your book and upload it to a free-for-all website, misquote your words and plaster your name all over statements you don't agree with, or cut and paste your words and pass them off as their own.

First things first, don’t make it easy for people to steal from you. Use watermarks, or if you don’t like them, be creative when photographing your artwork for use online: place leaves, crystals, logos, business cards in the way, so they can’t be easily cropped off. Join relevant support groups, report copyright infringement to the websites, hosts, and publishers. Work with others to raise awareness of the real costs of piracy and copyright infringement, and most importantly, practice what you preach. Spiritually, like attracts like, so don’t complain about people stealing your work, and then download music for free or take an image off the internet without permission and repurpose it for your own use.

Eye of Horus Watercolour Painting
Eye of Horus, Watercolour, Moti Black 2020

This image can be found on my RedBubble shop here.

Eye of Horus on a RedBubble Canvas Bag

Meditation to Protect your Artistic Creations

Firstly, you will need an imaginary safe space with a clear boundary and gateway. This may be an art gallery, book shop, dance floor, garden enclosed by a hedge, or whatever works best for you and your creation. Take time to develop this space, you need to get the balance right between a protective area you can control, and a welcoming space people can come into and experience your work. 

In the middle of this space, have your work on display. Maybe it is a lectern with your book on it, or your painting hanging on a special wall. Think about how you wish to present your precious creation to the world and ensure the layout reflects this. In front of your work, place a protective symbol of your choosing, such as the Eye of Horus, a pentacle, a bunch of heather, or an eye. Have a real life version of this symbol you can see and touch every day.

Relax yourself into a deep meditative state. Look around your safe space and admire your work on display. Be pleased with what you have created. Touch your fingers to the protective symbol and recite a prepared short protection mantra. If you can write your own mantra, it will be more powerful, but if not, feel free to use the following. If you write your own, remember positive statements hold more power and be very careful about your choice of words, don't 'release your work into the universe', or put up barriers so high no one will fight through to enjoy your work. 

Behold: resources, time, love, energy. 
This work I forge, now invite you to see. 
May our hearts witness a shared synergy,
And fair exchange guide this journey.

Have one gateway, door or portal leading into your safe space. By this gateway, place a symbolic receptacle. This could be an honesty jar, a till, a contactless payment point, or what feels right to you. Imagine people entering, and as they pass the symbolic receptacle, throwing tokens into a jar, swiping their card, or whatever you choose to symbolise their payment, so the spiritual balance is maintained. Once people have entered and a fair exchange has taken place, they get to enjoy your work and you are fairly compensated for the work you put in to bring the artwork into being.

Take time to enjoy watching the people milling around the space, enjoying your art. If you have created a work of literature, why not imagine some lovely reading nooks and watch people snuggle down with your book? If you have composed a piece of music, why not have some comfy listening stations or a thriving dance floor? And don’t forget to create a special space for all the people who helped you along the way. Make sure they get a fair share of the tokens people have ‘paid’ to come into the space and use this opportunity to say thank you.

Focus on the boundaries of your safe space, and slowly fill the area with a beautiful golden light. Thank the people who have entered this space for appreciating your art and wish them well. Maintaining the golden light in the space, walk over to the display where your creation proudly stands. Focus this light on the art. If pieces of your art have been stolen or misused, imagine fragments of its soul flying back through the ether to reunite with the original, restoring it in its original state within its own safe space. Some people like to beat a drum or sing during soul retrieval rituals, so if you wish to imagine yourself singing, or beating a drum, do it. Once your amazing artistic creation is glowing and whole. Touch your fingers to the protective symbol.

Leaving your fans enjoying your work, bring yourself out of the meditation, and touch your real life symbol. Keep this symbol close by and touch it regularly whilst repeating your mantra to top up your protection. Revisit your safe space every so often, add new works, enjoy your time there and always thank those who help you along the way.

I believe everyone is completely responsible for their own choices and spiritual development. However, I would advise against cursing people who steal from you. It is upsetting when people profit from your work without paying either you or all the people who helped you on your journey. It is also heart breaking (and theft) when people distribute your art for free without your permission. But by sending curses and negative energy out into the universe, you attract negativity back to yourself. 

In terms of this meditation, I  see the golden wonderful environment you create in your safe space as meaning those who engage with your work through genuine channels will have a profound experience. Those who steal or take your work from other sources, will find your work cold and disinteresting, reducing demand for pirated goods. 

Don't forget legal routes and awareness raising are still one hundred percent valid routes for tackling these issues. 

Sunday, 24 January 2021

West Braes Dolphins

There is an amazing charity in the village where I live called the West Braes Project (SC047249). I do a bit of volunteering for it, which has included, in the past, creating some artwork for posters and logos. 

A few years ago, I set up a RedBubble account to try and make some more funds for the project with the bits and bobs I created. To make things easier to manage, with the project's permission, I have closed that account and moved some of these images over to my own account. (Moti Black).

All the artist's profits from sales from The Dolphin Collection will be donated to The West Braes Project. If you want the profits to go to them, please make sure you only buy from The Dolphin Collection.

There are over 80 products for each image, including magnets, stickers, notebooks, coasters, T shirts, bags, phone cases, clocks, blankets and face masks.

Here are a few samples of the products you could buy to support the West Braes Project. More will be added. 

Gardening Dolphin with rabbit, bee, butterflies and pot plants, on a badge.
Stickers of a Gardening Dolphin, Bees, a rabbit, butterflies and a pot plant
Gardening Dolphin, Moti Black, 2019
This image can be found on RedBubble here.

A notebook with a dolphin heart on it
Dolphin Heart, Moti Black, 2021
This image can be found on RedBubble here.

Coasters featuring a dolphin wearing a hat saying Your Oceans Need You
Your Oceans Need You, Moti Black, 2018
This image can be found on RedBubble here.

A clock with a rainbow dolphin logo on it
Rainbow Dolphin Circle, Moti Black, 2017
This image can be found on RedBubble here.
(Previously the best selling image on the West Braes RedBubble account.)

Dolphin Playing Bagpipes on a magnet
Dolphins playing bagpipes on a cushion
Dolphins Playing the Bagpipes, Moti Black 2021
This image can be found on RedBubble here.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

The seven swords that are killing art

Back in spring 2020 a few artist friends of mine were rallying against an increasing trend in the tarot community: pirated decks. 

Online retailers were offering cheap pirated decks, for which the publishers and artists received no payment. 

What shocked me the most was the number of people within the tarot community who jumped to defend their right to buy cheap pirated decks.

Two artists I admire announced that they planned to stop creating new decks, as they could not financially afford to inadvertently give their art away for free. I saw two exciting projects abandoned, and another deck creator said that they were leaving the field as why should they create art for a community that steals from them.

Friends of mine were attacked on line for defending the rights of artists (and publishers, and agents, and assistants, and all the people involved in bringing creative works to life). Things were getting pretty unpleasant.

People were arguing that they had a right to buy pirated decks and that the artists were ungrateful for the praise they should feel that people admired their art work this much!

At this point, I stuck my oar in, and, although I fortunately have never knowingly had my intellectual property stolen from me, I wanted to stand in solidarity with the artists and those being attacked for saying piracy is wrong.

TA poem about piracy based around the Seven of Swords
The Seven Swords of Piracy by Moti Black, March 2020

The background image is based on a skull pumpkin carving I did in 2019. The image can be found on my RedBubble shop here.

Skull Pumpkin Carving on a RedBubble Cushion

The Seven Swords of Piracy

By Moti Black


I cannot be held accountable for the things it is I buy.

How can I tell if it’s genuine, when sellers always lie?

Do a bit of research, check why it’s too good to be true.

Look at the product and the vendor: assess the real value.


Foregoing Responsibility

I am not the bad guy here, it’s got nothing to do with me,

I paid money, I did not steal: my friends tell me they agree.

You paid someone to steal for you, you condone the work they do.

Money makes this market grow: the money that comes from you.


Consequence Denial

I get something a bit cheap; the artist gets a free advert,

You’re making a fuss over nothing, no one is getting hurt.

You’re handing money to criminals, and what that funds, who knows?

You hurt the artist, reduce investment, and bring fresh art to new lows.



The greedy artists charge too much, they must be rich, don’t you see?

I can’t afford the prices they charge, that’s why there’s piracy.

Most artists aren’t as rich as you think, and you clearly don’t value their art.

Would you be happy working for free for some self-entitled upstart?


Compulsion Disorders

I have an addiction and you have no right to make me feel like this.

Publishers should not push their wares when they know that we can’t resist.

If you are being genuine, please seek professional advice.

But it’s not an excuse and don’t tell others to buy fake merchandise.


Faux Ethics

There’re always those silly extras, that come with authentic goods.

I’m doing it for the environment, I’m helping to save those woods.

You could buy the item second hand, or not buy it at all.

Your blatant consumerism weakens your claim to a higher call.


The Blithe Shopper

Look, I don’t care, say what you want, it’ll have no impact on me.

To be honest, if I could, I’d be printing art out for free.

For all the artists, can I just say, you are not welcome to our art.

To knowingly buy pirated goods, reveals a truly selfish heart.


Unfortunately, things went down hill from there. A facebook group was discovered where people were sharing images of decks for others to print them out for free, a publishing house an acquaintance had most of their books and decks published with went under, and a friend who makes a small income from a couple of niche ebooks found their work in several places on download for free websites.

I saw friends and acquaintances suffer financial hardship, stress and depression; jobs lost; the market for new decks and books shrink; and people attacked on the internet.

In the middle of all this, I was writing my first novel and trying to expand my nascent art career. I was sure I must be crazy, but all I have ever wanted to be was a writer, (or an artist if that fell through), and I finally got to have a stab at it now I was north of forty. So embrace the crazy I did.

Whilst writing The Casa Martyrs, I did a lot of research into psychic protection to make sure the magic system I was creating was as authentic as possible. 

I am by no means an expert in the area, but one night I thought, 'Hey! why not put these two things together and create a little meditation for sending new creative works off out into the universe with a little bit of spiritual protective (environmentally friendly) glitter scattered all over it?'

This is what I created... (Piracy and Psychic Protection)

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Watercolour Cats

I entered 2021 working on a painting of my mother's black and white cat called Daisy. I created this painting entirely using just two complimentary watercolour paints (Winsor Red and HWC Marine Blue).

A watercolour painting of a black and white cat
Daisy the Black and White Cat, Watercolour, Moti Black 2021

 Just as Covid was kicking off back in 2020, I finished Molly the Long Haired Tabby Cat with a similar technique: using two complimentary watercolours, but adding a few others to pick out colour of the nose and the eyes. This painting winged its way to friends in Germany just before we all went into lockdown.

A watercolour image of a long haired tabby cat
Molly the Long Haired Tabby Cat, Watercolour, Moti Black 2020

Back in 2017, before I ever read a book on colour theory, I painted our old cat for my husband. I played around with blues and reds, and this kick started my interest in using complementary colours. 

Pooky the Black Cat, Watercolour, Moti Black 2017

See all of my cats on my RedBubble store :-)

Saturday, 23 May 2020

The Quiet Panic

A Covid Poem (text below) over a painting of Berwick Law
The Quiet Panic by Moti Black April 2020

The Quiet Panic

By Moti Black

This is a quiet panic:
A sedate fear behind doors.
Behind screens and links that click;
That’s finally reached our shores.

Elsewhere, there’s cacophony:
Key workers risking it all;
Death with no ceremony;
Heroes answering a call.

In the quiet of cancelled plans,
That space between scared and bored,
I use the time on my hands,
To ignite dreams long ignored.

I practice skills, write my tome;
Send good wishes, clap at eight:
Cocooned safely in my home.
Late at night, I cry and shake.

Shopping trips with toothcomb queues
Remind me normal is gone.
Hurry home to watch the news,
Think: ‘crying emoticon’.

This is a quiet panic:
Measured in memes and death tolls.
PPE and numbers sick,
Stock levels and toilet rolls.

Lockdown hit as I was revving up for the art season. With all my exhibitions called off, I rather abruptly put away all my art supplies and jumped into my writing. I wasn't completely serious when I said I was going to have my novel finished by the end of quarantine, but now I am, as I only have six chapters left. 

The above image, minus the text, can be found on my RedBubble shop, here.

A photo of a hardback notebook featuring a watercolour painting of Berwick Law

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Tarot Spread for a Writing Project

I entered the TABI pumpkin competition with the Pamela Colman Smith pumpkin from my last blog post and I won! The prize was a copy of the Darkwater Tarot by James Douglas, and the deck hasn’t even hit the shops yet! It is a stunning black and white deck, which Margo reviewed for the TABI blog here. So a huge thank you to James for donating the deck to TABI for the competition, and for everyone who voted for me and my Pixie on a Pumpkin :-)

The winning image can be seen on RedBubble here, on in my previous blog post.

Instead of writing another review of the deck, I thought I would create a spread to see how the deck works in action, and to have a challenging and honest look at my work on The Casa Martyrs.

The photos of the cards from the Darkwater Tarot deck used in this post aren't very good quality, but the cards themselves are! If you want to have a better look at the cards, please visit the Darkwater website.

1 – The Author: As the creator of this work of fiction, what role do I play? Am I truly committed to helping this work reach it’s potential, or do I have other motives, distractions or limitations?

Two of Cups: There are two hands reaching out towards each other at the top of this card. The first thought that came to mind was the divine spark in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. Maybe my ego is reaching a bit there, but certainly, this is a good card to represent my commitment to The Casa Martyrs.

This has been a long-term project, which has been pushed to the background whilst I have taken on other commitments, sometimes for years at a time, but I have finally taken the steps to dedicate the time and energy required to see this through to the end.

The two cups in the card are of different sizes and remind me of how I feel about the projects I try to juggle. These days, I can only really concentrate on one thing at a time: I focus on the big cup in front of me, it dances around, I hope I do a good job, but it is at the expense of the small cups in the background. Thankfully after a few years of culling the responsibilities which weren’t helping me maintain a balanced life, I am nearly at the position where I feel I have two cups (projects) on the go: my art and my writing. However, I am still either writing for a stretch of time, or I am painting, I can’t mix the two very well.

2 – The Characters: have I done justice to the characters in my writing? Could they be fuller, more believable, or do they have something else to say?

Maybe picking Justice reversed with other decks would say something different, but the second I saw the image of the Darkwater Tarot, I thought it could not be more apt. The Darkwater Tarot comes with the description “Rather than reverse a reading, the design and content of each card provides alternative pathways for the reader to discover.”

The title of the novel I am writing is The Casa Martyrs. On one level, “The Casa Martyrs” is just the name of a band, on another level it explores the notion of what ‘home’ (Casa) is, the sacrifices people will make for their perception of ‘home’, and the fallout when people force their views of home on other people, especially children, who are often held hostage to other people’s interpretations.

So, when Justice turns up, reversed, with a lop-sided picture saying ‘There’s no place like home’, it feels like my characters are telling me I have put them through the wringer by challenging their home lives, but I have also helped them learn more about themselves by letting them explore what home means to them, and what they will do to protect it.

In the Darkwater Tarot, there is a symbol of the tree of life on the Major and Court Cards. In the upright position, the leaves are at the top, reversed, the root system is uppermost.

In the Justice card, when it is reversed, the root system is under a bed. In Chapter One of The Casa Martyrs, The Protagonist, Kerella, finds herself in a dream:

Bending down by the bed, I reach under the valance, past those smiling yellow stars and into the more accurate representation of my childhood. Damp leaves stick to my hand. I pat the ground and sink my fingers into decomposing vegetation.

Kerella delves into the under-bed ecosystem (her subconscious) and rummages about in the roots, trying to drag out her demons to face. It is a harsh process of facing up to things that happened in the past, many of which were unjust, but she has to find a way to come to terms with them so she can play an active role in shaping her future.

The word ‘Difference’ is at the top of this card. In the Casa Martyrs, the three main characters have a presence in both the real world, and Kerella’s fantasy world. As they all have two separate upbringings and home lives, I get to play around with the environmental factors and see what character traits remain constant. For example, in her fantasy world, Kerella is brought up primarily in isolation, reading in a small room. In the real world, Kerella creates a different type of isolation and still reads a lot of books, despite having other opportunities available to her.

The Hebrew letter, Lamed, is in the top right-hand corner of the card, and the significance for the characters is the journey they will take over the course of the story. Chronologically, they start in a situation where strong but severe societal structures frame their relationships, but that is shaken up and they are sent down a difficult path which will challenge their sense of self and their view of each other. This leads them to a greater understanding of themselves and enable more genuine relationships to develop. As Lamed is often described as goading or prodding down a certain tricky path, as I am writing and proof reading, I will keep an eye out for where the characters’ development doesn’t flow quite as freely as I feel it should.

The symbol for Air is in the top left-hand corner. I have been really enjoying writing the dialogue between the characters, and as air can refer to communications, I hope this is the character’s telling me they have been enjoying the chatter just as much as me: they certainly like to take over and say things I wasn't expecting!

3 – The Plot: Does the story hold together well? Is there a good balance between detail and forward moving momentum? Are there any major plot holes? Is the story achieving what it set out to achieve?

Knight of Swords: Well, I was aiming for a fast-paced plot, but maybe the Air of Air is a bit too much, and certainly not sustainable for three books! It also runs the risk of floating off and not being grounded, alienating the readers. As the knight is wearing a helmet in the card in the upright position, I feel that if I go too quickly, the reader won’t get to see the real face of the characters.

Now my brain has gone off on a tangent, trying to work out which court card my favourite kind of plot would be. Probably the Knight of Wands, as I’d have the energy of fire combined with the momentum and communication of air.

There are two flowers at the top of the card, a black rose and a white lily. White Lilies often symbolise purity, and black roses have often been associated with danger and death. In terms of balance, I feel this is a good sign. There is also a plot theme running through my novel dealing with concepts of good and evil.

4 – The Words: How have I assembled the building blocks of my writing project? Have I used language effectively? Do I need to be aware of any bad habits I have developed?

Three of Pentacles: If you ever want the pedantry of pentacles and symbolism of a great project, this is the card!

The Darkwater Tarot has the symbol of a column in the top right-hand corner, signifying all the hard work, planning, skill and investment a successful project needs to reach fruition.

When I am writing, I like to consider myself as very deliberate in my choice of words and punctuation, as I believe these are as important to the tone of the story as the other facets of a writing project. However, there are three faces on this card, and the three of pentacles is the card of successful team work. Although I would never think of putting my work out there, self-published and untouched by a professional editor, I think this is a wake-up call that the final version will involve the input of professionals in the field who will know a lot more than me about the publishing market, and it may soon be time to recruit a willing friend or two to read through what I have written so far!

5 -The Audience: How will my intended audience react to my writing project? Does the project have any marketing potential?

The Moon: My initial reaction wasn’t very positive to considering my future readers as dogs howling at the moon, at night, when nothing is at it seems. I was making a cup of tea the next day when it hit me: this is a work of fiction that I am enthusiastic about. If other people wish to get as hyped as me about the story, I am not misleading them and just sharing the joy I have had over the years whilst I created the story.

The symbol of Pisces leads us to water, which coupled with the Moon, gives us the tides. This is telling me interest will wax and wane. When it is high tide, I have to be careful not to get carried away by the delusions of the moon, and when the tide is low, I need to remember that it will come back in, so not to get too disheartened.

Looking at the spread, one thing that stands out is the lack of fire and that might explain why I find moving forward so difficult at times. I decided a while back to finish the entire draft before sharing it with friends or approaching potential agents, but it makes for a very long dark tunnel and it is easy to switch back to art for a while, as I can show people what I am doing and bring in a few pennies to keep me going. This reminds me of a reading I did for a TABI blog post earlier this year which warned me the fiery nature of my art may distract from my writing! 

On which note, I am going to put my writing to one side for a while, as I have some arty commitments I have made which need to be finished this month. However, I still plan to finish chapter 14 by the end of the year.

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