Desert Wisdom Cards, Series III — An Invitation!


Invitation – A Desert Wisdom Card

Step into my world, a world where the beauty and diversity of the desert is portrayed in photographs.

I invite you to look around. Be inspired.

Discover the desert and the incredible opportunities for sharing her wisdom.

I have selected a special set of eighteen photographs and coupled each photo with a single word for reflection, meditation, or as a journal prompt. I invite you to have a look at the Desert Wisdom Cards, Series III.

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III © 2014 Bo Mackison

Announcing the Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III

After many more months of photographing the Sonoran Desert in the Southwest, choosing themes and cards that “spoke to me”, and then creating a new deck of cards and portfolio, the Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III are ready for you to enjoy.

These cards were not a part of my original creative plan, and yet, here they are.

As I wrote when I completed the second series, it was not my original plan to create a deck of only desert-focused cards. I’d planned a set of nature-based cards that included four themes – desert, shore, prairie, and mountain – plus a set of source cards the combined sets based on the template of a tarot deck.

I completed the first series of Desert Cards last October, and began to create the prairie cards. But the spark wasn’t there yet. I still have the photographs, I have the themes and concepts, but there was a strong need and desire to complete the desert set before considering a prairie set. And so I created the Desert Wisdom Cards – Second Series last March.

Still the desert called.

Today the third series of Desert Wisdom Cards is ready.  With this set, the series is complete.

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III – Portfolio Shown with 4 of the 18 Cards © 2014 Bo Mackison

What are Desert Wisdom Cards?

The Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III are a set of 18 hand-made cards used for reflection and inspiration. Each card has a photograph of the awe-inspiring Sonoran Desert and a single word for contemplation, reflection, or as a prompt for journal writing.

The card set is now available in a hand crafted, limited edition of 26, numbered and signed.

How were the Desert Wisdom Cards first created?

I created all three sets of Desert Wisdom Cards for use during my morning routine, focusing on the photograph for inspiration and reflection. I also use the cards as prompts for journal writing and as a springboard for art and nature projects.

While working with my desert photographs, I discovered that the process allowed me to use my art for daily reflection,  problem solving and goal setting.

The cards became a framework to consider choices, make plans, and instigate changes in life — while providing structure for an in-depth creative practice.

Click here for more information on the Desert Wisdom Cards

Desert Wisdom Cards - Series II

Sampling of Covers of the Limited Edition Sets ©2014 Bo Mackison

How to use Desert Wisdom Cards:

They are perfect to use as a mini-set for meditation, inspiration and contemplation. A few useful suggestions include:

  • Choose a daily card as a focus card during meditation.
  • Choose a card as a journal or art prompt.
  • Enrich your spiritual practice through contemplation of the desert and nature.
  • Inspire and nurture your creative muse.
  • Use a three card spread, similar to a Tarot spread, and consider past, present, and future.
  • Other Tarot style spreads are easily used with the Desert Wisdom Cards.
  • Use a card for writing practice, considering symbols, metaphors and other elements found in the photo and inspired by the card’s single word.

Of course, these are only suggestions. As you work with the cards you will find your own unique ways to incorporate the cards into your practice, routine, or ritual.

Desert Wisdom Cards - Series II

Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III ©2014 Bo Mackison

Set Specifications:

The Desert Wisdom Card set includes 18 cards, storage portfolio, and four page user’s guide. The cards also fit in the four flap portfolio that comes with the original set.

A desert-hued portfolio complements the cards.

This set of cards comes in a hand decorated folded portfolio, similar to the portfolio for the Second Series. Each portfolio is hand decorated with ink, acrylics and metallic paint. Designed in the color palette of the desert, the folder is unique and a mini-work of art in itself.

A four page guide is also included in the set.

This guide offers suggestions for using the cards, including activities that focus on the body, mind and spirit. Also included in the booklet is information on the evolution of the cards and additional resources for nature and art related activities.

Special thanks to James Wells who graciously shared his method of delving deeply into tarot cards using multiple activities for body, mind and spirit. What a great resource this was, as I adapted many of his activities for the Desert Wisdom Card guide-book.

The cards are 7.5 inches by 4.5 inches. Each card features a color photograph of the Sonoran Desert and a single word for reflection.

Each card is printed on a cylinder letterpress, type set by hand, and printed using a vintage (1940s) Vandercook No.3 Letterpress.

The cards come in a hand crafted, folding portfolio. Each portfolio is embellished with ink, acrylics and metallic paint. Designed in the color palette of the desert, the folder is unique and a mini-work of art in itself.

Click here for more information on the Desert Wisdom Cards

Desert Wisdom Cards - Series II

Detail of Desert Wisdom Cards Portfolio ©2014 Bo Mackison

How to Purchase a Set of Desert Wisdom Cards?

The Desert Wisdom Cards – Set III are now available in my Etsy shop.

$55.00 for set of 18 cards, tie portfolio, and guide-book.

The Third Series completes a 56 card deck when combined with Series I and Series II.

Set II is also available on Etsy.

And a thank you!

It is indeed a privilege to share my Wisdom Cards with you. Thank you.





Empire Ranch


Sacaton Grasslands © 2011 Bo Mackison

I went on an “explore” yesterday. I headed east, and ended up on a narrow and dusty road, wiggled my car through a mountain pass near Madera Canyon, and crossed the Santa Rita Mountains. After an hour of driving, I ended up on the eastern side of the “Ritas”, near the town of Sonoita.

Then I saw a sign. It read “Historic Empire Ranch”. That was good enough for me. I turned and followed the road for a mile or so, eventually coming to another sign which informed me I was traveling in the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. I don’t think too many people explore this part of Arizona, but I found it rather fascinating. Even more so when I started researching the ranch on the internet. I came across all kinds of interesting tidbits.

Mesquite Bosque

Mesquite Bosque © 2011 Bo Mackison

Las Cienegas NCA includes five of the rarest habitat types in the American Southwest: cienegas (marshlands), cottonwood-willow riparian forests, sacaton grasslands, mesquite bosques, and semi-desert grasslands. These habitats are home to a great diversity of plant and animal life, including several threatened or endangered species.

Bosque, the Spanish word for woodland, is used in the Desert Southwest to describe a woodland that develops near desert streams and rivers. It is a riparian habitat — the desert gives way to a ribbon of green where water flows and provides enough water to sustain trees and plants not commonly found in desert habitats. The most common trees are mesquites, usually Velvet Mesquite,  slow-growing trees that rarely exceed 25 feet height. The mesquite bosque is great habitat for mammals, birds, insects and reptiles.

There are a few cottonwoods and willows growing nearer the water source–the pale green trees which grow taller than the mesquite. And the Whetstone Mountains are in the distance.

Dry Creek Bed

Dry Creek Bed © 2011 Bo Mackison

Not sure if this is the Las Ciengas creek bed or not. The Las Ciengas was described in my research as a perennial water source, but this has been an extremely dry year, so perhaps the water table is below the surface. This is one of the few areas that had something beside grasses and mesquite growing, so there was certainly water near the surface.

Empire Ranch

Empire Ranch Historic Buildings © 2011 Bo Mackison

After driving across miles and miles of grasslands, I came across this spread. The Empire Ranch is both a historic place  and a working cattle ranch. Located 45 miles southeast of Tucson near Sonoita, Arizona,  the Ranch began as a modest 160-acre spread in the 1870s. It was purchased by Walter Vail and his partners, and after many land purchases, the ranch ended up being almost one million acres in size. The 22 room Empire Ranch House is listed on National Register of Historic Places.

But the most interesting information I found was the extensive (and impressive) list of movies and television shows that had been filmed at the ranch or in the nearby area.

A partial list includes:

  • Red River, John Wayne, Montgomery Clift (1948, Howard Hawks)
  • Oklahoma!, Gordon McRae, Shirley Jones (1955, Fred Zinneman)
  • The Big Country, Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston (1958, William Wyler)
  • 3:10 to Yuma, Glenn Ford, Van Heflin (1957, Delmar Daves)
  • Hombre, Paul Newman (1967, Martin Ritt)
  • The Last Hard Men, Charlton Heston, James Coburn (1976, Andrew V. McLaglen)
  • Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming (1957, John Sturges)
  • Bonanza, Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker, several shows (1959-73 TV series, various directors)
  • Gunsmoke, James Arness, Dennis Weaver, Amanda Blake, several shows (1955-75 TV series, various directors)
  • The Cowboys, John Wayne (1972, Mark Rydell)
  • The Furies, Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Huston (1950, Anthony Mann)
  • The Wild Rovers, William Holden, Ryan O’Neal (1971, Blake Edwards)
  • Pocket Money, Paul Newman, Lee Marvin (1972, Stuart Rosenberg)
  • A Star Is Born, Barbra Streisand, Kris Kristofferson (1976, Frank Pierson)
  • Posse, Kirk Douglas, Bruce Dern (1975, Kirk Douglas)
  • Desperado, Alex McArthur, Yaphet Kotto (1987 TV, Virgil W. Vogel)

So…now does this region look more familiar? So this is where the wild, wild west was…I’ve probably seen this wild country in quite a few old cowboy movies and television shows. Maybe you have too.

Amazing what can be discovered when you turn off the main road to see what there is to see.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is living in Tucson for two months, exhibiting her photography in art shows, taking photographs, and blogging about photography, art fairs, and living life “solo.” She crossed the mountain to see what she could see, and discovered a “bonanza” of history.