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October 2010

Isis by Douglas Clegg

Isis "There had been a legend, once, of a Maiden of Sorrow, who had traveled deep in the earth to the Isle of Apples to find her lover who had died a terrible death in a distant battle. When she had returned, she brought him with her and held his hand as they emerged from the winding caves into the sunlight. But when others saw the couple, they cried out in terror--for her lover's eyes were black as pitch, and he had no mouth upon his face, just a seal of flesh as if he had not formed completely upon his journey back to the land of the living. The villagers knew he was not meant to be among them, yet the Maiden would not allow him to return to the earth." - From Isis by Douglas Clegg

I can't remember the last time I read such a truly spooky book, in the classic sense of the word. Maybe Stephen King, circa the 80's (when he was stoned and wrote great horror)?

When I first held this slim volume by Douglas Clegg, only 111 pages, I honestly wondered, "Can someone really tell a good scary story in such a short time?" Since I knew I'd finish Isis within an hour or two, I figured I'd pass a Saturday morning with this illustrated hardcover book.

Let me start off by saying that I have never read anything from Douglas Clegg before; in fact, I had never heard of him before I picked up Isis. So I had no expectations, really. Just curiosity at what an author can do in 111 pages.

After finishing It's hard to put in words how the tone of this book sucked me in and below its undertow of dread. I truly felt "haunted" while reading it, and even afterward.

Isis is how great horror should read (in my opinion). I gave up horror novels a long time ago because gratuitous violence and shock value of modern horror began to replace erudition, atmosphere, and gradual dread employed by masters like Poe, Hawthorne, Kafka--even early King and Koontz.

Ah, but Douglas Clegg's creepy (yet heartbreakingly compelling) Isis has reawakened in me a desire for classic horror; in fact, I look forward to reading other books by this author!

If you enjoy classic horror that explores themes such as life after death, premature resurrection, forbidden rituals, and the yearning to preserve life at all costs, you'll no doubt fall in love with Isis.

Well written and gripping, Isis delivers delicious chills (especially during the month of Halloween!), and rewards the reader with a highly satisfying tale of the supernatural.

-- Janet Boyer

Halloween Tarot Spread

Not for the faint of heart (or spirit), here’s a Halloween Spread I’ve created to descend into the murky psyche while carrying the torch of truth.

Halloween ace of pumpkins 400
This spread can be used with any Tarot or oracle deck, as well as runes.

Halloween Spread

You can choose one card for each position, or multiple cards:

Ghosts: What is haunting me from my past? (Recurrence)
Bats: What is driving me batty at this time? (Irritations)
Graveyard: What needs buried right now? (Surrender)
Cobwebs: What is a source of confusion for me? (Uncertainty)
Wicker Man: What needs burned right now? (Purification or Removal)
Monsters: What am I afraid of right now? (Fears)
Jack O’ Lantern 1: What needs illuminated from within? (Awareness)
Jack O’ Lantern 2: What do I need to carve out time for right now? (Priorities)
Trick or Treat Bag: What goodies do I offer the world? (Gifts and Blessings)

Do let me know if you try out my Halloween Spread, as well as how it worked for you!

-- Janet

Image from the Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee and Kipling West

Bionic Woman Season 1 Out 10/19/10

Bionic woman dvd Holy cow, I just found out that The Bionic Woman: Season One DVD comes out 10/19/10!

For years I've been waiting for this!

Jaime was my childhood hero (as was Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman). What a kick-ass inspiration! She was compassionate, resourceful and smart school teacher (and secret agent!), not to mention a wonderful role model for girls.

Anyone else psyched? (And remember the fembots? LOL)

-- Janet

10/10/10 and the 10s of Tarot

Wheel 180 Having just realized that it was 10/10/10 (smacks head), I thought it would be neat to examine the 10s of Tarot: Trump 10, Wheel of Fortune, and the four Minor Arcana tens (10 of Wands, 10 of Swords, 10 of Cups and 10 of Pentacles).

When I see the 10s in Tarot, I think of a spiral, with the 10 being the next step upward to another cycle. All of the single digits (1-9) have been completed and we’re now up to the first double digit. Because 10 reduces to 1 in numerology (1 + 0 = 1), the 10s also have something in common with the Aces (1s): new beginnings.

Qabalah Worlds Let’s begin with the Minor Arcana cards.

In the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the 10s reside in the bottom sphere (sephirah) known as Malchut (pronounced malKOOT). This sphere, known as Kingdom or Manifestation, is the “heaviest” sphere because it’s the lowest on the Tree—the “down and dirty” realm of earthly life. The Aces reside at the tippy-top of the Tree in the sphere of Kether; straight from the Divine in seed form, the Aces are handed to us from the Universe to do what we will with them (or not).

Without getting too deep into the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, there are “worlds” that govern four areas on the Tree. Sephiroth 1, 2 and 3 are within Aziluth, the realm of “first causes” and pure light. It’s considered masculine and associated with the element of FIRE.

The next world is Briah, which contains Sephiroth 4, 5 and 6. This is the realm of intellect and ideals, so it’s associated with the other masculine element, AIR.

The third world is Yetzirah, a realm of formation. Sephiroth 7, 8 and 9 are found in this world, which is associated with the feminine element of WATER.

The last world, and the lowest on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, is Assiah. Only one sphere lives here: Malchut. This is the material world of the feminine element EARTH.

10 Wands 300 The majority of Tarot enthusiasts ascribe the Minor Arcana suits thusly: Wands=Fire, Swords=Air, Cups=Water and Pentacles=Earth. So, intellectually, you could transpose that association onto the Tree of Life where Atziluth is “like Wands”, Briah is “like Swords”, Yetzirah is “like Cups” and Assiah is “like Pentacles”.

Also, the number of each sephirah on the Tree of Life correspond to the Minor Arcana cards of the same number. Thus, Kether contains the Aces, Chokmah the 2s, Binah the 3s, Chesed the 4s, Geburah the 5s, Tiphereth the 6s, Netzach the 7s, Hod the 8s, Yesod the 9s and lastly—the topic of this post—the 10s will reside in the sephirah of Malchut.

Wands/Fire are fastest (like light), followed by Swords/Air. Things start become weighed down in the world of form (Cups/Water) and are at the heaviest as it enters the material world we live in—you know, the world of money, body, health, possessions, flora, fauna…pretty much everything you experience with your five senses. This last world of Assiah, with sephirah 10, Malchut, and all the Minor Arcana 10s, are heavy dude. Very heavy.

10 Swords 300 Now, instead of “worlds”, lets call those realms “homes” (to make it a bit cozier). As you well know, some “homes” are comfier than others are—especially depending on the temperament of the owner and the visitor.

What does this all have to do with the 10s in Tarot, especially when it comes to Rider-Waite-Smith decks?

Well, have you ever wondered why the 10 of Pentacles looks like a happy card, as does the 10 of Cups—but the 10 of Swords and the 10 of Wands look positively dreadful? I mean, they’re all 10s, right?

Seeing those cards through the lens of the four “homes” (worlds) of the Tree of Life gives us a clue as to why.

Wands/Fire is most comfortable in the upper “home” of the Tree of Life, the speed-of-light realm of Atziluth. Zip, zip, zip—WOW, talk about fast! Now, what happens when that fast, bright energy—most comfortable at the top with the Aces, Twos and Threes—suddenly has to slow waaaay down in order to manifest in the material world where the 10s reside?

10 Cups 300 Why, it’s downright burdensome, that’s what! Just look at that poor guy in the 10 of Wands! And why in the name of God is he carrying those sticks so awkwardly? He is cruising for a major backache—or worse. Instead of staying at the realm of the 9, getting healing for those wounds on his head and putting up a defensive barrier, he goes on out and grabs some more freakin’ Wands! And so, the Wands suit in the sephirah of Malchut, numbered 10, is the MOST uncomfortable in this particular home.

Next, we have the often-feared 10 of Swords. Ouchies!  Someone needs a chiropractor—or a good acupuncturist! (Or maybe even the undertaker? *wince*). But because the Swords are most comfortable higher up in the Tree, up in the sephirah within the “home” of Briah, they, too, get a beating in the material world of Malchut. However, the 10 of Swords is actually not quite as bad as the 10 of Wands, energetically speaking. Swords/Air are fast, too—as fast as the speed of thought and communication. But look closer at the 10 of Swords: there’s a new day dawning! The man with the swords in his back has nowhere to go but up—(spiraling up to the Aces where he, hopefully, gets a new, refreshed perspective…without the mental overkill).

10 Pents 300 Now, consider the 10 of Cups, often considered one of the most positive and lovely cards in the Tarot. Water/Cups are the third “home” down on the Tree of Life, encompassing the sephiroth within Yetzirah. Ahhh, now we’re talking. Yetzirah, the world of formation and containment, makes for a comfy home for Water/Cups. Thus, this joyful card is often called the “happy family” card (or, as Tarot author Nina Lee Braden calls it, the “Little House on the Prairie” card). The realm of emotions, intimacy and familial connection feels quite comfortable in the 10s, because it’s so close to its home base.

And now we come to the 10 of Pentacles. Money, land, a multi-generational gathering, luxurious clothing, pets, buildings, family crest, lush vegetation, solid foundation, abundance—this card is right at home in Malchut because, after all, this lone sephirah resides in Assiah, the material world of Earth.

And how about that Wheel of Fortune, Trump 10? Talk about a crapshoot! Nothing in life is guaranteed, is it? Up, down, up, down—ever tossed about by the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (to quote Shakespeare). Now, on the Tree of Life, the 21 Trump cards connect the sephiroth via paths. It just so happens that the Wheel of Fortune lies on path 21, connecting sphere 4 (Chesed) with sphere 7 (Netzach).

Tree 600 Interestingly, 4s are all about earthly stability (numerologically speaking), while the 7s often connote vacillation and DE-stabilization (not to mention spiritual truth, higher wisdom and refined intuition). And here’s a Hebraic “funny”: the Wheel of Fortune connects with the Hebrew letter Kaph, which means palm of the hand. I say “funny” because that ol’ Wheel of Fortune can often feel like a “slap across the head” when it barrels down our way! (Those 7s get a bad rap in the Tarot, but I’ll leave that for another post…)

Chesed in is in the world of Air, while Netzach is in the world of Water. Can you say “storm-tossed-freakin’-sea”?!

Actually, I was wrong about nothing being guaranteed in life. There is ONE thing that is guaranteed--the only constant: CHANGE.

So when the Minor Arcana 10s show up in a reading, or that gear-like pit-wheel (think grist mill!) known as the Wheel of Fortune rolls onto your table, take heart. You’re about to spiral up to a higher plane (if you choose) and a higher understanding of this material plane of Malchut.

I'll leave you with a video of The Larger Bowl performed by the best band ever, Rush. Click here for the lyrics.

-- Janet

Card images from the Universal Waite Tarot, published by USGS.

Tarot of the Shamans

Shaman Cover 160 "The Tarot of the Shamans is conceived for those who are seeking greater awareness and harmony with themselves, with reality and with nature. The cards are intended for all modern-day Shamans lost in their contemporary present and wish to rediscover the path in the forest, to unveil their animal nature and reawaken their inner Shaman." - From the L(ittle) W(hite) B(ook)

Retracing the essence of the Shamanic experience, the Shaman Tarot melds ancient rites and symbols with the mechanisms of civilization, suggesting that our Existence (spirit) flows through both time and space.

Shamanic practice, then, accesses simultaneous experiences through time, retrieving messages from spirit, wisdom from power animals and shattered soul shards in need of integration.

A canoe sailing among skyscrapers, a modern man trapped in a crystal held by a native, jungle vines invading a modern apartment, a loincloth clad male soaring among gray aliens, a meditating elder surrounded by discarded tires, concrete blocks and appliances--these are some of the unusual images found in the Shaman Tarot.

Shaman 10 Of course, there are more traditional depictions of shamanistic life found in this deck--cattle skulls, drums, animals, headdresses, native dancing, conjured spirits, reveries and startling visions.

Correlating four central moments of both the shamanic experience and four Power Objects, the Minor Arcana suits of the Shaman Tarot are Drums (Earth--"Dance"), Bows (Air--"Voyage"), Bones (Fire--"Combat") and Stones (Water--"Healing"). These associations may prove quite confusing to Tarot enthusiasts, primarily because Drums, Bones and Stones have all been associated with the Earth element in other decks (one reason that I wouldn't recommend the Shaman Tarot for those new to the cards.)

Measuring approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inches, the cards feature a reversible backing--a totem-pole in blue and lavender hues, surrounded by dragonflies and a mauve border--while the fronts are absent of titles. Instead, the Majors display Roman numerals at top and bottom; the Minors show suit symbol and number; and the court cards depict only court symbol and suit symbol.

Speaking of courts, the delineation of the court cards in the Shaman Tarot are Knave, Knight, Queen and King, symbolized by a single feather, a wooden horse, a necklace and a feathered crown. But get this: there is NO explanation in the LWB for these associations! Seasoned Tarotist could guess, but beginners would be doubly lost using this deck (which is another reason I couldn't recommend the Shaman Tarot for beginners), especially since the LWB descriptions of the cards rarely match the image (par for the course with Lo Scarabeo LWBs, unfortunately).

Shaman 15 While figuring out which symbols go with what element, suit and court card takes some getting used to, the Shaman Tarot does offer fascinating insights into modern dilemmas, creative obstructions and spiritual questions. I've used this deck for several months now and find it to be deep and broad with its advice--and sometimes amusingly snarky!

Case in point: I was feeling especially wonderful one day, and did a one-card reading as an experiment (after all, who consults the cards when soaring high, right?)--just wondering if the Universe had a message for me (like why I was feeling so giddy!).

Guess what drew? Drum 7, a card depicting a woman dancing at water's edge, playing a tambourine with her eyes closed, lovely birds swooping around her--REVERSED. I "heard" in my spirit, "Why are you even asking about your elation? Just enjoy it!"

Too funny! I actually laughed aloud.

As with many Lo Scarabeo decks, the Shaman Tarot provides unusual perspectives for quandaries and questions, as well as for contemplation and meditation. If you're attracted to the art and find the subject matter intriguing, do give this deck a try; I think you'll be pleasantly rewarded for your study and use of this symbolic deck.

To see 15 more images from the Shaman Tarot, click here.

-- Janet Boyer