Day by Day

My husband went away on business today. He’ll be gone for two weeks; same as last year. That first time was pretty rough because we had never spent more than two nights apart in 14 years. It was really strange having him gone so long. He will be in intensive training all day, every day and then there’s 2-3 hours of homework every night plus projects on the weekends. Quite frankly we won’t be talking a whole lot. I’ll miss his calls and texts. But I’ll really just miss him. His soft kisses and big strong bear hugs.

He warmed our hearts today (mine actually melted) when after giving us goodbye hugs and kisses, he handed each of us a small notebook. These little notebooks had handwritten messages for each day. We were told not to look ahead, just read each entry for that day and then do our part. I was good, I only looked through the kid’s books because he whispered in my ear that I could, but he stressed the fact that I was not to look all the way through mine. “Day by Day” he says, “and when I read them when I get home I will savor your responses just as much as your curiosity tempts you to look ahead.” Then he kissed me again; a long languorous kiss that sealed the deal. I swooned over my big, burly, Irish Druid. And said goodbye.

He wrote personal little messages for each day he’ll be gone. For the kid’s books, he created tasks for them to complete and sometimes asks them questions about their day. For example, a couple of our daughter’s things to do is, “If you could be any animal real or mythical what would you be? Write me a story about a banana eating a monkey.”

For our son, “Draw your favorite food being eaten by a bug; Tell me a story about a boy that couldn’t stop farting… And then he threw in a few math problems for the both of them; what a meanie, right?

My notebook’s first task was to listen to a song that reminded me of him and then text him the song. What a brilliant way to check and make sure I was doing my mini journal. He’s smart like that. I’m so glad I didn’t forget to look at my notebook!

So I’m alone. Sort of. I’ve got my kids and dog so I’m doing okay tonight. In fact, I will be fine for the first 3 or 4 days before those pesky little pangs of loneliness and longing start creeping their way in. I plan on being busy doing activities with the kids to make the time go by faster. A trip to the science museum, see a movie, visit the library, go to the pool, and then the yogurt shop where we can create our own frozen yogurt with mountains of toppings….

As much as I will miss my husband, there’s also a few advantages to my alone time too. I’ll get to stay up as late as I want reading a book. I’ll have Alexa all to myself (Amazon Echo was my birthday gift last week) and I’ll be tempted to eat cookies in bed and allow the crumbs to fall on his side….just tempted though because I know I’ll probably end up over there in the scratchy crumbs at some point. So I shall save my wild woman ways for the upcoming weekend….

Which brings me to something fun for just me. I’ll be kid-less this weekend thanks to my mom and dad and I’ll be spending the Lammas weekend away in the forest with my Sisters in Spirit. And oh my, will I ever be a wild woman wandering through the trees, luxuriating in the beauty of nature and reveling in the powerful magick of the old growth forest. My feet will be dirty, my hair tangled, and I will be wearing a big smile on my face.

Those are the things that will get me through the first week. The second week is still a blank page full of magickal possibilities.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

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Cherry Tarts~ Retro-Style

Mercury Retrograde.
It’s a time to say what I should have said when I felt what I meant to say. Or something like that.

Discombobulated anyone?

Just blame it on Mercury. Like the most of us tend to do.

 I’ve been on the alternative route long enough to have been duly warned of all the do’s and don’ts during this “troubling” time. I am well aware of the more-than-likely-mishaps and frustrating malfunctions, dumb misunderstandings and deals gone bad. I’ve been there, done that. And so have you.

 No need to fret, It’s just Mercury Retrograde doing it’s thing; and we all have our thing.

When things go awry like your printer takes a nosedive or you accidentally hit “send” when you really shouldn’t have then it’s time to pay more attention to the little wisps of luck in your life like getting out of a speeding ticket, finding a $20 bill in your coat pocket and then find the bakery is making your favorite cherry tarts again (I must admit I worked hard on making that wheel squeak).You know, the important stuff in the Grand Scheme of Things.

Besides, Mercury isn’t really moving backwards, it’s all just an optical illusion…but I really shouldn’t spoil the mood so I’ll stop there.

Life speeds by on its endless course and dear Mercury Retrograde can be that slap in the face you need in order to get a grip on life.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

The tarts are calling my name. Mercury Rocks!

The Darkness Before Dawn

Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year hasn’t yet arrived but it’s been dark and stormy for what seems like weeks now. The days are short, and it’s still dark as night in the mornings when the kids get on the school bus. Then before I know it, the deep gray sky is once again fading away into the darkness of night less than an hour after they get home. The rain remains steady throughout the nights with downpours thudding the roof from time to time. I’m trying my best to keep myself and the kids sane while our family journeys through this time of darkness.

It has been a strangely wet winter, raining daily, nearing 9 inches for the month already. The mossy green vegetation is no match for the onslaught of the relentless storms. The rivers and streams are swollen, and the roads are slick with moving water. The mud is thick on our property and many of our tall old-growth trees are leaning, roots becoming more and more exposed day after day of rain, and many will not be able to recover.

So on this rainy Saturday afternoon the kids and I remained hermits tucked away in our little house. My husband was building shelves in the garage when the kids and I decided to get our Craft on. We spent the afternoon making peanut-butter bird feeders and hanging them along the eaves for our feathered friends who are braving the storms. Even though we regularly fill our bird feeders there’s just something about making them that carries a special magick. We haven’t done it in several years but just seeing my children’s faces light up as they watch the birds (and um, lots of squirrels) flock to the feeders, I can feel their satisfaction and contentment in making a difference in the lives of the little creatures.

When we heed the dark call of winter by nourishing others we awaken the instinctual knowledge of how best to nourish ourselves. Slowing our lives down to the pace of midwinter’s heartbeat, we are better able to acknowledge and honor the darkness before dawn.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

6 Hours and Two Tarot Bags Later

 

I have never been a successful sewer. I’ve always wanted to be able to whip up dresses, or make my children baby quilts. I took a sewing class as a freshman in high school. I don’t even like thinking about it because it was a total disaster. Even so, many years later when I was pregnant with my third child, I was asked what I wanted for my birthday. I said I wanted a sewing machine, and I got what I asked for. I was going to make that baby quilt, dammit! Besides, how hard could sewing little squares together be? And so I made my daughter a baby quilt. And no, I don’t have any pictures of it, and only I know where it’s hidden.

I also went to a sewing class a few years later. I went faithfully every week for almost four months. That means four months of lugging that stupid sewing machine fabric and sewing kit back and forth, setting it up, then taking it down. There were three of us in the “class” all working on our own projects. I was attempting to make an a-line dress, something easy. I figured, even the pattern had the word “Simplicity” on it. Sad, but true.

The instructor would go from one of us to another, helping and guiding, reminding us to press the seams, iron this, fold that…sew a few inches here, leave a gap there, go press the seam again… Who knew a “simple” Summer dress could be so complicated? I grew to dislike the class, especially when I compared my progress to others. I began going less and less and disliking the dress more and more, so much so that I finally just threw it in the garbage with a “good riddance”. I could really use that fabric now,

Then there was the time I tried sewing a Greek peplos at the very last minute before a party. I was really impressed with myself for having zipped through it so fast with no problem. But when I slipped it over my head I couldn’t find the arm holes. That’s because there weren’t any. I had sewn the thing completely up both sides.

So that’s when the sewing machine got put in the garage.

And stayed there for years. Until today.

I had my husband drag that beast out of the garage and take it to the studio. I spent the better part of the daylight hours in there working on sewing Tarot bags for the decks that were gifted to me. And in all that time I ended up making two bags. I bled, sweat, and shed tears. A labor of love I suppose. So when I look upon the final result of hours of frustrating work, I force myself to look past the uneven stitching, the odd choice of fabrics, and the sheer mess of it all. I look beyond the fact that I can’t make a buttonhole, or that I can’t cut a straight line. But I learned some things.

I learned the hard way that if I am to continue attempting to sew these…these…things…, I will have to break down and buy a pair of left-handed scissors. Trying to sew a straight line along the edge of fabric that looks like the dog has chewed on it is totally impossible.

I also learned that I won’t bleed to death by being jabbed in the fingers by sewing pins. Nor by accidentally stepping on or sitting on them.

And I learned that I could keep cutting up old valances I don’t like or clothes I no longer wear and continue to make Tarot bags for all my naked decks and maybe even a few for my friends.

So I’m going to continue making these “upcycled” bags and pouches until all of my decks without boxes have a soft place to rest. Now, if only I liked to sew…Who knows, maybe I could learn to like it someday. Stranger things have happened.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

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In the Spirit of Collage (Pt. 3 of 3)

The Collage/Tarot Connection and the Now

I’ve been a lover of the Tarot since I was 14 and bought my first deck. Over the years I have added new decks to my collection as well as a few oracle decks from time to time. The last time I counted there were nearly 60 decks in all. Many Tarot enthusiasts will easily have collections in the hundreds (if not more) and I’ll admit I want to go on a Tarot deck buying binge from time to time. The main reason I don’t (other than we live on a budget) is because I love browsing through all the different decks. I can spend (waste) hours visiting Tarot websites, reading reviews on blogs or Amazon, looking at different illustrations and concepts, reading about the artist and their vision and influence for the deck, get sucked into Pinterest, and so on and so on. I’ll know when I come across the right deck because it will find its way to me at the right time. It’s much more fun and mysterious than clicking to add decks to my Amazon cart (of course there’s plenty on my ‘wish list’…)

The Moon from Kat Black's Golden Tarot Deck

One of my favorite decks of all time is the Golden Tarot by Kat Black. She uses a computer collage technique with artwork taken from the late Middle Ages through the early Renaissance; a time period I have always been fascinated with and drawn to from a very early age. She pulls together pieces of different paintings from master artists of that time and creates collages with velvety rich symbolism that speaks to my heart of hearts. It has the most beautiful Death card I have ever seen in any Tarot deck and I love her interpretation of The Moon card.

I decided about a year and a half ago that I wanted to do something that combined my love of collage and love of Tarot to create some personal cards that made me feel good, maybe contemplative, or loving, nostalgic, perhaps even moody. I craved cards that embraced the human condition. More specifically, my human condition. I wanted sentimental and I wanted layers upon layers of emotion. I wanted love and sensitivity, but I also wanted there to be a sense of humor here and there to cut through all the seriousness. I wanted strong messages with a tender touch. I wanted collage cards that would speak to my soul, spark my inner flame, and help me with chakra alignment and meditation. I wanted something personal, something that I put together with pure intent to connect me spiritually to my guides, dreams, and power animals in universally profound ways.

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So when I set out to create my own set of “intuition cards” I knew I didn’t want to follow any of the typical rules or expectations of traditional Tarot or oracle decks. My goal was to create a simple set of 24 cards; a deck that I could easily be able to pull one card in the morning as a “card of the day” to focus on. I could also shuffle through and select a card or two for inspiration in writing or painting. I could fan them out face up and find just the right one with the energy I needed to focus on for a ritual, or simply take the one off the top to use as a journal prompt at the end of a long day. So if I followed my heart, these cards would not be based on Rider-Waite or any other esoteric symbolism. They would be uniquely mine, with the language of my personal symbolism being of my own creation, allowing for change and renewal over time.

I still use Tarot daily because giving Tarot readings is not only my profession, but I hold a deep appreciation and love for its ability to help transform lives. At times I will use it for personal readings when I am needing to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes I’ll just take out a deck I haven’t worked with in a while and shuffle the cards. I find comfort in the way they feel in my hands, and the vibration of their unique energy. It’s like becoming reaquainted with an old friend. I enjoy taking the time to look at each card individually before I bless them, wrap them and set them back in their special place with a warm feeling in my heart.

When using my intuitive cards, there is a very inward focus that occurs. Some of my favorite moments working with my cards are those especially quiet times in the morning after I’ve sent the kids off to school and my husband is at work, but before I start laundry or take phone calls in my studio office. It is then that I can light a candle in a calm environment and spend some time gazing at an intuitive card of my own creation while sipping on my coffee.DSCF5941

I have had some of these cards for quite a while and I noticed that they were starting to show signs of wear. I was worried about them peeling back just far enough that they would catch on other cards and possibly get torn. I had spray lacquered them several times over but I wanted something more durable. So I decided to research ways to safely seal or laminate paper collage work and came across the “SoulCollage” website. I had never heard of that term before but was intrigued by some of the articles I read. I found myself nodding while reading because not only was the philosophy resonating with me but I was also learning new creative ways to simplify the process of creating collage cards with less mess. Yes, there are many who enjoy computer collage and that’s fine, it’s just not my preference. Like I mentioned, I absolutely love Kat Black’s work but personally I’m more of a tactile sort of gal so I need the true physical act of cut and paste…you know, real scissors and sticky rubber cement glue that makes icky glue boogers on the tips of fingers. And we must not forget the glorious mess of hundreds of tiny slivers of trimmed paper all over the table, scattered on the floor, stuck throughout your hair, in your cleavage….

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When you begin to do collage, (more than likely before you realize you’re even thinking about doing it) you start to see your surroundings in a whole new light. You’ll find yourself uncontrollably or inexplicably tearing images from magazines, catalogues, advertisements, labels from packages, and illustrations taken from old ripped up books on their way to the recycle bin. You’ll find yourself grabbing a brochure from the parks and recreation site because it has wolves on the cover. You might see that the box of cereal has an interesting new logo. You may even be shocked to find yourself trying to quietly remove a page from a magazine while in the waiting room at the dentist office because you can’t bear to part with the image. You may never see one like it again! Do not fear, because there are always going to be plenty of images from a multitude of different sources. So much so in fact that in no time you’ll be needing a file box with folders labeled with categories to separate the mass of torn, ripped, crumpled, cut, and snipped papers with cool images on them. Organizing them further than broad categories will probably never happen. Just know that’s okay. Part of the therapeutic process of collage is being able to let go of perfectionism, even just a little. The purpose is not to limit but to promote spiritual growth by continuing to learn and connect to Spirit, and to open new ways for positive changes to happen.

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Under Construction

As I continue to move forward on adding to my Soul Cards I am thinking of branching out and trying to begin a Wheel of the Year deck. With Samhain coming up I have been flooded with Autumn/Halloween images from all over the place. My mom gave me her Better Homes and Gardens fall issue and the thing is now basically nothing but a tattered shell, and I loved every moment of it!

I truly believe that ANYONE could benefit from creating collage work whether it’s oracle-type cards, collage journals, a framed 8×10 piece of art or even a wall mural! Whatever works for you. It can be as involved or as simplistic as you want. Although the wall mural sounds cool, it’s best to start small. Another reason collage cards are a perfect place to start. I urge you to flip through an old magazine, tear out some pages with images that speak to you, go within yourself, then get to cutting and pasting~ Express Your Beautiful Self!

Be fearless to express yourself!

Be fearless to express yourself!

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

*There’s plenty of free articles and information about collage at http://www.soulcollage.com/
and free is always good!

In the Spirit of Collage (Pt. 2)

The Wisdom of the Womb

It would be nearly two decades before I would have the yearning to put together another collage and it came about while on bed rest when I was pregnant with my fourth child. I couldn’t seem to get jazzed about scrapbooking like some of my friends did. I found that there was way too much stuff to deal with and lug around, and strangely, I thought it seemed too structured (if that makes any sense). But I needed something to do.

So out of the blue I began gathering photos with pagan people/places/themes from old calendars, greeting cards, and torn from alternative magazines. These were added to the collection of pictures I had in a folder and stored over the years (for what exactly, I did not know, until that time of course). During the sorting process I recalled there being a large empty frame in the corner of the garage and asked my husband to bring it inside for me. Using the cardboard backing as the base for the collage, I went crazy on it. For the next several weeks I spent hours sorting through and cutting out pictures. I came across small trinkets like snakeskin found on the garden path, sand in the bottom of a bucket from a beach trip earlier in the year, an old spiderweb my toddler brought to me, unrefined sea salt, colorful beads, and other odds and ends to be used as embellishments. I found myself immersed in a therapeutic activity without ever consciously saying to myself, “gee, I’m making a collage”, I just did it and it helped those last five weeks go by a little bit faster. More importantly, it just felt good, like a balm for my soul.

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My “downtime collage” has now presided over my main altar as a backdrop for nearly six years and continues to inspire me in countless ways.

Pieces of Parenting: Sharing the Wisdom 

After taking all the precautions and strict bed rest, our last child was born at 32 weeks. My placenta had ruptured and at one point during the c-section, the outlook was dim for the two of us. What little I can remember of the things I saw, felt, and heard during that perilous time remains as ethereal wisps of fear that brush against my subconscious from time to time. To look at him today, no one would ever suspect he was born a preemie struggling on a ventilator in the NICU. Other than his mild asthma, his looks and build replicate his Poppa’s, who is a hefty ex-lineman football player. Needless to say, he is walking in his dad’s footsteps as the offensive lineman on the 3rd grade football team.

I feel blessed to experience life with my family. Our children are our biggest accomplishments, cherished little souls that we wistfully watch grow and mature into adults faster than we ever thought possible. Our oldest son (their older brother by 10+ years) recently left for college, so now it’s now just the four of us in the household (plus our familiars of course). It has taken some time to adjust, but we’re getting there, knowing that through love and acceptance we can weave any gaps left in our newly downsized household.

Collage as a Family Group Activity

My children love collage and have enjoyed making some of their own creations over the years. From there the idea to construct a big family collage to honor the Four Directions was born.

There Were 5 Rules:

  1. To find images that they felt represented the four directions
  2. Group them accordingly
  3. Cut only paper
  4. No glue fights
  5. Have Fun!

Though we live in the mundane world out of necessity, as a family we bring in as much magick as we can, tapping into the other realms through practice, patience, guidance and protection. What better time to create something together as a new start (and finally new bedrooms of their own to boot!); something that we each contribute to, sharing how we feel about our world at the moment and linking our emotions together in a visual way. What better way than a collage!

We could have used personal family photos for this project, but to truly tap into something deeper, something on the archetypal plane, we needed universal symbols, those things that spoke to us on several different levels. So we took the time and sifted through old stuffed folders of scraps torn or cut from magazines, catalogs, calendars, brochures, and whatever else we found, gathering new images as well. The process becomes a wonderful unifying experience, bringing intimate understanding between those involved.

An example that comes to mind is one child may set a photo of a bear on the table to be used in the direction of North. When explaining that they see the bear as a representation of Earth, it will in turn will resonate with the rest of us in some way by suggestion, personal affinity or connection, knowledge of the animal, etc.. If you were to ask us individually ‘why’ we see it as connected to North/Earth, you will more than likely receive different answers from each of us. Strength, courage, grounding, confidence, beauty, and so forth. Each answer blends harmoniously and the back of the bear image is coated with glue by one child and placed by the other, smoothed by me, and acknowledged by my husband. This creates teamwork and connection in a loving gift of sharing and mutual understanding.

Creating a family collage can be a powerful spiritual experience. 

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Gathering images and sharing ideas

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The finished product hangs happily on a wall in my Tarot office/art and craft studio/ritual space/massage table area/yoga room/library and reading place/writing space/eBay store and where we do many of our family rituals because obviously everything we need is right there!

We did a decent job on trying to keep the elements in their quarters; Earth has furry animals and outdoorsy activities. South has the sun, candles, and a cool dragon. East has outer-space, sky, clouds, pictures of people feeling inspired, dreaming, and singing. West is filled with watery things including Momma’s totem, the seahorse. That was a fun surprise because one of the kids snuck it on at the last minute. It makes everyone who sees it happy with the light, friendly, childlike, magickal imagery. It offers us all something we could use a little bit more of.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(