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June 2011

Turning "Too Many Interests" Into a Great Life!

Craft 3 The following article is by Margaret Lobenstine, M.A., author of The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One. Quite literally, her book saved me from endless self-examination via personality systems and psychology texts as I tried to "find my passion".

Being talented at many things, I couldn't figure out which one was "right" or "best" for me. The Renaissance Soul is one of five books that I'm always recommended to my Tarot reading clients (other Renaissance Souls seem drawn to me, which is fantastic!). Enjoy the article!

Turning "Too Many Interests" Into a Great Life! by Margaret Lobenstine, M.A.

Are you still looking for that one thing that will make you happy, trying to finally identify the right career path for you? Are you jealous when someone tells you "I've known what I want to be since I was twelve!"?

Ren soul 300 Do your friends and family say to you, in slightly anxious tones, "I just hope you find whatever it is that makes you happy and do it!" Does it upset you how many times you've started in on something only to get bored and drop it? Do you feel like a dilettante? A "jack of all trades, master of none?", flawed in some basic way?

Don't worry: As someone who has struggled with such feelings myself and whose work history gives resume writers heart attacks, I can assure you that you are not alone and all is not hopeless. For over a decade now I
have coached people who feel this way and can tell you, you are not flawed or a failure, you are a Renaissance Soul!

What is a Renaissance Soul? In a nutshell, Renaissance Souls are people whose number one career choice is "Please don't make me choose!" and whose underlying passion is to constantly redefine their passions. They
are people who pick up one thing and drop something else as frequently as they need to. Lucky people, who, if left to their own devices, can never be bored for long.

Yet at first glance they don't feel so lucky. In fact, they seem to be folks with a problem, an inability to pick one specific career path and happily stick with it. This "problem" can wear seemingly contradictory faces.

Some Renaissance Souls, for example, may stay with waitressing, temping, or other entry-level positions to avoid choosing that one path to the top. They tend to work at positions far below their abilities, struggling with the resultant low pay and security. Others jump from one interest/job to another so frequently they hardly trust their own choices anymore. And still others have successfully climbed one particular career ladder only to be inexplicably miserable at the top.

Pallette Why? Because they have not accepted their true Renaissance nature.This Renaissance nature is easy to describe. Renaissance Souls much prefer variety and combination over focusing all their energies on one thing. They prefer widening options by opening more and more doors, to narrowing choices by specializing and sub-specializing.

And then, when Renaissance Souls finally get something figured out, when they are finally successful at running a restaurant, writing government grants, doing post and beam construction, and/or mystery writing, what
happens? Do they want to go on, be promoted, do more of whatever it is they are doing? Not on your life! When Renaissance Souls get something all figured out, they are done! Ready to move on! Try something new! "Been there, done that!" could be the Renaissance Soul theme song!

If you are a Renaissance Soul, here are five things to keep in mind as you search for your true callings:

1) Did you ever wonder why you find those career and personality tests that ask you to pick one answer to be often far more frustrating than informative? You hate being limited to just one choice! Standard questions like "What do you see yourself doing in five years?" or "What do you want to be?" are likely to either shut you right up or bring forth a hundred different answers that can change every five minutes.

Da Vincie 2) Know that you'll never be happy doing just one thing for the rest of your life, although you may pursue your interests either sequentially or simultaneously. The key is not to try to open too many doors at once or you won't get far enough inside any of them to feel satisfied. Instead think in terms of identifying a maximum of three to five what I call Renaissance Focal Points to give your main energy to for at least two to six months. During that time, keep a notebook of other exciting ideas you may want to pursue in the future, but not right now!

3) Know that process may well be more important to you than product. For example, if what excites/feeds you about quilting is the process of working through all the challenges of color, fabric, and pattern, once you have a design that pleases you, you have successfully done what you set out to do - even if the quilt is not a "finished" product, or the finishing is done by someone else!

Butterflies 200 4) Be aware that you may be motivated by different "carrots" than other folks. What looks like a big promotion to some - being given responsibility in your division for a larger geographic area, for example, - may not hold as many new challenges for you as a supposedly more horizontal move into a division you know less about.

5) Recognize when you are done with one passion and give yourself permission to move on. For example, I used to run my own highly successful bed and breakfast. When I sold my inn, most people assumed I'd want to ride that success by going on to run an even bigger one. Did I? Of course not. My Renaissance Soul was ready for a change!

Margaret Lobenstine, M.A. is the author of The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One. Often referred to as "The Unstuck Lady", Margaret coaches, speaks and gives workshops about the Renaissance Soul throughout the U.S., England, and Canada. To learn more about Renaissance Souls, see the SECRETS OF THE RENAISSANCE SOUL section at http://togetunstuck.com You can email Margaret at margloben@togetunstuck.com

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin) 


My God, It's Full of Stars!

Stars Cropped 300Our Snowland Tarot version of The Stars card (aka The Star) varies greatly from traditional renderings.

In Rider-Waite-Smith inspired versions, The Star shows a naked woman pouring water into a stream with stars overhead.

And that's about it.

Author Joan Bunning attributes the keywords Hope, Inspiration, Generosity and Serenity to The Star, and that goes along popular interpretations for this card. However, for those new to the cards--and, arguably, seasoned veterans--what is it about the traditional image that conveys these meanings?

Nothing that I can see, to be honest--other than the cultural association of "wishing upon a star" which may translate to "optimism" or "hope". Curiously, however, many Tarotists attribute "wishing upon a star" to the 9 of Cups card--which is often dubbed "the wish card".

In keeping with our goal to translate obvious meanings with our Snowland Tarot card imagery--as well as more subtle symbols and motifs to spark intuitive connections--we chose to make The Stars card a concrete, albeit unconventional, rendering intended to transmit feelings and associations of awe, wonderment, enchantment, transcendence and enrapture.

We have some incredibly perceptive and thoughtful fans on our Facebook page, some who offer their impressions into the cards. Renee Kazmar has this to say about the Snowland Tarot version of The Stars:

Stars Section The first thing I notice when I look at the Stars card are the stars. The realism is breath-taking. I grew up in an area where the stars filled the night sky and looked exactly like your card. The stars are so powerful in the card that the Snowman, even though he is centered and normally would command more attention, comes across as almost insignificant, which is perfect for the scene because that's exactly how it really is--the feeling of being tiny and imperfect and insignificant amongst the millions of stars. I think that a card like that is wonderful for giving us humans some perspective and a reminder that the universe is huge, complex, and mysterious, and that we still have a lot to learn and much room to grow as a species.

What amazing insights! This was exactly our intention for this card. In fact, Ron's inspiration for The Stars is the "My God, it's full of stars!" scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. And, that movie does, indeed, echo the last part of Renee's sentiments.

So, dear reader, what do YOU see in our version of The Stars? What meanings or keywords would you create for this floating snowmonaut? What symbols do you see that ignites your intuition? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

-- Janet


Noah Sez: Gift of Peace

World in Hands As I was working on the computer, Noah just came over to me and gently laid his hand on my forehead. Immediately, the tension drained from my body. I felt so relaxed.

He could see it, too. He said "I guess I have the gift of peace. It's from Jesus Christ. He gave it to my DNA before birth."

His Dad has this gift, too. Utterly amazing to behold, and feel.

Noah picked the image for this edition of Noah Sez, as well. I asked him why this choice, and he replied: "Because it shows that the Earth is in Someone's hands...safe. Protected. Harmony."

-- Janet (Mom to Noah--another Renaissance Soul Ablaze)


Be a Confident Tarot Reader!

The biggest hurdle to successful Tarot reading?

Confidence.

Run reach Pro athletes acknowledge they are good. In fact, in sports psychology, you have to think you are the BEST. Same with reading Tarot.

It’s not arrogant to recognize innate psychic talent (if you have it), study for years, practice tons and then conclude that you are GOOD (especially if the feedback you’re getting from friends, family and clients tells you that you are).

Good, as in helpful and accurate.

So to help encourage you, here’s some affirmations I came up with that you can say every day. Feel free to print them out, post them on your computer or other prominent place in your home, put them in your purse, wallet or briefcase or share with other Tarot readers (with proper author attribution, of course):

Affirmations for Tarot Readers

• I can read Tarot.

• The cards reflect Life. I know life!

• Each card has multiple messages, and I will see and hear them at the perfect time.

• I animate the cards by observing, analyzing, feeling…and then telling their story.

• Tarot needs ME to activate its power.

• I say what I see, hear or feel.

• I am the Tarot’s vocal cords. The cards will speak through me.

• Tarot speaks in stories and familiar language. I CAN connect the dots!

• I am open to a wider perspective and greater vision.

• Important clues will make themselves evident as I read.

• I see the modern in the ancient, the relevant in the obscure.

Try out these affirmations and let me know how they work out for you (as well as if you want more of them!).

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin) 


The Problem With Positive Reviews

Cheering For several years, I was the New Age Editor at the second largest women's site on the web. We once had a discussion about reviews and someone asked me why all my book reviews were positive. (At that time, I focused solely on reviewing books.)

I answered that I happened to be reviewing books that I liked--and that I didn't want to "send out negativity" into the Universe by writing a negative review. Knowing how time-consuming and, at times, excruciating the creative process can often be, I certainly didn't want to be responsible for discouraging an author, either! Not only that, just because I didn't like a book doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't benefit from it.

A few individuals shared with me that readers would take reviewers more seriously if they posted both positive and negative reviews. I was reluctant to begin writing "negative" reviews, but I eventually began doing so and I'll tell you why.

Books For those of us who live in rural areas devoid of any New Age bookstores, the closest one may be an hour or more away. Although some larger chains like Barnes and Noble and Borders may carry a few decks and metaphysical titles, the selection can be pretty darn paltry--even in more populated towns.

And the local libraries in my area? Utterly devoid of occult titles, except for the occasional Sylvia Browne book. But forget trying to find a book or deck on Tarot, let alone serious tomes on esoteric subjects. The librarians tell me that occult books are the ones that get stolen as soon as they’re added to the shelves.

This means that those of us who live in rural areas but love to collect Tarot decks or devour metaphysical books lare crap out of luck.

That is, of course, except for the wonderful world of the Internet.

Books money 2 Folks like me often must buy books and decks sight unseen and rely heavily on reviews. We hope they're honest, we trust that they'll be comprehensive, but...guess what? Sometimes, they are not.

Although I can, and do, get tons of decks and books directly from publishers for review, I often spend hundreds of dollars a year on similar items. Why? Because I may not want to wait or I may have communication glitches with publicists/publishers, so I just go ahead and buy them myself. (Not to mention the dozens of impulse buys. Yikes!) I have spent thousands of dollars over the years on such books and getting many free isn't stopping this trend!

In other words, I was a consumer before I was a reviewer of metaphysical books, decks, DVDs and CDs. And, I still am.

Fantastical Now, here's a scenario for you explaining why I happen to write "negative" reviews: Some time ago, I received The Fantastical Tarot and The Crystal Tarot from Amazon.com. While The Crystal Tarot isn't so bad, The Fantastical Tarot isn't my cup of tea. I bought the former because I saw some attractive (but small) images in The Tarot Bible, and the latter because I saw it at a "Which Card Are You?" online quiz.

No, I didn't read the reviews first because I rarely, if ever, read reviews of items that I think I'll someday review myself. (Just my way of not wanting to be influenced, even subconsciously, by the views of others.) However, I did look at an online site that features card images and reviews.

Not surprisingly, the card images displayed by that site are NOT representative of the whole deck. Only the most attractive images are featured, and if the Minors happen to be Pips only (e.g. the 6 of Wands showing 6 actual wands or the 8 of Swords showing 8 actual swords), only selections from the Majors, Aces, and Court Cards are (conveniently) shown.

In other words, the most decorated and intricate cards in the Tarot.

I've noticed this skewed trend of only showing the pretty cards, which is one reason I try to pick 15-18 representative cards from a deck to accompany my reviews, even cards that I don't like.

AT Yet I do believe that was the first time I've been burned on my own purchases. Now, that would be bad enough, but there are two other details that bug me about the site I'm referring to:

1. It only publishes positive reviews
2. It is an affiliate of several outlets that sell books and decks

How do I know? Because none of my (submitted) "negative" deck or book reviews have been published on that site--only positive ones. And, I don't recall ever finding a negative review on that site. Ever.

While this may be good for deck creators and authors (not to mention the site publishing only positive reviews and attractive images who get money from every purchase), it is NOT good for consumers. Not only does this cheat people out of their money, but it also engenders a sense of distrust among readers towards reviewers in general.

Checkmark Is it easier to write positive reviews than negative ones? Absolutely! And more fun, to boot! Positive reviews fly off my fingers while critical reviews take longer, especially since, at the very least, I try to point out the positives of a book or deck if there are any redeeming qualities.

But this latest experience of getting burned on on-line purchases reminded me (and encouraged me) as to why I write critical reviews: My sense of ethics compels me to be honest. My first loyalty as a reviewer is to the consumer, my fellow book and deck enthusiasts—not the publisher, not a publicist, not an author or deck creator (even if such happens to be an acquaintance or colleague!)

In my mind, a critical review—an objective, balanced review—isn't a "negative" one. (Obviously, what determines "balanced" is subjective!) In fact, there are times when readers email me about a "negative" review gushing, "Thank you so much for this review. I went out and bought the book and LOVED it!"

Yes, you read right.

Thumbs up This shows me that critical reviews also serve the public for the simple fact that what I may consider a "downside" may very well be an "upside" for someone else.

So don't we reviewers owe it to the public to provide balanced, honest reviews?  I think so. At least, this is what my personal ethics compels me to do.

Otherwise, reviewers just serve as publicists. It is the publicist’s job to describe the contents of a book, deck, or product and then to apply the most positive, compelling spin possible in the hopes that someone agrees to review the product or interview the author for the ultimate purpose increased sales—not mine.

And the hell I catch for some of my reviews? Unfreakinbelievable. And all from the Tarot community. They harass me on forums, stalk me on Twitter, complain about me to publishing companies, send me anonymous emails and stir up pitchfork mobs. It’s bizarre, really. No wonder people think Tarot users are whack jobs!

Applause Instead of appreciating the other 1,200 reviews I’ve written to help consumers, they focus on the one they disagree with—or, sometimes, a “negative” review of a book penned by author they adore or are friends with. They call me a bully, repeatedly, hoping the perception sticks. Then, any OTHER author or fangirl that gets disgruntled picks up the whining buzz of these Twalkers, further perpetrating the droning “Janet is a bully” line.

I’ve been reviewing books for almost a decade because I love books! Same with Tarot decks. But I benefit from honest reviews, too. Before you start to rag on me or any other reviewer, consider:

1. We aren’t paid for our reviews
2. Free stuff is NOT commensurate the time and energy spent on reviewing
3. A book isn't an author’s “baby”, it’s a product
4. A negative review isn’t personal
5. Literary criticism is a respected art form
6. Public harassment by an author makes the AUTHOR look bad, not the reviewer
7. Negative reviews can generate buzz and exposure, too
8. One review isn’t going to sink a book or a career
9. Honest reviews do consumers a great service
10. Reviewers are real people behind the screen, just like the author

 -- Janet


Noah Sez - Connecting with God

Noah Sez 1 I've been thinking about doing this for months.

Since our son, Noah, was a toddler, we've called him "little guru". He has taught us SO much...not only through his Autism (PDD-NOS) diagnosis, but also his rise about those challenges to become a thoughtful, compassionate, witty, articulate, wise and funny young man.

Noah is 12, and will be 13 in September. He comes up with such piercing insights, and incredibly hilarious zingers, demonstrating maturity way beyond his physical age. Some have called him an "old soul" (like his parents), in fact.

I often write down these wise and witty nuggets, and often Tweet them to my followers or share them with my Facebook friends. However, I've now come to the conclusion that my little guy's soul needs to be "out there", touching the world with his light, joy and sagacity.

So welcome to a regular new feature to my blog: Noah Sez!

Out of the blue, Noah just said (as he often does with no mitigating stimuli): "You don't have to set the alarm for church to connect to God. You can connect with God at a museum, in your house, at the market...anywhere.

Yeah, I know. Pretty heavy, huh?

I hope your enjoy our little man's wisdom as much as we do! Free free to comment on the Noah Sez posts, and I'll be sure to relay them to Noah. In fact, if you have any questions for him, you can send those along, too. He's quite intuitive. :o)

-- Janet (Mom to Noah--another Renaissance Soul Ablaze)


Immi's Gift

Immi large "I had written her story and drawn her again and again, but this little girl I knew so well did not have a name. Then I came across the Inuit name Immi and knew it was right for her. It was only much later that I found out Immi is short for Immiayuk, meaning echo, a word that seems very fitting for this story." - Karin Littlewood, author and illustrator of Immi's Gift

Alone in a frozen white land, Immi breaks a hole in the ice to fish for her supper.

Having already caught a few fish, she thought she try to get one more--in case anyone comes around (which they hardly did).

Much to her surprise, Immi finds a painted little wooden bird at the end of her fishing line. This delightful discovery leads Immi to find more colorful items at the end of her line--a red flower, a purple feather, a green leaf and an orange starfish.

Soon, Immi's igloo was the brightest thing in the land!

Immi's Gift, written and illustrated by British watercolorist Karin Littlewood, conveys an unusual tale of a solitary girl finding a host of colorful objects through her frozen fishing hole. Inspired by these unexpected items, Immi then drops her own beloved pendant--a white bear from her necklace--into the icy water.

What results is a cross-cultural exchange--albeit a bit fantastical one--that inspires wonderment in both children and adults alike.

This book would make a delightful gift for children; rather than a straightforward tale (like most children's books), Immi's Gift (Peachtree Publishers) invites speculation and conversation, which would make it a great book for parents or caregivers and children to share together.

For example, why is Immi alone? Where are her parents? How does she survive the arctic conditions? Where might she, and the little boy, live in the world?

Beautifully painted by veteran artist (but first-time author) Littlewood, the gentle story of Immi's Gift would make a wonderful addition to any child's library.

To get your copy of Immi's Gift from Amazon, click here.

-- Janet


The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes

7 Sp Laws 250 “Superheroes have learned to live without false boundaries between the personal and the universal. Too often we identify only with an ego that drags around a bag of skin and bones. This then becomes a socially conditioned boundary that leads to a limited sense of self.” -- From the book

Pop culture and archetypal myth meets Chopra’s characteristic chewy prose in his newest book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes, co-authored with his son and founder of Liquid Comics, Gotham Chopra.

Although only 167-pages, this books packs a quantum KAPOW! by showing readers the connection between superhero strengths and the Universal Field that mere humans can access, channel and embody for an integrated earthly existence.

According to Chopra—who uses diverse examples ranging from Silver Surfer to Icarus, Ram to Zeus, Jehovah to Spider-Man, Storm to Daredevil, Jesus to Superman—deities, legends and superheroes contain both the projections and potentialities of humans. By reading and studying their archetypal stories, we can learn what makes them “super”, understand their fatal flaws, discover what orchestrates their triumph over darkness (whether from within or without) and apply these quantum lessons to our own life journey.

And, in The Seven Laws of Superheroes, Chopra connects the dots for readers, so even those who may be clueless about Doctor Strange, Beyonder, Lord Ravan and the like can understand the import of their stories for human potential and, indeed, global transformation.

So what are The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes? They are:

7 Laws SH Small 1. The Law of Balance
2. The Law of Transformation
3. The Law of Power
4. The Law of Love
5. The Law of Creativity
6. The Law of Intention
7. The Law of Transcendence

To give you a taste of some of the BOFF! wisdom in this book, here’s a few of my favorite quotes:

• Superheroes understand that the moment they label or define themselves, they limit themselves.

In superhero lore, the shadow often appears as the supervillain, but don’t be fooled. In truth, the supervillain is just the superhero who’s been sabotaged by an imbalance in the self…Maintaining that you do not have a shadow is actually denial of it, or standing in total darkness, cut off from the world. If you stand in the light, as superheroes do, then you will always see your shadow. With this awareness, the bright light of higher consciousness can keep an eye on the shadow saboteur.

• Superheroes like Silver Surfer don’t just tap into the qualities of higher consciousness; they embody them. Like the great prophets, their selflessness comprises the highest ideals that we value as a civilization. When they look upon the world and everyone in it, they see themselves and ask, “How can I make things better?’

• Superheroes don’t have to solve all of life’s mysteries, because they ARE life’s mysteries. With his knowledge, superheroes learn to do less and accomplish more and ultimately do nothing and accomplish everything.

• The superhero is independent of the good and bad opinions of others.

In less adept hands, correlating comic book heroes and mythological greats with practical self-help, spiritual truths and human actualization might result in a superficial mash-up of commercial (rather than cosmic) proportions. SPLATT!

But not with Deepak and Gotham steering the galactic superhero ship! No, we get the best of comics and culture—yes, both commercial and cosmic—but this father/son team demonstrates how we can reinvent our individual and collective stories to awaken dormant excellence, activate latent skills, intend for a better future and then DO SOMETHING to make our world a better place.

How cool is that?

ZOWIE!

To get your copy from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle version, click here. (By clicking those links and making any purchase--at any time--a few coins are tossed my way as an Amazon Associate, which helps me pay for hosting costs + more. Thank you!)

 -- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin)


Go the F--k to Sleep Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson Free at Audible.com

Go to Yes, folks, it's true: the highly anticipated bedtime story for adults now has the perfect, stellar narrator in Samuel L. Jackson. The hardcopy version of Go the Fuck to Sleep was released today.

Right now, though, Audible.com is offering a free download of this 6 minutes audio version, including the options to have it on Kindle, PC or mobile devices.

This offer is only good for a limited time, so hurry on over to this link to download your free copy.

And if your kiddo is keeping you up at night...go suck your thumb, pull the covers over your head and listen to this profane gem.

 -- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin)


Did You Know? Twitter Hashtags

Hashtagsecrets 200 If you're new to Twitter, you may be wondering what a hashtag is.

Well, it looks like #. But it's more than just the "pound sign" (as we say in America). The hashtag is a way to follow specific topics and conversations on Twitter.

In fact, some hashtags, like #litchat and #blogchat, connect to scheduled conversations about a particular topic (in the first case, books and writing--in the second, blogging). You can even enter a special "chat room" that streams Tweets only for that hashtag.

Other hashtags are more topical in nature--an invitation to follow and contribute ideas surrounding a particular theme. This kind of hashtag could center around a book (for example, #HeLa, for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), a movie, a band, an icon, a hobby, a profession, an experience, a TV show and so on. An example of this would be #amwriting, which is a "writer roll call" connecting other scribes. You can even share what you're writing or your progress via #WIP, which means "work in progress".

Hashtag right Anyone can create a hashtag, and anyone can participate using one. I've created two Tarot-related hashtags, myself: #BITtarot (which invites Tarotists to connect a Tarot card with a particular memory, object, character, book, action, etc., based on my BIT Tarot Method) and #tarotREV (where we contribute our take on specific meanings for reversed Tarot cards). Even the generic #Tarot is often used by Tarotists (but it's often more spammy).

What's the point?, you may be wondering. Well, if you look at Tweets that use hashtags, you'll notice that they are highlighted for clicking. This means that you can click any hashtag and instantly be taken to a page which shows real-time Tweets of others using that particular hashtag.

This means you can follow, and contribute, to a particular topic whenever you happen to be online. Of course, if there's a scheduled chat, you may miss the live Tweets...but they'll be forever recorded in the corresponding hashtag transcript.

Here's another example: It's 4 AM my time, and I've posted the Tweet: 6 of WANDS, reversed: Losing a race, falling from pedestal, indifference towards praise. Your take? #tarotREV #Tarot

Hashtag 2 Now, chances are my American pals aren't online at this time...but the very cool thing is that my UK, Aussie and other pals around the world ARE! So they can contribute their insights when they're up and about. My American Twitter Tarot friends can contribute THEIR take when they awake and log on...and read what others have posted about a card by clicking on #tarotREV.

See how cool that is? (And despite how the hashtags look, they are not case-sensitive. This means #TAROTREV, #TAROTrev and #tarotREV will all refer to the same stream when used or clicked.)

Thus, hashtags can be a teaching tool, news disseminator, water cooler, slumber party, book sneeze, agony aunt, sympathy circle, prayer chain--you get the idea.

But hashtags have one more use: snark. Or, "aren't I clever" asides. Piers Morgan does this magnificently, as does author Joe Hill and actor George Takei. For example, I may Tweet: "If I had a dollar for every self-pubbed author who swore her MS was 'professionally edited'..." #lookoutbillgates

Blue hash You can click on those types of hashtags, but chances are, you'll only find one entry (or a handful, if other's happen to think the same thing).

When many use the same hashtag, that can lead to "trending", which means interested parties will likely check out WHY a particular hashtag is popular. This is often how individuals find out when a celebrity has gotten arrested, divorced or murdered: you see a certain name, wonder why it's trending (especially if it's not a name that's ALWAYS in the limelight), click on the hashtag--and get the scoop.

So now you know what those tic-tac-toe symbols mean...and how they can connect you with information, books and like-minded folks.

 -- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse(Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot(Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin)


BIT Tarot Challenge: A Cup of Coffee

Coffee cup Ahhhh....

Nothing like a hot cuppa joe for this yankee!

So today's Back in Time (BIT) Tarot Challenge is...a cup of coffee!

What Tarot card would you associate with hot java? (Remember, there are no wrong choices or reasons!)

You can choose a Tarot card based on the image I've provided, or for the effect coffee has on you, for the smell, for memories associated with it...anything.

For me, I'd associate a cup of coffee with either the 2 of Cups card or the 10 of Cups.

The reason for my choice is because coffee is pretty much a "party drink" around here, even if we do drink it almost daily! *laughs*

2 of Cups 250 We consider coffee a celebration around here, as well as a juice to help us stay awake (Ron), focus on homework (Noah) or fuel marathon writing sessions (me). Whenever I ask, "Want some coffee?", Noah yelps in delight, "Woohoo!" (resounding yes!)

With Ron, it depends on if he needs sleep for work the next day.

But weekends? Making coffee and drinking it together is a part of our "family bonding time" (thus, the 10 of Cups). And, I love it when it's just Ron and me sitting out on the porch, hearing the chorus of birds greeting a new day (or, in the case of late night antics, a choir of frogs!).  Thus, the 2 of Cups choice (intimacy). In fact, that's why I chose the image I did for our Snowland Tarot 2 of Cups! It's a very personal meaning for us both.

So tell me dear readers: what Tarot card would you pick for a cup of coffee? Why? Please weigh in!

2 of Cups card from the Snowland Tarot deck, painted by Ron Boyer.

 -- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse(Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot(Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin)


Mystic Pyramid

Remember those magic 8 balls from decades long gone? You’d shake the liquid-filled ball, and a white pyramid with a message on it would float into the window as if by magic. Pretty freakin’ cool back then!

Fast forward into the 21st century, and U.S. Games Systems, Inc. has given a super-cool spin on this fun fortunetelling toy embodied in the Mystic Pyramid.

What is the Mystic Pyramid, you ask?

Mystic pyramid Well, it’s otherworldly gray pyramid that, when pressed down, booms out a prognostication to your every question.

Some of the messages you may receive via the Mystic Pyramid include:

• Let go of unrealistic expectations.

• Your dreams are about to be realized.

• Revisit the issue at a later time.

• Your deepest joy will shine forth.

• Accept disappointment and move on.

• The outcome may surprise you.

• Embark on a new path with confidence.

With a deep male voice echoing a bit like the Great Oz—not to mention glowing blue light emanating from the pyramid “seams”—the Mystic Pyramid makes for a fascinating party game.

It’s so mystically attractive, I keep our Mystic Pyramid right on the entertainment center as a decoration. However, my husband and son have a hard time resisting pushing on the Mystic Pyramid when they walk by.

Finally, I had to admonish them: “Only for serious questions!”

If you’re looking for a fun gift for that hard-to-by person, or perhaps want to wow a youngster with his or her very own portable fortuneteller, you MUST get the Mystic Pyramid for them. The voice, the lights, the ease of use (and don’t forget batteries that ARE included!)—what’s NOT to love, right?

In fact, let me ask the Mystic Pyramid:

Mystic Pyramid, will the readers of my review enjoy you if they get you?

The reply: “You already know the answer.”

See? Told ya!

To get your Mystic Pyramid from Amazon, click here.

 -- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse(Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot(Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin)


The Empress and Emperor in the Garden

Garden One of my favorite pastimes is walking around our huge yard, checking out the growth of trees, shrubs, plants and vines. Has the honeysuckle bloomed yet? Do I need to thread more of its vines along the wire fence? How’s my mint doing? Wow, the Asian lilies are about to unfurl! And look how fast that maple tree, planted from a tiny sapling, grows by the month!

Around chez Boyer, I call this the “3 hour tour” (swiped from the Gilligan’s Island theme song). In fact, I often enlist hubby for the tour—and we stroll around, marveling at the lush foliage and new life we often discover. (If I’m lucky, I can even talk him into transplanting hostas!)

During my 3 hour tours, I often contemplate the Empress archetype (which is natural enough), but also her consort, The Emperor. Tarot enthusiasts tend to associate The Empress with the garden, but The Emperor’s role is just as important. In fact, although she’s often venerated, The Empress—left to her own devices—can be quite destructive in this domain.

Emperor 300 It is The Emperor that tills the ground and makes uniform rows for sowing. He also selects the seed or sprouts, often planting them according to an arranged grid or planned harvest.

The Empress nurtures and fertilizes everything in the soil—weeds and desired plants alike. She also nurtures blights and devouring insects, embodying the two sides of the Creator/Destroyer archetype.

The Emperor hoes and weeds the garden, even going so far to erect fences to keep out thieving animals. It is The Emperor who tries out home remedies like spearmint chewing gum to ward off invading groundhogs.

The Empress, however, cheers on pest and pollinator, beetle and butterfly, drought and torrents. It’s all the same to her.

The Emperor, at times overly aggressive in setting and enforcing boundaries, may resort to using poison or chemicals to keep weeds or pests in check. When The Emperor is on a schedule, and he usually is, he’d rather save time and energy by using harsh means to eradicate unwanted nuisances, rather than the slower, more thoughtful process of investigating and implementing less harmful practices.

The Empress generously gives her bounty—dirt, sun, rain and soil-aerating worms. These gifts grow a garden, often producing a delectable harvest enjoyed by both man and beast. Her offerings nourish and strengthen, fill and comfort.

Empress 300 However, her efforts can be short-circuited by the zeal of The Emperor, who wants to get the most out of his land—even if it means ignoring the important cycle of fallowness.

While The Empress loves wildness—the twisting vines, enmeshed stems and creeping foliage—The Emperor recognizes that suckers need plucked and branches need pruned. After all, if non-producing outlets continue to use up vital reserves, the main stems, fruits, vegetables and flowers may suffer.

So The Emperor gets out his shears and clip, clip, clips away. It is the topiary creator or the Bonsai sculptor that falls under the aegis of this archetype.

But it’s a delicate balance.

If he chops or cuts too much, he will kill the plant or tree.

In our neck of the woods here in Pennsylvania, we get something called “monkey vines”. They are quite beautiful, even producing plump, purple berries. When they cover dead shrub or fences, they can be lovely. In fact, they are beneficial for the birds that eat their fruit. However, this invasive species also covers bushes, trees, flowers…whatever it can sink its tendrils into. It can cause damage…massive damage. Ron and I have spent hours pulling them down from pine trees, often resuscitating these majestic ones from their sun-deprived ailments. And boy has it made a difference to these trees!

Mother nature propagates these vines, but its Emperors like us who cut them back so that multiple more species can survive and thrive.

Trees Sky As in a garden, The Empress and The Emperor dichotomy plays out in our lives in many ways. To extend the metaphor, if life is a garden, then what are the weeds? The fruit? The pests? The suckers? The unattractive but necessary worms? The warm sun? Refreshing water? How do unwanted trespassers enter our plot—and how do we welcome them, tolerate them, or eradicate them? Where must fences be erected in our life…and are we keeping the right things out and the good things in?

The Emperor often gets a bad rap among Tarotists, especially feminists and the patriarchal-adverse. Yet, like The Empress, he, too, is needed for balance, healthy growth and a sustainable future...in not only an actual garden, but also our relationships, energy, time and endeavors.

Images from the Universal Waite Tarot published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.


Should Reviewers Be Paid?

CD Money Last week, I received an unusual package.

Not unusual in the contents--these were review copies of New Age CDs--but what came with it: a label, on each CD, saying (in red) Submit your review to (email address) and receive $25. Thank you!"

I was floored.

This is a respected music company I've reviewed for for years. Yeah, I get the occassional desperate self-published author or deck creator wanting to pay me for a review (which I always decline) but...a publisher?

Fast forward to today, when I was visiting a professional LinkedIn group for book publicity. Another (desperate) self-published author wanted to know where he could get his book reviewed. A few replied to the author, and he said he considered those who review for money "a practice that I consider unethical from a writing and journalistic standpoint".

Some reviewers piped up, saying "I never accept money for reviews." One member, though, remarked: "Professional book reviewers (aka not your relatives) deserve to get paid, just like any other type of professional. Why would you think otherwise?"

Books Money What do YOU say, dear readers? Should reviewers be paid for their reviews (and time and/or influence)? If so, how much? If you think this will affect the quality of the review (increased tendency to write a positive review), how come?

What about Kirkus Reviews, who have staff (paid) reviewers? Or, the Kirkus Discoveries reviews, in which self-published AUTHORS pay THEM to review their work? Or staff writers like the wonderful Ron Charles of the Washington Post?

I really want to hear your thoughts on this one, readers!

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin)


Can't Stop Laughing

Check out this Russian reporter who can't stop laughing while reporting on a  Canadian drug post involving a pot patch and 13 bears guarding the weed. Here's your BIT Tarot Snapshot challenge, should you choose to accept it: What Tarot card do you associate with cracking up laughing (especially during inopportune moments)? Weigh in with your card choices!

Special thanks to James Wells, who posted this on his Facebook page.

-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin)