Sacred India Tarot Archive: 8,9,10 of Pentacles – Buddha’s Teaching & Mahanirvana

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Continuing the series following the creative process of The Sacred India Tarot Archive by Rohit Arya and Jane Adams –

water falls in arizona

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Rohit’s Notes 2003 on SITA 8 of Disks – the Angulimala episode.  

“… A forest path with the calm and smiling upright Buddha being threatened by a wild looking bandit who is wearing a garland of human fingers.  He brandishes a sword, and he wants Buddha’s finger to complete his collection. Angulimala is physically exhausted from chasing after the Buddha and somehow never managing to catch up with him.  Buddha converts him and even leads him to enlightenment, but that lies some time after our scene!

“… We would like to see the Buddha as he is always shown, the long sari like robe he is depicted in. Angulimala –  the finger necklace he wears round his neck, is core; and a sort of wild desperation, a recklessness that only comes upon those who were once good and respectable. The two figures are likely to take up all the space, so compositionally I don’t think we can squeeze in any background details. The entire drama plays out in a forest….”

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Jane’s Notes – Angulimala was an unhinged sadhu who collected the fingers of celebrated sages and wore them in a mala around his neck.   Naturally he sought the ultimate trophy.  The Buddha however, smiling like the Mona Lisa, contrived to walk always just ahead of the violent sadhu’s effort and out of reach.

We have a saying here:  “to walk just one mile an hour quicker than the incoming tide, is to be in the world but not of it;  to carry the Great Work;  to remain awake.”

When Angulimala’s consumerist greed for enlightenment was all played out, he surrendered and became a devotee of the Great Middle Way.   This story is a vivid example of the accelerated Karmas in the vicinity of a Perfected One.  The noble Buddha Nature is Tathagatha of the cosmic aeons.   No “individual” dream can grasp this, until it starts to dissolve into Individuation of the Whole.

Sacred India Tarot - the story of Buddha and Angulimala

Sacred India Tarot – the story of Buddha and Angulimala

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Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam Sachdeva, 2003

“The Eight card should have been a very difficult card to draw, but Jane has solved all compositional problems by completely eliminating all background clutter, and just keeping the two principals before us.  The contrast between the man of violence lost in his rage, and the calm of the One who is Awake, is remarkable.

“The turban by the way, is very accurate for the time period.  I especially love the touch of the orange robe that Angulimala is wearing, presaging his conversion and salvation as a monk.

“I said it before, and I will say it again, I am not going to get between Jane and her stream of inspiration with the clutter of irrelevant instruction. She is doing a great job with what I am telling her, and this pack is going to be an all time classic, not just in Tarot, but also in the field of Indian mythology.”

Visual reference for the teaching of "Sangha"

A visual reference for the teaching of “Sangha” – also for the original conception of Knight of Disks, a picture of Boddhisattva, the Buddha in the Making.  However, Rohit later substituted the Face of Glory, Indian mythology’s Green Man, for Knight of Disks.  The Green Man accorded better with Buddha’s temperament, well earthed in the nature kingdom.  See the next post, in this series.

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Correspondence:  Jane to Gautam – May 2003 

“Dear Gautam, we just seen Nikki (Gautam’s sister) for tea, and thank you very much for the beautiful copper Sri Chakra in its protective case, and the leaflet with it.  For me this is a most serendipitous gift, connecting directly with some work I’ve been doing.  I am very touched.  Nikki told me also how these Sri Chakras are “charged”, and gave us news of Yogi Impressions’ spiritual portal.  Thank you also for the bank draft of 100 …

“I have done two more pentacles, and will try to send them to you tomorrow, or at least over the weekend.  I am pleased with them. 

“The four court cards will soon be done.  Please send illustrations and notes for the next Suit as soon as you can.  God willing, the minor arcana will be complete at the end of this year.  With warm regards to yourself and Rohit, and to your mother – Jane.”

Copper Sri Yantra Chakra.  An auspicious gift, as its energy field is particularly earthing or the cosmic lattice.  Copper is the non-resistant metal of Venus and of electricity.

Copper Sri Yantra Chakra. An auspicious gift, as its energy field is particularly earthing of the cosmic lattice. Copper is the non-resistant metal of Venus and of electricity.   It is another version of the Wheel which symbolizes the Buddha’s noble teaching.

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Suit of Pentacles/Disks: Creating Card 9 – Sangha and the Flower Sermon

Wildflower at Nether Stowey

Wildflower in my mother’s garden at Nether Stowey

The story of the Buddha’s Flower sermon is well known.  Here are Rohit’s Notes for Card Nine: 

“Nine – the silent transmission to Kashyapa of Zen, and the firm foundation of the Sangha. The Buddha is on the left of the card, a body of monks facing him, with one particularly intelligent face being Kashyapa.  He smiles, as he has just understood Buddha’s transmission of Zen by holding up a single flower in his right hand.”

snowdrop buddha

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And here is the card:

The Sacred India Tarot - the Sermon of the Flower

The Sacred India Tarot – the Sermon of the Flower

Jane’s Notes: – Sangha is “the community of the wise.”  Rohit and Gautam asked me to put Ramesh Balsekar’s features on “Kashyapa who had the understanding”.  They both knew Ramesh well, and admired his teaching.  The object was for The Sacred India Tarot to touch upon and honour the teaching in all its forms, in the universal field.   As it is not a good portrait of Ramesh, I include here, two of my drawings of him in bhakti mode:  his Buddha nature.

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Ramesh Balsekar, bhakti

Ramesh Balsekar, bhakti

Ramesh used to say that there is no Guru, until a devotee recognises him as such.  The Guru – dispeller of darkness – is created in a special spark of recognition:  the understanding, which passes between the two.  Wisdom is in dialogue:  wisdom is the relationship.

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Ramesh at Rest

Ramesh at Rest

I remember when I drew this one, that Ramesh’s facial features flowered like a mandala.  The penciled lines and folds below his eyes, radiate as rivers and the ripples do.

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Suit of Pentacles/Disks:  Creating Card Ten – the Buddha’s Maha-Nirvana

Rohit’s Notes in 2003: – “The Great Nirvana.  The texts mention again and again that the Buddha lay on his right side like a lion, and taught his disciples before breathing his last.  A somewhat crowded composition, as all his monks were crowding around him.  The picture is a stylistic rendering of the great moment.”

Disks buddha 10, ref

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Sacred India Tarot - Buddha's Maha-Nirvana

Sacred India Tarot – Buddha’s Maha-Nirvana

This was in some ways, my favourite of the suit.  Drawing this, brought me a feeling of great serenity.  I understood that the troublous “10” of each Suit, is in fact its full manifestation during a moment of transition:  the transformation we often dread.  Transformation is the movement of eternal Life.

Transformation is BARDO in the Tibetan book of the dead.

Sacred India Tarot 10 of Arrows

For a quick preview on this topic, the SITA Ten of Arrows/Swords – sometimes considered the most destructive of the deck – shows the dying Bhishma transmitting the Laws of wise Kingship to his heir, Yudhishtara.  He achieves his true Dharma at last.   It is a point of change.  The whole of his chakra spine, pierced by ten arrows as he lies dying in his BARDO, awakes.

Wisdom is a conversation, never a monolog.

This story is from the Mahabharath.

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Correspondence: Rohit to Gautam – July 2003

“Feedback for Jane on Pentacles last cards … I really have nothing much to add about any of the cards as they are exactly what we need for the packs.  They are excellent work in no uncertain terms.  The Nine card may need to be flipped transversally, so that the Buddha is handing over the flower with his right hand instead of the left one, as that is regarded as culturally suspect.  But the composition itself is perfect, and any imaging system on any computer can easily do what we requre, so there is no problem there.”

(Jane: I seem to have managed to change his hands with the flower, myself.  I don’t recall doing this.)

“In the Ten card, I particularly like the addition of the turbaned man, as the death of the Buddha was a great loss to the common people as well as the monastic community too.  The serene withdrawal on the face, is remarkable.” 

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Tree tao

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Thus far, the creative process of those three Pentacles.

Wisdom is a conversation, as revealed in cards 9 and 10.  Awakened conversation is pragmatic and down-to-earth, never a mere “blissing out”.   Awakening participates in the universal Transmission … which never began, never ends, and is all ways.

In my next post after this one, I would like to share extracts from a Buddha awakening in my journal, early 1988.  There are sometimes glimpses into the transpersonal.   I had planned to attach it to 8,9,10 of Pentacles, but there is more of it than I thought, and even after editing and pruning, it is a bit long.

Here is something from it, experientially, which stays in my memory:

The Cosmic Note, February 1988  … a feel of space having been cleared as on a windy day, in relation to him as to everyone else.  My bad Karma has always expressed itself in terms of jealousy, isolation and the discomfort of ego’s performances.  Ego there is, but not jealousy.  The freedom is implied, to move around and be real. 

Splendid dream … which I cannot describe, as it was in another level altogether, but was in terms of being the actual Law of Life in the line-movement and shade of a drawing.  As I half woke, I heard a most extraordinary and wonderful note or cosmic tone, of the Universal Eternity.  It was outside time.  It rested and passed and faded like the long-resonating song of a bell.  

This turned out to be a passing lorry – every sound in all the worlds is the primordial atomic OM, and liberates for ever.  

Another vehicle or two gave a remnant of this imprint, or Voice, as did long tides of bliss in my being-body, but I was rapidly surfacing, so it was for an unending moment only.  How good.  Surely I will find it for ever.

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Do readers sometimes hear music of this kind, in their dreams?  Is this a common occurrence?  Please comment below, if you have.   The music or tonal integrity seems to arrive fully formed, from a spectrum far beyond my capacity.

21 musical j&d6..

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For other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, or Archive of All Posts in the title bar.

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in http://aryayogi.wordpress.com   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

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Jane Adams

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Sacred India Tarot Archive: 5,6,7 Pentacles – Buddha’s Enlightenment

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What is a Chakra?  The word means literally – “wheel”.

Chakra spiral, centrifugue and OM

Chakra spiral, centrifugue and OM

The seven chakras in the Yogic body are centres where the Life-force flowers.  Chakras are transmissions of energy in the Earth vessel.  The story of the Buddha’s enlightenment aligns the chakras, bringing them into the sublime cosmic harmony which is compassion – the natural state.

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Waite 5 Pentacles

This post will cover the creation of SITA 5,6 and 7 of Pentacles, or disks.  Here is A E Waite’s traditional interpretation for Five of Pentacles:  “Two mendicants in a snow-storm pass a lighted casement … It foretells material trouble above all, whether in the form illustrated – that is destitution – or otherwise.  For some cartomancers it is a card of love and lovers – wife, friend, husband, mistress;  also concordance, affinities.  These alternatives cannot be harmonized.  Reversed:  Disorder, chaos, ruin, discord, profligacy.” 

Disks buddha 5 ref

We will therefore reflect on the Sacred India Tarot 5 of Pentacles as the misfortune and sense of deprivation which shadows and precedes a realisation of the Truth which is 6.   In 7 of Pentacles, the realisation is mature and mobilized.  It becomes a transmission.

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Rohit’s Notes 2003

“The starving Buddha is a famous trope in Buddhist art.   We include a few visual references! Basically a sort of pastoral scene under a tree would be ideal. The discs would be a little difficult to fit in easily, perhaps in a ring around the tree? He is usually depicted as clean shaven, though if he was not eating for weeks, perhaps shaving was not his highest priority.

“The skeletal gauntness and meditation are important here – mental peace at the expense of physical torment, which he realized was not an adequate tradeoff. It is a mistake to torment the body.”

Meditation - the withdrawn Buddha

Meditation – the withdrawn Buddha

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Sacred India Tarot 5 of Disks: the Buddha Fasts

Sacred India Tarot 5 of Disks: the Buddha Fasts

Rohit’s Notes:

“The Five is a very unusual depiction of the Buddha in the starving state, but I realised that actually this is more liable to be the truth than the traditional representations.  He did tapasya as  a Hindu, and the beard is more likely to have been his true condition, than the gaunt clean-shaven skeleton so beloved of Buddhist art.

“The disk as the solar plexus chakra is another beautiful touch, linking Buddha up with his nature as an incarnation of Vishnu, solar god.  (See Vishnu The Magician in Sacred India Tarot Archive series, http://aryayogi.wordpress.com).

“I just love the composition of the card;  the manner in which the disks form the quintessential question “Why?”, seen in the card as the giant letter Y, which after all was the purpose of such starvation, to find answers to the whys of life.

“That banyan tree is one of the most remarkable things I have seen drawn.”

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Jane’s Notes

The banyan was inspired by the trees at Ramanasramam – the shaggy condition of the sadhu in full tapasya.   The sheer force and focus of the meditation is given back to Nature.  Nails, hair and beard grow unimpeded!  In the end Buddha fulfilled the whole history of Hindu spirituality by showing that the via negativa has its limitations.

To reverse the laws of inertia, a sage at first backs up into them, against the body’s need for nourishment. Towards realisation, that effort becomes irrelevant, and reverts to a more natural alignment with the Fountain of Nature.  The 5 pentacle disks are arranged to suggest the growth of the life force through the tree.  In the autumn, it falls to the ground, like the fountain, and circles through winter, up into the stem, year upon year.

The physical body no longer denied, blossoms as the bodhi tree in all its beauty;  for the impending enlightenment is seamless:  no separation.

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Visual reference - The bodhi

Visual reference – The bodhi tree

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Rohit’s Notes 2003

“6 of Pentacles/Disks should be a dynamic sort of card, as the moment of Awakening, becoming the Buddha, arouses the last attack of the Evil One, Mara. He sends his daughters, along with natural calamities, wild beasts and venomous things, to disrupt the massive shift in Consciousness that was about to be achieved.

“While all around the Buddha there can be chaos, he should be depicted in stillness at the centre of course, under the famous Bodhi tree!! His fingers should touch the ground in the mudra shown in the illustration, the famous Bhoomi Sparsha mudra, calling on the Earth to witness his attainment and confirm there was no ego present.”

Visual reference for Buddha's enlightenment

Visual reference for Buddha’s enlightenment

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Here is a recent impression in my companion blog, Aquariel:

So who are you then, whomever I meet and fear?  You look like Mara’s face, in the SITA Buddha enlightenment card.  Mara is the Buddha’s opponent – the force which tried to stop the enlightenment.  So get it out, and look at the devil, sex and death.  Through all the blandishment, Buddha sits under his tree and keeps touching the ground with his open hand … the same as FOOT – keep walking, feel the ground –  (like baby Buddha did when he was born – straight out from under his labouring mother.  If you turn to the Ace of Pentacles, she too is hung upon a tree!)

Mara goes BLAH …

When I am tense and full of think, I am frightened of this stranger – Mara going BLAH – and above all, ASHAMED of admitting anything about it here, ashamed and scared of my panic and projection, lest it get worse.  My panic and projection is a disguise –  a whirling dust devil.   But go to the root –  does it really exist?  No wonder it harries and drives me away from telling about it.   Does it exist?  Look at Mara, depicted below.  Has he a body?   Is he not just my scurrilous mind going WAH from behind a bush?   Has he any root at all?  Why, no ! just confusion.   That is what he thrives on, when I let him settle in my city; and just about anything can inflate to look like him and drive me nuts.   Confusion is the disorder.  Confusion is the tension – giving it the power to damage and hijack my life.

This is seen in all the world’s trouble spots, cancelling Consciousness.

Well, good, good, keep going, this inner exercise will help my mind to clear.  Mara forms a Grand Trine around Buddha, with a sly serpent and a siren woman.  The serpent and the woman proceed through chaos, but the Buddha’s serenity is firmly established in the green and golden ground as Tifareth of Pentacles – his spine with the bodhi Tree of Life: the wheels of the cosmic Law.   Death’s skull leers from behind the woman.   Men consider Eve to be the gate of death because she gives them birth.

The  Sacred India Tarot 6 Pentacles/Disks - Buddha's Enlightenment

The Sacred India Tarot 6 Pentacles/Disks – Buddha’s Enlightenment

Enlightenment on whatever scale seems to follow on a jolly good clearout of the Shadow in one’s cupboard.  Enlightenment happens as the projections clear.   Every obstructive interior terror from his innumerable lifetimes must have bombarded Buddha as he quietly attained his peace.  For the lower mind is in love with its own drama.

Such is the Great Wheel depicted here – the card itself is a life-mandala.  The design was inspired by the film Little Buddha, starring Keanu Reeves.

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Correspondence 2003 – Rohit to Jane 

“… The Six is a spectacular composition, depicting the triumph of the Buddha over all the forces of Evil and negativity;  and what forces they are!

“At the moment of his greatest challenge, he calls upon the earth to witness that he has transcended, he is Awake.  The card captures that feeling perfectly, as well as the futility of attempting to shake one who is awake.  This is really beautiful.”

blue float

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Rohit’s Notes 2003

“7 Pentacles/Disks. The first sermon ever given is regarded as the complete Buddhist teaching in itself. In the deer park at Sarnath, verdant surroundings seem to be mandatory. 

“Traditionally, he has always been shown as being much larger physically than the students in religious art – his stature being gigantic as a representation of his achievement. It is famously called ‘Setting the Wheel of Dharma into Motion‘ –  so one disc could perhaps be rotated. We need to convey that he was radiating immense energy from that point on… a sort of translucent skin…?”

Buddha 7 of Disks, visual reference

Buddha 7 of Disks, visual reference

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7 of disks visual reference

7 of disks visual reference

This is the pose I used for the card:  his former disciples felt a little shocked and betrayed by their Guru’s illumined evolution to full stature.  They preferred to go on starving.

Ramana Maharshi’s story followed the same general pattern.  When he was very young, his continuous samadhi remained detached from the world.  After his second conscious death experience on Arunachala, his state became “sahaja” – that is, unconditional.  The realisation unbroken, he engaged fully in everyday life, as chief cook, bricklayer, engineer, bookbinder, poet, counsellor and friend.

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Sacred India Tarot 7 of Pentacles/Disks:  The Sermon in the Deer Park

Sacred India Tarot 7 of Pentacles/Disks: The Sermon in the Deer Park

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Jane’s Notes 2012

7 in Tarot is The Chariot.  On the Tree of Life, the 7th Sefira (emanation) is Netzach, the Life power – a spark which wakes the physical and emotional worlds.   The Wheel/disk in Buddha’s hands indicates the binary force turning the chariot wheel – an upward and a downward pressure – as in the Sri Chakra Yantra:  duality.

Sri Chakra Yantra - 4 Siva triangles through 5 Shakti triangles form a radiation which is simultaneously concentric and up/down.

Sri Chakra Yantra – 4 Siva triangles through 5 Shakti triangles, forming a radiation which is simultaneously concentric and up/down.  It is like the sap through the seasonal cycle of a tree’s rings.

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As the One however, every point radiates concentrically –  the rings of a tree, a ripple on water, a sound-wave.  The point has a spherical geometry, for it is infinitely reducible, as well as expanding to an atom, aura, planet or star.

The nature of the Enlightened One is everywhere, in all places, all times:  Tathagatha.

Buddha teaching in the Tree of Life, showing chakras

Buddha teaching in the Tree of Life, showing chakras

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Rohit’s Notes – 2003

“The Seven is yet another creative breakthrough, in that all the disks are spinning, as the Great Wheel of Dharma has been set into motion with this first sermon.  I have an idea, should we call the suit the Suit of Chakras then, as that is what the disks seems to represent? 

“I particularly like the touch of the Buddha’s halo being a Great Wheel too.  I have seen many representations of this pivotal Buddhist event, but I feel that Jane has managed to capture something new and fresh about it.  

“This suit is turning out marvellously. Again the Vishnu/Solar element is conveyed in the placement of the disk in the hands of the Buddha.”

buddha in the grass

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water and light

The blue “Buddha light” – a healing radiance – enters these russet-brown, Taurean waters.

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For other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, or Archive of All Posts in the title bar.

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the creation of the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in http://aryayogi.wordpress.com   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

flower sermon

flower sermon

Jane Adams

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/