Animated portraits, pernicious statues, possessed dolls, haunted hotels, deadly diamonds, lethal bridges, cursed cars—is it possible that things going bump in the night (or in broad daylight) are the dearly departed clinging to earthly objects?
What about the clatter of silverware, thuds of moving furniture, aroma of freshly baked bread, slamming of doors—sounds and smells as real as the nose on your face…but emanating from nothing human (on this plane, at least)?
The spirits of deceased children, murdered prostitutes, brokenhearted lovers, restless pirates, vengeful killers, desperate suicides—according to Graham, intense emotions connected to objects and places may very well be behind what we call hauntings. Are these souls reaching out to the grieving for closure—or to complete some nefarious unfinished business?
And what about malevolent items that some deem “evil” or cursed—ones that leave a trail of terror and death among its owners…sometimes, for centuries?, The doll Annabelle (as featured in the movie The Conjuring), the “Little Bastard” (James Dean’s car), Rudolph Valentino’s jinxed ring, Errol Flynn’s yacht Zaca and a heart-shaped bone pilfered from an Egyptian archaeological dig are but a few of the sinister stories shared in this book.
As one who doesn’t know much about famed ghost sightings, “cursed” objects or haunted places, I found Haunted Stuff to be a fascinating read. I was only familiar with Annabelle through the movie about the Warrens (but I didn’t know a chilling detail connected with the doll until I read this book), as well as the legend of the famed Hope Diamond. Everything else was new to me.
Graham spins these ghastly tales with literary flair (something unusual among what some would call “sensational” occult fare) and a healthy dose of wink-and-nod wit—serving as a truly delightful tour guide to the frightening, the fantastic and the fatal.
When reading Tarot, the layout of the cards is called a spread. In a spread, each position has a pre-determined meaning—either created by you or another. The nature of the pre-determined meaning is important because it modifies the interpretation of the card.
A 3-card layout is a simple spread that can yield a lot of information in the hands of an experienced reader. Some examples of 3-card spreads include:
Past, Present, Future
You, Significant Other, Together (The Relationship)
Mind, Body, Emotions
Pro, Con, Advice
Sun, Moon, Ascendant
For example, here is an actual 3-card reading I’ve recently done for a client (used by permission):
Should I Buy a Bigger Bike?
Context: I’m 41 yrs old and recently purchased a small Yamaha Zuma scooter. I’m having a blast but now want to also purchase a larger Honda 1100cc motorcycle that reminds me of one I had in my younger days (I’m calling it my mid-life crisis mobile). This is something I really enjoyed in the past and would like to start riding again. I’m concerned primarily with my safety. I have a 5 yr old son and don’t want to get killed on it. My wife always stresses about money no matter how much we have, but this is something I can easily afford in addition to saving for college and other stuff.
Question: Are there any issues that I need to be aware of before making my decision to purchase a new motorcycle, or will I be happily enjoying my purchase well into my old age?
Here’s your 3-card reading about whether or not to buy the bigger bike:
Pros:Knight of Coins– You’re a careful and conscientious driver. You don’t, and won’t, take risks.
Cons:4 of Coins– This is the “miser” card. We know who this refers to. LOL! Seems like the only drawback is just your wife’s financial protests.
Final Advice:Ace of Cups – In our Snowland Deck, which I used for your reading, this image shows a hand coming out of the sky, offering a huge, delicious milkshake. It’s a card of joy and an emotional upsurge of positive feelings.
I think it’s pretty clear that the cards advise you to “Go for it!”...and enjoy your mid-life crisis mobile.
Here’s another actual client reading (used by permission):
Should I Pursue Personal Training Certification?
my situation is, should i add to my life a personal training certification. (for more credentials)
I already am certified to teach group fitness yoga, pilates boot camp, and a massage therapist and also doing facials.
I am graduating with a degree in health and wellness next week.
somehow i feel i need personal training cert although do not want to be necessarily a personal trainer in a gym environment, hence the hesitation.
Im more a piscean mystic and healer.
so im torn of the pro and con, I'm leaning toward con but theres a reason, however, what is it that im supposed to focus on at this point to further my life that will bring me financial benefits.
your guidance is treasured!
and thanks again.
(Yes, some client readings come in this jumbled!)
Here’s your 3-Card Reading for pursuing personal training certification right now:
Pro:Quester Mental (aka Knight of Swords) – This Knight is often impetuous, wanting to go full speed ahead without much forethought. It’s a card of mental stamina, aiming for a goal, and hitting the mark. You’d have no trouble getting the certification, and you could certainly add it to your aesthetic/healing work. The certification would be swift and easy for you.
Con:Inversion (Hanged Man) – In this position, this card tells me that a major drawback would be lack of integration of what you’ve already learned this year, as well as the spiritual growth that comes from such absorption. Metaphorically, the Knight of Swords “gobbles things up” based on mental machinations, while the Hanged Man absorbs what he’s learned—taking time to digest, see things in a new light, then integrate and “upgrade” his spiritual operating system. If you pursue getting the certification now, you’ll be glossing over the process and lose many of its nourishing benefits that will aid you in the future. Knight of Swords is short term benefits, but the Hanged Man—being a Major Arcana card—signifies long-term benefits directly related to your life purpose.
Final Advice: Director Emoting (aka King of Cups) - As an approach card, this card advises governing your emotions and directing your creative urges in spiritually beneficial ways. Although pursuing certification at this time may have some material benefits, it won’t be adding to your deep identification as a Piscean Mystic/Healer. So, your choices in the near future should reflect the values treasured by the Mystic/Healer archetype (rather than, say, the Entrepreneur, Athlete or Aesthetician). In our Snowland Deck, which I used for your reading, this card is Father Christmas; for your clients, focus on offering services that make them feel blessed, pampered, joyful and excited about their lives—many of the feelings and sentiments we associate with Christmas and the receiving of gifts.
You may notice that I color-code either the actual card title, or the text. This is because color is powerful and symbolic and, in larger readings, can show the client (and myself) which elements/suits are most represented in reading. What doesn’t show up in a reading often tells us as much as what does.
And, as you can see from both of these readings, some are quite straightforward: the cards speak clearly (sometimes, in one sentence!)—and, at other times, the same cards, in a different reading/spread, may have a lot more to say. Readings are as varied as the clients who receive them and the readers who perform them.
Personally, I’m not a fan of pre-formed spreads (even popular ones) because I feel they give too much unnecessary information that doesn’t really help or empower a client, so apart from 3-card readings, I usually make up my own spreads based on the client’s issues, questions and needs.
Do you have our Snowland Deck? Find out more atSnowlandDeck.com(it comes with a bag and .pdf companion book, too!). Want to book a reading with me (3-card or otherwise)? Visit my readings page on my site atthis link.
People fall in love with Mr. Noah pretty easily. He's the sweetest guy. Oh, and he happens to be our 16 year old son (who is also our best friend)!
Noah with his fur brother, Stewart
He's updated his original composition "Rhapsody in C Diminished", re-naming it "Retro-Style Futurism", speeding up the tempo and changing the ending:
He's also put his own spin on Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries":
Noah has only been playing piano for a little over a year, with only a few months of formal lessons (that he stopped this Spring). He learns mostly from piano books, but can pick some stuff up by ear (like Eiffel 65's "Race from Outer Space"). I give him assignments to work on, and of course he does his scales every day (I've homeschooled him since he weas 6).
Snow, ice, frost—this element is a big component of the Snowland Deck, especially since the white stuff underscores every image. Seems especially fitting, considering both my husband and I have our Sun (and significant planetary placements) in Scorpio (a water sign).
In our deck, we associate the Emoting (Cups) cards to the water element—the nebulous, feminine suit of feelings, moods, aesthetics, relationships, love, yearning and emotional nourishment.
Like all Aces, our Ace Emoting card presents an invitation—a window of opportunity. Depending on our receptivity to things new or surprising, we can choose to accept, reject or ignore the Divine offering.
A dapper snowman sits at a table covered with a checkered tablecloth—a pattern symbolizing the contrasting (and sometimes, contradictory) forces in life. Will our snowman be influenced by external forces or a “checkered past”—or will he welcome the strawberry milkshake with joy? He’s holding a menu in this Ace: did he “order” this cosmic gift via the menu of attraction or prayer—or is a gift from (and on) “the house"?
Make no mistake: past conditioning can, and does, influence our reactions to the Gift from the cloud.
When our heart is open and joy fills our cup, we’re ready to share our love with another. In 2 Emoting, a snowman and snowwoman reach beyond the borders of their mugs, ready to exchange intimate feelings and notions in front of the fireplace. Although coffee and cocoa are two different beverages, at core, their energy (when balanced and reciprocated) serves to warm and soothe the soul.
In our 3 Emoting card, fond feelings have bubbled over into leisure and camaraderie. How liberating to be comfortable among friends to the point where you can talk about anything, have a few drinks and let off a rip roarin’ fart without embarrassment (as one of our Japanese snow monkeys has done!).
Moving on to 4 Emoting, the emotional waters form a stable pool, so to speak, but without the ability to see—or a willingness to see—beauty, stagnation results. Two celebrated paintings surround the museum security guard—Dali’s “Persistence of Memory” and Wyeth’s “Christina’s World”—yet, he fails to recognize their magnificence (not to mention the snow leopard leaping out of the frame).
The 5s in Tarot tend to bring some type of instability, challenge or moral question to the forefront. In the 5 Emoting card, a tear streaks down the face of a woman clothed in Edwardian garb. She holds part of a broken necklace, while the other half lies in the snow behind her. Further back stands a snow-covered gravestone and a heart-shaped tree absent of leaves. Is she sad? Anxious? Angry? Relieved? We leave that up to the viewer to decide…
A pet peeve of both mine and Ron’s involves yet another Rider-Waite-Smith clone hitting the market, laden with cards that are supposed to indicate one thing…but portray something altogether different (or, not much at all). One such card is the 6 of Cups which, in most RWS-style decks, shows an elfin figure giving a goblet of flowers to a child in a courtyard, while a man ascends a staircase behind them. One of our goals with the Snowland Deck was to actually portray a card’s common interpretation. So, if the 6 of Cups usually means nostalgia, a walk down memory lane or a “blast from the past”—why not illustrate it outright?
So our 6 Emoting card depicts a grandmother showing her grandchild a family photo album, including pictures of the old farmhouse she grew up in, as well as her first car.
The 7s usually bring analysis, evaluation, strategy and the clarification of values. In our 7 Emoting card, a woman stands in a curio shop, debating on which item to purchase—an eagle statue, a mug, a porcelain snowfamily, a cityscape snow globe, etc. Each piece of merchandise symbolizes a state of being, goal or feeling. But, with every choice, there is a price. What is she willing to pay for what she wants—or thinks she needs?
The 8 of Cups often suggests walking way from a perfectly good situation in order to follow a higher calling or alternative soul path. But it can also indicate a sabbatical, retirement or temporary leave of a successful, emotionally satisfying circumstance. What better way to show this, we thought, than an unbuttoned snowman relaxing on the deck of a cruise ship (500 SP sunblock nearby, of course).
Too much of a good thing can lead to stomachaches at best—and dangerous health risks, at worst. Our smiling teenager dips his hand in the cookie jar yet again, while numerous bitten-into cookies lay strewn across the table. Is this a one-time occurrence—perhaps after celebrating some type of holiday or achievement—or is this a patterned behavior? And what if he takes this habit into adulthood? Sometimes what we wish for (or think we want) isn’t in our best interest, no matter how deliciously the cookie crumbles…
The end of our numbered cards brings us to “The Happy Family”—10 Emoting. This card is one of the most personal in from our Snowland Deck because Ron painted us—as well as our son, Noah, and our kitties. This image is especially poignant for us because these two cats were born under our bed, part of a litter birthed by a stray we adopted. While our orange tabby, Stewart, is still with us, his black shorthair brother, Neo, had to be put to sleep Christmas Eve 2012 after a sudden (and devastating) kidney disease. Even being a “happy family” full of joy, respect and laughter doesn’t shield the heart from the grief of loss. Yet, it’s a blessing to be surrounded by love when a cherished family member passes from this life to the Other Side.
We’ve dispensed with the medieval (and largely irrelevant) Court Card designation, favoring instead to name these sixteen cards Youth, Quester, Nurturer and Director. I delved deep into Nordic mythology, Germanic lore and snow-themed literature for our Approach Cards (as we call them).
Both our Youth and Quester Emoting find their inspiration in stories by Hans Christian Andersen.
The Snowdrop, our Youth Emoting card, prematurely heralds the coming spring, connecting to early blooming, precociousness, emotional sensitivity, fragility and naiveté. To quote from Andersen’s story of the same name:
"And the snowdrop was put back in the book; and it felt both honored and happy to know that it now was a bookmark in a volume of poems written by a poet who was the first to write about the snowdrop; a poet who, like the flower, had stood in the bitter, winter weather with a dream of summer in his soul: a summer fool. The snowdrop interpreted what she had heard her own way, as we all do."
Quester Emoting, our equivalent of the Knight of Cups, depicts the infatuated, quixotic energy of the hopeless romantic. The Snowman, also based on an Andersen tale titled "The Snow Man", shows a dog and snowman yearning outside a window. One desires to be back inside its master’s house in front of the blazing stove (with bone firmly between the teeth), while the other pines for an object of his affection that, if attained, would essentially destroy him. For you see, when the neighborhood boys constructed the snowman, they used the stove’s poker to help him stand upright. Thus, the snowman wants what he can’t have because he’s, at core, formed around one of the stove’s necessary tools.
Our Nurturer Emoting is Berchta, a Germanic goddess of abundance that watches over souls in transit—especially ones from unbaptized babies, stillbirths, miscarriages, abortions, those who’ve not received proper burials and those driven to suicide by broken hearts. As a double water card (Queens/Nurturers preside over the water element, as do the Cups/Emoting suit), Berchta’s compassion and gentle watchfulness serve as a touching portrayal of this energy.
Lastly, we come to our Director Emoting card. Who better to illustrate the nature of giving gifts, delegating blessings, avuncular kindness, tender fatherliness and lavish benefactor than Father Christmas?
I hope you enjoyed a tour of our Snowland Deck’s Emoting suit. With all the blues and greens in our color choices—and as I mentioned, the aqueous foundation of our theme—it could be argued that these cards are especially suited for those born or influenced under water signs, as well as those wanting to add the energy, and gifts, of the water element to their divination or meditation practice.
TheSnowland Deckis the co-creation between the husband and wife team of Janet Boyer and artist Ron Boyer. Ron painted each image on specially prepared, hand-cut, sanded wood boards using gesso, then acrylics. To find out more information about the Snowland Deck, including how to order it, please visitSnowlandDeck.com. Don't have yours yet? Visit SnowlandDeck.com to get one in time for the winter holidays.
We talked about crystal correlations in my upcoming book Naked Tarot, how I went about choosing the perfect stone for each card and what it took for me to sell such a bawdy book idea to my current publisher, Dodona Books. Listen in below!
One list highlights the lucky breaks, the advantages, the good feedback, your trusted network. It talks about the accident of being born in the right time and the right place, your health, your freedom. It features your education, your connection to the marketplace and just about every nice thing someone has said about you in the last week or month.
The other list is the flipside. It contains the obstacles you've got to deal with regularly, the defects in your family situation, the criticisms your work has received lately. It is a list of people who have better luck than you and moments you've been shafted and misunderstood.
The thing is, at every juncture, during every crisis, in every moment of doubt, you have a choice. You will pull out one (virtual) list or the other. You'll read and reread it, and rely on it to decide how to proceed.
It's been awhile since I've posted a card combo! (Do you like them? If so, I can start posting more.).
Here we have Ace Mental (aka Ace of Swords) and 5 Emoting (aka 5 of Cups) from the Snowland Deck. What do these cards say to you? Do share your interpretation, a story, haiku--whatever you think encapsulates this combo. Have fun!
Hash browns (the grated kind that you pan-fry until brown and crispy on the outside), eggs over easy (it better be runny), and bacon (crispy, please). Preferably you cooked the bacon first and then cooked everything else in the remaining bacon fat.
Book you’d like to give everyone (or wish they would read)?
Oh, you mean aside from Holistic Tarot, right? Right. Okay then. A blank, perfect bound journal (college ruled, of course). I wish everyone would write down their own stories, and then read it to reflect on their lives and what they’ve done.
What makes you laugh? Funny cat videos on YouTube. Yes. I’m one of them.
Song that never gets old: “Let It Be” by The Beatles.
Drink of choice: Riesling.
Would you rather be hot or cold? I like the environment to be cold, but I need to manipulate my body and personal space to a temperature that’s insufferably hot (by other people’s standards). Do you know what I mean? It has to be a cold winter’s night but I’m wrapped in fifteen comforters and my personal heater is on 100° F. Love the autumn chill but I have to have those scarves draped like wool pythons and coiled up to my ears.
Mountain, beach, desert, or forest? I don’t know. I like nature…on postcards.
Favorite color? Blue or black. Or white. Or pink or gray. I don’t think I have a color bias. It depends. Favorite color for what?
Best movie line: I really want to quote something high-brow here so you think I’m smart, but I’ve got nothing. I love that line in Lilo and Stitch where Lilo declares that feeding a tuna sandwich to her pet fish would be an abomination, so she needs to hunt down a PB&J sandwich for her fish, and this is all important because her pet fish controls the weather. I love it because it’s exactly how we all think. We pride ourselves in being rational creatures, but our logical reasoning for what we do is usually more along the lines of Lilo’s logic… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Last thing you splurged on? A donation to a cause I believe in.
Bonus Q: Benebell is such a lovely name. What is its meaning/origin? It’s based on my Chinese name. Translated literally, my Chinese name means “benevolent bells.” From that, I got “Benebell.”