Sep 30, 2010

Silly Picture Of The Week

Calliope always manages to curl up in the smallest space on my desk!

Sep 29, 2010

Recipe Of The Week

Irish Beef Stew

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, minced
8 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.) Transfer stew to serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Sep 28, 2010

Deck Review- Decks For Youth

The Gummy Bear Tarot

The next few Tuesdays, I'm going to be reviewing tarot decks for the younger set and the first deck I'd like to introduce is the absolutely adorable Gummy Bear Tarot by Dietmar Bittrich and available from US Games Systems. This is a a very wonderful deck for beginners, young at heart and a great teaching tool for kids.
This seventy-eight card deck features the precious little Gummy Bears all set in traditional Rider Waite poses that most of us learned when first beginning to read the Tarot, however, the images are a bit more simplistic in their appearance and these little darlings make for a wonderful first deck for children and pre-teens.
The cards themselves measure 2" x 3.5" and are marvelous for those small little hands to shuffle. The card stock is of the same US Games stock and not too thick but not too thin as to bend easily as kids may be just learning to shuffle as well as read tarot. My daughter had a very easy time shuffling this deck and quickly deemed it her favorite deck that she has seen to this date, not to mention the hints that she might want to have this for her own use. 

The Gummy Bear tarot comes packaged in a wonderful little keepsake tin with the standard LWB (little white book) of meanings accompanied by the strengths and weakness of each card and are presented in a way to be easily read by young readers. On the backs of the cards you will see sixteen bears in four rows of four, in the bright and bold colors of blue, green, red and white and can be read upright or reversed. 

The Gummy Bears cast their magic spells, wield their wands, and delight in reaching out to people through the mischievous imagery found in each card and don't forget, the holiday season is coming up before we know it and this deck would make the perfect gift for the child or the child at heart

US Games Systems
ISBN: 1-57281-471-3
Artist: Dietmar Bittrich

Sep 27, 2010

Book Review- Back In Time Tarot

I'm often questioned about books for beginning tarot readers and recently I've been asked to guest on the Spiritscast podcast in October with Feithline Stuart  about learning the tarot so I began to gather up my list of terrific books that are great for anyone just starting out on their tarot journey. Among my favorites are... Mary K. Greer's "Tarot For Yourself", Joan Bunning's "Learning The Tarot" and Rachel Pollacks "Seventy-eight Degrees Of Wisdom" but recently I had the opportunity to read a great book for beginners and experienced alike called The Back In Time Tarot by Janet Boyer.

The Back In Time Tarot is an innovative approach to learning the tarot through experiencing it's wide range of meanings and not memorizing endless keywords and meanings that may or may not stick in our minds. No matter what our background in the tarot, novice or seasoned, the one thing that we all have in common is we all have a past and memories that we can all draw upon to assist us in building impressions and truly meaningful interpretations.

The BIT (Back In Time) method utilizes two things, a deck of cards and a snapshot, or memory, of an event, situation, person and even song that we can then describe through the use of  tarot cards to capture that instant in time thus creating a lasting experience of the cards and their meanings. The combinations and experiences that we can identify becomes endless and when all is said and done you can easily find yourself, as I did, identifying tarot cards in everyday experiences. This is an absolutely wonderful technique for beginners to learn and all you need is your memory and a tarot notebook, you can even write down little tarot snapshots on a scrap of paper or even a restaurant napkin, the more you notice the more fun it becomes!

An example of a BIT snapshot from my memories would be my childhood years spending time with my grandfather. He was my first hero growing up and I have the most special memories of  him coming to my elementary school every Tuesday for a lunch program that allowed grandparents to come in and eat lunch and spend time with their grand children each week. I can remember how proud I felt when he showed up and how special my grandfather made me feel to take time out each week to come eat lunch with me. There were only a handful of kids who's grandparents came and most of them only showed up every now and then but my grandfather was there every week like clockwork and it was truly a time I look back upon fondly.

Looking through my Robin Wood tarot deck, I chose the King of Pentacles to represent my grandfather.  My grandfather farmed later in life, having some cattle, pigs and small farm animals and worked with his hands as a carpenter in his spare time. For many years he worked as a fire marshal for the local timber industry and like the King of Pentacles I saw him as kind, earthy and concerned with nature and the environment. My grandparents were wealthy but my grandfather was very down to earth and practical like the King and always made time for his family but never skimped on spending time or resources when it came to me.

I picked the Six of Wands from the Universal Waite Tarot to represent the memory of when grandpa showed up to eat lunch with me on Tuesdays. I can remember the exhilarating feeling of recognition and importance that I felt from my classmates that my grandpa came to spend that time with me when so many kids did not have the opportunity. I truly felt as I shone brightly in their eyes and the eyes of my beloved grandpa. Like the figure on the card riding his horse through the crowd of admirers, sitting up straight and proud, the attention was on me and my grandpa every Tuesday.

I selected the Six of Cups from the Universal Waite again to represent how I look back on those special memories, a time of innocence and nostalgia washes over me like the childhood figures presented on the card. They stand in a courtyard of flowers and warm memories and it's almost like it was yesterday that I am that age again and my grandpa had just visited me at school.

I also picked the Ten of Cups from the Robin Wood Tarot for this memory as well. In this card we can see a happy youth sitting on a grandfather's lap with contented domestic scenery and even a couple of dogs in the background.  This was one of the happiest times in my life, a time where I was safe, secure and surrounded by those who loved me, it brings to mind how I wish my grandpa was still with me today

The possibilities are endless on how you can capture little snippets in time and turn them into terrific learning experiences that are fun and a great way to find the different ways to pair the Tarot with memories and situations from your past. The Back In Time Tarot takes a fresh new approach to interpreting tarot and I wholeheartedly encourage you to try the BIT method and see for yourself how you can incorporate your memories into snapshots reflected with the Tarot. What memories can you associate with the tarot today?

Author: Janet Boyer
Publisher: Hampton Roads Pub Co (October 17, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1571745874

Sep 26, 2010

Serenity Sunday

Besom Chant

Besom, besom long and lithe
Made from ash and willow withe
Tied with thongs of willow bark
In running stream at moonset dark.

With a pentagram indighted
As the ritual fire is lighted;
Sweep ye circle, deosil,
Sweep out evil, sweep out ill,
Make the round of the ground
Where we do the Lady's will.

Besom, besom, Lady's broom
Sweep out darkness, sweep out doom
Rid ye Lady's hallowed ground
Of demons, imps and Hell's death hound;
Then set ye down on Her green earth
By running stream or Mistress' hearth,
'Till called once more on Sabbath night
To cleans once more the dancing site.

My List:

1.) My family

2.) Great friends

3.) Cool evenings

4.) Full moons

5.) Wheat bread

6.) Dragonflies

7.) Fall foliage

8.) Meditation time

9.) End of season roses

10.) Candles

Sep 24, 2010

Sep 23, 2010

My Favorite Cards

I had an interesting conversation the other day with my friend Janet Boyer in which we discussed our favorite cards that we looked for when looking at a potential new deck and Janet came up with the brilliant idea to put up a post asking this very question. Among the responses on The Fool Stop Tarot blog were the cards people chose and a bit about why they were chosen but there was one comment in particular that got my mental machinery turning. The question was..."What do these cards that we always look for in a new deck say about us?" So I figured that I would list my favorite cards I look for in any new deck and what that might say about me and I encourage you to do the same and let me know just what you come up with

The very first card I always look for is The Moon, I'm not sure why this card has always been a favorite of mine but it never ceases to enthrall me how beautiful and mysterious the Moon can be. The Moon is symbolic of the imagination and can be an illusion in itself. One must guard against accepting illusions as they may cause an error in  judgement. There will be many unforeseen changes and unexpected occurrences and only when you are willing for things to be the way they are and accept them they are, will they change. We cannot run from the problem and the only way out is through.

I've never really been a daydreamer, I've pretty much seen life as it actually is... maybe my choice in the Moon card is telling me that at times I would very much like to hide or harbor illusions about events simply because some events can be painful but as the Moon implies, the only way to deal with problems and struggles is not to hide from them but face them head on in. I still love the romantic dreamy feel to this card and it will always be my favorite.

The second card I always look for is the Star,  my birth card and the card of Aquarius. The Star card in tarot is often called a card of hope. Here, however, it is not hope as we often view it as wishful thinking, but in the archaic use of the word which means to have trust and confidence in the future. I for one hold this card dear to my heart, I always look to the positive and hopeful side, choosing to see the possibilities rather than the road blocks. Life is too short to waste on seeing ones limitations and not it's possibilities so I am the eternal optimist.

The third card I always look for is The Hermit. With the Hermit card we recognize that each of our thoughts and actions are a brick we use to build our lives, we partake in the creation of our own reality. The Hermit has had to learn this lesson by means of distancing himself from the regular, routine world. By removing himself from the "normal" stream of societal thought, the Hermit is able to listen to the inner stirrings of his own intuition and act upon it. I have aways been a somewhat solitary type, preferring my own company as opposed to large social gatherings

I had always chalked it up to being and only child but I somehow think that this is just another facet of the core parts that make me who I am. I am always seeking that calm inner place of thought and personal growth, a place to let my inner wisdom guide me rather than follow the crowd. It's not that I'm not social by any means but in times of stress I like to go to that quiet, still place within myself and regroup and recharge.

It's rather funny as I finish up talking about what my favorite cards may indicate about myself, that there are no Minor Arcana cards that I seek out, they are all Major Arcana and as we all know the Major Arcana are all about the human condition. Each card represents the joys and sorrows every man and woman can experience in a lifetime. A Major Arcana card is always given extra weight in a reading. When one of these cards appears, you know the issues at stake are not mundane or temporary. They represent your most basic concerns - your major feelings and motivations.The human drama illustrated in 22 cards and not the day to day activities and goings on of the Minor Arcana. 

 Now it's your turn...what do your favorite cards say about you?

Sep 22, 2010

"What Is...?" Wednesday


Autumn Equinox is the time of the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld. With her departure, we see the decline of nature and the coming of winter. This is a classic, ancient mythos, seen the Sumerian myth of Inanna and in the ancient Greek and Roman legends of Demeter and Persephone.

In September, we also bid farewell to the Harvest Lord who was slain at Lammas. He is the Green Man, seen as the cycle of nature in the plant kingdom. He is harvested and his seeds are planted into the Earth so that life may continue and be more abundant.

Mabon ("Great Son") is a Welsh god. He was a great hunter with a swift horse and a wonderful hound. He may have been a mythologized actual leader. He was stolen from his mother, Modron (Great Mother),when he was three nights old,but was eventually rescued by King Arthur (other legends say he was rescued by the Blackbird, the Stag, the Owl, the Eagle, and the Salmon). 

All along, however, Mabon has been dwelling, a happy captive, in Modron's magickal Otherworld -- Madron's womb. Only in this way can he be reborn. Mabon's light has been drawn into the Earth, gathering strength and wisdom enough to become a new seed. In this sense, Mabon is the masculine counterpart of Persephone -- the male fertilizing principle seasonally withdrawn. Modron corresponds with Demeter.

From the moment of the September Equinox, the Sun's strength diminishes, until the moment of Winter Solstice in December, when the Sun grows stronger and the days once again become longer than the nights.

Symbols celebrating the season include various types of gourd and melons. Stalk can be tied together symbolizing the Harvest Lord and then set in a circle of gourds. A besom can be constructed to symbolize the polarity of male and female. The Harvest Lord is often symbolized by a straw man, whose sacrificial body is burned and its ashes scattered upon the earth. The Harvest Queen, or Kern Baby, is made from the last sheaf of the harvest and bundled by the reapers who proclaim, "We have the Kern!" The sheaf is dressed in a white frock decorated with colorful ribbons depicting spring, and then hung upon a pole (a phallic fertility symbol). In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called the Maiden, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.

Sep 21, 2010

Deck Review- The Transparent Oracle

There's a wonderful new oracle deck out right now, called The Transparent Oracle by Emily Carding, who is also the creator of The Transparent Tarot and Tarot of the Sidhe. Her latest creation, The Transparent Oracle is nothing less than fantastic.

The Transparent Oracle deck has seventy transparent circles, that can be used as a layered system by themselves or in conjunction with The Transparent Tarot. I absolutely love the layering concept because it gives your readings so much depth and combination possibilities and depending on if you choose three cards or more, you can see all the images and how they mesh together to develop an aesthetically pleasing mandala like picture. This kit also comes in a sturdy storage box and white reading cloth.

This outstanding deck is separated and inspired by seven directions, East; West; South and North as well as the directions of Above; Below and Within and the accompanying one hundred and twenty-eight page book explains that in order to understand the seven directions, it is helpful to consider yourself the center of your universe as you perceive it. The four directions North; South; East and West all correspond to the elements depending on where in this world we are at and the directions of Above; Below and Within are all the same no matter where we are all located.

When I first got The Transparent Oracle, I was a bit daunted by the thought of a round deck and just how I might shuffle it but with a little thought and a few tries, I was able to gently shuffle them just as I would any rectangular deck with no further issues. I absolutely love this deck and all the possibilities for interpretations it holds as well as it's unique shape and wonderful images.

After shuffling the deck well, with the question in mind about the grayer days of fall and winter ahead, I wanted to know how I might transition more smoothly, I drew three cards... (number 22) Rain which is from the direction West, (number 60) the Red Dragon from the direction Below and (number 26), the Otters, also from the direction West. 

The Rain card can represent melancholy and dissatisfaction... generally emotions that can easily set in in a climate like mine, known for the rain that keeps Washington state so green, the Red Dragon is about inner power and drive and the otters signify joy, family and play.

Pulling these cards together I saw a beautiful three layered picture about the fact that days are going to be getting much shorter with lots of good old Pacific Northwest rain, the need to dig down to my inner strength on the dreary days... knowing that in the Spring, the sun shall return and by adopting a playful attitude, enjoying my family and our time together like the otters, I will be able to combat my seasonal blah's. 

This is an amazing deck and I was absolutely struck by the cards accurate yet uncanny ability to see right to the issues I find myself mulling over now that the rain has begun and the days of warm summer sunshine are waning. This is an excellent deck for personal meditation, exploration and understanding and I highly recommend it to anyone, whether beginner or experienced!

The Transparent Oracle
Schiffer Books
ISBN: 9780764334863
Size: 6" x 11 3/4" x 1 1/2"

Sep 20, 2010

Gardening Tips

October is rapidly approaching and can be such an uncertain month for gardeners. Though winter can come to stay at any moment we often can get an Indian summer throughout the entire month. If heavy snowfall and cold weather seem likely, rush to complete outdoor work...with emphasis on harvesting and winter protection.

After mounding tender roses, cut the tops back to half their height, then if there is time defoliate the remaining canes. Before snow and after defoliation is a good time to prune all deciduous trees and shrubs. Consider the fall seeding of Swiss chard, head lettuce, Spanish onions and parsnips. Here are a few gardening tips for fall.

Before the ground freezes down
~ Complete the harvesting of vegetables such as cabbage and sprouts.
~ Dig remaining root crops.
~ Dig gladiola and cure corms in a warm, dry place.
~ Complete planting of tulip bulbs for spring bloom.
~ Continue to water woody plants if soil becomes dry.
~ Mound up tender roses before snowfall.
~ Rake up leaves and save for compost area.
~ Clean out eaves' troughs.
~ Dig the vegetable garden, turning under decomposed organic matter.
~ Pot up special tulips, daffodils and hyacinths for winter forcing.
~ Repair fences, walks and other elements of your yard.
~ Plant your spring flowering bulbs as early as you can so they have time to send down a few roots before the ground freezes hard.

After the ground freezes down
~ Prune trees and shrubs.
~ Complete the mounding of tender roses and place straw covering over strawberries.
~ Protect woody plants against wild animals if they pose a problem.
~ Service the lawn mower and other mechanical equipment.
~ Store cold frames, wheelbarrows, and other garden equipment under cover.
~ Clean and store hand tools under cover.
~ Reduce watering of houseplants but increase humidity.
~ If snow cover is uncertain mulch perennials.

When harvesting vegetables, you may wish to save the waste leaves and return them to the garden later in the form of compost. Make sure they are free of disease before adding them to the compost bin; if uncertain then toss them out.

Prepare bulbs for indoor winter bloom
Flower bulbs for winter forcing indoors are specially selected kinds pre-treated to provide mid winter bloom. After potting and watering they are kept in a cool, dark place to grow roots. When the roots are developed they are pulled out of the dark into the warm sunlight of a window where they will delight you with blooms to enjoy in the cold of winter.

Sep 19, 2010

Serenity Sunday

Pagan Serenity Prayer

God and Goddess grant me:
The power of water to accept with ease and grace what I cannot change
The Power of fire for the energy and courage to change the things I can
The Power of Air for the ability to know the difference
And for the Power of Earth for the strength to continue my path.

My List:

1.) My family

2.) Great friends

3.) Warm blankets

4.) Hot chocolate

5.) Gentle rain

6.) Turning leaves

7.) Memories

8.) Spiced pumpkin candles

9.) Vitamins

10.) Ghost Hunters

Sep 16, 2010

Recipe Of The Week

Spaghetti Squash

The flesh of spaghetti squash comes out in long strands, very much resembling the noodles for which it is named. In this recipe, the 'noodles' are tossed with vegetables and feta cheese. You can substitute different vegetables, but be sure to use ones that have contrasting colors

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet. Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm. Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

Sep 15, 2010

"What Is...?" Wednesday

I read a book for Harper One recently and reviewed it last Monday. It was a good book too but I lost a friend of eight years and it broke my heart...Why? Because I chose to be tolerant and see the world of Islam through the Prophet Muhammad's eyes by reading this book. Sadly, that wasn't the only thing that happened, I got angry tweets about it on Twitter as well because the author was disliked so much... Am I going to stop I going to stop reviewing...NO. I always expected to get crap for being a Pagan, I however, did not expect crap for being tolerant and understanding. So here's today's "What Is Wednesday" post....

Religious Intolerance

Religious intolerance is intolerance against another's religious beliefs or practices.
The mere statement on the part of a religion that its own beliefs and practices are correct and any contrary beliefs incorrect does not in itself constitute intolerance (i.e., ideological intolerance). There are many cases throughout history of established religions tolerating other practices. Religious intolerance, rather, is when a group (e.g., a society, religious group, non-religious group) specifically refuses to tolerate practices, persons or beliefs on religious grounds (i.e., intolerance in practice).

It looks like intolerance is the new trend and a more horrible trend for the world's future can hardly be imagined. How might this poisonous trend be stopped? Fear and suspicion are powerful forces, but we have resources to combat them: clear consistent thinking; specific  principles based on equal respect for human dignity and understanding.

Because intolerance is  caused by fear, we also need to confront it on the emotional level, using everything we know about the workings of emotions such as fear, sympathy, disgust, and respect. One thing we know is that demonization of "the other" is far easier if people know nothing much about this "other," and have never been encouraged to think what the world looks like from that different viewpoint. In order to move beyond a climate of fear, then, we need more than good principles: we need the cultivation of sympathy, and therefore we need approaches through education and understanding, not just through argument and hatred.

Sep 14, 2010

Deck Review- Epicurean Tarot Recipe Cards

I have an absolute treasure to share today, a fabulous deck that "delights the palate and enriches the soul"... I introduce the Epicurean Tarot Recipe Cards by Corrine Kenner...This remarkable collection of seventy eight, beautifully illustrated cards combine the classic images from the Universal Waite Tarot with scrumptious, mouth watering recipes that capture the pure essence of each and every tarot card. 

Packaged in an over sized box (5" x 7") for display in the kitchen, these are superb cards with a brief explanation of the tarot card imagery...alongside you will find a delicious and quite detailed recipe which comes complete list of all necessary ingredients to complete the dish.  There is a LWB (large white book, in this case) that comes with this set and wonderfully details the tradition of tarot cooking and explanations for each tarot card in the deck. There's even ways to use these gorgeous cards in a spread called the Cook's Cross, a variation on the Celtic Cross Spread and a three card, meal planning spread.

The Major Arcana of twenty two cards from the Fool to the World inspire such dishes as The Magician's Four Suit Stir Fry to The Hanged Man's Upside Down cake. The  fifty six Minor Arcana cards  are divided into the four suits...Wands (fire) inspires spicy and hot dishes; the Cups (water) stimulate the palate with ingredients such as seafood and fresh fruit; the Swords (air) spark a more literal context as in chopping, cutting and dicing and Pentacles (earth) features wholesome and hearty dishes like home grown vegetables and savory meats. Some of the cards include recipes like the Two of Sword's Dill pickles, the Nine of Wand's Standing Ribs, the Page of Cups Shrimp Cocktail and the Five of Pentacles Baked Beans.

Corrine Kenner who's work on the tarot is widely published, and her classes and workshops are perennial favorites among students in the Midwest. Corrine is a certified tarot master, and she holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from California State University, Long Beach.  Corrine Kenner did a fantastic job on this deck and I have to say it would be an excellent gift for the cook who has everything or just a wonderful gift idea for the tarot lover...a true "must have!"

US Games Systems
ISBN: 1-57281-254-0
Size: 5" x 7"
Artist: Written by Corrine Kenner

Images used with the permission of US Games Systems