Sunday, December 29, 2013

Testing, Testing: The Dark Grimoire

This is a tongue-in-cheek response to TABI's second practice question for November.
Please note: NO ACTUAL PERSON was offended in the writing of this letter! Both question and querent are fictitious.

Here we go...out on a limb with the Grim.

I've a young family and don't get the time to do what I want to and I'm unhappy. Please help!

Dear Unhappy,

I've chosen the completely inappropriate Dark Grimoire deck for your reading because I'm selfishly using your situation to further my tarot skills.

1. WHAT TO TRY - Knave of Chalices
Chalices are the suit of Water, our emotional centre, and in this deck represent Dreams which can be fragile and need to be nurtured.
TRY to hold onto your dreams of having more time for yourself, because as your family grows you will indeed emerge from your 24/7 status as a mom.
After everyone is bedded down for the night, pour yourself a glass of wine, and maybe just sit in the dark for a while to collect the bits of yourself that have strayed off during the day to care for your family.
TRY to find a bit of time to indulge yourself with what you want to do. Maybe you're a morning person (as is the young woman in this card) and sunrise might be this time for you to do a bit of writing or reading, or attend to your hair or your closet, whatever you need to do to make yourself feel like an attractive literate adult again.

2. WHAT TO AVOID - Knight of Pentacles
In the Dark Grimoire deck, Pentacles are Shadows, our physical body and our material possessions. The Shadow aspect, as WHAT TO AVOID, is suggesting that you are not your possessions. The real you exists separately from your material existence.
Since much of your physical existence right now involves the trappings of children and babyhood, this card is letting you know that you are not merely the lowly servant of the washing machine and high chair (although it may sometimes feel like that).
Perhaps AVOID getting mired in the idea that you will be stuck in the bad-smelling cave of the diaper pail forever!
This card may be advising you to AVOID excessive wishing that a Knight with a magic egg will suddenly transport you out of the childcare cave into an adult world where no one vomits on you and free time stretches infinitely!

How perfect for your LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, Unhappy!
There is indeed an END to your current no-time-for-me TUNNEL. Your children will eventually learn to dress themselves and use the microwave and stop shoving coasters into the DVD player.
You'll need a little patience to get there, however.
Some ideas come to mind with the luxurious castle beckoning in this card:
  • your children will grow up to be rich, and will support you in palatial style in your old age
  • you will win the lottery and buy a castle, where an array of servants and nannies will see to your every need, including that of privacy and time to yourself
But in the meantime...

The Knave (sometimes Page or Princess) of Chalices invites you to DREAM up some small activities for yourself that will fit into your current busy family life.
AVOID getting stuck in the "I'll never get out of this cave of endless childcare duties" and put your Knightly energy to constructive use. Have a look in your fridge - maybe one of the eggs in there is glowing with an idea for you!
And know that your 24/7 duties will LIGHTen up, and there will be days when your home will look more like a palace and less like a playpen!

Who knew that even a seemingly ill-chosen deck such as the Dark Grimoire could offer up a useful and suitable reading to this young mother?
Tarot...ya gotta love it!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Short and Sweet

Yuletide greetings!
It's Tuesday night, December 23. Christmas CD supply abundant. Tree fragrant. Outside lights twinkling. Baking done. Shopping mostly done. Cooking...well, it will be done. Wrapping...not even close.
So this post is short and sweet.

Here's the short part:
One of the winter cards from the beautiful Wildwood Tarot. In the Hooded Man (aka the Hermit) I especially love the wreath on what looks like a hobbit door, and the holly leaves and berries on his cloak.

And here's the sweet part:
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

All my Christmas cookies recipes are sized to use a pound of butter. No use making a piddly number of cookies, right? But it's happy being halved if that seems more reasonable to you.
Makes 64 thick wedges. Keeps for weeks in a tin.
Oven 350 F; baking sheets lined with parchment paper

In a mixer: (can also be done by hand or in a food processor)
It doesn't seem to matter if the butter and sugar get creamed together first, or the dry stuff goes in first and the butter gets mixed in last. Your choice - I've done it both ways.

1 lb. salted butter at room temp
1 c brown sugar

3 1/2 c flour (I use unbleached all-purpose)
1 c unsweetened cocoa (not cocoa drink mix) I use Fry's
1/2 tsp salt

Last in:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate bar, melted (not icky baking chocolate; something you're happy to eat by itself)

Mix it up. Divide it into 8 pieces. Refrigerate for a few hours or a few days, or use right away. Pat them to a circle about 3/4 inch thick on the parchment-covered cookies sheets, cut into 8 wedges but don't separate them yet, poke some holes in it with a fork. I put four circles on one cookie sheet.

Bake for 17 minutes, turn the trays. If you're making the whole recipe, you can put a tray on top and bottom oven racks. Switch top to bottom and turn.
Bake 17 more minutes.
Recut the wedges and separate them on the cookie sheets so the edges have a chance to firm up. Be gentle when they're still hot; they're a bit soft and fragile.
Cool on the sheets. Pack into tins when completely cool.

Their flavours mingle nicely in the tins.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas 1973

Oh those tempting racks of Christmas magazines at the grocery store checkout! I still love them.

Then, as now, most featured cookies I wanted to try (and sometimes did), and gingerbread houses I wanted to build (but never did, after looking at the architecturally terrifying instructions.)
There were variations on decking your halls and swagging your decks and dressing the bird, and the latest festive versions of the "little black dress".
And often a Christmas story to read to the kids.

In 1973 Family Circle published Lowly Worm and His Best Merry Christmas Ever by Richard Scary.
(That's Lowly on the left, perched perilously at the edge of the candy vat. You can probably guess what happens next.)

I read it to my son, and later to my daughter when she came along. Every year it got stored away with all the other favourite Christmas magazines, to be retrieved and enjoyed again.
But then one year it happened.
Family Circle 1973 was nowhere to be found. Had it been inadvertently thrown out? Did a box get lost in the confusion of moving? Oh no! A small piece of my children's past was lost!

Christmas time, the receptacle for so much nostalgia. Our own times past, our children's growing up, our parents turning from grandparents to great-grandparents. The best of Gram's baking and Mim's cooking. Shopping and wrapping. Family gatherings idealized by the mists of selective memory.

This year a little piece of my Christmases past came floating back to me, courtesy of my resourceful and thoughtful daughter (or maybe she just got sick of hearing me moan about losing Lowly Worm?).
In late November I received this early Christmas present.
(Note the cover price of 29 cents!)

Let's lift a glass to Yuletides past and yet to come!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Balance and the Two of Pents

Juggling everything is impossible. Especially at this time of year!
Unless you're one of those people who can keep a dozen plates spinning atop sticks while tossing around roaring chainsaws, as you sing one of the arias from Handel's Messiah and roll out cookie dough.

I'm more the holding-a-plate-in-one-hand-and-a-mug-of-tea-in-the-other kind of person.
Tea Tarot

Balance. We all need it. We all strive for it. Sometimes we achieve it. But most of the time we're involved in a balancing act, teetering between too much of this and not enough of that.

Nature is great at balance. Wandering around this past August, camera in hand,
I found myself drawn to pairs of things hanging from trees.

Like these little keys.

                       And these apples.

Their human-built equivalents, keeping us on our toes and off our derrieres!
Bohemian Gothic Tarot

The Two of Pentacles encourages us to find the balance.
Sometimes we need to juggle.

Or take it one cautious step at a time

Or pause to grease the squeaky wheel.
Gaian Tarot

And then there are times when you just have to give up, throw your hands up, and crack up.
Some days you're the straight man, some days you're the Fool!
The Golden Age of Hollywood

Sunday, November 17, 2013

To comment or not to comment, with the Fantastic Menagerie

Lately I've been looking into the advisability of allowing
comments on one's blog (or not).
all images from the Fantastic Menagerie, Baba Studio

When I visit a blog, I'm there to read what that particular blogger has to share.
New thoughts, great links, wild rants, cool ideas, dismal failures, hot-off-the-press products,
valuable services, brilliant insights.

I find strings of comments distracting.

It may be that my brain intake valve is too small, or perhaps it's the fact that
I was hatched in the time of the dinosaurs.

For whatever the reason, I find that I prefer commentless blogs.
I may be alone in this; who knows?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Testing, Testing: The Housewives Tarot

TABI has opened a new forum thread called Practice Question of the Month. Originally it was begun to give everyone on TABI, not just the Free Readers, an opportunity to try out reading the cards with the benefit of safe feedback (TABI-ites are kind and supportive; they're an amazing group) and without worrying about serving a flesh-and-blood client.

I decided to test out the seemingly lightweight Housewives Tarot and see how it behaved. (June Cleaver wanted to help but was worried about messing up her pearls.) What follows is the reading I might have sent out to "Sagit" had she been a real person with an email address. I think this deck did a great job!

"I am a 30-year-old Sagittarian and mother of two. I have recently given up full-time employment to start my own consultancy business from home. This is all feeling a bit scary. Am I doing the right thing, or should I seek regular employment again?"

This is the spread I cooked up for you in the test kitchen of the Housewives Tarot, Sagit, and these are the cards that came up for each position.

1. WHAT YOU'VE GIVEN UP - Knight of Pentacles


3. TESTING, TESTING - The Hermit


Wow! Two Majors have come to share; they're acknowledging that this is a big deal, life-changing decision you've made.

How interesting, Sagit. The cards feature one man as WHAT YOU'VE GIVEN UP, and two women for WHAT YOU'VE GAINED and TESTING, TESTING.
You've given up a workplace where presumably there are males (perhaps even your supervisor), to work at home as your own boss.


1. WHAT YOU'VE GIVEN UP - Knight of Pentacles
This young handsome Knight of Pentacles is mowing the lawn (actually he's mowing a large pentacle symbol!) while wearing a tuxedo.

Pentacles is the suit of EARTH, finances, material goods, security. As WHAT YOU'VE GIVEN UP, this Knight represents your steady paycheck and with that, some degree of financial security.
If your workplace was dressy (like the Knight in his tux) then goodbye panty hose!
The flip side of this coin, Sagit, is that you have also GIVEN UP being under the supervision of someone else. This Knight of Pents is standing in for your boss at your recent place of employment. Bring on the freedom!

A beaming young woman holds up a blue-ribbon-winning cherry pie; she is surrounded by row upon row of prize ribbons arranged in concentric circles around her.

WHAT YOU'VE GAINED by freeing yourself from employment is the opportunity to be the STAR of your own business!
This woman makes this win appear effortless with her perfectly applied lipstick and fresh smile, yet we know that all these wins took time, hard work, energy. This current success didn't arrive overnight; there are bags of flour, bowls of cherries, dirty dishes, and some inedible pies behind the scenes. She's rolled up her sleeves, donned a kerchief to keep her blonde locks out of the way, and pitched in.
YOU'VE GAINED the chance to craft your own work life, Sagit, and given yourself the opportunity to be a Star in your own consulting constellation!

3. TESTING, TESTING...- The Hermit
A young blonde woman (what's up with all the blondes in this 50s deck?) has pinned up her curls and is unwrapping a fresh bar of Lux soap as she luxuriates in the bathtub.

The Hermit spends time alone with her own thoughts and dreams. Now that you've settled yourself at home to sculpt your own business, Sagit, the TESTING, TESTING will come on several fronts:
  • Will you thrive working at home without the company and/or annoyances of colleagues?
  • Given enough time, will your solo endeavour provide the income you need?
  • Are your children school age, giving you hours of uninterrupted work time, or are one or both still at home requiring your care and attention?


These cards are telling a positive story regarding the success of your new business, Sagit!
You've GIVEN UP being accountable to the Knight of Pentacles bossing you around at work.
There is also the loss of income connected to this card, but I'm thinking that you probably wouldn't have felt inclined to quit your current job if you weren't supported at home (financially and emotionally) by your partner.
YOU'VE GAINED the opportunity to shine as a Star in your field of expertise! Not that becoming a success (in whatever way you measure that - finance, self-esteem, independence) will be achieved overnight. Nor will you likely be "rolling in dough" anytime soon!
Like the young woman in the card, you'll find work to be done, plans to be made, connections to be capitalized on. I hope you savour this process as much as this Star baker seems to!
TESTING, TESTING...Will you enjoy the life of a work-from-home consultant? Time will tell.
There is a cheerfulness in all three of these cards that bodes well for your endeavours, Sagit. And as you mentioned in your question, you can always seek outside employment again, should your home business not pan out as you hope. Any experience gained will look great on your resume!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Prolific Perception

I wanted to find out how many words can be made using the letters in perception.
The site has the answer; are you ready for this? 328!
(Most of which I confess I've not seen before.)

My favourite of all is coin - as in "the flip side of the same" which is absolutely perfect for how perception works.
(Although a crone and a cretin sharing a recipe for potpie washed down with a pint of pinot noir, followed by crepes for dessert while enjoying the ripe tones of a trio of tenors were also in the running.)

Last night I heard Margaret Atwood speak about her latest book, MaddAddam (she's fond of palindromes). Although most of her books are not on my re-read list, I was jazzed to hear her in person. She was fluent, fluid, funny.
A critic might describe her style as condescending and affected, her mind preoccupied with body parts and swear words, her answers to audience questions flippant.
A fan may say she is brilliant, knowledgeable on diverse subjects, hilariously down-to-earth, and likely to turn silly questions back over to the asker.
Same subject, same event, two perceptions. I love it!

Water or Weeds

Water or Boat with Heron Carcass (Gaian Tarot)

Female or Male (Gaian Tarot)

Boobs or Buildings (Prague)

Cluttered or Interesting (Fantastic Menagerie)

Fire Red or Lava Grey (Dark Goddess Tarot)

Coming or Going

Going. 'Bye for now!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Loot! All Hallows Tarot

I'm deeply and happily immersed right now in James Wells' course on Tarot Counselling for Self & Others. Last week's activity during the live call was to construct a spread using a tarot card as the inspiration.
Since we're coming up to Halloween, I chose my All Hallows deck for the exercise and drew...
How perfect!
I picked out the following elements and used their place in the image as the spread positions.

1. the moon itself

                                                                                               2. the jagged tree marring the moon

3. the hound                              4. the water

1. Who or what is mesmerizing you?
2. What persistent reality is intruding?
3. What is grounding you?
4. What clarity do you feel flowing from this?

That was SO MUCH FUN to build; I drew another card!
This time three elements stood out for me.

1. the skull with blue eyes

                                               2. the monarch butterfly

                                               3. the scythe

1. What conclusion or ending is staring you in the face?
2. What bright new life might emerge from this ending?
3. What tool will help you bring this to a close?


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sneaking Around with the Seven of Swords

Sneaking around starts early.
  • Swiping a fingertip through a frosted birthday cake left unguarded.
  • Listening in on your parents' conversations when you're supposed to be in bed, like the sisters in the Tea Tarot below.
Small potatoes. No big deal. Until it escalates later in life.

In high school everybody does a lot of sneaking around. Let's face it - it's unavoidable. Your parents have certain expectations, and when they don't match your plans, you have to lie. You say you're going to Carolyn's when in fact you're down by the river parking with Tom. Teenage stuff. Mostly harmless.

My school was all girls, Catholic, run with rosary beads and rulers by the nuns. Our boyfriends went to the Catholic all boys' school presided over by priests. It was a good arrangement, and meant that we could talk about boys all we wanted without them overhearing.

One particularly dramatic friend in my grade 12 class took dating deception to a whole new level. She ran off with one of the teacher-priests from the boys' school. It was a huge scandal. Really cool.
I never did find out if she left by way of the old rope-out-the-window trick like this young woman from the Vanessa Tarot or by more conventional means.

So what happens to the Seven of Swords persona when it blooms into full-fledged adult behaviour?

Of course there are degrees of Seven of Swords-ness, ranging from:
occasional not-very-nice pilfering of people's ideas or possessions as seen in the Tarot Illuminati

to the endless self-serving plotting of the thoroughly unlikeable Mrs. Norris
from Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

all the way to the evil demon intruder with glowing eyes in the Dark Grimoire.
Sleeper, beware!

So the next time I'm tempted to syphon, pilfer, filch, or otherwise behave in a Seven-of-Swords-ly manner, I'm going to remember what a slippery slope it is from snitching a dollop of frosting to becoming an orange-eyed demon.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Thanksgiving, October 2013

Fall is my favourite season!
I love the crisper air after summer's humidity, how sometimes in late afternoon the crowns of the trees are limned by sun against slate grey clouds.
Honeycrisp apples, extra spicy pumpkin pie, piles of squash on the farm stands.
How the leaves on my lythrum plant turn wine red which I wouldn't know if I were a proper gardener and pruned it down when the blooms were done.
The smell of burning -

Blah blah blah.
You humans are all about the non-essential parts of Thanksgiving. Nice little table arrangements with dried flowers. Aaaahhh the fresh air, the beautiful leaves, my grandmother's recipe for apple crisp...
You're living in a dream world, people!

The real deal is that the mean season is coming. No more food lying around in vegetable gardens. No berries on the yew bushes. Empty seed pods. Freezing our butts off. We squirrels have to be prepared.
Gaian Tarot

So here's what I do with your Thanksgiving decorations.
(Not my best side.)

I've been meaning to talk to you about last year's pumpkins...

Yeah, they were kinda tough. Apology accepted.
These new ones you've put out look nice and tender. Easier on the old incisors.
Gotta skitter. Happy Thanksgiving!
Elora Tarot

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hanging around with the Hanged Man

Right now I'm hanging around waiting for a response to my most recent email reading for TABI. And for notification from the real estate agent that an offer has come in. And for my house to clean itself.
The first two are at least possible. The third is as likely as these blobs of water continuing to defy gravity without benefit of a camera's frozen pixels.

Budapest: Margaret Island's musical fountain

I like the Hanged Man, Trump XII. It gives permission to stop doing things and just look around for awhile. Maybe gain a new perspective on things. Activity suspended. How will you use this time?

Dealing with an enforced period of inactivity in a relaxed and open state is probably the most fruitful way to spend your time. Like this guy from the Druidcraft Tarot, who is letting it all hang out, so to speak! And he's so into his upside-down experience that he's muzzled himself with greenery to make sure he doesn't just natter away the time. Total surrender! This man is going to learn something here.

But what if the upended person is too ticked off to do anything but pout and fret while he's dangling?
Then you get someone like this grumpy dude from the Anna K Tarot. He's going to keep that sour face until they let him down. That'll show 'em. No pondering new perspectives for him, thank you very much!

Sometimes the atmosphere is ripe for reflection! A full moon reflecting on the water, an owl encouraging wise thoughts, the empty tower with no one around but you. The scene just begs for going within, allowing your inner wisdom to shine through, coaxing insights too shy to emerge by day. Some dreamy new ideas are possible here in the Bohemian Gothic Tarot!

I never liked The Tree in the Gaian Tarot. She looked like she'd been stretched. It didn't appeal to me. Until I thought: stretching your mind, increasing its elasticity, pulling your perceptions like taffy. HA! She's turning her thoughts around as the season takes a turn into Fall.
And look at the tilted horizon in this card; more practice at looking at the world in fresh and unfamiliar ways!

Sometimes your life feels too tight, too constricted. You can't breathe. If you don't cut loose RIGHT NOW you're going to explode! But maybe if you hang in there just a wee bit more, you'll uncover something worth digging for: a pearl of wisdom. And then you can surface with your treasure like this diver in the Tarot of the Journey to the Orient!

There's no one hanging in The Wizard's Tarot. That's odd. My eye is drawn to the crooked picture on the wall. Aha!
An upside-down version of the card is framed and hanging. And within the frame is a crooked upside-down version of get the idea. Theoretically endless images of the Hanged Man who has turned his life around. If he forgets that another upending might be necessary, he has only to glance up and be reminded. Life is topsy-turvy on a regular basis!

For sheer comic relief we listen in on The Housewives Tarot as she sings "I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair" and then hangs him out to dry. This husband might want to bring home flowers and candy tonight!