GRAPHIS LICHEN ORACLE
A deck and book project in progress by Lorena Babcock Moore.
Graphis scripta is found throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada, as well as much of Europe and northern Asia, including Japan. It is a crustose lichen that grows on tree bark in humid temperate and subtropical climates. It the best known of a specialized group of lichens in which the apothecia (spore-bearing structures) are called lirellae because of their unusual linear ridgelike form (most lichen apothecia are shaped like round balls, disks, or cups). Depending upon the species, the lirellae may form dots, straight or wavy lines, irregular glyph-like shapes, radiating star-shaped clusters, or complex labyrinthiform patterns. Graphis scripta is the most common and variable species, and is one of several species that are named for their resemblance to some form of script or writing. The lirellae are only a few millimeters long.
Graphis scripta was one of the first lichens that I learned as a child, and I have always thought its mysterious glyphs were beautiful and compelling, and wondered how to "read" them and what message they might contain. On visits to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I photographed the abundant lichens that grow on holly bark in the rare remnants of old-growth maritime deciduous forest. In a couple of hours, I walked among ancient groves, black pools in freshwater swamps, vine tangles and coastal shrub thickets, and finally crossed the sand dunes to reach the Atlantic surf. This journey has the essence of a sacred pilgrimage, which suggested the theme of the oracle. Interpretations were assigned intuitively, by looking at the shape of the glyph. The drawings are slightly stylized depictions of the lirellae as viewed under the microscope.
MARCH 2011: I have recently revised the oracle and am working on the final card images and the companion book. The concept, drawings, and interpretations for the Graphis Lichen Oracle are my original design. To protect the integrity of the project, only one sample glyph is shown below. Once the oracle has been published, I will post more images and ordering information on this page.
GLYPH FROM THE
other lichens growing alongside Graphis:
Pertusaria xanthodes (white dots)
Pyrenula cruenta (red dots)
Trypethelium virens (green/brown, lower right)
of the Morning
More about the
Outer Banks maritime forest.
All art, electronic images, and
text are copyright ©2007-2011by Lorena Babcock
Reproduction in any form without permission is a violation of copyright law.