Jan 31, 2011

Deck Review- The Hudes Tarot

This week I'm reviewing a  fascinating Tarot deck by Susan Hudes, published in 1995 called The Hudes Tarot. This deck is is inspired by the magical and symbolic nature of medieval art and mythology. It's unique and medieval themed cards are a joy to behold and I find it gives straight, intelligent answers to my questions.

The cards in this 78 card deck are  painted with watercolor so that the colors glow like stained glass against the muted backgrounds. Susan Hudes took advantage of many details in creating her images, including constellation charts, old maps and marbled paper. The card stock is marvelous to work with and shuffles quite well and the finish on the cards lends a wonderful shine to the stunning artwork.

The Minor arcana of Ace through Ten and Court card names follow Rider-Waite style without  too much deviation. This is truly a deck a deck of subtle medieval beauty and strength with vivid sketches that speaks volumes simply through it's artwork. The Hudes tarot is different in one fashion than most other decks, it does not come with the traditional LWB (little white book) but instead has a pamphlet written in English and French and includes keywords for each card but I recommend writing down your own individual interpretations in a journal to aid in your understanding.

As for the Majors, Susan has taken one particular aspect of each card and increased the impact of that one aspect, presenting it in a lively, mystical and imaginative way. The backs are designed to be read upright or reversed if you so choose and have a beautiful Celtic knot work design as well as gorgeous watercolor imagery. I would definately recommend this deck for both beginners and experts alike and is a wonderful edition to any tarot collection.
Publisher: US Games Systems
Artist: Susan Hudes
ISBN: 0-88079-137-3

Images used with the permission of US Games Systems 

Publisher: US Games Systems
Artist: Susan Hudes
ISBN: 0-88079-137-3

Jan 30, 2011

Serenity Sunday

Lavender Aromatherapy Bath Salts


4 cups Epsom salts
1 cup Sea Salt (course ground) *
5 drops red food coloring
5 drops blue food coloring
30 to 40 drops lavender essential oil (aromatherapy oil)
1 cup baking soda
3 Tablespoons dried lavender blossoms

* Dead Sea Salts would also be great, or any other quality sea salt. Do not use table salt, though, as it does not contain all of the beneficial minerals that sea salts have.

Preparation Instructions:

1. Take out a large metal or glass bowl (plastic and wood are too porous, and would absorb the scent of the essential oil), and a metal spoon (again, no wood or plastic). Pour in the Epsom salts and sea salts and mix well.

2. Let the five drops of red and five of blue food coloring fall spread across the surface of the salt mixture. Then do the same with the drops of lavender essential oil. Mix thoroughly. This can take a lot of stirring, since the food coloring and essential oils tend to want to clump together. Be persistent, and try to break up any clumps that you see. Once there are no longer any clumps of food coloring you can generally count on the essential oils being well-mixed too.

3. Now add the cup of baking soda and mix well. The baking soda needs to be added last, because it works much better if the essential oils and food colorings are spread thin first (they would clump much worse if added to a mix with baking soda in it).

4. Finally, mix in the dried lavender blossoms. These are added last so that all of the mixing doesn't beat them up too much.

5. Put the bath salt mixture in an air-tight glass or metal container. You can use a plastic baggy, but be sure to discard it afterwards, because it will have absorbed some of the essential oils.

My List:

1.) My kids

2.) Laughter

3.) Sun puddles

4.) Great friends

5.) Learning new things

6.) Soothing music

7.) Quiet time

8.) Pretty stones

9.) French fries from McDonald's

10.) Big Brother's, Big Sister's program

Jan 28, 2011

The Knight Of Wands

I'm using the beautiful Baroque Bohemian Cat's  Tarot ( Gold Edition) by Karen Mahoney and Alex Ukolov which you can find at Magic Realist Press. The original Baroque Bohemian Cat's Tarot was my first deck and it was love at first sight! I have been hooked  ( gotta love that "buy now" button!) ever since. I have the First Edition as well, which has Hermes in it as the extra card but the Second and Gold editions have "The Tarot Reader" as their extra card. Anyway, before I digress too far...the card today is The Knight of Wands.

This has got to be my most favorite card in the deck... have any of you ever known the gallant, sweep you off your feet, love 'em and leave 'em type? Well, if not, here's your guy! The Knight of Wands is charming, irresistable and totally without scruples...the typical "bad boy" your mother warned you to stay away from....but oh how charming he can be!

Usually the court cards and their purrsonalities (couldn't resist the pun, sorry) resemble people in our lives and can also reflect qualities within ourselves. When the Knight of Wands makes his appearance in your reading, he brings great energy and charisma and you can easily find yourself getting swept up in all his enthusiasms. This Knight is hardly the "long term commitment" type and gets bored very easily.

If this Knight feels like it is referring to our own behavior we must stop and ask ourselves..."Am I getting caught up in my own qualities and energy that I am forgetting to be caring and thoughtful towards others." It's never easy to look at ourselves in a less than perfect light and falling into the Knight of Wands attitude could be very easy to do if you are not careful. If this does not seem to fit you, then it is a warning that Mr. Right is probably more like Mr. Wrong and you may need to keep that irresistable charmer at arms length!

Jan 27, 2011

Altar Etiquette

In my living room, my altar is in plain view and is a prominent part of my decor. Sometimes it can be irritating to have friends or family come by for a visit and feel compelled to pick up my altar tools and other altar objects. A witch's altar is a sacred space and my tools and other objects are charged with my energy and when someone comes in and handles my things, it interferes with this energy and sometimes I have to charge them all over again. To put it in perspective, it would be like walking straight up to the altar in the local church and start picking things up and oo-ing and ahhh-ing.... not very polite behavior indeed.

Here are some general Do's and Don'ts:

* You don't need to touch anyone's sacred items. Always ask permission.

* Just because the owner of the altar has said yes once, doesn't apply to any other time or place. You are not free to handle things on the altar whenever you choose.

* Interpret any hesitation as a "no."

* And gracefully accept a "no." It may not be anything personal. Some things are simply too private to share.

* Ask before placing things on a group altar. Usually for group work, you will know ahead of time the kinds of things that might be appropriate. But sometimes very specific energy is being raised, and other items may not serve the ritual.

* Avoid talking about their sacred items and spiritual practices with "outsiders." People who don't use them don't understand, and it dilutes that individual's power to share sacred things . Especially if they turn out to be judgemental about it.

Jan 26, 2011

Of Pentacles And Apples

I came upon an interesting tidbit about Pentagrams and their association with apples ( a Pentacle is the five pointed star and a Pentagram is the same five pointed star enclosed in a circle) and believe it or not had never heard of the Pagan lore attached to it. As follows is a (not so ) brief summary of it's origins in Pagan history

Think of an apple... juicy and red and ripe for the picking. When it is sliced in half, it magically shows us a five pointed star formed by the seeds inside. Each of these five seeds contain a symbolism reflecting the spiritual aspects of this universal symbol: idea; sustenance; life, secret knowledge and the hidden mysteries within the earth.

Remember the story of Adam and Eve...? In Christian lore, the apple represented hidden knowledge which was forbidden to human kind and the apple signified that which we should not attempt to know ... and attempts over the centuries to obtain knowledge of the Universe ...and therefore, ourselves... were suppressed. The Pentagram in its modern guise as the pentacle was also a target of this subjugation.

The Pentagram was originally a symbol of the goddess, Kore, who was worshipped in many countries as widespread as England and Egypt thousands of years ago, but under many different names (i.e. Cara, Ceres, Carnak, Core, Car, Karnak, etc). Kore's sacred fruit was the apple. When cut through its equator, the apple has a near perfect pentagram shape inside, with each point containing a seed. Many Wiccans, Pagans and Roma (Gypsies) still cut apples in this way and the Roma refer to apple cores as Stars of Knowledge

Think of this next time you eat an apple. 

Jan 25, 2011

Tarot Tuesday-The Five Of Cups

None of us get a good feeling when the 5 of Cups turns up in our readings, it almost always means that somebody somewhere is going to make us feel let down or sad about something. And when that happens we can end up giving ourselves a hard time.

But there's one important thing to think about when we get disappointed,  it's worth taking a good look at your expectations. Maybe they are a bit unrealistic? Are you expecting a little too much from of the person or situation you are in? Sometimes we can be very hard on ourselves and need to stop and realize there are still two cups that have not fallen and as we all know, crying over spilled milk will get us nowhere!

Are you expecting more than you have a right to? Are you expecting things that the person in question, yourself or a given situation is simply not able to give? If the answer to any of the above is yes then by realistically changing your expectation, you'll stop being disappointed.

When this card comes up, it warns us that either we have failed to resolved an old difficulty, or that realistic or not, our expectations are about to be disappointed. Often this will happen in an emotional situation (because this is a Cups card) but can happen elsewhere in our lives too, because disappointment itself is an powerful emotion. Finding out where the problem is may help but there's not much that can be done except preparing ourselves to accept the inevitable fact that sometimes in life, there are going to be disappointments.

One thing that is always worth keeping in mind with a card like this is that the feelings which come up when it occurs often scare us into not taking another risk, not making another effort, or choosing situations where we won't be disappointed again. So maybe we need to  remind ourselves of that inner reserve of strength and capability we all have.

* The Hezicos Tarot*

Jan 24, 2011

Deck Review- The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot

This week's tarot deck asks you to think of  yourself as an actor, placed in a theater at the time of your birth, joining millions of other actors around you. Here is where you take your place on the stage known as The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot. 

This slightly larger than average tarot deck (3 1/2" x 5 1/2") contains 78  quirky and cartoon-like cards, divided in the traditional 22 Major and 56 Minor Arcana, is an absolute joy to work with as it lends a fresh and unique perspective to tarot interpretations. I had a lot of fun with this deck and was amazed at the fresh insights I noticed while working with it.
The card stock is great to work with and has a wonderful glossy finish that makes it's images really stand out. The coloring of the images are pleasing to the eye as well as truly one of a kind. An introduction is in the front of the LWB ( little white book) that states that since the age of 18, the artist Graham Cameron had always wanted to create and illustrate a deck of his own and through ten years of work we now have a great deck that is playful as well as quite honest in it's demeanor.
As I worked with the cards, I noticed several recurring symbols like puzzle pieces, dice and numbers. The puzzle pieces found on the cards symbolize that we are all part of a continuous link and the more people we meet, the more connections are made. Some of the puzzle pieces symbolize the masculine or feminine aspects of the card and some puzzle pieces symbolize both energies are present.
The number 56 are used heavily throughout the deck and is explained as Graham's chosen number created as a numerical system within his paintings. The dice began to surface in his work around 1995 and represents fate and the unpredictability of life in general. Life may not unfold as we would wish it to but it directs us on our path to progress.
I love this deck and it's playful nature and although it may not be an ideal deck for a beginner, it's artistry and  unique messages make it a wonderful deck for any collection.

Publisher: US Games Systems
Artist Graham Cameron
ISBN: 1-57281-195-1

Images used with permission of US Games Systems

Jan 23, 2011

Serenity Sunday

My Best Friend

I'm not sure when it happened
But I'm very glad it did
You came into my life when
I really needed a friend

The more I get to know you
The more I know myself
And this is why I'm thankful
For you are just yourself

You and I are different
And in many ways the same
Your good ear, compassionate heart
Will always find you fame

I promise to always be here
Forever and to the end
You are the true definition of

My List:

1.) My kids

2.) My pets

3.) Reflecting pools

4.) The magical properties of stones

5.) Fresh herbs to cook with

6.) Getting rid of my grey hair

7.) Spending time with a dear friend

8.) Jumbo shrimp

9.) Cream cheese

10.) Feather mattresses

Jan 21, 2011

Seven Of Cups

The Deviant Moon Tarot is a wonderful deck to work with, I love the rich colors and unique characters on these cards and today's card happens to be one of my favorites. The Seven of Cups is all about imagination, daydreams and flights of fantasy and Patrick Valenza has created a deck that can truly bring your imagination to life

On the Seven of Cups, we see an artist busily drawing on his canvas with his pencil, trying to capture his vision of the cups that are stacked on the table in the foreground. Looking at his progress, it immediately becomes clear that the artists' concept varies greatly from what we can see before him.

The Seven of cups is a card choices or options and some people may consider this card a good omen but there is also a reminder to us as well, daydreaming and wishful thinking can mislead us if we focus on our desires and not base our choices in reality and on well grounded thinking.

Keep in mind that sevens always indicate some sort of change and cups symbolize the emotions.. .so look for a possible change that involves ones emotions.

Jan 19, 2011

Recipe Of The Week

My friend Nola gave me this recipe and I tell you, they make a great addition to Sunday breakfasts, in fact I plan on giving this recipe a go this coming weekend!

Bon appetit....

Monkey buns make a delicious dessert and sweet snack... The sticky bread batter is broken into walnut-sized chunks, rolled in melted butter, and rolled in a brown sugar mix. The sugary dough-balls are then dropped into a bundt pan and, a rise, baked into a delicious ring of buns that can be easily pulled apart. This recipe makes one batch of monkey bread for one bundt pan.
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 40 minutes

2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkg.)
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk
3/4 cup butter, soft
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup finely ground nuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

*Add yeast and warm water to large bowl and stir until yeast is dissolved.
*Mix in milk, butter, sugar, salt, and eggs.
*Mix in flour to make a stiff batter.
*Cover with wax paper and let rise in warm spot until double in size, about 45 minutes.
*Melt 1/2 cup butter in saucepan.
*Mix nuts, brown sugar, and 3 tsp cinnamon in a bowl.
*Lightly grease tube pan/angel food pan.
*Stir down dough.
*Grease fingers with melted butter to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers.
*Pluck walnut-size amounts of dough out of the bowl, roll dough balls in butter, and in sugar mixture.
*Pile the dough balls evenly in the bundt pan.
*Cover with wax paper and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes.
*Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, until done.
*Turn upside down onto a plate and let cool to warm.

Jan 18, 2011

Tarot spell

A Tarot Spell to Increase Psychic Visions

You need 3 tarot cards. 
The Star
The High Priestess
The Hermit.

"I call upon the Source of All things to send me power.
I call upon the God to send strength to my spell.
I call upon the Goddess to give life to my spell.
I call upon the elemental forces to draw the desire of my spell.
I call upon the astral forces to receive the image of my spell.
So mote it be!"

(Holding the tarot cards in your hands)

"I bring forth these symbols for my spell to be cast. Here shall be woven, chance, fortune, and fate, so that my wish be quickly attained!"

(Lay out the cards in the following order. Meditate and visualize)

                  Card 2

Card 1                            Card 3

Card 1 is The Star for inspiration, guidance, and creativity.
Card 2 is The High Priestess for focusing of the mind and intuition.
Card 3 is The Hermit for interpreting the knowledge you receive.

(Place a candle just above The High Priestess card)

"I am open and receptive to higher levels of consciousness. Spirits of guidance are here for me and I channel the knowledge they offer. I am open and receptive. My psychic centers are quickened. I open my eyes and ears to all impressions that are coming to me. I spread the veil of being that I may look beyond. I open the windows of 'where' and 'when' and I see beyond."

(Hold your hands over the cards)

"Into these cards I direct the power from within me and the power called upon from the spiritual forces around me. Mark well what I have done here! Bring to me my wish! I place this petition before the God and Goddess. May it be done for the greater good of all! By the power of the God and Goddess and by the forces of the planes...I declare my spell to manifest!"

"I release now the forces of the astral plane. I release all of the elemental forces. I release the God and Goddess. I release the power of the Source of All. Farewell and I bid you thanks!"

Make sure your candle is away from any objects and allow to burn out of it's own accord.

Jan 17, 2011

Deck Review- Tarot of the Sidhe

I recently received Emily Carding's newest tarot deck, The Tarot of the Sidhe and I must say, this deck is truly amazing! I went through the cards one by one and each card simply sent shivers down my spine! Her artwork is as stunning and vibrant as ever, I just can't express in words the energy in this deck!
As Emily states, "Trying to define the Sidhe is rather like trying to capture liquid light in a glass box, their true nature is more truly felt and experienced than expressed in words or theories". The Sidhe are not mearly fairies that fly from flower to flower. They are a distinct race, separate from human-kind, yet sharing constant contact with earthlings in daily interaction...some good, some not too good for the humans. Belief in the Sidhe is virtually as old as culture and Emily captures perfectly their special magic perfectly in this 78 card deck.
The card stock is wonderful and sturdy, making Emily's vivid and striking artwork absolutely pop right out, drawing you into the  mystical world of the Sidhe. I am  positively struck by the bold and radiant images in each and every card with her fabulous creative style. Each of the Major Arcana, representing the universal or archetypal forces can be read with or even used as terrific gateways to meditation and come with artist's notes in the accompanying 96 page booklet, which also gives meanings as well as several very unique spreads. 
The Minor Arcana are separated into four suits, Dreamers/Air; Warriors/Fire; Dancers/Water and Makers/Earth which Emily states that she was told quite clearly one sunny day that this is how they should be and I must admit, it makes total sense to me given the nature of the beautiful deck as a whole. Each card in the Minor Arcana comes with keywords and a small poem that expresses that given card perfectly. This is an absolutely beautiful deck, with gorgeous images that simply must be in your collection!

Publisher: Schiffer Books
Artist: Emily Carding
ISBN: 9780764335990

Images used with permission from Schiffer Books

Jan 16, 2011

Serenity Sunday

Food has magical properties – both in its nutritional value, but more importantly in how it makes us feel when we eat it. Living in a magical household means paying attention to the every day activities in our lives. When we go into the kitchen and prepare food it turns into an act of love for ourselves and our families – and it is magic.

We turn ordinary ingredients into fabulous meals using wooden spoons and spatulas as our wands. We perform simple alchemy to change base materials into “gold”. All good cooks know they are magicians in the kitchen, but for Pagans this daily work is as important as casting spells in the sacred circle.

A simple blessing I use before meals:

"Blessings upon this food...
Blessings upon this family...
Blessings upon all who need...
May no one hunger."

My List:

1.) My children

2.) Good friends

3.) Beautiful colors at sunset

4.) Yorkshire pudding

5.) My t.v. remote

6.) A hot bath

7.) The smell of lavander

8.) Small pots of herbs growing on my porch

9.) Loreena McKennit

10.) Rainbow trout