Twelfth House Blog

Duality (Yin-Yang)

There are some scenes from our lives that remain indelibly fixed in our minds. I recall years ago when a friend laid a card down onto an old oak table with a decisive thunk, and leveled a meaningful gaze at me as I squirmed in my chair. She was an exquisitely tall and elegant woman, deeply intelligent and mystical, and she had just placed the Death card in front of me. We both knew it wasn’t my favorite card in any reading because it inevitably meant transition, change, and the work that comes with the same. My human nature resisted that, whether it was good for me or not. It meant acceptance of the inevitable and the embrace of duality—a concept present in all things. When something “dies,” it will make room for something else to be born.

Think of a flower: from full bloom, it eventually withers and then dies, scatters its seed to be reborn come spring. Where there is life, there must be death, and death will again transform into life. Likewise, light can only arise from darkness, and with each advancing tide, we know there will be a retreat. One cannot exist without the other, one is always becoming the other. This speaks to not only the physical nature of the world but also the emotional, spiritual, and philosophical how, and perhaps the why, of all things: contrary forces are also complementary. One thing is always transitioning to the other. It is an inevitability we must all deal with.

What does all that have to do with this pendant? Hopefully, you’ve recognized it as the Yin-Yang symbol—known as the Taijitu—derived from the ancient Chinese philosophy originating in the Song dynasty (960-1279) that provides the concept of opposite but interrelated forces. And like Death (and all the cards to greater and lesser degrees) in the tarot deck, it is a symbol of duality, of transformation. Yin is associated with the feminine, the moon, the dark, the concealed, and the negative, among others. Some Yang characteristics are male, the sun, the light, the overt, and the positive. Don’t think these concepts represent the exclusive differences in males and females of any form—they are instead energetic aspects of each that occur in both. No one is purely one or the other. Slapping such absolute labels on humans, or anything for that matter, may appear efficient, but it is hardly correct. To achieve perfect balance and harmony, Yin and Yang must have an equal share of the whole.

The Yin-Yang symbol is a circle divided by an ‘S’ line into dark and light segments, with each segment containing a ‘seed’ of the other. Its resulting teardrop shapes are recreated in this one-inch pendant using copper and silver segments, with a rivet of copper appearing in the silver, and a rivet made from silver appearing in the copper segment. The swirling teardrops help us see that as one aspect increases, the other aspect decreases, and after achieving fullness, they gradually transition into each other, with the seed of the other always present in each. There is always Yang within Yin and Yin within Yang.

I am often considering these sorts of things—the duality in the world, the differences, and yet the sameness of everything. How we are all different, how we are all one. The more we learn, we realize the less we know. But hopefully, we strive to understand. (One wonders if swirling thoughts are why I have trouble sleeping. 😊)

I am also, as I grow older, often thinking about the people in my life who left their stamp on my heart, how they have become part of me. Like my friend who laid down that card. Those changes she revealed did, of course, come. Crazy, big changes, like switching my career, “accidentally” becoming someone who makes symbols like this one from metal and wants to share them with others. But the writer who I was is still here, just not as fully present in this phase of my life’s work. As the calendar pages turn, I think of these people, and how I lose more of them every year. They go on, they become fully something else that we are always transitioning to from the moment we enter this physical realm. I want to speak from my heart to tell these people how important they are to me before I lose any more of them or before I, too, have moved on. I will likely send this post to my friend who read my cards many times and taught me more than she will ever know. I have had so many wonderful teachers. I have made and will wear this pendant for myself, to keep myself reminded I am a perpetual student and how we are all, always becoming.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for letting me share some of the contents of my heart and mind. If you’d like a pendant of your own, it will soon be available on this site but will premiere at the upcoming Kentucky Crafted Market. Details are on my “Events” page. I hope to see you there. ♥


In conversation with a friend who recently experienced a dramatic physical transformation, she shared that in looking so much better she finally felt worthy of a loving relationship. I wasn’t startled by this statement, probably because of its familiarity. I’ve heard it expressed in some form by a number of my women friends and unfortunately, it isn’t surprising given the value our culture places on physical looks, especially and unfairly–a woman’s looks.

As she spoke, I was happy for her that she was feeling her best, but I also found myself reflecting on familiar archetypes, specifically Aphrodite (also known in the Roman pantheon as “Venus”). In ancient Greece Aphrodite was worshipped as the ultimate goddess of beauty, femininity, and love. She enjoyed a massive cult following. Even today she is arguably the best-known of the Greco-Roman goddesses, perhaps due in part to Botticelli’s famous painting of Venus/Aphrodite perched atop a scallop shell—an image that is ubiquitous in pop culture.

But Aphrodite was more than just a pretty face. She was a fierce feminine archetype secure in her own agency, and confident in the knowledge that she was beautiful, powerful, and completely worthy of the love and adoration she received. She didn’t hesitate to unleash her wrath onto men and women alike who did not pay her the respect due her. As the personification of feminine power, no one had to convince Aphrodite of her worthiness–she was born knowing it.

And so, with the spirit of Aphrodite in mind, I said to my friend, “I am really, really happy for you, but you know, you have always been beautiful and worthy of love.” I repeated, “You have always been beautiful and worthy of love.” And I’m pretty sure I said it once again, “You have always been beautiful and worthy of love.”

I’m afraid I am often given to repeating myself—forgive me. But as women, as humans, let that phrase be our mantra. You don’t have to look a certain way, especially to meet our society’s ridiculously unattainable standard of physical beauty. You don’t have to do anything or be anything other than authentic—the singularly original you. Trust that this is your birthright as a human: you were born beautiful, and you are worthy of love.

As is often the case when I give any consideration to an aspect of the human condition, I was inspired to create something to help me express it.  This piece is intended to remind its wearer of the Aphrodite archetype and to call on its healing and empowering energies when in need. Along with astonishing power, this goddess also encompasses the maternal paradigm (her counterpart in Tarot is The Empress), which in this design is represented by the fullness of Mother Moon, with the crescent and half-moon shapes as further tribute to her femininity. The form at the bottom is known as the Vesica Piscis, and is perhaps the most sacred and feminine of ancient symbols linked to this deity, symbolizing creation. My hope is that embracing the archetype of Aphrodite will encourage us to work on increasing the self-love that allows self-worthiness and self-confidence to blossom, ultimately creating a more beautiful and abundant life experience.

The symbol for female (♀) known as the “Venus symbol” is also the alchemical symbol for copper. “Aphrodite” is fabricated from recycled sterling silver and copper. The pendant measures one inch wide with a three-inch drop and will be available at the upcoming Kentucky Crafted Market to be held at Alltech Arena in the Kentucky Horse Park, March 12 & 13.

The Berea Craft Festival

Drum roll, please…this is a very BIG year for the acclaimed Berea Craft Festival! Not only does it mark the return of the show after last year’s cancellation due to Covid, but it is also the 40th anniversary of this one-of-a-kind art fair. Many of my wonderful patrons have messaged me, saying how excited and eager they are for its return. As artists, we’re all pretty excited, too.

Part of what makes the Berea Craft Festival unique is its scenic setting. Indian Fort Theater is nestled in the undulating foothills of the southwest Appalachian Mountains amid one of the oldest of Kentucky’s privately managed forests, and at 9000 acres, it is also the largest. Owned by Berea College, the land has been maintained since the late 1890s by the College’s Department of Forestry and the theater area serves as the trailhead to the hike up Indian Fort Mountain, which is traversed by thousands of visitors each year.

Once you enter the gate from the parking lot, you’ll be greeted by the sights, sounds, and delicious smells of a festival in motion. You can stroll along the path under dappled shade provided by the tall forest canopy, lured onward by the sweet strains of a guitar and the rhythmic plucking of a banjo. You might be intrigued by the clang of the blacksmith’s hammer, the clack of a weaver’s shuttle, the hypnotic spin of the potter’s wheel. And you will likely find yourself tempted by the mouth-watering smells of Cajun cooking, or a wood-fired pizza—just a couple of the food trucks that will be available at the show.

But of course, the principal reason we’ll all be there enjoying the wonderful atmosphere is to provide our patrons with the opportunity to visit with all the fine creative folks who are happy to talk with you about their artistic process, with many demonstrating their skilled techniques all along the way. This year’s artist roster includes 40 of your favorite Kentucky artists, along with many out-of-state artists who also return year after year. Twenty-five new artists will also be featured. Mediums represented include ceramics, 2D fine art, jewelry, fiber, metal, wood, and glass, along with many others.

Though most of the artists you’ll meet also sell their work through e-commerce platforms and galleries, the opportunity to talk and connect with the person behind the artwork you take home is special. As not only an artist who will be participating in the show, but also a huge patron of the arts, I can tell you that these artists are some of my favorite people, and many of their works have found a place in my home. I treasure them not only because they were made by people I care about and admire, but because they represent beautiful, handmade art forms executed by creative minds and skilled hands in a world where that grows increasingly rare.

So I hope you’ll wear some comfortable walking shoes, pack some rain gear (just in case), and come on down (or up, or out) and see us. I think we’re all looking forward to celebrating our summer of re-emergence from a long, stultifying seclusion. The Berea Craft Festival takes place July 9-11, Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors, and children under 12 are free, with free parking. For more information, visit:

Three Moons

The night has crossed over into the wee hours, and the sky isn’t perfect for viewing. But if I look low and toward the east, I can spot just a sliver of the waning moon rising from behind a lumbering cloud. Hours ago it rained, but the welkin remnants can’t dim my excitement when I spy the thin illumination. Whatever her phase, Luna is always a comfort and company to me when she is visible, and like most, I use feminine terms to describe her. The moon is the quintessential feminal form, and when only a slim curve of it appears, I am reminded of one of the most ancient symbols associated with womanhood–waxing and waning crescents flanking a full moon–often referred to as the Triple Goddess symbol.

Dating from as far back as the 6th Century BCE, this lunar emblem is thought to have first been associated with the Greek goddess Hectate. It is also commonly viewed as a triad with the Roman goddess Diana in her huntress, moon, and underworld incarnations. But it has appeared throughout time in many mythological and religious pantheons and is often interpreted as the three phases of womanhood that all women will, should we endure, pass through: Maid, Mother, Crone.

Because so many women identify strongly with Luna, I’ve created many wearable pieces in her image over the years. The pendant pictured here is hand cut, hammered, and formed from the “moon metal,” silver (sterling), and features a radiant drop of Triple-A grade moonstone—so luminous it is as if it fell from the moon itself. It doesn’t show in these images, but with movement, the stone flashes a beautiful, iridescent blue. For the first time, I’ve suspended the symbol from a bar of hammered silver attached to a black leather cord. At 17 inches in length, it falls perfectly just below the well of the clavicle on most women. An inch and a half sterling chain extender at the clasp is included for those who prefer a little more room. I call her “Three Moons,” and she’s available for purchase here on my website. If this special piece becomes yours, I wish you all the myriad blessings of the Moon Goddess, including grace, compassion, and unconditional love. ♥

A Long and Happy Life — The Ginkgo

I have long been asked by my customers to create jewelry pieces inspired by the beauty of the wonderful and revered ginkgo tree. I have always resisted doing this, simply because so many artists and commercial sellers already offer their versions of the ginkgo leaf’s form. But one day last fall, with Covid raging and little else to do, I found myself wandering around my mostly empty town and was drawn to the small, park-like area across from Berea’s world-famous Boone Tavern Hotel. It was a beautiful autumnal day, and the ginkgos there were in full golden display. As I sat in the grass admiring the delicate and distinctive fan-shaped leaves of this ancient tree, I thought how it was no surprise so many are so taken with the form and pondered if I might be able to let it inspire me to make something that reflected my individual voice. I tucked a few of the leaves in my pocket to take home.

Did you know that the ginkgo tree is considered a living fossil? It has endured for millions of years and is the oldest surviving species of tree known to exist. In its native country of China, it is traditionally associated with strength, hope and peace, and widely represented in the country’s art and literature. But around the world, and especially in Japan, it is probably best-known as a symbol of fortitude and longevity. When the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, survivors included six ginkgo trees situated at the site of the blast, and though experts predicted nothing would be able to grow there for at least 75 years, the ginkgos have endured. It is expected they will live to be 3000 years old.

Back at home, I pulled the leaves from my pocket and spread them out on the work bench before me. With pencil and sketch pad in hand, I drew a form that I thought looked most like them that I could saw, texture, and form by hand. When I oxidized and finally sealed the finished forms, I thought they looked good, but needed something else. Enter the gemstone known as jade. Discovered first in China with carvings dating to the Stone Age, it seemed a natural partner to the ginkgo, and is known as the gem of good fortune and happiness. Together, the ginkgo and jade represent an aspirational pairing–a long and happy life. The resulting pendant and earrings you see here are fabricated from copper, sterling, and jade, and are available for purchase on this site. ♥



Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Celebrate Mom with a hand crafted piece of jewelry, or two, and take 20% off your total purchase. Use the code momluv20 at checkout.

How It Came To Be…

I am often asked by my customers how I started making and selling my jewelry. I guess you could say I came into the profession through a side door, taking my first, tottering steps in the jewelry making arts while on vacation in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 1997. At the time I was a freelance writer who fed her creative impulses by constructing handmade books–complete with illustrated prose and poems–and giving them away as gifts. When I first saw jewelry being made by the master silver artisans of Chiang Mai, I thought the techniques would be terrific for embellishing the books. A few years later, while visiting a gallery in Berea, I had a light bulb moment–I thought I could make something new and different from much of the jewelry I was seeing there! So, why not use those techniques for what they were intended–actually making some wearable art! Building on my skills as an illustrator and with a writer’s intuitive eye, I began to do just that, and Twelfth House Designs was born. The rest is a Cinderella story. Within a year of creating my first piece, I was juried into Kentucky’s most respected arts & crafts organizations and making a successful living! Yoo-hoo! Eventually I enrolled at Eastern Kentucky University in the metals program to explore and expand my metalsmithing skills. Now I fully embrace the creative life–living and working with my American Bulldog, Banjo, and my bossy kitty, Sofie–in the inspiring, artistic community of Berea, Kentucky located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

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The Silver Lining

COVID-19 caused countless event cancellations around the world. “Social distancing” they call it. Economically, this preventative measure hit artists, musicians, and other self-employed folks hard. But some good things have come from it, too. My new website is just one example. It’s a work in progress, but I hope you enjoy it.