Fellow Aussie and boss goddess behind The Fifth Element Life, Sarah Wilder, joins me in a conversation on sacred symbolism and using it to create intuitively inspired jewellery. Combining her love of nature and design, Sarah incorporates beautiful sacred symbols into talismans, pendants, and rings. Her love of symbols extends beyond rings and things! Sarah has also created an Oracle deck.
Join us for a delightful conversation around sacred symbols, talismans and zoomancy (connecting with the meanings of animals) in Episode 115 of the Biddy Tarot Podcast!
Check out Sarah’s jewellery at TheFifthElementLife.com
Follow Sarah on Instagram @TheFifthElementLife
Order Sarah’s Animal Kin Oracle Card Deck here!
You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 115: Sacred Symbolism with Sarah Wilder.
Welcome to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, where you’ll learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.
Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. Now, here is your host, Brigit Esselmont.
BRIGIT: Hello and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot Podcast. As always, it’s a pleasure to be talking with you about Tarot and intuition and all things spiritual.
Well, today, I have a fellow Aussie guest. In fact, I’m not sure if we’ve had another Aussie guest. Yes, we had! We’ve had a couple in the past. But today, I’m talking with Sarah Wilder. She is the creative Soulpreneur and Boss Goddess behind The Fifth Element Life.
The Fifth Element Life, if you don’t know it, is a conscious brand that connects body, mind and spirit through symbolic and sacred talismans and tools, and home of the ever-popular Mandala talisman ranges. If you’ve never seen this stuff before, do check it out. It’s at TheFifthElementLife.com. It’s beautiful rings and pendants with mandalas on them. Sarah has also created an Oracle deck and Moon Planner. It’s just absolutely divine stuff, and it’s all integrating this sacred symbolism that she creates through mandalas and other symbols as well.
Now, Sarah combines her love of nature and design to intuitively create these symbolic talismans, tools and teachings for self-reconnection, which help to focus the mind and reconnect people to their true nature, and her purpose is to empower women to tell and own their own stories with pride, and express themselves honestly, to provide sacred tools to guide them through uncharted energy territories. And it’s through her own unique, multifaceted and zoomancy lenses…
And by the way, I haven’t heard of the word “zoomancy” until today, and just so you know, it’s how you’re connecting to the meaning of animals. And what a fabulous name. I love it. “Zoomancy.” She’s bringing all of this together so that we can look to nature to learn more about ourselves and connect to our inner selves as well.
Now, in today’s interview, we talk a little bit about sacred symbolism, and Sarah shares her inspiration behind her jewellery range, which is the Mandalas, and how she goes about creating those. She also talks about how she’s leveraged the Mandalas now into an Oracle deck, and is now incorporating zoomancy, which is, of course, knowing the animals and the meanings behind the animals, has created a beautiful Oracle deck as a result.
So, I think you’re going to really enjoy today’s interview not just because it’s a fellow Aussie—hooray!—but also because we have a really great conversation here, so sit back, relax and enjoy.
SACRED SYMBOLISM WITH SARAH WILDER
BRIGIT: Welcome, Sarah. It’s such a pleasure to have you here on the Biddy Tarot Podcast. How are you doing today?
SARAH: I’m great. Thanks for having me.
BRIGIT: My pleasure! Now, for those of you who might not know you, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and The Fifth Element Life that you also have founded and are running?
SARAH: Yeah, sure! My name is Sarah Wilder, and I am the Creative Director and Owner of The Fifth Element Life, and basically, the brand is all about reconnecting people with their own true nature, and I do that through creating tools and talismans that, basically, help people find their way back to their own essence. That’s through Oracle cards, with a particular focus on animals, and also symbolic Mandala-type jewellery as well.
BRIGIT: And what drew you to this work to begin with?
SARAH: Just a series of unfortunate events, I guess! I guess my life has always kind of redirected me into this place that I’m in now, which is great. There have been so many things that I’ve experienced in my life that kind of catapulted me into a new direction to really reconnect with who I am and reassess where I was at that time of life, without steering too far down a path that didn’t fulfil me.
For example, in my early twenties, I was in the fashion business, in fashion design, and I really wanted to be a fashion designer. I had my own business and that kind of thing, so I always was quite entrepreneurial to start with, but I found myself chasing this kind of dream in my early twenties, and then my father passed away, and that was a big soul-awakening time, a night of the soul type thing.
It forced me to go back and say, “Well, you know, I’m not doing anything for myself at the moment.”
I was working in the industry. I was studying and that kind of thing, but it wasn’t lighting me up, so I started my own accessories business very soon after that as a creative therapy type of thing, as an outlet to get creative again and just do something fun for myself.
So, I did that for a few years, and I moved around Australia and worked in the industry as well as running this business, and I found myself quite burnt out. It got to 2012 where I found myself again in a business that I didn’t feel very connected to anymore. I had outgrown it by that stage.
It was actually a birthday present for my mum that year that planted the seed for The Fifth Element Life to evolve. It was this beautiful silver chunky ring that had this Mandala etching on it. Working in the fashion industry, I was always beautifully dressed, wearing all the designer labels and fraternizing with that type of group of people in Sydney—that fast-paced fashion kind of lifestyle—and this ring was my reminder of who I actually was. I felt like I was a bit more of a free spirit in a world that was not really my place. It was kind of my anchor to remind me of the next chapter I wanted to go down, and of who I actually was.
From there, it was an idea that I played with, and I fell pregnant that year as well, so that kind of forced me to end that chapter of my life, and it was permission to start over again as a new mother to start building a new brand and embark on this whole spiritual journey alongside my business journey as well.
BRIGIT: Yeah. I swear there was something about 2012. In fact, wasn’t there something about 2012? That’s also the year that I quit my corporate job and made this change.
SARAH: Yes, there you go.
BRIGIT: Huge. And I know that many other people have done that in that particular year as well!
SARAH: Absolutely. So many people! It was a mass awakening.
BRIGIT: That’s right. Yeah, and I think also having a baby… I had my first one in 2009, and that was just the start, you know?
BRIGIT: You get that separation from your daily work and go, “Hmm, there’s something more out there.” So, I think it’s fabulous that you heard that call because I think also many people would choose not to listen to it as well. It’s daunting.
BRIGIT: And how was it for you making that transition into this more soulful work?
SARAH: Oh, amazing! I guess, for me, I was never… I was kind of exposed to it throughout my life anyway, so it wasn’t a complete surprise to people. I was always kind of a closet hippie anyway, and my fondest memories of working with Tarot and Oracle cards and stuff were in my high school years, when I went to an all-girls Catholic private school, and I was the token hippie of the group who would invite the girls over for tea, and we would read Tarot. My mum and my auntie, we’d get together and read Tarot together, and that was our little family thing that we did, and that’s how we would bond and reconnect with each other.
That was always quite a different thing to do as a 15-year-old girl, so I guess I always had that in me that I wasn’t afraid of that or that it was something that I was very interested in anyway, and it felt like that was something that I really connected with.
I guess it was permission finally to be that girl and that woman and reconnect with that side of myself as well. I just created the space in my world to be able to play with it again.
BRIGIT: Yeah, absolutely, and I think you’ve tapped into something there around giving yourself permission to be that person because, I think, so often, we put it to the side and go, “Oh yeah, that’s just my hobby,” and we don’t give it the credit that it’s due, so it’s lovely when people fully step into that role and fully embrace it.
BRIGIT: And then do so very well with it as well, which is great! A lot of your work has to do with this concept of sacred symbolism. You see a lot of the Mandalas, like in the jewellery that you’re making. Can you talk to me a little bit about sacred symbolism: what it means, what it does, why is it important, and so on?
SARAH: Yeah, of course. To me, symbolism and sacred geometry and that type of thing is the signature of things. It’s essentially a symbolic language. It’s how nature communicates with us and how it communicates with other elements of nature. From the very beginnings of everything, every cell starts with a sacred symbolism or a signature or a shape, and everything is born from that.
I guess that’s very symbolic when you think of yourself and your life. It’s always about going back the basics and your foundation, and looking deeply into what makes you you.
And symbolism is so universal as well. We have, obviously, written language and that type of thing. However, imagery and symbols are so much more… I guess, connect people in a much broader way than words can, essentially. You just have to look at all ancient cultures. They’ve always used symbols throughout everywhere that they communicate, and pass that information on to each generation as well.
So, there’s something really beautiful about it—and timeless about it, which really fascinates me. I love learning about the history of symbols, the origins of different symbols, symbolic imagery and just how that transcends every decade, every century, essentially. It’s just something that’s just always there.
BRIGIT: With the Mandalas that you’re using in your jewellery, are you creating something new with a set intention? Or are you using a Mandala that’s been used for many, many years, decades?
SARAH: Sure. I created new ones because I feel like that was… I can, obviously, reference certain universal symbols, like the Moon and the Sun and that type of thing, and eyes symbolise wisdom or knowledge or intuition or whatever. There are a lot of certain elements that I incorporate but in a new way, so it’s sort of like my own language that I’ve created for the modern woman who wants to reconnect with her own nature. I bring in elements and ancient symbols and universal symbols and create new ones for myself because it’s just fun, you know? It’s a creative outlet.
And yeah, I wanted something unique, and anyone can just Google an image and use that on jewellery, but it’s something about the intention and the symbols that I’ve created. If I create a symbol for a mantra, obviously, there’s not a symbol that exists for that mantra that I want to remind me of that mantra, so that’s why I create a unique image to go with that certain intention and words.
BRIGIT: Yeah. I’ve seen you’ve got jewellery for rebirth and all sorts of things, so what are some of the things that you’re tapping into when you’re creating the jewellery?
SARAH: A lot of the things I incorporate are the classical elements: air, fire, water, earth and spirit. Again, when you go back to the symbolism of things, different lines can embody different feminine or masculine qualities, different elements.
For example, my biggest selling design to date is called “Communication,” and it’s the most beautiful, floral, feminine symbol that I’ve ever created, and it was the most popular, and I think that’s because you look at it, and it just feels like the most feminine, flowing, beautiful symbol, and that’s what communication is to me. It’s about taking down all the layers and just being open, going with the flow, and just being able to connect with yourself, with others. I guess they’re the things that I have always used as my anchors, whether it be an element, feminine or masculine quality.
And then, obviously, words carry a certain energy for me as well, so I do meditate a lot on what those words mean to me and how it makes me feel, and then I create a symbol that feels like it represents that.
BRIGIT: Yeah, it’s beautiful—and very powerful. I’m looking at them now, and they’re just so strong even in just their physical appearance. For those of you who are listening, go to TheFifthElementLife.com, and check them out because they’re just absolutely divine!
SARAH: Thank you.
BRIGIT: They’re not just little, tiny rings. They’re big, ginormous things that are like, “Yes, I’m here, and this is what I mean!”
SARAH: That’s right.
BRIGIT: Which is wonderful! Then you also carried over this sacred symbolism to Oracle cards, which, of course, is a little bit more in my domain, which is beautiful. Tell me a little bit more about the inspiration with that, how you’ve carried it over.
SARAH: Well, obviously, as I mentioned, I’ve been interested in Oracle and Tarot throughout my life anyway. Obviously, I’m a very creative and artistic person as well, so I guess, in the back of my mind throughout my whole life, I always thought it would be really cool to create my own deck, but it was never my set intention with this brand. It was always the jewellery was the focus.
Another huge passion of mine is working with animals, and has been throughout my whole life as well. There was just a time where I felt like I wanted another creative project, and I started just painting animals as a side thing to just meditate and relax at the end of the day, and just kind of get back into my creative flow outside of work.
And, of course, then I set a challenge to do an animal a week or something, and I started doing them and sharing them online, and people were really loving it, and I kind of felt like, “Hang on a minute! What am I working towards here? Maybe this has to be something.” Obviously, the first thing that came to mind was an Oracle deck with the animal artwork.
Zoomancy is always something that I’ve been really interested and have kind of done as a little passion of mine. People would go, “What does this animal mean?” texting me, pretty much my whole life. I’m the go-to girl for that type of thing, and I thought, obviously, that’s another great way for me to really dive deeper into that passion of mine and learn more about it and develop my skill in that, as well as explore it and help others to do the same.
It kind of was an organic start to the project, but very quickly, it became very evident what it was meant to be, and I just gained momentum to work towards it. I think it took maybe close to two years to finish because it was just one of those things that I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to put pressure on having it done by a certain time and getting sales and all that type of thing. It was just like, “If you got time, dedicate it to it,” and on some days, I would do five animal paintings in a day, and then it might be five weeks before I would touch another one.
It was really honouring my own creative flow as well, and again, this links back to following the Moon cycles and that type of thing. I work quite cyclically. I go with the ebb and flow of my own creative energy, and it took two years to finish the artwork, and then we put it all together and launched it via Kickstarter because physical products are very expensive to do, especially printed products. It was a really successful launch, and we’re in our third edition of the same Oracle deck now, too.
BRIGIT: That’s fabulous!
BRIGIT: And do you find that this deck relates to… Do you have to love animals and understand what they mean to use the deck? Or do you find others can use it also?
SARAH: Not really. I think there’s such an easy… It’s kind of like a beginner’s set. For example, everyone knows a lot of animals. You just are exposed to that as a child, right? You read stories that are filled with animals. You, obviously, fall in love with different kinds of animals and are exposed to them over your lifetime, not necessarily in person, but you just do know quite a lot of different kinds of animals.
It’s really easy for kids to work with. A lot of my customers do have that as a ritual in their family. Their kids will draw a card, and they’re so colourful and fun and really innocent looking and really simple. They’ve just got one word on the card, and then you can, obviously, dive more into the meaning and learning about the animals in the guidebook. But no, it’s the most non-intimidating deck that exists!
BRIGIT: There’s no Tower card or evil wolves.
SARAH: No. I really love that kind of deeper and even more light and shade in those kinds of decks, and I think that’s important, too, but this is such a great way for people to just sort of dip their toe in and use it in a day-to-day guide. I mean, you don’t have to love all of the animals in the deck. I do feature animals like spiders and praying mantises, and I know a lot of people have adverse reactions to those types of animals, but they still look so beautiful. The cards are so beautiful. I’ve just really kind of shined a beautiful, bright light on those kinds of animals, too, and teach people to not fear them to really respect them as another big thing.
If that’s what I can do, I can help people to reconnect with animals that they wouldn’t even look twice at and really find the beauty in them and appreciate them, and not ever actually have to like them or want to ever touch one, but at least to feel they have value to you.
BRIGIT: Yeah, that definitely makes sense. Then you’ve also incorporated the Mandalas into each of those cards, so it’s kind of got a whole new level of energy around it, too.
SARAH: Exactly, yeah. So, all my designs—well, a lot of them—have always had an elemental influence as well, whether they be more linked to earth or fire cards or whatever. Each animal, I’ve allocated them to a certain element, and those Mandalas are then incorporated onto that card so that if you were more interested in working with reading the card without using the guidebook and just going from your intuition, there are some visual cues in the cards, even though they’re very, very simple to look at, but even in terms of colour and the Mandala symbols that I’ve used, and elements that are then associated with that, and then, obviously, tapping into the energy of the animal and what their strengths and weaknesses are and stuff. You can kind of evolve the story of the card as well.
BRIGIT: Yep, beautiful. And do you think you’ve got a Tarot deck inside of you?
SARAH: I think I do; I just know that it’s such a big project that I really have to create the space in my life to do it. And again, I’ve always been very drawn to Tarot, and I love working with it. Again, I would really like to learn more, and I think that’s a really intimate way of me being able to connect with each card, is to create them and to really dive into the symbolism in traditional sets, but then, obviously, put my own spin on it, too, and interpret it. Whether it will be an animal Tarot deck, I’m not sure. For years, I’ve had the thought of doing it, but yeah, it’s just one of those things. I’m just waiting for the penny to drop and be like, “Yes, this is the time. I’m ready to do this.”
BRIGIT: And it’s such a huge commitment, really.
SARAH: It’s huge. It is huge.
BRIGIT: You can’t really get to card 67 and go, “OK, I’m done.”
SARAH: Totally, right? It’s a lot of planning. Yeah, it would probably take me years, really, to perfect it and to give it justice. I really like to take the time to research each card and develop it, so people can get a lot out of each image as well when they’re reading.
BRIGIT: Yep. How are you using Tarot currently in your life? Are you using it quite regularly? Or just every now and then? Do you use it for personal or business?
SARAH: I used to do both a lot. I used to do a lot more Tarot for myself, and I think that, again, it’s that… You know, when you’re at a point in your life where you maybe feel disconnected, or you feel like you need some guidance on a direction to take, that’s the time. I wouldn’t use it every, but when I have a question, or I just need to reconnect with myself and get really clear on what I’m doing and what I’m feeling, I’ll definitely do a spread and journal through that. It is quite sporadic, the way that I work with it.
I used to offer weekly readings using Tarot and Oracle combos through my business as well. This was pre having my card deck, and then when I had my card deck, obviously, I chose to work with those more directly in my newsletters and stuff.
SARAH: But again, I think, if I did create a Tarot deck, I would definitely work with that more in my work, but for now, it’s just something that I do just when I feel like I need it.
BRIGIT: Do you use it ever for business planning or strategizing or anything along those lines?
SARAH: I can get quite overwhelmed with directions and choosing certain things.
SARAH: I have lots of ideas all the time, and I can be quite, you know, so many tabs open in my brain at all times. When I feel like I’m overwhelmed with all that noise in my mind, that’s the time I would call on the Tarot deck to sit and plan and draw a card to guide my own intuitive pulls to what I actually feel like I should be doing, and just cutting away all that other stuff that you kind of tell yourself that you need to be doing and really get to the barebones and the essence of the next step.
BRIGIT: Yeah. That’s a good reminder to me, too, because I also have many, many, many ideas, and my team don’t enjoy it when I say, “Hey, let’s do this new thing!” “What?” Oh, it’s brilliant. When you’re working with Tarot, do you see even more of the symbolism in the cards, because you seem to be very attuned on a symbolic level?
SARAH: That’s my favourite thing. If I can avoid the guidebook, I will, which is kind of, I guess, why I like the more meaty Tarot decks that have a lot more going on in the imagery, because there are so many hidden symbols. When you think of symbols, you think it’s a certain shape or whatever, but really, everything is a symbol. Animals can be a symbol for certain energies and words, and plants can be.
Just look at the shapes on the traditional Tarot decks, the Cups and the Pentacles or whatever, that’s a circle, so you go back to the circle. It’s still quite a feminine shape, but it’s a very origin- or foundational-based shape, whereas the Cup on a water card is that really flowy line work. You can link it back to being feminine energy without knowing exactly what that symbolises. There are just so many things hidden in Tarot cards, especially some of the older original decks that are fascinating to read into.
And, obviously, then there are religious-based symbols, and there are so many different cultures and influences in these decks, and they’re really hidden in different symbols.
BRIGIT: Do you also believe it’s a balance between having the common meaning for a symbol versus your own personalised meaning? How do you play with that?
SARAH: Yeah, I think there are definitely lots of universal symbols. I mean, you can’t argue that a line doesn’t represent confidence. There are a lot of animals that… The dove is peace, and everyone just kind of symbolises that colour white with peace and harmony and that type of thing, which is something you can’t really dispute, but I think that’s always a great foundation, but then there are always other ways that you can then go with how you feel towards those different symbols or the reactions that you get and bring into your energy to kind of weave a more unique view of that symbol as well.
So, I think it’s always about harmonising the two using what you know that you’ve been told or whatever, that’s in text, about the meaning of that symbol, but then trusting that you also know more than you do.
BRIGIT: Yeah, because I think we often end up second-guessing ourselves and thinking, “Oh, I think it could mean this, but it’s totally different to what’s in the book!”
SARAH: Yeah, absolutely. And at the end of the day, if it’s going to help you, just do it. Just believe it. If that’s the direction that you need to go in, and that’s how you’re feeling, then you have to trust that and honour that. You should never go against your own belief or feeling on something.
BRIGIT: Yep, beautiful. Are there any exciting projects that you’re working on over the next 6 to 12 months? Probably not a Tarot deck just yet, but—
SARAH: Not a Tarot deck. I feel like maybe I’ll plant some seeds or maybe start some structural things for a Tarot deck next year. There are a few little projects in the works, a few collaborations.
I’ll be doing my calendar again, which I have done now 4 years in a row. I’ve just launched next year’s calendar, so I’m hoping to get that published next year, and that will launch it on a grander scale, because that’s something that I feel really passionate about, too, and it incorporates absolutely everything I’m into: Moon phases. Astrology, animals, symbols. All of it is put into one beautiful little package that I really loved creating, so yeah, that’s around.
Then I will be expanding the jewellery line as well. I will be moving on from the more chunky Mandala-style designs that I’ve been doing for the last few years, and I’ll be injecting some new styles that are simpler and more [inaudible 00:28:50] styles. Over the next few months, that’s going to be a way to expand my talisman offerings as well, which is exciting.
BRIGIT: Beautiful. Excellent. Where can people find out more about you?
SARAH: I’m fairly active on social media: @TheFifthElementLife on Instagram. I’m there every day, and I’ll answer anyone’s questions personally, and I’m always sharing the behind-the-scenes on my creative processes and that type of thing, too, which a lot of people appreciate. And our website is TheFifthElementLife.com. Either of those spaces is probably where you can learn the most, and obviously, Facebook as well at The Fifth Element Life.
BRIGIT: Yep, beautiful. Is there anything that you’d like to share so that you can feel that this is complete?
SARAH: I would just like to maybe challenge everyone to put out to the universe to attract a certain animal messenger for themselves in the next, say, week or so, and to bring forth some kind of significant animal encounter, or maybe it’s just you see the same kind of animal over and over again on your social media feeds or in person, or people are talking about it. And then, to really focus deeply on what that animal means to you, and to dissect what it is about that animal that you feel is a strength and, perhaps, how you feel about that animal—that’s another indicator of tapping into their magic. And yeah, just kind of weave a message to yourself, which is something I really encourage a lot of people to do, not just jump straight to Google and look up what it is but to practice their own zoomancy skills. I believe everyone has it. It’s just whether you choose or not to focus on it or pay it any attention.
SARAH: If you can study an animal and get to know its message to you, that would be really cool.
BRIGIT: Yes, and they are. There’s a lot of power in connecting to the animals. I’ve had certain animals come up at certain times, and it’s totally… It’s showing me something that’s different to… I’ll go and look it up on Google and go, “Oh, is that what it means?”
BRIGIT: When I tap into it more intuitively, I’m like, “Oh, that’s what it means!”
SARAH: Because you also know what’s going on in your life and how that story can relate to or be a mirror to what your experience is at this stage, too.
SARAH: A lot of people forget that there’s magic all around them in the earth plane, and you don’t have to visit other realms or tap into any different kinds of dimensional energies to still find a message or guidance. It’s all here in our physical world, too, which is something I really encourage people to start if working with angels and stuff doesn’t resonate with them, or if it kind of feels really daunting when you first embark on your spiritual journey. Earth has lots of gifts for you.
BRIGIT: Yes. Absolutely. Fantastic. Well, it’s been such a joy to chat with you today, Sarah. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom around symbolism and animals and all that good juju. Thank you so much.
SARAH: Thanks so much for having me, Brigit.
BRIGIT: My pleasure.
BRIGIT: There you have it. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Sarah and I, and maybe you’re inspired to look for that animal spirit that’s coming into your life over the next week. I’m so glad that Sarah challenged us to do that. I’ll also be looking out for my animal over the next week, too.
Just remember: It can come through in all sorts of ways. It might be that you actually see the animal, but it might also be a lot of pictures of that animal, or as Sarah said, it might be on social media, or even the words might keep coming up. Who knows? But pay attention over the next week and tap into the personal meaning for you because that’s where it gets really exciting and interesting as well.
Now, of course, you can get all of the show notes and the transcript for today’s podcast over at BiddyTarot.com/115. You can also access all the links to Sarah’s profiles online as well.
All right, I am so looking forward to chatting with you again very, very soon. For now, have a great week. Speak soon! Bye for now.