"Nicholas decided that God liked surprises. When Jesus grew up, he never stopped surprising people. Jesus even said, 'Do good deeds in secret.'" -- From The Secret of St. Nicholas
I just finished reading this wonderful children's book last night and, I have to tell you, it is one of the BEST (perhaps THE best) Christmas books for children I have ever read (and I read a lot!)
I was so delighted with the phrasing in this book, as well as the gentle unfolding of the true story of St. Nicholas. In fact, by the end of the book, I had tears in my eyes.
A first-class storyteller, author Ellen Nibali weaves a tender tale about Nicholas's life--from his loving parents to his orphanhood, the spiritual wisdom he lived by to his generosity towards three daughters destined to be sold as slaves by their father. Then, she ties in how Nicholas and his thrown three bags of gold (that ended up in drying stockings near a window!) ended up being the inspiration for one of the most beloved Christmas traditions we now enjoy.
But you don't have to be a Christian to love this book! Nibali isn't preachy, but accurately portrays the historical actions of Nicholas--who went on to become St. Nicholas--with love and respect. Who could object to the wonderful traits of giving and selflessness?
If you love all things Christmas (as I do), you and your child will treasure The Secret of St. Nicholas by Ellen Nibali (lovely illustrations by Lon Eric Craven). I can't wait to share this with my own son, who will no doubt be inspired by the example of young Nicholas.
"A visit from President Snow. Districts on the verge of uprisings. A direct death threat to Gale, with others to follow. Everyone I love doomed. And who knows who else will pay for my acions? Unless I turn things around on this tour. Quiet the discontent and put the president's mind at rest. And how? By proving to the country beyond any shadow of a doubt that I love Peeta Mellark." -- From Catching Fire
In the second installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and the stylists are headed around the country of Panem on the Victory Tour. After 75 years of the brutal, twisted Hunger Games pitting children ages 12-18 against one another, this particular Game detailed in the book Hunger Games was different: there are TWO victors instead of one.
Usually, only one victor can win the Hunger Games. But midway through the last one, the Game Makers decide to do something unprecedented: they announce that TWO can win this time. Relieved that she won't have to face attempting to kill her male counterpart from District 12 (who has professed his love for her), Katniss Everdeen yells out Peeta's name in relief.
They team up. They win. But at the last moment, the twisted Game Keepers announce that the "two can win" rule has been revoked. They now have to fight to the death. Katniss remembers the poisonous berries from earlier in the Games and hands them to Peeta. On the count of three, she says. After they pop the deadly fruit in their mouths, a horn blares and a hurried announcement broadcasts: Katniss and Peeta have BOTH won the Hunger Games!
But what Katniss doesn't realize is that her action, born of desperation, is seen as an act of defiance against the Capitol's brutality. Her decisions sets off a spark that blazes across the Districts--causing unrest and rebellion.
In the second book of the Trilogy, Catching Fire, President Snow visits Katniss right before the Victory Tour, telling her that if she doesn't convince the cameras--and the citizens of each district--that her actions were born of love for Peeta and not a political act, everyone she loves will pay.
However, what happens on the Victory Tour--what she witnesses and what her presence provokes among the citizens--is far more out of her control than she realizes.
She has become the Mockingjay. The symbol of the revolution. The last revolution that happened 75 years ago resulted in the nuclear devastation of District 13. What will happen THIS time when cruel President Snow feels like he's losing control by the minute?
For those who don't know what you're missing, you can read an excerpt from the book on my site, including seeing a sample BIT Snapshot in action.
Basically, my BIT (Back in Time) Tarot Method begins with a memory, event, story, movie, news item, scandal, fairytale, biographical profile, book, conversation--basically, anything that you've witnessed or experienced.
It may have happened a decade ago, millenia ago or a second ago. Doesn't matter.
Then, you break down that memory or event into components. You can pare the memory down into just a few aspects, or choose to go deep, long and wide. Totally up to you.
Looking through the Tarot deck of your choice and match up those components with a Tarot card. (I happen to have the entire Universal Waite reproduced in gray-scale in my book so you don't even have to own a deck. Or, if you don't have a deck and want to play along here on my blog, you can use Joan Bunning's fantastic site, which has all of the cards online).
Whatever reason you have for selecting a particular Tarot card is A-OK. You can't get the BIT Tarot Method "wrong". No such thing. Honest. It's a pain-free way to learn the cards because the meanings stem from YOUR memories and YOUR perceptions and YOUR sensory data...for YOUR reasons. Because the Tarot contains archetypal imagery and symbols, I guarantee you that many of your associations will match what "experts" and esoterica have offered as the meaning for a card.
Are we good? Great! Let's go on to one of my favorite topics--rock music!
If you read my book, you know that I did a BIT Tarot Snapshot on 80s music. Well, now I'm going to do a BIT Snapshot for some of my favorite rock songs. (Yes, you can expect this to be a series... *laugh*) I'll link to the songs, video or lyrics online for your enjoyment.
BIT Snapshot Rock Music
"Outside"by Staind: 5 of Coins - "I'm on the outside, I'm lookin' in..."Just as the couple crouches under the stained glass church window in a snowstorm--literally on the outside--the 5 of Pentacles card often indicates feelings of rejection, of being "cast out" of proper society. This is the domain of the homeless, the streewalkers, the drug addicts--those that many won't waste their time on. Doesn't matter if the vagrant was a war hero or the woman pushing the grocery cart has Masters degree or the junkie has a genius IQ. All that matters is that the are on the "outside"... Similarly, this card can indicates the feelings of being marginalized or excluded--especially if such actions by others involve some type of threat to survival (job, finances, food, housing). 5's are often numbers of upheaval, displacement, disruption, confrontation and uncertainty--and the suit of Pentacles governs the material world, including health, money, possessions, environment and the body.
"Rock You Like a Hurricane" by The Scorpions: Strength - "My kitty's purring and scratches my skin..." I'll be honest: my first thought for this song was something more explosive or even sensual. Queen of Wands? Sun? Tower? The feline reference made me think of Strength...but that would be too easy. But as I pondered the lyrics, I kept coming back to Strength. There is latent passion in this card; in fact, if the roof ain't kept on it, things can get hairy. Right in the jaws of the lion hairy. I usually see Strength as a "grace under pressure" card. But as I listen to this son (repeatedly), I'm struck that Rock You Like a Hurricane is basically describing raw female sexuality. And the woman holding the lion's jaw in this card illustrates "taming the beast", or, perhaps, channeling that energy in a healthy way. Unfortunately, history tends to paint women as either whores or saints, temptresses or good girls, Lilith or Hestia. But we know there's a much greater spectrum with the strong female than "just" one or the other. That is, a woman who knows her strength but doesn't feel a need to flaunt it. A woman who is strong, but doesn't attempt to dominate or intimidate. A woman comfortable with her sexual energy and able to channel it without selling out her energy or well-being. This is the strength of Strength...
Working Man by Rush: 8 of Pentacles - Here we have a man hammering on that eighth coin. When I see this card, I think of blue collar boys--factory work, "nice cold beer" (as the song goes) and good ol' honest livingg. This card is about putting your nose to the grindstone--git r dun. Sweat, manual labor and routine jobs...this is the domain of the 8 of Pentacles. "I got no time for livin'...Yes, I'm workin' all the time..." This card reminds me of my neighbor, a coal miner, who works a lot...often pulling double shifts. Yet, he seems happy and satisfied, often giving his extra money to his grown kids. He's been on vacation the entire month of August, so he's now in the 9 of Pentacles "enjoy the fruit of your labor" mode.
"Rainbow in the Dark" by Dio: The Hermit and The Star - With the lyrics "When there's lightning, it always bring me down", it may be tempting to associate the song with The Tower, but because I have a special, personal affinity for Rainbow in the Dark, I just can't. In fact, I can't even capture it in a BIT Snapshot with just one card (and like I say in my book, that's just fine). The Hermit is all about solitude, and this song talks about being left on your own. But solitude is weird for some people; they can't take it. They have to always be jabbering on the phone, creating drama, texting, interacting on the web, bothering the neighbors, bugging their grown kids... I'm a quadruple Scorpio so I love solitude (as does my Scorpio husband). If I didn't have my husband and child, I could do without in-person social interaction just fine (which would surprise people who know me or have talked with me. Bubbly me? Oh yeah...) I (now) like my own company. Wasn't always this way, though. I had my own "demons" to wrestle in the past, including low-self esteem and hyper self-criticism.
It's tempting to throw The Devil in here, because he's all about bondage of any sort, especially the self-defeating kind. The Hermit has to find his own way; he must realize that the Light he is looking for has been inside him all the time. Not easy! And The Star? That's the rainbow in the dark part. Who can see a rainbow in the dark? Can a rainbow even be cast in the dark? When we turn our eyes inward, the hope of truly seeing and knowing our inner Light--and being guided by it like a North Star--is priceless. You have that, and The Devil can never trip you in his wiles in the form of peer pressure, societal expectations, media "standards" or groupthink. After all, what's in that Hermit's lamp, anyway? The Star! RIP Ronnie James Dio. [wipes tear]
OK, that's it for this installment of the BIT Tarot Snapshot Show, boys and girls! Stay tuned for another episode soon--same bat time, same bat channel.
For each of us, there is an area of life that cause us to "chase our tails". Sometimes, it's more than one area.
No matter how many books we read, sessions we meditate, hours we pray, Tarot cards we decipher or therapy appointments we attend, there is a particular challenge or two that we can't seem to evade.
Rather than put words in your mouth and share some of the patterns I've identified, I thought I'd open up my blog (and my email box) to your stories.
I've been wanting to write a book about this topic for several years, mostly borne out of my own repeat patterns that have caused consternation, confusion and frustration.
Now, I want to bring clarity, calm and insight for as many people as I can, because I've discovered some tools that can ameliorate our unique challenges.
We all have these "dog chasing its tail" trials--and some even seem to come from outside ourselves in the form of obstructions, walls or relationships.
It could be illness, professional challenges or patterns of self-sabotage. Perhaps its addiction--to substances, approval, work or worry--or maybe your challenges come in the form of relationships, limitations, abuse, loss or societal pressure.
If you're willing, please share your "repeat performances" either here or via email. I may even use them in my book; if you want to remain anonymous, please do--and use, or give me, a pseudonym.
Thank you for sharing.
The image to the right is The Wheel of Fortune card from the gorgeous Paulina Tarot published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Click here to see my review of this deck, including additional images.
Whether you’d like to familiarize with a particular Tarot card or perhaps gain fresh, intuitive associations, making a Tarot Collage is a fun, creative activity.
First, choose which card or cards you’d like to explore. You may choose your favorite card or—if you’re studying the Tarot one card at a time—choose whichever card you want to explore next. You could also choose to explore a particular theme or grouping. For example, you could do a collage that represents all the Aces, all of the Queens, all of the Tens, and so on.
Alternatively, you could create a collage based on elements—one representing Fire, Water, Earth, or Air. You could even create a collage based on a reading you’ve done for yourself or others.
Materials you’ll need:
•Poster board, cardboard, or canvas
•Scissors or Exacto-Knife
•Unused magazines, greeting cards, store catalogues, flyers, photos, or junk mail
•Glue or other adhesive
•Markers, crayons, paints
•Glitter, pipe cleaners, feathers, googly eyes, faux gems, fabric scraps, or other craft items
After deciding which card/s or theme you’d like to explore, cut out words, phrases, and pictures that remind you of the card/s or theme. Paste them onto poster board any way you’d like. If you choose to embellish your collage, add any desired elements like faux gems, fabric scraps, or other extras.
You can use your collage for meditation or for decorating your personal space. Journaling about your choices can also open up new avenues of thought. For example, why did you choose the pictures you did? The phrases? How you arranged the collage? Does your collage remind you of a particular person or life experience? How does this person or experience connect to the card? How does the associations you’re making with the collage resemble or differ from what others have said about a particular card?
If you’ve made a collage based on a reading, what additional insights does your collage bring to your awareness?
Do share pictures of any Tarot collages that you make!
As I've been sharing on my Facebook page and via Twitter, Ron has been painting The Fool card for our top-secret Tarot deck. Well, I'm pleased to report that he's just finished the last brush-stroke on The Fool! It looks fantastic, not to mention adorable and funny. *grin*
Some were curious about Ron's art process, including his studio and what music he listens to on his MP3 player. Well, this is your chance to Ask Ron about anything you want!
Michelle says:Tell Ron that your internet friends are very excited, and we love the work he's done so far on The Christmas Tarot (and that, a-hem, we are all still eagerly anticipating a *proper* and *original* Christmas Tarot), and that we are very happy to see his wife acting like a kid in a candy store and that he should keep her this happy by painting more cards. Oh, but also assure him that we know he works very hard at his day job and doesn't have much free time, but we appreciate every little bit of it that he can dedicate to creating Tarot cards. (Gee Janet, does Ron even know he has his own fan club amongst your friends?)
He does now, Michelle! *laughs* He's flattered! So Ron has agreed to answer everyone's questions.
From Laurra:Are you primarily a detail person or a big picture person. I'ma muse type...I get Ideas... I get big pictures... staying focused is my challenge... how do you do it on a project this big?
Michelle wants to know: As a matter of fact, I would LOVE to hear about the music he plays while he paints!!! And if he has any rituals to get "into" the right "mood" for painting, and what kind of paint he uses, and what kind of artistic education he had (formal vs self-taught), and what his studio looks like, and if there are any particular foods he eats while he works, and how he proposed...
Teehee! That's Ron's art studio at right. We bought the other side of our duplex a few years back, and Ron converted the other kitchen into an art studio. (Makes it very convenient for washing out brushes!) He made the wooden desk so it would be a custom fit.
Ron loves Alex Grey's Oversoul, so he has a huge signed print on the wall right in front of where he sits to paint.
He also custom built, and painted, the frame for Oversoul.
So feel free to add your questions in the comment section below and I'll be sure to interview Ron within the next few weeks, answering all the queries already shared, as well as whatever stuff you'd like to know.
While he can't answer specifics about the Tarot deck (in terms of theme and actual card depictions), he will definitely answer your questions about painting, art, Tarot, collaborating on a deck, favorite movies, hobbies, his day job and so on.
Thanks for your interest, everyone...and let the interrogation (er, questioning) begin!
“For this oracle is like no other: It is for the lost and lonely, the broken-hearted and the orphans and misfits—for the wanderers and the strangers even in the midst of friends. This is your guide to finding your way, changing your world, mending a broken heart and discovering your soul family while still on the planet. If you’re brave enough, asking their advice can reveal a world of sweet beauty, whimsical rhymes and steadfast courage. So say farewell to fear! Walk through the veil, and be prepared to enter their magical world.” – Lucy Cavendish, in the companion book to the Oracle of Shadows and Light
A Candy Cane Angel and an Absinthe Fairy, A Clockwork Pumpkin and a Sewer Mermaid—who are these odd wide-eyed beings that refuse to “put on a happy face” or be forced into the gray garb of normality?
These eerie messengers are denizens of the Oracle of Shadows and Light, a lavishly illustrated 45-card deck featuring the vibrant artwork of American artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith. However, it’s the words, heart and perceptive insight of Lucy Cavendish that bring these cheeky beings to life within the 136-page companion book.
From the Lady with a Bosch Egg to the Three Witchy Sisters, the Lantern Fairy to the Angel de los Muertos, each of these sweetly bizarre envoys encourage users to feel, speak and behave authentically.
Although the Oracle of Shadows and Light isn’t a saccharine “love and light” New Age deck, it’s not a “dark” one, either. Rather, it’s a deck that embraces the off-kilter, the idiosyncratic, the weird—those spirits, and individuals, who don’t seem to fit in any pre-drilled hole made by religion, family or society.
Yet, perhaps it’s precisely because these peculiar beings aren’t run-of-the-mill that their wisdom finds purchase in weary hearts, on burdened shoulders and through “been there, done that” jadedness.
The transfixing artwork alone is enough reason to acquire the Oracle of Shadows and Light (I guarantee that you’ve seen nothing like it…no matter how many oracle or Tarot decks you own), but Lucy Cavendish’s depth of understanding gives voice to each of these unusual messengers.
Even if you find one or more images peculiar at best and off-putting at worse, reading Lucy’s words and actually working with these cards—yes, even the Carnivorous Greenhouse, Strange Valentine and the Mildew Fairy—yields unexpected information, uncanny accuracy and relevant advice when used with an open mind and softened heart.
Glossy and sturdy, the gorgeous cards of the Oracle of Shadows and Light measure approximately 5 ½ x 3 ¾ inches with the Angel of Alchemy image serving as the card backing. A lustrous gold frame surrounds each colorful image, with cards numbered from 1-45.
The companion book explains how to perform a reading and the purpose of this deck, as well as the origins of each being, individual card interpretations, and a personal message.
Here are but a few of the beings in this deck and the message they relay:
• Ghost of the Pumpkin Patch – Count Your Blessings • Eclipse Mermaid – A Powerful Energy Shift! • Poe – Time for Change, to Learn Something New, Advanced Technology • Shallow Grave – You Miss Someone • The Angel of Time – Working Too Hard! • Carousel Fairy – What Comes Around… • Sea Storm – Calm Amidst Chaos • The Fairy of the Green World – The Natural World Needs You • Voodoo in Blue – Back Off! • I Am Kali – From Death Comes Rebirth
I have used the Oracle of Shadows and Light several times within the last few months, and it’s amazing how accurate it is! In fact, one day, my husband relayed very specific, intuitive information to me about my life purpose. In involved the color pink and a flower. Later that day, I shuffled the deck and drew a card. What did I pick? The Pink Lotus Fairy! (And he hadn’t even seen this deck yet, mind you!)
The message of the Pink Lotus Fairy embodied both my husband and his message—it was a truly profound experience to have those synchronistic experiences that day! I felt comforted, encouraged and looked after…not only by my husband (who is my precious soul mate), but also by invisible beings that support and guide me daily.
If you want a truly one-of-a-kind deck that will tell you like it is and encourage your “off the beaten path” journey, I highly recommend the Oracle of Shadows and Light. I never get tired of looking at the mesmerizing art and it’s so refreshing to see, hear and feel beings that I hadn’t been familiar with…until now.
Tarot, pronounced "tah-ROW" or "TARE-oh", is a set of 78 cards long associated with turban-clad fortunetellers or gypsies. However, in addition to divination, modern practitioners use Tarot for brainstorming, counseling, creative writing and inspiration. Some Jungian psychologists even use the cards as a part of therapy.
The Tarot is made up of three distinct parts:
The Major Arcana: These 22 cards, originally called "Triumphs" in medieval Italy where they were used for a card game called Tarocchi, reflect universal archetypes. The Fool, The Magician, The Lovers, Wheel of Fortune and Death are some of the most recognizable cards of the Major Arcana. ("Arcana" is a word meaning "secrets"; thus, Major Arcana can be interpreted to mean "big secrets" or "large mysteries"--cycles and themes common everyone).
The Minor Arcana:These 40 cards mirror the numbered cards of a regular playing card deck. Instead of clubs, diamonds, spades and hearts, the Tarot Minor Arcana ("lesser secrets") suits often adhere to the suit pattern of wands, pentacles, swords and cups. These cards are said to reflect the everyday occurrences in our life--both the joyful and the sorrowful. The wands are usually associated with the element of fire and passionate action. The pentacles suit, associated with earth, covers the material world--money, health, home and possessions. Swords reflect the element of air and the realm of the intellect (including thoughts, judgments, decisions and conflict). Cups is the emotional suit, a world of dreams, notions, feelings and relationships.
The Court Cards: Similar to the face cards in a regular playing deck (minus four), these 16 cards are usually known by the page, knight, queen and king demarcation. Pages are youthful, knights are energetic, queens are nurturing and kings are governing. Some Tarot readers interpret the court cards as actual people, while others feel these cards reflect facts of our personality--with several "faces" presenting themselves within a day.
In fact, some people get quite pissed at me for writing a less-than-glowing review of a book or deck. The irate may be the author, or it may be a friend of the author--or just a long time fan of a particular author's work.
Recently, I noticed some fall-out from a particular review I wrote about three months ago. Some in the Tarot community went so far as to block my Twitter account so I couldn't follow them, while one insulted me rather uglily (is that a word?) in a Forum. I refused to defend my review or allow myself to be baited in what was really a personal attack on me (and even my book).
Silly playground games, I thought.
I can certainly understand the impulse to want to "protect our own" or even become outraged when someone presents an idea or behavior that clashes with our own belief, experience or world-view. But what I find intriguing (now that some time has passed!) is how reactive we are as humans--even ones aiming towards expanded awareness or even Zen-like magnanimity.
We are so quick to "throw the baby out with the bath water", to borrow a cliche, ready to cut off, squash, drown or hide anything that offends us or our sensibilities--even when such actions may be to our detriment. That is, we are so eager to invalidate, castigate or marginalize a person--even when we used to be a "fan" of an author's work and having benefiting greatly from his/her insights. But we're ready to toss it all out when one of our sacred cows or personal beliefs get sacrificed or stepped upon.
Maybe we write off an author because she irks us. Or maybe we seek to destroy a person in a rather public way (anyone remember what Oprah did to James Frey on her show? At least she apologized, but only personally).
I wonder if Oprah would have behaved differently had she known that Frey's son had a genetic neuromuscular disorder? (In fact, the 11-year-old died during the three-year span of the controversy). Or would her personal self-righteousness gave way to compassion?
Could Oprah's public vindictiveness arise out of the unclaimed shadow parts of herself, I wonder? After reading some of Kitty Kelly's biography on Oprah (click here for a surprising New York Times interview), I have to wonder if Oprah reacted in response to her own disowned parts--the ones that she lies about or tries to suppress via intimidation, "freezing out" or even food consumption.
No doubt, we are a fragmented people, we humans. The quest for wholeness and awareness, and the end of suffering, calls for us to seek out those fragmented parts of ourselves--recognizing, integrating and healing those "cast off" parts of our personality or archetypal patterns that we just can't seem to accept.
Those parts may be deemed "bad" or they may be deemed "good". When we deem parts "bad", we tend to demonize others who display that very same trait. When we deem parts "good", we tend to project them in the form of adoration. Either way, we aren't owning them.
And this fragmented Self desperately tries to find wholeness, but it can't even accept the fragmented parts that make up the whole. And if we can't accept ourselves--warts and wondrousness both--we usually can't truly accept it another, let alone actually see it.
Author Debbie Ford addresses this fragmentation and need for wholeness quite brilliantly in both the DVD The Shadow Effect and the book of the same name.
Fragmentation, or disowning our shadow (either "dark" or "light") is what causes ministers to condemn homosexuality while having gay affairs or politicians crusading to eradicate prostitution while frequenting escorts. When someone pounds a particular drum in a repeated, public way, it's usually their own music that they're really trying to drown out.
So I thought I'd share my musings about shadow work (something I've embraced for years--painful stuff!) and how our fragmented humanity often causes us to cut others off...and makes us the poorer.
What are your experiences? Your thoughts? I'd love to hear them, if you're willing to share.
Last Saturday, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. My husband is a kind, gentle, intelligent, artistic, soulful, wise, hard-working guy who is also a fantastic father to our 11-year-old son.
Rather than spending the day out and about (our favorite way to celebrate usually involves going out to lunch, seeing a movie and doing some shopping--with our son in tow), we spent the weekend laying around.
Unfortunately, Ron and I were under the weather all weekend--sinus trouble, low-grade fever, allergy symptoms, headaches, etc.
But he and I have been through enough together that having a seemingly "ruined" day (as many would deem it) is just a part of life. After all, a marriage isn't about a particular day. In fact, it's more about what you do the other 364 days of the year that makes a marriage (or doesn't).
I was chatting with one of my Tarot Classroom students in our Forum and she, too, was to celebrate her wedding anniversary around the same time as ours--two days later, I believe. Even more unfortunate for her, she spent her very firstwedding anniversary helping her husband recovering from back surgery. The poor dear has been his rock and support for many months now as she's dealt with his recurring back pain, so their first year hasn't been very newlyweddish, if you get my drift.
As we were almost-jokingly comparing our anniversary tragedies (one thing I've learned in life: you MUST retain a sense of humor and not remain attached to permanence...because it doesn't exist. Expectation is futile. Yeah, you can quote me on that.)
I then recalled a more somber wedding anniversary.
With my first husband, John, we had to rush him to the ER two days before our 6th wedding anniversary. He was experiencing light-headedness and had been pale for a few weeks. We thought it was the overbearing heat in our non-air conditioned trailer that we lived in while pastoring a local church.
The day of our anniversary, he was diagnosed with leukemia (AML). Two days later, in the hospital, he fell in the shower, busting his face on the toilet--shattering all his front (perfect) teeth. The kicker? He was a professional trumpet player/musician. Music, along with words, was his main "voice" for ministry.
We spent our 7th anniversary on his death bed, the pulmonologist extracting a gallon of fluid from one lung. He died a month later.
The point? Marriage, and anniversaries, aren't about a date, it's about what happens the other 364 days of the year.
As I said to my inspirational Tarot student and friend, she is a fantastic wife in the midst of extraordinary challenge and that is to be commended.
So for all of you out there that are facing challenges with a partner--job loss, disability, illness, separation or financial difficulty--remember that celebrating an anniversary or special date isn't what really matters in a relationship.
The true hallmark of enduring love is that you are there--the other 364 days of the year.
"Do you believe in Fate? I do, because I thought I'd never see you again--and then one day, there you were. It all came back: how you sound, how you move--most of all, how you think. If someone told you to think of a number, I know what number you'd think of. You don't believe me? I'll prove it to you. Think of any number up to a thousand--the first number that comes to your mind. Picture it. Now see how well I know your secrets. Open the little envelope." - From Think of a Number by John Verdon
With a deviously dazzling premise, Think of a Number--an amazing new debut by suspense novelist John Verdon--teases the reader (and torments retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney) with a puzzling mystery: how can an anonymous person be able to guess the number someone is thinking (it's already written on paper!), not once...but twice?
And why does this individual demand an $289.87 "finders fee"--payable in cash or check? As if that's not bizarre enough, why do the checks end up returned to the person...uncashed?
Gurney and his wife, Madeline, move to upstate New York to create a new life that will mend their shattered hearts. However, when Gurney attends an art appreciation class at Madeline's invitation, the unexpected happens: he becomes enthralled with the instructor, and then begins a rather obsessive new hobby of re-touching photos of the serial killers he apprehended while on the NYPD.
With Madeline disappointed and disheartened at Gurney's plunge back into a world of sickos, his attention is further pulled away from her by an unexpected email from a former college classmate of Gurney's--a famous Self-Help author and guru named Mark Mellery who receives a puzzling letter from someone called X. Arybdis. Mark has no idea who this person is, but fears the threatening tone of the letter--especially since he was an alcoholic prone to blackouts before his spiritual awakening.
Mellery pleads with Gurney to help him, but since no crime has been committed--and Mellery doesn't want to involve the police for several reasons--Gurney's at a loss to what he can do. Yet, the letters and notes continue, and an increasingly alarmed Mellery (and intrigued Gurney) try to solve the puzzle on their own.
But when Mellery ends up dead at his retreat center--with boot prints leading away from the body and then disappearing in the middle of a clearing--Gurney becomes sucked into a vortex of deception and additional murders, and the clever killer's hatred of cops may find Gurney among the victims...
Let me just say I gobbled up Think of a Number. Not since Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter books have I been so entertained and freaked out. It's hard enough crafting compelling characters, believable twists and comprehensible mazes that engage readers, but newcomer John Verdon not only accomplishes all of this, but also writes with such fresh panache. In fact, I marveled at his crackling prose and ability to create well-drawn characters, not to mention an absolutely irresistible mystery!
If you enjoy well-written, suspenseful puzzle mysteries involving intelligent killers, a dose of psychological profiling, and a marriage worth rooting for--I believe you will loveThink of A Number by John Verdon. (I can't wait for his next book!)
"There's some confusion on the stage. District 12 hasn't had a volunteer in decades and the protocol has become rusty. The rule is that onece a tribute's name has been pulled from the ball, another eligible boy, if a boy's name has been read, or a girl, if a girl's name has been read, can step forward to take his or her place. In some districts, in which winning the reaping is such a great honor, people are eager to risk their lives, the volunteering is complicated. But in District 12, where the word tribute is pretty much synonymous with the word corpse, volunteers are all but extinct." -- From The Hunger Games
Imagine North America in the distant future...a place called Panem. It's divvied up into 13 Districts (well, make that 12--the 13th was destroyed by the Capitol when it tried to rebel). Each District creates, harvests or mines a speciality...espressly for the use of the Capitol residents (located near the Rockies). In this world, there are genetically altered animals and humans (sometimes, mashed together) called "muttations", as well as high-tech devices and machines...some that even control the weather. There is also abject poverty and hunger and disease...but not in the comfy, colorful, all-your-desires-at-the-touch-of-a-button Capitol.
Every year, to remind the Districts of the absolute power of the Capitol--and the repurcussions of the past insurgence--there is the Hunger Games. It starts with a lottery of girls and boys ages 12-18. For each year, a child's name goes in an additional time. With many hungry, children put there name in multiple times in order to get precious grain and oil to feed their families for a year. Of course, this means a greater chance to be chosen as a tribute...
For years, I’ve subscribed to artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law’s Newsletter. I would check on her website every month or so, eager to see the most recent cards she completed in the Shadowscapes Tarot project.
Stephanie’s luminous renderings of billowing fabric, metallurgical inscriptions, unfurling wings, fractal mosaics and delicate creatures enticed me to return repeatedly, almost as if the fantasy world of Shadowscapes spun gossamer, seductive webs that never let me forget this momentous project.
When I discovered that the Shadowscapes Tarot would descend into the material world spring 2010, I was ecstatic. I placed my order on Amazon, counting the days when I’d finally hold this much-anticipated deck in my hands.
“If you haven’t found the switch to universal consciousness, keep looking. Examine Morgan’s Tarot and you may find a switch or a whole series of switches taking you, O Traveling One, ever closer to the Main Switch. If upon turning various switches it does not seem that you have found the Main Switch, don’t be discouraged. Each switch reveals a clue as to the whereabouts of the Main Switch. For those of you who are on automatic control, there is little to say. In any event, Morgan’s Tarot is fun for all ages—family and friends.” – From the LWB to the Morgan’s Tarot
A funkadelic black-and-white deck first published 40 years ago, Morgan’s Tarot has now been re-released by U.S. Games in all of its New Age glory.
“We have deliberately omitted the 72 Geniuses of the Cabbala, which represent the most widespread angelic tradition, choosing to favour Light Beings from ancient, lesser-known Scriptures. Now the Names of the Divine Intellects leap out of the oblivion of ancients [sic] texts and take on a new life, ready to act with their power in our daily world; because writing and pronouncing their names means beckoning them to us, putting them into contact with our needs.” – From the Little White Book to the Shining Angels Tarot
The second round deck from Italian publishers Lo Scarabeo, the Shining Angels Tarot depicts angels in female form as companions, guides, helpers and protectors to humanity. Culled from the ancient texts of the Pentateuch, the Sepher Ratziel, the Celestial Hierarchy of Dionigi Areopagita, the text by Abbot Tritemius and the works of Giordano Bruno, the Shining Angels deck was “the fruit of careful study, of the experience born of endless research, of the passion with which one explores the marvelous world of the Spiritual Hierarchies.”
“It becomes immediately clear that the Tarot of the Heart is an uncommon deck dedicated to love, to sentiment, to feelings, to friendships, and to the bonds that each person develops with those around him. In reality, when we speak of love, there is the risk of imagining only romantic love; even if this is one of the more common and important forms of love, it is certainly not the only one.” – From the Little White Book to the Heart Tarot
An ambitious and innovative venture on behalf of Italian publisher Lo Scarabeo, the Heart Tarot pulses on the scene with what might be the first heart-shaped Tarot on the market.
“For quite some time I had been looking for the ideal deck that I could relate to and believe me there are some amazing decks out there but I always came back to the same conclusion. I wanted to create my own. So here it is…” – Mary Griffin, creator of the Hezicos Tarot
There is so much to love with the self-published Hezicos Tarot by Mary Griffin.
In fact, I can’t remember a time I was so infatuated with a deck, from the time I saw online images to working with the actual cards for weeks.
“Dragons have always been harbingers of change so it should be no surprise that we feel attracted to their energy at this time. This Oracle connects you to the dragon energy and in doing so enables you to start to understand the power of change and the wisdom to be found within it. This in will turn enable you to navigate through life with calmness and ease. Welcome to the world of the Imperial Dragon Oracle. Let it guide you through these changing times.” – From the Little White Book
From Tristam to Beowulf, Arthur to Sigurd, dragons have populated legend and literature. While heroes battled “fire-drakes” to acquire treasure, protect villages or rescue maidens, some viewed dragons as guardian spirits of the earth or gatekeepers to wisdom.
Heavy on bold primary colors with some fresh interpretations of Rider-Waite imagery, the Hallmark Tarot by Darla Hallmark delivers both clear meaning and new ways of seeing the cards.
Published by 7th House, the Hallmark Tarot measures 5 x 2 ¾ inches with a matte finish, black borders and non-reversible Hermit’s lamp backing. The Minor suits are Swords (air), Pentacles (earth), Cups (water) and Wands (fire), with the court cards following the Page, Knight, Queen and King designation.
In this deck, a few of the Major Arcana cards are renamed: 8 Passion (Lust or Strength), 11 Balance (Justice), 20 Tree of Life (Judgement) and 21 Universe (World or Aeon).
“This splendid deck of Tarot pays homage to the wonderful ‘horror’ literature of the 19th century. The suggestive images of Davide Corsi transport the observer to distant times, in fantastic and mysterious places, where darkness becomes the essential element. The walls of ancient manors hide and safeguard the secrets of the vampire, who comes here depicted in all his manifestations: man or woman, dog, wolf, or bag, demon or monster.” -- From the Little White Book to the Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night
“Whispers of the twilight twist into the corners of your soul awakening long-forgotten feelings. Surreal images surprise your mind. Colors and curves delight your eyes. Bittersweet beauty tinged with sadness stirs your heart and you are moved beyond expectations. You are changed. You grow wiser. You find the world is more complicated but no less beautiful.” – From the Little White Book to the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight
Bold coloring and surreal imagery, uncertain circumstances viewed by emotive eyes, this is the eerie landscape favored by the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight. Painted by the fanciful, confident brush of Cristina Benintende, this deck is reminiscent of the kaleidoscopic films by Tim Burton, where wide-eyed naiveté and subversive knowing romp in off-kilter worlds.
“Ever since the start of time man has looked to nature and its phenomena as a key for interpreting the surrounding world, trying to understand the secrets and meanings that could allow him to master the forces of the Universe. It’s therefore normal that they symbols and allegories connected with the animal world have always constituted a vast field and that the depictions of animals have often assumed sacred and religious meanings.” – From the Little White Book to the Tarot of the Animal Lords
If most decks have a distinct personality—and I believe they do—then the Tarot of the Animal Lords embodies parental kindness and ancient wisdom. From a bespectacled camel smoking a pipe while seated on a rug in the 6 of Cups to the fierce, agile tiger as the Knave of Swords, this particular deck epitomizes the powerful symbolism of anthropomorphism.
"In order to understand the language of fables, you simply must imagine you are a child once again and let your imagination lead you into this mystical world. In this way, with the same innocent and childlike craving for discovery, you will seek the simplest and most truthful meanings of the Tarots: the most extraordinary ones that we had forgotten we knew, those that we left behind together with our old books of fairy tales and toys that had seemed so magical to us long ago." - From the Little White Book to the Tarot of the Magical Forest
An utterly adorable Tarot deck from Lo Scarabeo, the Tarot of the Magical Forest is populated with families of bunnies, foxes, frogs and cats within the Minor Arcana, while all manner of animals govern the forest in the Majors.
Watercolorist and author Lisa Hunt was kind enough to spend some time with me for an interview about the Fairy Tale Tarot. (Click here to see my review of this lovely deck.)
Thanks so much for taking time to answer my nosy questions, Lisa! You're a gem. :o)
Janet: What might people be surprised to know about creating a deck/book set like the Fairy Tale Tarot?
Lisa: Fairy Tales can be extremely complicated. I spent an entire summer studying scholastic texts, reviewing analytical psychology and engaging myself in comparative studies. And it didn’t end there. I was under the influence of these intense studies for the duration of the project. Given my fascination with the genre, I continue to collect and read fairy tales.
“The Blind Ones had told of its coming, that which would bring about our destruction. No one doubted their wisdom, and we neither feared nor questioned their reason. We understood that we were, ourselves, of the stars, and our existence in this form is but an instant in eternity. We would cease to be part of the universe. But we lamented nonetheless.” – From the companion book to the Legacy of the Divine Tarot (Gateway to the Divine Tarot)
Months ago, award-winning digital artist Ciro Marchetti came out with a self-published version of his third tarot deck, the Legacy of the Divine Tarot. Now, the mass-market edition from Llewellyn Worldwide has entered the world to much acclaim.
Because I’ve already reviewed the self-published deck(and my insights and hearty recommendation remain the same), this review will concentrate on the contents of the box set, the companion book, and the differences among the cards images.