real-time is boring but on occasion quite tasty...

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Novel excerpt from Emotional Hash: Seanna, a brilliant marine biologist, goes mad and gets transferred overseas to finish her doctorate. The demons return, however, and she must struggle to keep her mind and academic life in balance.

This scene is a good example of my writing style (in context)—and shows Seanna's love for painting as a release from her "other" life. Enjoy!

On campus, she rented two identical rooms adjoined by a crude wall hacking job that served as a doorway. A sledgehammer, undoubtedly belonging to a previous tenant labeled by Seanna “Claustrophobic Christian,” had forged a way to crouch between the two rooms. A midget claustrophobic Christian had gouged a date into the threshold (4/8/82) next to an Ichthys, now the sentinel at the base of the doorframe. Seanna imagined a one-eyed fish swimming around and around the Frame, slipping sharp corners. She imagined it guarding a portal into a room set aside for the subconscious studio, where all the Good and the Bad expressions about the real her lie in waiting. Dreams. Sharks and Whales. In Rhythm with the tunes.

The idea proved to catch on, becoming something of a fad in the older campus housing there, and most of the tiny cottage-like dens were converted into double living quarters in this way. Maybe each unit had a one-eyed fish. The rent was remarkably cheap due to the age of the building, but it was still safe. Safer. Safest. Tunable. Tuna-worthy.

In a room, large enough to hole her and her sister if her sister were alive, an electric pan served as a melting pot. The cloth on the floor no longer felt like cotton. It was covered by two-year’s worth of wax mishaps. Of course, Seanna didn’t know that liquid wax seeps through cotton, even Egyptian cotton, almost linen cotton... the floor was ruined, but because nobody knew it, it was still supportive of her work. She lacked support; she lacked reality. Irons and the industrial heatguns and paint-stripper rounded out her arsenal. She was ready to paint.


Let’s see what churlish beams we can glean from these blades...

Encaustics was exactly the medium she needed to warm her ideas on, griddled shapes of mind-gunned-down as form-on-wood. She had tried many times to paint in acrylic and had found the practice ever so final, and too quick! The act always left her wishing for something she couldn’t name, a tentative detail left to dry on the tip of her mind, let alone make an effort to find it. The paints themselves were creamery butter, alive in their haughty tubes, challenging you to scrape or pat or lick their shades of cerulean and phthalo green. The main point, though, was just that, all those grand colors stand to attention at the drying time. Freeze frame, one may as well be a photographer... Blinking, thoughtful head-tilting or pondering detours are not to be paired with acrylic stroking, no - the first murder the last, and she was always left with death on a canvas looking blankly aside, disinterested, without even the curiosity enough to stare back at its creator.

She would never paint in oil either, the vapors were foul climbers, assaulting her senses and actually making her sick. Even if she were anywhere near it, the creep would begin and result in a headache of obsidian shards working their way to the Brain. That little Brain already shrinking. That separation of color when the brushes needed cleaning carved her attention into bits of procrastination to witness. No oil, never again.

She recently had had an affair end due to this sensitivity. He was a restoration artist on the other side of the cove and had exaggerated the misfortune of becoming her ex-lover.

 “What do you mean we can’t continue; we’re just getting to know each other!”

He couldn’t understand the possibility of not touching the silk of her bones anymore. Her blonde mane, her tragic eyes, her whispers of contempt...

            “It’s not you,” she blinked rapidly so the fumes would get less of a chance to begin their infiltration, “can we talk outside?”

            He shook his head several times no, “It’s pouring rain outside, Seanna. Why can’t we talk about this here?”

            “I have to go.” She resigned a limp of her left shoulder in an inwardly shy gesture. She hated having to explain herself. Why couldn’t people just accept things the way they were? Why go to such trouble to dissect confusion, the whole point is to avoid confusion. Clarity rules.

“That’s all there is to it. It’s not you or me, it just is.” She figured a little Bhagavad Gita would soothe him, but it did not and he released a frustrated, monosyllabic shout.

            “You unsatisfied women... do you understand the pressure that you put on a man? To perform! We’re always guessing... we’re always fucking kowtowing, trying to find a way to reach you!”

            “Trying to find a way to reach our zippers, you mean. Yes, I understand, and I have to go now. I mean right now, really. As in: now.”

She pointed to the ground with both hands for wide-eyed confirmation, and then she calmly got up from the bed where they’d spent some fine time together, now a memory wafting in the air to mix with putrid oil stink. She put on layer after layer of clothing until she was sure that the weather would agree to roll over her instead of into the crack in her frame. She was broken but she had mien.


He was, being the Dear John of the two, just watching her dress in shock and even a mild horror held his expression. He did not change his attitude of angrily placed arms resting on that beautifully belted waist, which, incidentally, acted as the pedestal for a bronze torso of basalt and lace. This was her last image of him. Oh, she most regrettably turned away and sneezed outside after closing the sliding glass door for what would be the last time, thankfully never to make the mistake of engaging with another oil painter as long as she lived. Well, the process of elimination was satisfying enough for her to continue her way home in good spirits.

Soaked to the skin as the color clicked shut, Seanna felt that relief of weightlessness of being a single woman. There were no thoughts of others to invade her private head and the heart remained remarkably silent. Hours would pass before she had a memory surge, and then that weight and noise of partnership would appear, uninvited and hungry for resurrection. To the paints, to the surrogate... to the world where she was understood.

Her great escape offered her, after several large jars of good wine, to set forth the last stroke of a piece that had taken her close to a year to complete. The difficulty was because the wheat was incredibly difficult to define in wax, and she kept getting the color on both sides of wrong, having to darken or lighten it all the time. Bees wax is expensive and she would have to stall the painting until her monthly check from her trust fund came through. She was an art junkie in an art shop doorway, going out to get her stuff before going to the grocery store. The smell of that wax was integral to her survival.

Too bad the subject of the painting didn’t survive. Seanna hung it after it had set well enough and she was surprised to see how determined the look on the face of the strangler was. He barely held the ribbon with those two fingers and his target stared up at it adoringly, as if begging for the red velvet to wrap around her neck. She didn’t have to make the victim so falsely virginal, but that’s what found its way onto the scene, and she’s going to die anyway, so what the fuck.

And his suit was way too dark, but it suited the deed. Seanna freaked herself out by going over the imaginary act yet she continued to stare at the work. (Like a hangnail you pick for a while just before taking the clippers to it and the flick of that skin always held just a smidgen of pall-like remedy to your pain.) She dreamed on in imagining that the hovering crows would soon feed upon her gutted and torn corpse left amongst the mallows under the midday August sun. She could smell the hot urine and his sweat. Seanna decided then on the next painting. The girl, false virgin no more, would return as a whisper in his silent moments, weaving a lover’s call on a wild loom that crashed and split its tender wood just so he might listen to her haunt. She knows he’ll miss her, yet he was always stranded, so her absence will simply blend into all the other beautiful things he’d thrown away. Heinous. How the hell was she going to manage that.

The phone hammered her in the back and she realized that she had been daydreaming for some time because it was already sunset and it was cooling off quickly. It was Gordon.

            “Hey, I need you.”

            “That’s the way you start a conversation with someone on the phone? I could have been anybody picking up the receiver.”

            “Well, either way it’s an interesting conversation in the making, wouldn’t you agree?” he chuckled knowing he was right, then waited in silence for her to reply.

            “You sound confident, what would you have said if it had been the paper boy that answered?” she was a bit miffed, really.

            “I don’t think it would be me searching for something to say if it had of been the paper boy answering,” he laughed but relented because he knew she did not like to be teased for too long, “but listen, I do need to see you... this evening, if you are free to make that happen. I would be most appreciative.”

 She relaxed with a sigh and smiled at his cordiality, he did know how to treat a woman with all that intellectual charm of his. Professors know how to profess after all, the title is not a coincidence.

            “OK,” she half whispered in a sultry tone, just to get him in the mood.

She liked to wear the mask of coquette de la salope; it made her feel powerful and friendlier. She knew he was famished for her. With that, she didn’t even say good-bye.

The phone hailed again and she turned the other way, leaving it ring, going off to have a shower after cleaning up the studio. There was always something extra clean about the place, having finished a painting that had taken so long to discover.


She let go and allowed the shower water to treat her to a fantasy of being the board that hung in the other room. It graced a wall in her mind with murderous intent and mallow flowers. The phone rang a third time and she grinned the grin of a woman in love, but it was not her smiling, it was the one kneeling in the painting waiting for a pure strangulation.


Seanna enjoyed being undressed by Gordon. He was erotically quick about it and very precise, just like his mind she supposed, easily focused on tenure and the accolades that would secure it. Thinking was never his problem and, as he orderly removed her panties and laid them on the rest of her clothes piled neatly on the kitchen chair, she chilled a bit and wrapped her hair up slowly sending him into an immediate frenzy. She knew she’d have to keep kissing and licking him for a little while until his hunger would be greater than his wish to give her pleasure. Then she could just lie back and let her eyes begin to whistle, calling forth her higher imagination to conjure the appropriate entertainment.

There comes an acquiescent moment to the man-beast when fighting is no longer possible. Sometimes we let him in too soon, and the rush is deadly uncomfortable and guilt ridden; or conversely, the timing is perfect and the transition is quite smooth and even surprisingly amusing. He and his ego in crime take over in their narcissistic magnificence and cater to themselves down to the smallest minutiae, leaving you free to go into a charming reverie instead of the stale reality of would-be romance. The beast will do whatever you like but only on its terms. Timing for the invitation is crucial and not for inexperienced hearts or emotional virgins.

While Gordon went through his predictable motions, Seanna began her impostor pleasure in her mind. Double vision rays of light came through the ocean’s surface with her there beneath the glow, waiting for something to come and save her. How long she had been waiting she didn’t know, but she was not lonely with the environment embracing her every move, the comforting cloak of perfectly tempered water, pulsing... or was she the perfection? Perhaps cold blood filled her fibrillate skin, and, as she looked down to touch her strange and idle form, she lost focus directly and noticed a shiny object dazzling on the coral reef not far below.

A copper butter dish, half the size of a regular one, shone with strong patina where the plate met the bell lid. Nestled in a bed of rich blue coral it tilted at a sad angle, looking upwards. Perhaps it was waiting as she had been, perhaps they were waiting for each other, but it made no move toward her and she stilled, mesmerized by its magnificence. The top of the expertly fashioned dome had a delicately carved, scorpion-shaped knot, the tail of which was so bright it could have been a beacon for the krill of the world to swim closer and join it in its love. That light was even visible from the sky, and the nighthawks would whisper enviously of deep-sea covens and magical plankton that, if eaten, would assure them a catch on each dive.

But Seanna couldn’t move. She just lay there, pumped staccato under Gordon and the blanket of the sea, staring at her treasure she knew she would never quite reach. It started taunting her with its luminescent indifference, now obviously shining so brightly for another. So she began to make the only move she would allow herself, and with each tear that floated straight out of her eyes, drop by drop toward the dish, the scorpion lid shone brighter still, and it was then that she knew its intent. It was not a treasure that lured her loving attention but a curse of some long-ago, abused king now taking pleasure in her pain. With this shock of myth and understanding, she rose violently to break the surface of her beastly enclosure just as a giant hawk screamed, grasping her immediately in his talons, fetters locking around her entire body, and carrying her off to his deadly nest not far along the scree.


Gordon went to shower and Seanna started downstairs to make some coffee. She felt complacent and finished with, so ready for a new task. With each wide teak stair, somehow she could see events happening in her mind before they occurred in real-time, it was an authentic action laced with premonition and synesthesia.

The creak of the refrigerator door and the chipped glass drawer holding at least seven types of cheese from around the world; these were Seanna’s extra-curricular subjects. She smiled stiffly. That may have been one of Gordon’s most remarkable neuroses; he was literally addicted to grilled cheese sandwiches, never running out of the necessary ingredients. What she envisioned, to his further pleasure, was making an omelet and hash-browns with sausage for breakfast, and the coffee would be so real it would easily champion the orange juice and conversation. Accordingly, that is exactly how the morning passed between them without a hitch. Real-time was boring but on occasion quite tasty...

The Fountain Tarot Review!

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After my first professional read with the cards, I can say they allowed for full backstory recognition plus markers of the client's cornerstone energies to be addressed, as in right now. 

Communicating with spirit usually brings a few head-scratching moments, but these cards left no room for discussion, and I wonder if that has anything to do with my personal relationship with the cards. Using a variety of decks, and generally gravitating toward darker symbolism, I found The Fountain Tarot surprisingly dark and light when I opened the pre-ordered and patiently awaited package.

A silver metallic, cleverly designed magnetic-flap box opens to the words:


Well, thank you! So are you! A-mirroring we shall go... so, as I am a big fan of first impressions, and an even bigger fan of silver, I might have approached the technical reading side to tarot from an already sated aesthetic appetite. My first directive, "Let's shuffle!"

The innocent glee was palpable as the cards skipped through my palms, and that hasn't happened since I first got my hands on a Thoth deck.

Composite, even angular, imagery evokes an interpretation of movement, and, as each card leads to the next, that backstory I mentioned hums behind the scenes and the main messages just stand up and take full responsibility for their presence. I wouldn't use the word "alarming" exactly, but tiny alarms do go off all the way through the readings, and these notes never appear to change, though they might ascend or descend an octave in their vibe. The Fountain Tarot deck is simply one of the most communicative decks I've held.

My favorite card so far is the Ace of Swords; it's like a fucking Pacific Northwestern icicle, ideal for piercing confusion in its heart, rendering it spent and insignificant. The rest of the deck comes off just as clear—I guest you might say it's kismet. And spiderweb obsidian Athame loves to stand guard atop the card of the day (THE STAR), so sweetly they meet!

I thank the creators of this work and their Creator before them.


Tarot To-Do List

Bryan Lahr Tarot

Bryan Lahr Tarot

This article is for new students, and the pros are welcome to add any pointers they feel they wish they had known when they were first starting out in the field (on Twitter please!).

The world of tarot isn't just magical, it's very practical. Why? Each card represents an archetype or an element of one and, even if you never actually read for anyone else, you'll have found a way into your higher mind and open heart for the benefit of all.

Make no mistake—tarot changes lives.

The Tarot To-Do List below is a practical guideline for the attitude toward the reading and not so much for the technical work. One assumes that the reader has their cards (preferably if they have been a gift—got a birthday coming up?), read several books, and is venturing out to experience a reading first-hand. The tarot school they come from will not affect the steps below; in fact, it will enhance the direction toward which the divine is guiding them.

For optimal results there are a few things that can augment readings and herein are several, brought forward as gentle suggestions: it will be the divine that offers the environment in which one reads and by no means is there a suggestion of interference with that.

The archetypes are something one needs to familiarize themselves with before allowing the cards to communicate their messages, unless of course one is a hardcore friend of The Clairs.

Below, just to get the feet wet; there are outlines to the three precursors to tarot. They are not prerequisites per se, though being able to call on their energetic realities in the material world and be witness to, that is, observe their possible presence in oneself and others, is of great benefit to learning the more technical side to reading tarot. And they're just way cool, so…


This collective word phrase includes any or all types of psychic sensitivity corresponding to the senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting, touching. Clair Senses in psychic terms are translated: clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, clairscent, clairtangency, and clairgustance. Additional gifts are clairempathy and channeling.


Clairvoyant (clear vision) -- To reach into another vibrational frequency and visually perceive "within the mind's eye" something existing in that realm. A clairvoyant is one who receives extrasensory impressions, and symbols in the form of "inner sight" or mental images which are perceived without the aid of the physical eyes and beyond the limitations of ordinary time and space. These impressions are more easily perceived in an alpha state and during meditation, though many clairvoyants can obtain visual information regarding the past, present and future in a variety of environments.


Clairaudience (clear audio /hearing) -- To perceive sounds or words and extrasensory noise, from sources broadcast from spiritual or ethereal realm, in the form of "inner ear" or mental tone which are perceived without the aid of the physical ear and beyond the limitations of ordinary time and space. These tones and vibrations are more easily perceived in an alpha state and during meditation, though many clairaudients can obtain verbal and sound-related information regarding the past, present and future in a variety of environments. Most Channelers (also known as Mediums) work with both clairvoyance and clairaudience.


Clairsentience (clear sensation or feeling) - To perceive information by a "feeling" within the whole body, without any outer stimuli related to the feeling or information. (Also see clairempathy)


Clairscent (clear smelling) – To smell a fragrance/odor of substance or food which is not in one's surroundings. These odors are perceived without the aid of the physical nose and beyond the limitations of ordinary time and space.


Clairtangency (clear touching) -- More commonly known as psychometry. To handle an object or touch an area and perceive through the palms of one's hands information about the article or its owner or history that was not previously known by the clairtangent. 


Clairgustance (clear tasting) -- To taste a substance without putting anything in one's mouth. It is claimed that those who possess this ability are able to perceive the essence of a substance from the spiritual or ethereal realms through taste.


Clairempathy (clear emotion) – An Empath is a person who can psychically tune in to the emotional experience of a person, place or animal. Clairempathy is a type of telepathy to sense or feel within one's self, the attitude, emotion or ailment of another person or entity. Empaths tune into the vibrations and "feel" the tones of the aura.


Channel -- A person who allows his/her body and mind to be used as a mechanism for etheric world intelligence to bring psychic information or healing energy to others.

Channeling -- To allow an etheric world intelligence to enter one's mind and impress thoughts upon the consciousness to be spoken aloud, using one's voice or body to deliver the information or healing energy.

I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.
— Kahlil Gibran, The Madman

The above human capabilities are not exclusive to psychics—this phenomenon can be cultivated—your connection to Source strengthens, as will The Clairs. Generally, one sense is particularly open while the others act as supporting roles, though sometimes all of them are accessible, and it is a gift to work with each psychic sense in moderation and without overloading the earth-based nervous system. Caution is recommended when setting out to study any esoteric field, as one must be grounded to receive from Source with humility for the good of all: just cuz.

Anyone reading this article will probably understand the concept that humans are flat-out servants to the divine, and the job description is simply to spread love in the most objective way possible. Turn empathy into compassion and there are no wrong turns.

To conjure these energies one can call on various accoutrements that support spiritual work in general and one's personal practice in particular. Yep, introductions to the ever-lovin' altar are in order.

One's altar is as personal as private thoughts, and the expression one chooses is entirely subjective. A minimalist? or… Something the Vatican would like (or dislike)? The main thing is to create a safe place for one's spiritual work, where no one else interferes between the practitioner and their connection with the divine.

altar (n.) 

Old English alteraltar "altar," from Latin altare (plural altaria) […] perhaps originally meaning "burnt offerings" (compare Latin adolere "to worship, to offer sacrifice, to honor by burning sacrifices to"), but influenced by Latin altus "high." In Middle English, often auter, from Old French auter. Latin spelling restored 1500s. As a symbol of marriage, by 1820. Altar-piece is from 1640s; altar-boy [girl] from 1772.

© 2001-2017 Douglas Harper

Anything kept on the altar (and one can even have it outside in a special place in nature or in the mind, if there's no appropriate space for it in the immediate physical environment) acts as a bridge and supports communication with Source. It's no more complicated than that. The following is a brief lowdown on the four basic natural elements and what they can offer one's spiritual practice. While reading, allow images of any objects that wish to arise, and perhaps they would be perfect for the altar. If one chooses not to identify with the word "altar," it's perfectly fine, just look around the personal space for that special place to keep the stuff of love, it's exactly the same thing!

Relating Oneself to the Elements

The elements connect with emotions, personalities, thinking styles, and with other aspects of experience, including what one sees and one's spiritual experience. In these areas the elements can be immediately recognized, that is, if there is an understanding of what the elements are. The following descriptions are brief and focus on the elements that one readily experiences on a daily basis. They show general emotional, energetic, and mindful experiences anyone already has, and show patterns of behavior easily seen in oneself or others.

It is important to understand that each element contains all the others, and they work with and against each other as energies mix, just as the weather does throughout the seasons!



When earth is balanced, there is a sense of stability, grounding, and confidence. One is responsible and takes life seriously.

If there is too much earth, there might be heavy thought patterns, feeling the blahs, lazy or rigid attitudes, and unclear dull energy. Too solid. There's very little interest to move and creativity is lacking.  

The obvious choices for earth on the altar are gemstones or any earthy item that means something, like that wild root from the trip to Guadalupe! Flowers, rocks, and any images of land animals that resonate, or other earth-centric imagery can all be placed on the altar to represent the earth element.



When the water element is in balance, there is comfort in life. It literally irrigates the three centers: physical, intellectual, and emotional.  Water allows easy movement around and through daily events and relationships in life and gives the ability to nurture and be in touch with intuition.

Too much water shows up as a lot of feeling and emotion and sometimes the need for everything to be "comfortable." Too much of this can let responsibilities slide and there is a tendency to float through life.

Choosing reps for water often involve a literal cup or bowl of water. Seashells or coral (legally obtained!) are great and add a warm flowing quality to the sacred space.



Positive fire gives the experience of joy, clarity, open-heartedness, compassion, initiating creative projects, enthusiasm… crackling like fire! It's not too hard to imagine the opposite effect if fire gets out of hand. Confusion, hyperactivity, or erratic impulsivity can rule the senses and, as fire is one of the quicker elements to erupt, it's important to keep this one in immediate balance.

Candles! Mmm… lovely, anything red/orange/gold can also be added to the mix, additional items such as incense and other herbs for burning during a ritual practice (if there is one) are some examples of how to bring fire to the altar. Sound yummy, in a medieval kinda way…



Air is the element that promotes change and, when balanced, can transform negative into positive energy at the flip of a switch! Air relates to curiosity, learning and a flexible intellect.

When air is out of whack, it usually means that earth and water are needed. There is little stability or security. It's difficult to focus and the need to shift from one place to another is pronounced. Fidgety, one finds they cannot accept things as they are and is constantly trying to change the outcome. Inner gravity needs support.

Air stuff? Well, feathers of course J and bells or chimes. Plus the wafting action of the incense or a sage stick also utilizes the air element nicely; one can also place the image of a bird to give a strong sense of life to the altar.

The essence of the above information is to be taken as literally as you wish or not at all. Many readers are bare-bonz-stylz and have no altar whatsoever—the important aspect of elemental knowledge is the intention to balance for the greatest clarity possible in your readings. How you go about that is your choice. Respect.



As for archetypes, Carl Gustav Jung has the simplest explanation for the term, and he also experimented with tarot and had a good deal to do with supporting its validity as a bona fide tool for active imagination (Jung, 1933). Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be arrived at indirectly, by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams. Carl Jung understood archetypes as universal, primitive patterns and images deriving from the collective unconscious that stand as the direct psychic counterpart of instinct. They are inherited potentials, materialized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world. They are independent, hidden forms that transform once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. Cool, right?

So in short, an archetype is an image that has arrived to the current moment through many performances of others who have experienced them on the level described above. They work through the levels of the mind and help cleanse the psychic shadow, or are a part of it! But that's another article, yikes!

Tarot To-Do List

Now that there's a bit of background to the act of reading tarot cards, it's time to jump right in and go through the steps as attentively as you are able.

1.      Tune in for a bit, and get into a comfortable yet respectful posture that this work naturally assumes. There is no one way, the only need is that you have an understanding that you are approaching a higher power here, so call on your humility at this point, if it is lacking (which happens all the time because we're totally human and it's perfectly fine to need to remind yourself of the divine presence inside of you, no judgment!).

2.      Call the divine and any spiritual aids that help you focus your attention on the present moment as you shuffle the cards. Archangels? Fabulous...

3.      Request that the following reading be from your highest self with humility and love for the benefit of all.

4.      Keep shuffling (see tarot card shuffling techniques here!) and say aloud the purpose of your reading, as many times as feels right—this process pretty much takes its own course when you trust the divine to lead the way.

5.      Having chosen your spread (see tarot spread formations here), lay the cards down with the same rhythm that the divine has set the tone for up until now, allowing your higher mind to scan the cards and bringing your intellect into play to begin the interpretation.

6.      Once all the cards are present, the reading may begin. How you move through the reading depends on your philosophy of tarot and which school of thought you come from, but again, whichever that is, simply allow the divine to govern your basic understanding of the tarot up until now. One assumes you know the spread and the placement of the cards and what they represent generally. Specifically, now you will relate the cards to the current purpose of your reading.

7.      Let The Clairs out! Woohoo!

8.      The story emerges and you can document it as you go or, if you're reading for someone there with you, recording the reading can be helpful.

9.      After the gist of the reading is clear, there might be one or more areas on which you or the querent would like even more clarity, and so you can now pull other cards to do so. The style is up to the reader: you can choose random cards; shuffle again with an audible request; use a completely different tarot or oracle deck or mode of divination such as runes or chiromancy, etc.

10.  On completion of the reading (the divine will also be very clear as to when the reading has ended), thank the divine and any spiritual aids you called forth for the reading and if you have some form of closure blessing, now is the time to say it. Sever any connections with The Clairs and rest in the finality of the moment. Now is the time to return to earth-bound consciousness, in gratitude.

Hope this list and fun exploration of the energies surrounding tarot practice have been beneficial. Pleasant readings to all!

[1] Used with permission from Barbara Murphy's website Quantum Possibilities

Rev Up Your Cauldrons, My Pretties, Halloween is Nigh


AUTUMN makes me giggle for no reason, and it is my absolute favorite time of the year. Why? Well, it seems to hold such promise in its air and a bit of a rumbling danger underfoot, as if to say, “You there! You are bound for a wonderful adventure!” The natural elements give me a bit of a squish, an Earth hug if you will, telling me that no matter what, everything is going to be all right.

Most of my summer is spent in an idealistic state, but autumn steps in and brings forth a kind of realistic boundary to the future. It reminds me not to get ahead of myself in an unhealthy way. Goals are meant to be set, kept, and scored. But the season obliges us to click our heels a little down the alleyway, non? [Enter] SAMHAIN!!! *slaps table repeatedly* Hear, Hear!

Still reeling from Mabon (Thoth is such a character, right?!), this article focuses on the further descent of goddess, on her way to the rich stillness of the underworld. I reflect on gratitude and connect to spirit's life-giving truths.

By way of definition, and to explore the abc's a bit: Two thousand years of après-harvesting and raucous festivities pass down to us, to respectfully honor and continue the spooky glory. How great is that?

Samhain (n.) 

1888, from Irish samhain (Gaelic samhuinn), from Old Irish samain, literally "summer's end," from Old Irish sam "summer" (see summer (n.1)) + fuin"end." (pronounced Sah-ween) Nov. 1, the Celtic festival of the start of winter and of the new year.

© 2001-2017 Douglas Harper

Samhain originally showed in pre-Christian history as a new-year post-harvest festival, and the communities would build winter housing for their returning warriors and meandering shamans. Given the light shone increasingly weaker, I suspect the shamans of the tribe expected the looming darkness to bring its goodies-in-hoodies, as only darkness can bring, thereby naturally repeating the ancient traditions of honoring the dead.


The locals buried apples on the threshold of the house as offerings; built bonfires to light the way for the deceased; ate silent "dumb" suppers and, originally they carved turnips, each a personalized offering. Yes, the dead received passage with a low bow and utter respect. Now that's treatment.

We mark All Hallows' Evening today as an echo of BC history. The commercial side to Halloween complements the great fun of dressing up (I do love some of the props!). In addition, every handful of pumpkin goop and packaged costume or piece of candy corn has Halloween's dense history within them, so strong were the practices of yore.

For my Paganism student readers, you might have already found the documented belief that a membrane-like veil separates the world of spirit from the physical world. Late autumn is the time when it thins the most, so spirits, fairies, and departed ones we wish so much to see again can pass through this veil. Naturally, this also makes Samhain an ideal season for magic and divination. The costumes and social activity grew from the same traditional roots, and Halloween releases our wild side.

Many pagans revere both agricultural cycles and the process of nature; this dichotomy manifests in this sometimes two-sided celebration both the reverend and silly have their place on October 31[1]. Just don't lift that membranous veil too high!

Out of curiosity, what do you do for Samhain? If I could only return to my Irish soil in a time machine and get me a Rowan tree bonfire! Meh, my Hibachi will do…
easier to leap over, that's for sure :)


Lineage is paramount in these celebrations. Try to get your elders involved, even in some small way. If you can raise your veil to meet the familial numinous blend, if only for a moment, gather the sacredness of life and surrender it for the benefit of all. And without being too precious about your incantations, remember who's in charge and bow in gratitude for your lives. That is Samhain. That is the gist of living…

I don't know about you, but my head is a bit clearer in the fall, less full of mind-chatter and slightly more at ease with itself. Less judgmental and endearing, I can walk around in a generally open way, relatively free from the expectations I tend to put on others or myself. My body remembers that as a youth autumn meant the school year had already gotten underway, so practical preparations would fill the time slot of an otherwise overactive imagination. Simpler facts would guide me by the needs of a formal education. But that didn't keep me from sneaking out to watch my buddies Pow-Wow from a distance. As a non-native I had to keep my distance from the formal ceremonies, but you cannot take the wild origins out of the body, they're ever at the ready, no matter which practices you groove on.

One keen autumn memory sticks out for me. I think it was just around the time I had already been in school for a month or so, right at that tender age of seven. I was leaving fairies and dwarves to their forests and inviting the reality of a mature world. I grew up at the base of a mountain with an inlet of the Pacific Ocean rolling just below it. 

The weather always invited a good time, yet it would shift and shimmy with impressive downpours. We were lucky to have the ravines for drainage (a shout out to the flood victims, hang in there beautiful people!). Regular and true throughout the year, water unforgivably doused the land, making it evergreen beyond compare. The best playground on Earth, I think.

Thrashing about in large wet piles of recently fallen leaves was something I had always done and this one day the leaves were present but only a part of me wanted to roll around in them. The other more "mature" part of me kept the act from happening. I remember a glad sadness that I would not engage in such childlike action. No aftermath bath or succumbing to the fated flu that I always had caught a week later. Death to a part of me? or the sneaky common sense of a young adult… I don't know which and perhaps the answer is both. Swiftly, the fall from innocence relaxed into its knowledge just as the fire-red maple leaf turns itself over to the ground below—and so the "splitting" had begun.

These days, I effortlessly return to innocence, to get back into the autumn leaves and Halloween fun. I have Nature to cruise with, and she constantly provides me with great company, inclusive of the dead!

This article is dedicated to your and my ancestors. I am the matriarch to my three girls :)

I honor my gammy, mother, and two sisters, all passed… one was an HPS on Vancouver Island (I know she'll be clicking her goddess love heels for us all!).

Spell to Heal Grief

Samhain is the most sacred and often the most celebrated of the sabbats. In its sanctity comes a part that's difficult to celebrate: remembrance. When we remember, we feel. When we feel we often grieve. Sometimes it's grief for someone dead; other times it's grief for what once was, for what never was, and for our own failures. These are all natural parts of the season, just as much as the joy and mystique.

Grief has its place in all of this, but sometimes mourning takes too much of our energy and instead of acting as a way to teach us what we value, it completely colors our worldview. This spell puts grief in its proper place—informing us of what we've lost, so that we know what in life to cherish.

For this spell gather one glass of water, one piece amethyst, rose quartz, and hematite. Soak the stones in the glass overnight. Using each stone one at a time, shake a little fluid over your head each morning, saying each time:

Lovely gem to wounded souls

find and fill the aching holes.

Set to write what grief has rent;

further anguish please prevent.

Have a safe and love-filled celebration. Oíche Shamhna Shona Daoibh!

[1] Incantation used with permission, Diana Rajchel, Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween, Llewellyn Publications (2015).


1250MG of Light


I remember myself as a stillborn, but recent history relays the news differently. There would be documented records of screaming and blood and tears, as all-good births put forth on a Sunday in mid-winter. Apparently, the sun was not shining at 8AM that morning, and all was red dolor and stink.


The Lord had me enter this world tied to a malcontent Catholic nun who, on the stench of my afterbirth, elegantly wept all of her sins out at once, like the sudden heat-exposed wither of chrysanthemums, and then she died. So I suppose I just remember it wrongly, and it was she who tricked Death with an ol' switcheroo... her life for mine; clever for a sister, my mother.

Orphaned and at the hands of young compassionate novitiates, I was taken to the cells over by the worn garden gates. There they made me well, those lovers of God, who had been chosen for their aptitude in patience and quietude. They had not a clue, of course, as to the needs of a newborn, a sinner's boy, but assumed their duties thankfully, as gifts are wont to be received.

We all grew.

I remember now (slowly it is coming back to me more clearly) the first footings up into the rowan that shaded our habitude. She was a grand tree with fine layers of dust on her leaves and the scent of promises and laughter. I was often chided for running about barefooted and ill clothed, “You will catch a death by his tail and will not let go!” They would yell, not serious and knowing that I would soon be far out of range from their worries and fears. That tree was a mother to me, they all were, the nuns and the trees of St. Mary's of Kinn.

Oaks so tall that I even fell over once, in a trance from looking up too long at the canopy of the middle one down the lane. It grew sideways like an arbutus, as if the wind had made it pray all day long, since acorns. Oaks can sing, you know, right into your heart. When their choir was harmonizing within my own heart, I could see forever and a breath, as if I knew what forever was, and I did somehow, breathing with the next step up and then the next.

So you see how easily I have confused the memories, some synesthetic, some fable. All tragically beautiful, though, especially on some Sundays at sunrise.

A young nun sits outside the cloister gathering sweet yams for the evening meal. In a moment of rest she sees me sitting alone under the rowan at the far corner of the courtyard, especially glum for such a fine day. I didn't know it at the time but she would become my lighthouse, for when my ship would crash back to the convent after each failed foster environment. I was a rotten soul, you see, never meaning to do harm but always managing to, criminally so. Humans are not designed to be boomerangs; I ended up hurting myself more deeply than I had started out.

I ran away from that sister, even though she was the only kind face I knew; it was too difficult to disappoint her time and again.

Barely attached to a scurvied body, they brought my dead, drug-addled brain back to the nunnery for burial. Young Sister Alice prepared my body for eternal peace with the same light she had used to greet me on all my other returns. She doused my winding sheet in lavender and ruta, crossing herself nearly a thousand times before I was laid to rest that Sunday at sunset. Alice didn't shine quite so brightly thereafter.