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For me, art starts with a feeling, a message, then words weaving into visuals. formations, symbols & sensory images.

There's always an incubation process before formation. Do you want to hear the story behind Cycles Journal's cover art for 2024?

Cycles Journal 2024 laying on a blanket

Each year it comes forth in springtime. This time it bloomed around the time I went home to visit my grandmother in the hospital before she passed. A time of sadness but also of celebration and gratitude.

In between our visits, I rested at my first home. I felt stuck, yet my mother helped me recognize a theme in the part covers of Cycles Journal. She reminded me that flowers are the centerpiece of it always.

Flowers are more than meets the eye. Flowers are the sex organs of the plant, which feels relevant to cycle-tracking, reproductive autonomy and embodied sensuality. This is where flowers attract pollinators to help them share & humans to create a cycle of 'supply/demand' as we garden, tend and eat plants. Yet they are also so much more than their appearance - each with an integral energetic signature and ecological purpose (just like us!.

To some flowers represent the feminine, to others allergens, and primordially they are often nourishment and medicine.

This year I was called to Iris. Iris means rainbow in Greek, and she is a messenger to the gods. Iris is the rain and clouds that are part of the whole cycle. She uses the rainbow as a bridge between the spirit and earthly realms, a light in the dark after the storm. The goddess and her archetypal energy represents a spectrum, a sphere of inclusive potential.

Temperance tarot cards

Iris is also the name of the part of an eye that regulates the amount of light which enters our eyes. Our ocular system takes in light and transforms it into sight, alongside our brain which registers insights as well beyond the seen.

Iris shows up in the tarot card temperance - a card of adjustment, balancing, and alchemical autonomy. Temperance, ruled by the sign Sagittarius, teaches us about the balance of intuition and action, of learning and procreating. It makes sense that iris flowers are shown in this card where archangel michael tempers the elements of water and fire into transformative healing. Since these flowers often grow on the margins - within wetland edges and shorelines, they represent transition, integration and allowing the in-betweens to be a place of importance and growth.Iris is a perennial flower that returns annually in spring from its rooted bulb, up through leaves like open arms, into an unfurling star.

I've had a special connection to iris since my childhood, because there is a photo of me from back then next to my abuelos in their beautifully tended jardín outside their sky blue house. It's one of my favorite memories from before my abuelito passed away when I was only 3 – I remember him through the irises he cared for alongside my abuela. I think gardening kept them grounded in place. I keep this memory framed next to my desk in the art-making corner of my studio.

Photo of a ittle human standing in a garden

It is said that the essence of Iris links us to our creativity, expression and inspiration. The flower itself is a work of art within its structure, painted veins, and color variations.

They are seasonal symbols and pollinator allies. Iris emerges organically without much need for intervention, like our insights can if we trust. Iris is a web weaver and cycle tender.

Of course, the moon and often its phases is always on the cover because it is one of our greatest anchors and reminders of our cyclic impermanence - a duality to be present with in this existence that just is. It represents how we can follow and learn from our ever-changing cycles even if we cannot fully control them.

I truly enjoyed creating this piece with the support of all this energy. If you'd like, click here to see a timelapse of me drawing it.

My wish is that this artwork reminds you to embody your full spectrum of awareness and unique abilities. A signifier of the deep wisdom we each carry within, beyond the surface of our sacred vessels.

May it adorn your Cycles Journal for the year of 2024 imbued with these reminders and support for your grounding writing & tracking space.

And since I've gotten a few requests, I've made some apparel, wall art & accessories with this artwork on it; including tote bags, art prints posters, tshirts, sweatshirts and holographic stickers.

Thank you for listening, and I hope to share more stories with you soon about past years' covers, and the story of how this whole creation started. Speaking of, Cycles 2023 is on deep clearance if you'd like to try it first.

I'll share more after the next moonletter – which will be for our upcoming Full Moon in Pisces near the end of August.

Until then, be well~

Rachael Amber (they/she)
Creator of Cycles Journal

All words, photographs and artwork are by Rachael unless quoted or otherwise stated. You're welcome to share (for non-commercial reasons only) so long as credit / links remain attached! Thanks for supporting living artists <3

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August 25, 2023 — Rachael Amber Longo

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