M is for Mala #atozchallenge

A few days ago, I wrote about the importance of tarot conferences and retreats. The first one that I went to was Theresa Reed's Soulful Proprietor Workshop. I made so many good friends and strong connections there- and decided to stick with tarot instead of putting it down. I think it was truly one of the most pivotal experiences of my life.

One of the people I met was Jen Cintrón. Jen is a tarot reader and a jazz singer, and also makes amazing malas. A mala is a set of beads that were originally used in Hindu and Buddhist traditions to accompany prayer. They are the precursor's to rosary beads, and have become part of other faith traditions over the years. Jen and I started talking about a reading that I received where I was told to 'go to the water'. I have a lot of fire energy, and an aversion to water that I'm working on. We talked for a long time about my history with water and spent a lot of time planning a mala to help me focus my intent and prayers. We decided to dedicate it to Yemaya, goddess of the ocean, and Jen chose the moon phase and astrological position/time/thing that were the most auspicious for the building of the mala. She chose the beads specifically for my problem areas and to tie to Yemaya. The cord was blessed with specific herbs and oils. She chanted while it was built, and chose a starfish charm and a guru bead (main bead) that looks like coral. She associated the bead count and selection with cards of the tarot to make it even more personalized for me. I can't tell you how much love and intent was put into this beautiful thing. If you need a prayer focus, I can't recommend these enough. They're truly works of art.

Jen filled out the LFT Questionnaire for me! Keep reading to find out more about her, and to see a picture of my beautiful mala.

xo! LFT

LFT Questionnaire
 
1.  What you appreciate the most in your friends.
 
What I most appreciate in my good friends is their ability to make me laugh, or think, or grow as a person and an artist, and having a bit of a sense of adventure. Yes, let's take an hour and half road trip to go to the Mustard Museum just because it's a lovely day, and mustard is delicious.
 
Oh, and an appreciation for hugs. I understand that some people have personal bubbles and I try to respect that when the body language cues me, but I'm really big into hugs and sometimes it'd be more awkward to stop the hug that's already been initiated than it is to just make it a quick one, haha! But a non-creepy good hugger is a friend I'm always happy to find. Hooray for hugs!
 
2.  Your idea of happiness.
 
That amazing feeling when I'm "in the zone", when singing (or listening to other musicians currently "in the zone"), doing yoga, reading the cards, dancing or meditating, or that tingly, floating and heavy feeling after being with a lover who's attuned to my body, and their own. That place where I'm not thinking, but I feel the energy of the universe flowing through me and time is suspended. The timer is most definitely my friend when I'm doing readings! 
 
3.  Your idea of misery.
 
The worst feeling in the world is when trying to help someone backfires, either because they take it as an insult, or they misinterpret my intentions in some other way, or they aren't ready to admit they need help. Or I just don't know what the heck I'm talking about and stick my foot in my mouth, 'cause that does happen from time to time. It's hard for me to curb my helper instinct, so it's bit me in the butt more than once.
 
 4.  Where would you like to live?
 
So many places! I would  love to live in Europe for a while, in a place like Denmark or The Netherlands. Then I think, I'd love to live in Hawai'I for a while, see how much like Puerto Rico it actually is, and how it is different, I'd be curious to see how the colonial experience has shaped their culture and way of life, and also check out the volcanoes, connect with that Fiery aspect of Mother Earth (no direct physical contact, though, PLEASE, THANKS!!!!!), and baptize myself in Mother Ocean's waters on the regular. Then I think I'd love spend some time in a forest, near the mountains, with lots of birds to wake me up and lots of time to paint and write, maybe some big ancient trees like Redwoods or Sequoias nearby… Then I think I'd love to live in New York City, sing at the jazz clubs and open mics, meeting Norah Jones and becoming BFFs with her… All these places, and more, but the truth is there's something about the way the seasons change in the Midwest that really makes me feel connected to the flow of the planet, and the friendships I've made here make me feel like I'm home. I'm not discounting ever living anywhere else, but for now, and the past 13 years, I've loved living in Milwaukee.
 
 5.  Your favorite colors and flowers.
 
Purple, teal, and both of them together. I also love Red and Black, like any self-respecting Leo Sun+Moon / Scorpio Rising would. My favorite flowers are orchids, magnolia blossoms, and those little purple flowers that grow by the side of the road EVERYWHERE around here. You won't hear me call them weeds, if anyone knows their name, please tweet at me! @TarotJen
 
 6.  Your favorite poets.
 
Julia de Burgos, Pablo Neruda, Wislawa Szymborska, Kahlil Gibran, and Rumi. "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost may be one of my favorite poems of all time.
 
7.  Your heroes/heroines in fiction.
 
Pope Joan as imagined by Donna Woolfolk Cross. Santiago, from Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist". Ursula Iguarán from Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude". Scheherazade from 1001 Arabian Nights. Shadow from Neil Gaiman's "American Gods". Lyra from Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Irene Beltrán from Isabel Allende's "Of Love and Shadows". And Schroeder from "Peanuts". How did he make that little toy piano sound SO GOOD?
 
8.  What role does divination play in your life?
 
My birth card is the High Priestess, so, I sit at the veil.
 
Divination (along with meditation) is how I reflect on my plans, relationships, spiritual practices, and creative projects. It has helped me reconnect with my Self, and I use it daily. As well as using the Tarot, both physical decks and phone apps, Lenormand and other Oracle decks, and a pendulum,  I've spent some time studying and meditating on "Angel Number" messages, as channeled by Doreen Virtue.  If traffic isn't crazy (or if it's REALLY crazy during rush hour, but we're not moving fast) my commute to work often becomes a conversation with my angels and guides!
 
I'll know it's them when two cars right next to each other, or in close succession, both begin with the same number (usually repeating numbers like 115, or 444, or what I call "sandwich" numbers like 151, 989, 343, etc). There will be a pattern to the next few license plates I see, then. Sometimes with custom plates, there'll be funny ones which would be relevant to whatever it was that I had just been thinking about at the moment. Or I may be worrying about something I have to do, and then a car merges in front of me with a license plate that reads "UG0TDIS". The more attuned I've been to receiving these messages from the Universal Consciousness, the more relevant and obvious they've become. It's kinda eerie sometimes, but in the coolest way possible. This shit works, man.
 
9.  Your heroes/heroines in real life.
 
Malala Yousafzai. Bernie Sanders. Russell Brandt. My grandmother, who left my abusive grandfather in the middle of the night with her seven daughters, aged 16 to 6, took a bus across the island carrying only whatever they could fit in their school bags, and went on to become a nurse,  supporting and raising intelligent, strong women with a knack for healing others and hearts as big as the moon, who are knockout beauties, to boot.
 
Also, all those beautiful ladies who refuse to give in to the pressure to shave their armpits, and still feel sexy and confident, as they should. You go, woman! I always chicken out, though it's freaking torture with how shaving my naturally thick hair irritates my skin, and waxing isn't pleasant or cheap either. If it hasn't been eradicated by evolution, and it doesn't bother men enough to remove it, maybe it serves a practical purpose. The cultural and social conditioning has proven too strong for me break through to test it out for myself yet, though. I hope some day I'll really own my body as much as they own theirs. 
 
10.  What is your present state of mind?
 
It's 2 am and I've been up since 8 am, after going to bed at 2 am the night before. A bit sleep deprived, but feeling a bit "in the zone" from the loopiness! I hope I haven't weirded anyone out yet, though I'm sure all the talk about ladies with armpit hair and post-orgasmic bliss isn't helping matters much in that department 😂 Which is a sad state of affairs, in my opinion. These things shouldn't be taboo, they're a natural part of life. I think my Lilith in Aquarius and Scorpio rising are showing…
 
Yup, that's where I'm at. I hope y'all are having a good time with it!
 
11.  What is your favorite tarot deck or divination tool?
 
It's really hard for me to pick favorites, but the Osho Zen Tarot has a special place in my heart, because it was the first deck that I felt confident enough to read without consulting the book, and it was the deck that led me to finally taking the plunge and going pro with my intuitive and creative endeavors.  The little amethyst pendulum I carry with me is really high up there, too. Also the Ryder George Lenormand, I carry that little deck with me wherever I go.
 
Oh, and the Spirit de la Lune oracle cards, which I just got  last week… I am IN LOVE!!!! So unique and beautiful! Lately I've been all about living my life according to the cycles of nature, and our natural cycles, paying attention to the moon and planning my work with it (you may notice that around the New Moon, I tend to kinda drop off of Social Media...), and these cards really bring a lot of insight into that rhythm. They're round and not too big, so they should be easy to shuffle even for those with smaller hands, certainly easier to handle than most tarot or oracle decks, save the more traditionally-sized Lenormands. And did I mention they're GOOOOOORGEOUS?! Check them out. You're welcome! ;-)
 
12.  Your favorite songs?
 
Now, this question I can't possibly answer fully, there's so many songs I love, but it would be summed up in: songs that are true, beautiful, evocative and make me feel something. It changes from moment to moment. But the song "Hang On Little Tomato" by Pink Martini and Cyrille Aimee's version of Peggy Lee's "It's a Good Day" never fail to bring a smile to my face. Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good" is another all-time favorite, THE ultimate song to represent The World.  "Smile", written by Charlie Chaplin and covered by too many people for me to recall at this time of night (Nat King Cole did a bang-up job!) can make me cry if I'm in the right frame of mind. "Ojalá" by Silvio Rodriguez may be one of the funnest songs to play on guitar, ever. "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap and "Love Ridden" by Fiona Apple are such a beautiful, heartbreaking renditions of the raw pain of being cut off by someone you love… I could go on and on, but it's going on 3 am now, the second wind is reaching its plateau, and there's still 8 more questions to answer….
 
13.  What is your favorite word?
 
"Luciérnaga". It means "firefly" in Spanish. I also love "crepúsculo", which means "twilight", also in Spanish. "Twilight" also used to be my favorite word in English (probably because it's my favorite time of day), until that book and movie came out, causing apoplectic fits for Anne Rice fans everywhere (myself included). Now it's still my favorite time of day, but the word has become tainted. Fulcrum's a pretty cool word, too. 
 
14.  What is your least favorite word?
 
Cunt, when used as an insult. How DARE anyone imply the channel that brought them into this world is anything other than a sacred source of life and pleasure? Fuck them and the horse they rode in on.
 
*Clears throat* Ahem, sorry for that outburst. I feel kinda strongly about that one. My Lilith in Aquarius + Scorpio Rising are showing again!
 
 
15.  What sound or noise do you love?
 
Hard to pick one! Crashing waves. Wind in the trees, children laughing. When a song in a major key goes to the relative minor, bringing that blue, melancholy sound. Or is it the 6th chord? My music theory's a little iffy, especially at this time of night.
 
16.  What sound or noise do you hate?
 
Screeching tires. Cries of pain or despair.
  
17.  What turns you on?
 
A less gutter-minded response would be true curiosity, not the kind that's looking for the answers they already expect to be there, but rather the kind that's truly open to whatever data or evidence of Truth is found.
 
Groovy, killer bass-lines, and the people that play them or can dance well to them.

A beautiful poem. I don't care how conventionally unattractive Pablo Neruda might've been, what the man could do with words was sexy, sexy magic. I wouldn't have stood a chance.
 
Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" album.
 
"Never underestimate the power of a kiss on the neck when she doesn't expect." The Purple One knows what he's talking about.
 
Okay, maybe I shouldn't have filled this questionnaire so late at night 😂
 
18.  What turns you off?
 
Feeling unwelcome. Gory movies.
 
19.  What is your favorite curse word?
 
Fuck, its versatility and impact are unparalleled!
  
20.  If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
 
"You did good, kid, welcome home! You're just in time for choir practice. Ella's leading the warmups today."

Intuitive Tarot Advisor
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