Alchemical Aviary Oracle Cards

I recently completed the Alchemical Aviary oracle deck and made the short video below showing the cards in their box. The deck consists of 13 hand painted cards in a repurposed copper and brass box. I painted the cards from my own designs using watercolor pencils and acrylic inks on Bristol board, cut to reflect the shape of the box. I discovered the box in an antique shop nine years ago and I found it very compelling, and I started working on this deck then, completing two of the cards that I wrote about previously HERE and HERE. Early this spring I decided it was time to work on this project again, painting the 11 remaining cards and completing the card sleeve and box decorations.

The Alchemical Aviary oracle cards represent the 12 stages of the alchemical process, using bird imagery to symbolize the journey from base matter to gold. The title “Aviary” is used in the archaic sense, referring to a bestiary book or manuscript containing images of birds only. I created this set of cards to explore the alchemical process as it applies to the psychological aspects of the symbols – as visual focal points to use as tools for understanding. Several of the bird symbols are traditionally used to represent the aspects of the process, and others I chose to replace more traditional representations of the stages of the work.

Below is the video of the completed project and a gallery of images taken during the process of creating the cards. I am currently exploring the possibility of reproducing these and offering a limited number of sets of cards, once I work through the logistics. I am also working on writing the descriptions that go with each card, to make a small booklet to accompany the printed cards.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working on these, and have ideas for more projects like this!



  1. Dear Ms. Laughy–Your discipline, skill, and creativity always leave me breathless! I tried to study alchemy after being intrigued by The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, especially Book II, Shadow of Knight. Made my own small scrapbook attempting to illustrate a historical timeline. How you boiled and filtered the steps down using birds is phenomenal! And the Arabic box is perfect-(“al-iksir.”) Never studied Jung, but brought up Christian, I understand the quest for perfection of the soul–Pretiossimum Donum Dei–but my scrapbook leaned more toward the history of scientific methods. Now I’m more concerned with the interconnectedness of macrocosm and microcosm (As Above, So Below) in a more Celtic Pagan way, a la Robert Graves. I confess, however, I have not decoded your runes! Thank you so much for sharing your work and your process. PF

    1. Thank you Pat for your kind comment, there is definitely a lot to study with alchemy. If you are interested in the Jungian interpretation of the alchemical process there is a book by Marie Louise von Franz called – Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology – that is very good, as well as – Psychology and Alchemy – (vol. 12 of the collected works) by Jung himself. I will have to look at Harkness’ books as I enjoy a good fantasy novel! Thanks very much! – Lisa

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.