Back in the beginning of May, I blogged about a wonderful Kickstarter tarot deck project called, “Botanica: A Tarot Deck about the Language of Flowers”. I supported the project, which
was wildly successful, and am expecting its delivery in November when they go to print.
I ran across yet another amazing deck on a livecast during LlewellynCon 2020 last week. It was so breathtakingly beautiful, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was like love at first sight! I hunted it down the next day, lucked out when a bookstore I was near had it and immediately bought it.
The deck, called, “DARK WOOD TAROT” by Sasha Graham, is illustrated by the Hugo award-winning artist Abigail Larson and was just printed this month. The timing couldn’t be better, the deck couldn’t be more beautiful!
There is a Summer Solstice sale going on at Llewellyn books with up to 50% off through June 27th. One of the decks on sale is this one I ran out and bought this week.
I am currently reading through the booklet that came with the tarot deck, spending each night before going to sleep to familiarize myself with each card and their individual meanings. With 78 cards, it could be a daunting task if I sat down and tried to learn them all at once, so taking them a small step at a time like this seemed the best approach until I started working with them on a day-to-day basis.
So why did I procure this new deck and what does it have to do with The Dragonfly Temple Chronicles? All is explained in my latest YouTube video here:
I am free.
It was to be my 4th year August 1st with the man I did caregiving for. That’s the longest I have ever taken care of someone.
He never made it.
Saturday started out as it always does at home – my husband made a wonderful breakfast and we had planned on a relaxing day. Knowing my client was close to the end of his life, I went out on an interview with a local business to talk social media and see how I could help the owner get more business. It was a good meeting and we are planning on working together as soon as his Instagram person calls me the coming week.
I had woken up to the unfortunate sight of my feet being swollen like two misshapen balloons. I don’t know what’s going on with them, but I have the feeling it has to do with my back being out because of what was going on at work.
Like I said, my client never made it, and this ties in to that.
For the past two weeks, my client was bedridden. Backtrack to the beginning of May and that’s when the real trouble began. We would struggle to lift him out of the wheelchair to get him to the bathroom, and for me, this was already physically impossible alone because of my osteoarthritis. At first he could help me with getting himself up. That was at first, but then, because of his Alzheimers, he was understanding my requests less and less. Every time he tried to get up, his severely arthritic knees were in agony and all he would do was push himself backward in the chair.
So we started overlapping shifts – the person coming in and the one going out would work together to lift and change him. Or so that was the plan. It worked well with all but one caregiver who was pushy and aggressive and actually endangered him by not cooperating with us. You see, it takes a coordination of effort to lift someone physically impaired. Any sane caregiver, EMT or hospital worker who has done this kind of work will tell you that.
Our poor client ended up falling to the floor because of her – one time TWICE when she was helping me, even more times on other shifts. Because of her abusive bullying, I hurt both my lower back and reinjured my shoulders to the point I had to take days off and extra trips to the chiropractor.
So Friday I knew I had thrown my pelvis off and was certain by Saturday late morning that it was responsible at least in part for the excessive swelling in my feet. So, I was soaking my feet when the call came through that my client had died.
So like I said, I am free. And if feels so weird I cannot begin to explain it. If you have never been a caregiver who has lost someone, you would never understand until it happens to you. So many things go through our minds – relief they are no longer suffering, fear now that we have to look for another client and all the little “what ifs” of the entire time you were with them –
- if you had gotten that knee replacement surgery, you wouldn’t have suffered the last 30 years of your life (and made our jobs that much harder)
- if you had loved your son more, you wouldn’t have yelled at him in those restaurants, causing a scene in front of strangers and the owners who had known you for forty years.
- if you had gotten psychiatric help during your life, you wouldn’t have suffered the last two weeks of your life in bed, alone except for your caregivers, no one rushing to be with you because you hated them and treated them like dirt your entire life
There will be so many things I take away from this past assignment; the fact it wasn’t an assignment as much as it was comforting an old man whose days were numbered, witnessing all the ways dementia and Alzheimer’s can destroy your brain, your life and hurts the lives of everyone that cares about you and how I will vow to never do things or be the way he was that led him to his end.
We made each other’s lives better in the end and the good news is that for me, it isn’t too late.
Next – The Signs of Change coming soon
Dragonflies (and their close cousins – damselflies) are masters of change, adaptability, and metamorphosis. Those not familiar with dragonfly’s deeper meanings often associate them with these traits and those of illusion – the latter usually in a negative connotation. Illusion could mean anything from you are under a self-illusion/delusion and unwilling to see what is going on around you, to the need to look through your circumstances and yours and/or others’ actions to discern the hidden intent beneath.
They can represent spiritual growth through change and transformation, especially to those undergoing such challenges at the time of their sighting of dragonfly. Those who identify with the dragonfly often possess many unique abilities, and thus the skill to bring change to their immediate world and those in their flight “path”.
The Physical Imitates The Message
Dragonfly’s delicate wings are an illusion in of themselves, hiding their skill as flyers unparalleled in the insect world, able to hover in place and maneuver in any direction, possessing the ability to even fly backwards! If you lack the ability to adapt and transform with changing circumstances, perhaps this is your wake-up call when you see this impressive creature. Or perhaps you are or will soon be in a position that will test and stretch your ability to adapt and change in order to shine, like the iridescent beauty possessed of these beautiful, winged messengers.
As a side note, their association with illusion stems in part from their seemingly delicate-looking wings and bodies. They are in fact, the perfect insect predator. It has been said that if they were still around in their prehistoric form – one 3 feet in length, they, not us, would be the dominant species and we would be the hunted in their world. They have voracious appetites – even eating spiders, other dragonflies and damselflies, and can easily consume as many as 30 mosquitoes and more per day! They have a lot of living to do in a very short time – just a few months in their flying form and that is sometimes their message to us – to be as dazzling, as beautiful as we can with the limited time we have in this world.
Most of their life is spent in water before they shed their skin and go forth to become masters of another element – the air. This can mean many different things to different people. Do you need to adapt to new surroundings? One radically different than where you have already been in your life?
A Cultural Perspective on Dragonfly
Different cultures view dragonfly differently – they are the national symbol of Japan, appearing in much of their art and poetry. They are a positive symbol and omen, traditionally connected to happiness, courage and associated with the autumn season. To Native North American tribes they are a medicine animal able to heal and transform. The Hopi have at least one myth about how the dragonfly came about and how it was a mediator between man and the gods of the Hopi, diving through the lake of death to carry messages between worlds. They are seen on ceremonial rattles used to petition for rain and used for cleansing and purification.
European cultures view them less favorably – even with death. They are said to sting cattle (not true), yet when a fisherman spots one hovering over a lake or near a boat, it bodes good fishing. In North America as of late, they have begun to symbolize spirit messengers from the Great Beyond (beyond death) or are thought of as the deceased themselves.
There are as many ways to interpret the message of the dragonfly as there are dragonfly and damselflies themselves. The right interpretation is the one that means something to you personally. Don’t let anyone tell you what their visitations mean – as with any spirit animal presence in your life, that is for you to decide. Just remember to keep your eyes as open as those of the dragonfly and pierce through the veil of illusion around you to see what is hidden from your sight.
When I posted my video review of the Astrocal 2020 Moon Diary on PaganSpace, someone asked a question that got me thinking. The question was, “what is the best way to use a lunar planner?”. It’s an excellent question, one that gave me the opportunity to really look at its practicality and where and how I can personally utilize this beautiful reference guide.
I have found it’s best to sit down with it ahead of time, looking over the coming week’s Moon Phase(s), Planetary Aspects and the moon’s Void of Course times. When one wants to plan the best times to plant, go to the dentist and do business transactions, looking ahead to the next week or even month will give you an idea of when best to carry out these tasks.
Since it’s a complex solar system, with all its parts moving all the time, there are many other planetary factors the Diary keeps track of – Retrogrades, Eclipses, Seasonal changes. Even still, the predictions for the year based on the five slowest moving planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Uranus and Neptune influence world events and humanity as a whole over the course of decades, even hundreds of years. A quick, two-page summary of the latter will save you the pain of doing in-depth research and hours of watching and searching YouTube for videos by astrologers. Or compare its information to your favorite astrologer’s predictions and see if they complement each other and bring further insights to light by which you can better plan your activities and worship around.
Of particular interest in this year’s Astrocal edition, I found this paragraph in the “Year Ahead 2020” page 6, to be particularly relevant to the recent Covid-19 worldwide lockdown stay-in-place situation. Take a look for yourself:
Does “security and survival needs predominating” ring a bell? How about “deadlines” and “control” imposed and exerted? “Economic speculation” and “existing infrastructures” in “international travel” have definitely trembled and continue to do so. Laws being questioned? Absolutely as the lockdown situation in the United States and the U.K. drag on, spurring rebellion as people tire of “sheltering in place”, watching their economic security crumble away into nothing.
Besides this chilling prediction (or insight) into current events, the Lunarian Diary also offers much in the way of both planetary and Wheel of the Year knowledge that is best sat down with during this time of sheltering to read and digest fully by both those new to their Craft and experienced “old-timers”.
What do you think? What does your own lunar reference guide(s) tell you? How do you best utilize them? Please let us know.
Just when I wasn’t looking to write, something fell onto my radar this week that got the wheels turning full speed. Usually I say, “This is what happens when the worlds in your head come to life.”.
This time it was a case of, “This is what happens when the outside world makes your characters come to life.”.
So I lost my mind and supported a Kickstarter campaign called, BOTANICA: A Tarot Deck about the Language of Flowers. Now, I have never been interested in tarot as a divination tool. When I was younger, it seemed too complicated with all those cards to remember and I just didn’t click with them. My usual tool is the Runes and they work very well for me.
But something made me keep going back to this link I found through Facebook…something about the beauty of the cards and my renewed interest in herbalism pulled at me. I had three days to decide if I should support it. I considered the cost of the deck that attracted me, the Dark Alchemist’s Edition. It was pricey, but it was so BEAUTIFUL!
After crunching the budget and deciding I could support the campaign at this level, I looked hard at the other reasons to do it; would it just sit around and gather dust, for example. It would be an expensive dust bunny magnet if I did, and at this stage in our financial situation, I normally couldn’t afford to make a mistake of even a hundred dollars.
Weirdly, however, the Covid-10 pandemic had given us an unexpected relief from the stranglehold of living paycheck-to-paycheck. With my husband’s church and critique groups all shuttered and operating via Zoom, it had cut our gas bill nearly in half. My chiropractor’s office was also shut down for a month. The added blessing of us both still having full-time jobs was also a miracle in this time when a third of Californians are currently unemployed.
Financial excuses out of the way, I considered the “would I use it” angle carefully. I found that, unfortunately, the odds of me using it in conjunction with or in place of the Runes I was used to, was poor.
Still undecided, but leaning towards not supporting it, I put it out of my mind. If it was meant to be, it would happen, I reasoned.
It kept nagging at me, haunting me. The shimmering image here reminded me of the glimmer of magick in )O( Luna and her Children. If this deck had featured dragonflies and was as beautiful in illustration as these cards, this decision would have been a no-brainer! But…what if I used the deck as part of a cosplay for both Serena and )O( Luna Solare?
What if I took it with me to my live eBook readings?
Then I began to wonder what the story was behind Serena having a deck of tarot cards. Here is a character, a young woman still living with her father, impressed from a very young age that magick was EVIL and to be avoided along with its tools at all costs? In the very early development of Serena, she always used water scrying for divination. Just a month or so ago I was faced with the question of how did she even start doing that, given her upbringing? As I had solved that dilemma by bringing in her lover, Loki Whoticore, who had introduced her to the magickal side of their bloodline’s heritage, I now realized it would fix this problem too.
Loki would give her the herbalist’s deck before…well…spoilers…
So the next morning, I supported the campaign. It was the final day. Then I discovered there was an Instagram livecast interview with the artist and publisher, Beehive Books. I watched it.
The attention to detail in this deck was impressive, as well as the research the artist put in to make certain the cards’ traditional meanings and imagery matched up and just plain made sense. There was a huge amount of excitement about this campaign as their original goal of $30,000 had been blown away and was then at a staggering close to half a million dollars! This seems unreal in the current worldwide atmosphere of unemployment, fear for health and massive retail shutdown. It just goes to show you that when something of such staggering beauty, made from the love of an artist, transcends fear and becomes a magickal thing all in of itself.
So here I am at the end of what had been an amazing campaign that brought in $731,111 from 9,627 backers. It means that they met all their stretch goals and this set has become way more than just a purchase of a deck of cards. This is what I ended up with:
• DIE-CUT METAL DANDELION BOOKMARK CHARM
• DIGITAL ACCESS
• THE ALTAR CLOTH
• THE HERBALIST EDITION (with embossed, foiled, interior printed drawer-style box)
• SMALL BOOKLET EXPLAINING THE CARD MEANINGS
• THE DARK ALCHEMIST TIN
• DANDELION PIN
• EGLANTINE PIN
• THE FOOL PATCH
• THE HARDCOVER COMPENDIUM (with embossing, foil, edge-staining and a silk ribbon!)
• THE DIGITAL COMPENDIUM
• THREE TERRARIUM STICKERS
• 14 DIGITAL WALLPAPERS + BONUS KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE WALLPAPER!
• DIGITAL PRINTABLE CALENDAR
• CUSTOMIZABLE BOOKPLATE/DECKPLATE STICKER
• METAL DANDELION CHARM/BOOKMARK
• VIDEO OF KEVIN JAY STANTON EXPLAINING THE MAJOR AND MINOR ARCANA
• EIGHT TAROT-SIZED POSTCARDS
• FIVE HIGH-RESOLUTION PAINTING DOWNLOADS
But I didn’t end up with just this. I ended up with so much more.
I ended up with a story.
To be continued when the deck arrives – ETA November, 2020
A simple, loveable little book with a single purpose – to remind us that we need to take care of ourselves before we can take of others. I picked up the Self-Care for Capricorn and read it cover-to-cover. It’s a treasure trove of great and affordable ideas that range from health tips to diet, exercise, mentally refreshing new routines and the exploration of new hobbies – all taking my earthy signs strengths and weaknesses into consideration. I know I will reference back again and again to this great little book.
Many of us who walk the Pagan or ceremonial magical paths are all too familiar with the concept of belief impelling our spells to life. It is such a basic and necessary ingredient to our magical workings that even Hollywood has incorporated it into many, many script’s plots, scenes and dialogue over the decades.
This was met with a lot of fear and feelings of betrayal by those of our varied communities so many years ago. Oh how things change! Now it is so commonplace that even if we are in hiding in our own parts of the world, we secretly smile and nod when something of this nature is displayed on TV, on the Internet or in books. And on those occasions where they get the facts of our rituals so wrong, we either laugh, cringe or sigh in disgust.
I have always almost instinctively known that belief brings about magical change in life. The proof that cemented it came slowly as I first encountered pagans in a singing group of womyn from Orange County that came to a local folksong convention. From them I learned about The Path through the first author I ever read, their recommendation to read the wonderful works of Scott Cunningham.
Several years before that, the seed was planted – strangely enough – by a beautiful movie that did poorly at the box office and became a cult classic in the years to follow…a movie steeped in magic, romantic yet also deeply ritualistic in its most basic form. The movie Somewhere in Time.
“That Which You Believe Becomes Your World”
The words uttered by the character Richard Collier as he uses his will and love for the beautiful actress Elise McKenna to send him back in time from 1980 to 1912 where she first met him. It has already happened…it is fact…she came to him as an old woman in 1972, gave him the watch he gave her in 1912 and uttered the words, “Come back to me!”.
The emotionally powerful set up of this and the scenes where he learns they have, in fact, met in 1912 and he must make it happen again – and does – have never left me and taught me before I ever studied magic in any book that truly, “That Which You Believe Becomes Your World”.
The Missing Element to all this…
The other major element to making your beliefs become your world in a physical sense is the spark that lights the fire of imagination, magic and action – emotion. Powerful emotion comes about in various ways and by various methods, often triggered by our surroundings and its atmosphere. We Pagans, Wiccans, Ceremonial Magicians et al create this atmosphere by setting up a sacred space – candles, incense, music, solitude, nature and the great outdoors themselves.
Somewhere in Time used the element of Richard Collier’s obsessive love for Elise as the honeypot, if you will, to ensnare him in driving his conscious mind to pursue this goal by very magical means. (Please note, there are spoilers for the movie from this point on, so if you want to rent the movie and see it without them, please jump to the last paragraph(s) of this article.)
Consider how this ritual-like magic is manifest in his following actions:
- The search for knowledge – He goes to one of his old teachers who has written a book about time travel.
- Creating “sacred space” for his “rite” – To convince his conscious mind it can and will happen so it will happen in reality, Richard
- buys clothes from the correct time period (ritual attire),
- cuts his hair to “fit in” in 1912 (body modification, akin to tattoos – even self-mutilation as practiced in the past and today by some sects)
- obtains money from the same period (the “fee” for the ferryman Charon to cross into his ‘new life’, if you will)
- records a hypnotic litany and plays the tape back over and over as he “meditates” to initiate the process of time travel (sounding much like ritual chanting, if you ask me!)
- and in the end realizes that all of the physical preparation is useless when he fails, only succeeding when abandoning the tape recorder after seeing his name in the historical hotel register from 1912 and uses his newly discovered “faith” and beliefs to initiate a successful time jump backwards 68 years to his “Goddess” – she who waited and waits for him – always and eternally – so they may consecrate a bond that transcends time in a perpetual, eternal loop as never-ending as the God and Goddess themselves!
- and finally, after losing her, crossing over into death to once again “return to the Goddess”, Elise, who waited for him in the Great Beyond/Summerlands/whereever-you-believe their ‘heaven’ doth dwells.
- all of this heightened in the background by a deeply haunting soundtrack (ritual music, anyone?) that demands one’s rapt attention and emotional investment as a witnessing member of this sacred journey and union.
Consider then, you own experiences in life that led you to your chosen path – the path your very heart and soul tell you – no, witness to you are the real path…the one that makes that which you believe become your world.
I have always believed in healing the body in a natural way. When I ran across this book in my 20s, I was fascinated with the depth of Heinerman’s knowledge in the uses of the living breathing plants around us to do this. I would spend hours pouring through its pages, absorbing its rich knowledge.
My first test of its power to heal came in the first year of my marriage when my husband contracted bronchitis. I used the book’s simple cold & flu recipe to drive it out of his lungs. He – and I – become strong believers from that point on.
The more I read, the more I was fascinated with how this precious, old knowledge could have been abandoned for modern medicine. The section on Slippery Elm especially caught my attention for an account of how in 1838, a Mormon woman used a mucilage poultice of this tree’s roots and inner bark to heal the hip and socket joint of her son when he was attacked by religious fanatics, one of them putting the muzzle of his gun to the boy’s hip, deliberately blasting the joint away. The son made a full recovery!
The book is cross-referenced between ailments and plants, making it very easy to look up anything you are researching. If there were a fire today, it would be the first book I would save when I ran out of the house – next to my Book of Shadows, that is.
As a side note, I oftentimes went back to this reference book when I first started writing my eBook series in 2000. As I rewrite this section, I will again rely heavily on its wisdom, instilling it into my Healer, Serena Solare.