“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” ― Paulo Coelho

 Ethony's Money Magic Manifestation Cards ended up on my altar

Ethony's Money Magic Manifestation Cards ended up on my altar

It's review time! I got quite a haul at Reader's Studio this year, and am also in the cool position to receive decks from publishers to review. I'm not mad about it. I haven't had a lot o time lately (what with finishing my next book and all), but I wanted to knock these out and tell you what I think of them. 

I think I should also share that if I get a deck from a publisher that I don't like, I won't review it. I think that's fair considering they send them for free. So if I get a deck that I think is just a complete trash can, you won't ever see it on my page, and i won't talk about it. 

What I WILL talk about is the fact that I reviewed a BUNCH of decks yesterday, and not one single one of them had people of color in them. What the everloving fuck. These are not old decks, and they're not "classic" decks. I've stopped being surprised at this and now I'm just mad. Can we do better, deck artists? Can we try harder, publishers? Thank ya.

Ethony's Money Magic Manifestation Cards

I got these from Ethony at Reader's Studio, after opining to Ethony, "Girl, I seriously need to get that deck.'  Thanks, boo. These are brightly colored decks that have all sorts of lovely intention setting statements on them about money and security. Having just gotten into right relations with money myself, I love the idea of reinforcing my new positive relationship with this force that's a huge part of my life. I asked Joe to pick one, and it's on our altar right now. Lovely.

  • Artwork - simple and cheerful
  • Cardstock - Amazing
  • Diversity - N/A
  • Packaging - sturdy 

Small Spells Tarot Cards - Rachel Howe

I am not generally a fan of quirky art decks. I'm used to my RWS, thankyouverymuch. HOWEVER, I follow Rachel Howe on Instagram, and I really, really like her art. I love the simplicity of the designs and the colors that she chooses. They just work, and by 'work' I mean that the small spells that she created align with what the card is. They're fun and silly and accurate. I actually got these for my husband in an Aries birthday box from House of Intuition. If he read tarot (so I bought myself a deck?) this would be his fiery Aries deck. (but I guess I have to keep them now. So sad.)

  • Artwork - Eye-catching and colorful
  • Cardstock - It's okay. I would say middle of the road. 
  • Diversity - N/A
  • Packaging - The tuck box tore while I was opening it. you're going to need a makeup bag for this one.
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White Witch Tarot

This is a GORGEOUS majors only deck that I got because Andrew won it in the raffle at Reader's Studio and I whined that I wanted it. See? Being a brat pays off on occasion. I'm starting to like majors only decks because the readings seem more intense and focused. The artwork is just beautiful and I found myself just staring at the cards, pulling details out of them and letting my mind wander. This isn't for quick readings, but for meditations. 

  • Artwork - Gorgeous and ethereal and accurate
  • Cardstock - A+
  • Diversity - N/A
  • Packaging - Perfect. 
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The Land of the Sacred Self Oracle 

Andrew McGregor created this odd, lovely deck and luckily, has a 12 week (free) course that helps you learn to navigate it. I like it, but I don't know why. i'm not sure how to use it (so I'm taking the course) and I keep wanting to figure it out, but it's strange and there's a narwhal for some reason. I'm not mad about the narwhal, but I feel like I'm circling this deck before we become friends.

  • Artwork - I don't understand it (yet) but I like it.
  • Cardstock - the cards are big and the edges are rough, so it kind of hurt my hands a bit. 
  • Diversity - N/A
  • Packaging - Simple
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Eight Coins Tattoo Tarot - Lana Zellner

I wasn't surprised to find that Zellner was an architect - the lines of this deck are fantastic and the artwork pulls you toward it. Sneaky architect geometry. I have an appreciation for tattoos, so I was going to get this deck ANYWAY. Then I saw how pretty it is. Sold. This is another one of those quirky decks that doesn't seem like it would read well at first, but then it does and we're all happy about it. There are 82 decks, a spread sheet, and a BOOK. This book, you guys. I love her perspective on the cards, and I LOVE that the book is indexed. I can't believe that every tarot book doesn't do this. Especially mine. Too late to recall it? Damnit. I know that i'm going to be using this deck all the time.

  • Artwork - BEAUTIFUL
  • Cardstock - good. it's a little hard at first (snicker) 
  • Diversity - None. boo.
  • Packaging - Good.
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I love Paulina Cassidy's work, and this one is just adorable. It's kind of like an oracle deck with a bonus magical spell at the end. This is going to come in handy during those times that I forget that I actually have agency over my own life, and can do more than pull a card for insight. I can pull a card and then DO SOMETHING. In a really cute way. 

  • Artwork - Quirky and sweet
  • Cardstock - Good and flexible
  • Diversity - None. Boo.
  • Packaging - Good.

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

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I like to noodle around Instagram to find new tarot decks. I like decks with diversity, creative interpretations of the cards, and a sense of whimsy. I found the Hip Chick Tarot, by Maria Strom, checks all of those categories. 

The suits are renamed, here, with Majors, Create (Wands), Feel (Cups), Think (Swords), and Earth (Pentacles). I just love this - they're intuitively connected with the suits so I won't have to have a sticky note to remind me that Swords/Think. 

The artwork reminds me of the 70's - kind of an Electric Company vibe. I have no idea why, but I just love it. I haven't yet gotten a copy of this deck, so I don't know about the cardstock yet, but I love the artwork SO much, it won't be a deal breaker for me.

You can learn more about Maria below, and find her on Instagram and Youtube.

xo!

Lis

Questionnaire

About me:

I’m an artist, card reader and cat lady. I have three cats: Pumpkin, Peanut and Rue. I was born in Portland, Oregon and now I live in Athens, Georgia. I grow tomatoes every summer.

 I love that she's wearing a hoodie

I love that she's wearing a hoodie

Hip Chick Tarot came about because most of the people I read cards for are women. Often, in my Tarot practice, I’d find myself translating traditional male images and their meanings into ones that fit the psyche and experience of my female clientele, so I decided to create a feminist deck.

What do you appreciate most in your friendships?

People who “get me” and who are comfortable with themselves, so I can be comfortable around them. Those folks are priceless.

What’s your idea of happiness?

For me, happiness is the lack of self-preoccupation. It’s just being here without being all wrapped up in me.

What’s your idea of misery?

Being caught up in my head with miserable thoughts circulating.

Where would you like to live?

I love where I live now. I moved to Athens, Georgia from San Francisco a couple years ago. The big city was fun, but I love having a backyard and three cats. Out of all the places I’ve visited, I love Rome the most. If I lived there, I’d just walk around and soak up the art and history.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Orange, olive green and aqua blue. I like the simplicity of daisies and the symbolism of bleeding hearts.

Your favorite poets?

Honestly, poetry isn’t my thing. I prefer prose.

Your favorite heroes/heroines in fiction?

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Ester Greenwood in The Bell Jar comes to mind; I love her courage and honesty.

What is your present state of mind?

I feel calm with a little anticipation of excitement.

What is your favorite deck or divination tool?

I’d have to say Hip Chick Tarot. Lol

Your favorite song?

What a Wonderful World by Louie Armstrong.

What is your favorite word?

I have so many. But I really love the way “quagmire” sounds.

Your least favorite word?

Can’t really think of one.

What is your favorite curse word?

f*ck

What sound or noise do you love?

The sound of a cat lapping water and rain on the roof.

What sound or noise do you hate?

The little beeps and buzzes of electronics can be annoying, sometimes.

What turns you on?

People who are secure enough to be open and okay with themselves. People who don’t need to impress.

What turns you off?

Gossip, self-preoccupation.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

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Hey, welcome.

Masters of Tarot - Interview with Mary K "MF'in" Greer

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As part of the preparation for the Omega Institutes "Masters of Tarot" weekend, I got interviewed by one of my personal heroes, Mary K. Greer. That was something else. You can follow the above link to her blog to read all about it.

You can sign up for the Omega Institute weekend, here! Rachel Pollack, Mary Greer, George Koury and Liz Dean (and also me!)

The theme is Five Approaches to Messages from the Cards and I'll be talking about stripping your questions down to their base elements to make them more useful. 

Thanks, Mary, for the great interview. Keep your eyes out for more from the other presenters!

xoxo!

Melissa

 

“To learn to play seriously is one of the great secrets of spiritual exploration.” ― Rachel Pollack

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It isn't often you get to interview your hero. 

The second tarot book that I ever bought was "78 Degrees of Wisdom". I'd been reading cards for about a decade at this point, and although I could read the cards, I didn't really understand them. Not entirely. Rachel Pollack's book introduced me to my cards in a way that made me feel like we were old friends. I could talk to the cards and for the first time - clearly hear what they said. Magical.

Because the Universe seems to conspire to shower me with blessings, I was invited to present with Rachel Pollack, Mary K. Greer, George Koury and Liz Dean at the Masters of Tarot weekend at the Omega Institute. (August 3-5, sign up here)  

As part of our preparation for the event, we're interviewing each other. I jumped at the chance to talk to Rachel. 

Melissa:  Rachel, with your writing of novels, comics and divination texts, your work has a theme of offering the readers self-discovery. Is this a conscious decision, or did it just work out that way?

Rachel:  I was always a writer of fiction first, and actually wanted to write comics long before I did so.  In fact, I was teaching years ago at a college in New York State, and gave a talk one evening, and one of the students asked how I became a teache.  I began by saying I had tried to get a job writing for Marvel Comics but they weren't hiring, so became a college teacher instead.  Well, that made me a kind of mini-celebrity with the student body!  The faculty, not so much.  But the big thing that happened during those two years came on a quiet, bitterly cold afternoon in early 1970, when a fellow faculty member said if I gave her a ride home she would read my Tarot cards.  They completely fascinated me, and I knew I had to have it.  I also remember thinking they reminded me of comics.  There were mysterious pictures of people and actions (early Rider deck), and a book--one of Eden Gray's works--that seemed to explain the pictures, but was really just another layer of mystery.  As for self-discovery, I'm not sure I consciously set out to make that the theme.  Wonder and adventure are really the common themes of most of my work.  But what greater adventure is there than discovering the mystery of yourself, and that of the world?  And being queer (I like to joke that I'm half of LGBT, the beginning and the end) self-discovery became almost basic survival.  Because if you allow the outer culture to define you, you're lost.  I think one thing I've learned from being intimately involved with the living oracle of the Tarot is to make the subtle shift from "defining yourself" to "divining yourself."

Melissa:  Your work - from comics to tarot has been a huge inspiration for myself and so many others. So, who inspires you? 

Rachel:  So, so many people!  Tarot readers, poets, novelists, artists, scientists, people who struggle for justice, so, so many.  Just within the world of Tarot, I've been inspired for so many years by Mary Greer--and consider myself so fortunate to have taught with her for nearly 3 decades.  Two others are Caitlin Matthews and Camelia Elias.  And I have a special connection with David Schaar.  Many won't know his name--yet--but that will change when he publishes his remarkable work on traveling the Tree of Life.  And I find working with Robert Place--on the Burning Serpent Oracle and more recently, The Raziel Tarot--very exciting.

Melissa: What else excites you about the future of tarot and divination?

Rachel:  There seems to be a great new wave of decks, both Tarot and oracle, featuring very exciting and explorative art.  At this recent Readers Studio there were so many wonderful new works.  It feels almost as if Tarot has been re-discovered as an art form.  Both the quality of art and the sense of mystery have jumped to a new level.

Melissa:  Some of my tarot buddies have said that your work seems to take a literary analysis approach to reading the cards. Which authors influence you? What do you read for enjoyment? That's a lot of questions at once. 

Rachel:  First of all, I think "literary analysis" sounds too academic and intellectual.  I approach the Tarot as a living being-maybe a storyteller--and try to discover just what that story might be.  The authors who influence me are again a very wide group, by no means all Tarot.  riters on myth and mystery have been vital to me, books about prehistoric art, Australian Aboriginal art, esoteric practices and beliefs, heresies, books of tribal and ancient poetry in daring translations.  Here are some titles that have meant a lot to me--"The Gate of Horn," by Gertrude Rachel Levy, a book on the history of religion, and a kind of founding text of the Goddess revival--"Shower Of Stars: Dream And Book,< by Peter Lamborn Wilson, a work about dream initiation, divination from Ancient Egypt to China to 19020's Harlem, and the idea of a magical book,that is, a book that is itself magical rather than just information about magic--"Awakening Osiris", Normandi Ellis's gorgeous poetic rendering of the Pert Em Hru, aka the Egyptian Book of the Dead--"Flash of the Spirit," by Robert Farris Thompson, a great work on African art and spirituality--"Boneland", by Alan Garner,the third book in a trilogy, written 50 years after the first two--"Major Trends In Jewish Mysticism", by Gershom Scholem, a work that almost single-handedly brought Kabbalah back into cultural consciousness, "Shamanic Voices", edited by Joan Halifax, a series of first-person accounts of shamans from around the world (one of the most beautiful, and scariest books I've ever read), and on and on.  As for pleasure, I'm not sure there's a sharp line between reading for pleasure and for inspiration, but I do like mysteries and fantasy.  Lately I've been very excited by a couple of fantasies that probably are considered Young Adult (72 is young, right?) "Every Heart A Doorway," by Seanan Maguire, and a trio of novellas by Nnedi Okorafor--"Binti," "Binti Home," and "Binti The Night Masquerade."  And then there's "Tropic Of Night," a book I've read four times, and will certainly read again.  it's a thriller about African sorcery in Miami, and explores a kind of shamanic psychology that I find very powerful.

Melissa: And now my "books to read list" has doubled.  Thanks for that!  Ok last question. What is something that you wish more people knew about you?

Rachel: You know, I'm not sure!  I kind of just try to be myself in most situations.  I guess I could say that everything I do is about sharing what excites me.

Melissa: Thank you - this was an absolute treat. 

Rachel:  Me too, Melissa.  I hope it's okay.

Melissa:  *dies from a severe case of fangirling*

What is the universe but a lot of waves And a craving desire is a wave…” ― Jack Kerouac

 Image by Holly Penikas

Image by Holly Penikas

I first saw the Nomad Tarot in Beth Maiden's shop. I try to buy from Beth as often as I can, because I know that she truly adores everything in her shop, and she supports creators and writers. HOWEVER, I have a problem with non-illustrative pips. I didn't learn tarot with one, and they somehow seem less-than my trusty RWS. 

I have found, though, in the last year, that my opinion is less 'bunch of sticks' and more 'pared down beauty'. It really annoys me, though, because I can no longer harass my Marseilles friends and be a brat about it.

Anyway, this deck, the Nomad Tarot, has kind of non-illustrative pips. The feathers, moths, shells and crystals that make up the minors are all a little different, and in different arrangements. They make me curious, and I think that's the best compliment i could give a deck.

 Image by J. Dranttel

Image by J. Dranttel

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The creator is Jennifer Dranttel, and she is kickstarting the next release of this lovely thing. You can find her on instagram at @thenomadtarot, and her kickstarter is here

You can also find out more about Jennifer and her work below.

Thanks for your time, J. Can't wait to play with this one. 

xo Lis

Questionnaire

Tell us about yourself!

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What is your idea of happiness?

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What is your idea of misery?

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What do you appreciate most in your friends?'

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Where would you like to live?

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Your favorite colors and flowers?

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Your favorite poets or authors?

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Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

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Your heroes/heroines in real life?

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What is your present state of mind?

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What role does divination play in your life?

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What is your favorite deck or divination tool?

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Your favorite songs?

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Your favorite word?

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Your least favorite word?

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What about your favorite curse word?

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What sound or noise do you love?

What sound or noise do you hate?

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What turns you on?

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What turns you off?

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If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

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A to Z Challenge: Write Every Day and Hello, It's Me

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It’s official - April’s come to an end, and so has the A to Z challenge. If you’ve been meaning to catch up, here’s the last handful of blog posts I wrote as part of this challenge.

U is for Unfazed
V is for Vocal
W is for Witch
X is for quiXotic
Y is for Youths
Z is for Zapped

Weirdly, I’ve done dozens of interviews of other people but have never taken this questionnaire myself. Weird! I’m generally not a fan of talking about myself, so you can find podcasts of me doing that here, here, and here.

I’m a reader, a writer, a mom, a partner and a nerd. I’m a happy person and feel like gratitude makes everything better. It’s like cheese in that way.

Speaking of cheese, here’s my LFT Questionnaire.

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1.  What you appreciate the most in your friends?

They are joyfully silly with me, and in a breath will tell me that I’m being an idiot, and then will be silly with me again. You can’t fake that kind of honesty.

2.  Your idea of happiness?

I’m honestly in it. I love my family, my work, my pets, my life. I’m in it.

3.  Your idea of misery?

Hey, let’s sit for an hour in traffic each way to a job where they treat you like shit and make you wear uncomfortable shoes, high five.

4.  Where would you like to live?

I love my house, but I would like to live near the ocean someday

5.  Your favorite colors and flowers?

Blue and orange, and tulips, ranunculus...anything that is all BLAM right in your face beautiful

6.  Your favorite poets?

E.E. Cummings, Buddy Wakefield, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

7.  Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

Jilly Coppercorn, Kvothe, Harry Dresden, Jo March, Meg Murray

8.  What role does divination play in your life?

It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. I breathe it in every day. It’s my thing. You know how everyone has a thing that brings them to life? This is my thing.

9.  Your heroes/heroines in real life?

My family, my friends. People who resist.

10.  What is your present state of mind?

At peace

11.  What is your favorite tarot deck or divination tool?

The Shadowscapes tarot

12.  Your favorite songs?

Bring it On Home to Me - Sam Cooke
Anything by Brandi Carlile or the Avett Brothers

13.  What is your favorite word?

Murmuration and susurration

14.  What is your least favorite word?

Immolate

15.  What sound or noise do you love?

I love hearing my kid’s voices.

16.  What sound or noise do you hate?

Animals or people in pain and metal on metal

17.  What turns you on?

Words

18.  What turns you off?

Bad smells, mean people

19.  What is your favorite curse word?

Fuck. Fuck, fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

20.  If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Good job, sweetheart. Come and give me a hug.

 

Write Every Day: A to Z Challenge and Hello Becky!

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Hey guys!

We’re near the home stretch for April’s A to Z challenge, where I write a blog post every day themed with a letter from the alphabet.

If you’ve been meaning to catch up, here’s a few picking up from where we left off on my last newsletter:

O is for Omega Institute
P is for Promises
Q is for Quarrelsome
R is for Repeating
S is for Schmooze
T is for Tinker

And I’d also love to introduce you to our Marketing Manager, Rebecca Skubish of SkoobMark. We met at a job, and rather than greet each other with Hostility, we were Inundated with..um..Janky feelings for each other, and I gave her a copy of Kitchen Table Tarot. I just love her to pieces and I would like to introduce her to Mediums.

That went poorly. (Newbie post come to mind, anyone?) Just because I have an idea doesn’t mean I should follow it through.. This is why I need Rebecca in my life. She has so many years of experience and has been so generous with her time. You are now getting regular newsletters that are planned out IN ADVANCE because of her. You’ll also get a reduced price or free product every month (what? Come on!) and lots of other goodies. Rebecca and I have just gotten started.

Her marketing business is SkoobMark and she is available for consultations, should you need her help too.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

Differences. Having someone who views the world differently, was brought up differently, raises their children differently, reads different books, loves different music…the list is endless…but difference is key. Why would I ever want to know or learn or experience only what I can find on my own? Having people in my life who bring their differences to our relationships enrich my own life beyond measure.

What’s your idea of happiness?

Gratitude. I’m happy because I’m thankful for all that I have. If you’re asking about specific moments in time, the best are those breathless, open-hearted moments of unrestrained joy - seeing my kids succeed, watching my husband play guitar, stepping outside into the sunshine after a being inside too long. Life is stitched together with happy moments.

What’s your idea of misery?

A day without learning something new. Or a day without good book. And living with Alzheimer’s.

Where would you like to live?

On a warm beach in a hammock.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Hibiscus and coral (although there are so many this is just the answer for today).

Your favorite poets?

I don’t read much poetry so I’m going to fall back on Shel Silverstein – favorite poem is Listen to the Mustn’ts.

Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

Karen Murphy from the Jim Butcher books

What is your present state of mind?

Content.

What is your favorite deck or divination tool?

I don’t really have one…sorry…I’m a newbie to Tarot.

Your favorite songs?

Watershed by the Indigo Girls
The Chainsmokers and Coldplay – Something just Like This
Demi Lovato – Sorry, not Sorry

Your favorite word?

Verklemp.

Your least favorite word?

But – nothing good ever follows it.

What is your favorite curse word?

Bloody.

What sound or noise do you love?

A distant lawnmower when sitting in the sun in the summer.

What sound or noise do you hate?

The awful noise your computer makes when you make an error and it won’t let you do what you want to do.

What turns you on?

Secret smiles and back rubs.

What turns you off?

Smelly breath.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?

Thanks for coming!

 

Z is for Zapped #atozchallenge

I feel like every year, I write about how to take care of yourself so you can do better readings. I do think it's important, though, so I'm going to make a little list for you.

  1. Readings can be exhausting if you don't take care of yourself. Check your energy before and after your readings and make adjustments if necessary.
  2. Use crystals, rocks, incense, candles, reiki, etc. - whatever tools will help you - to protect yourself and your energy.
  3. Be sure to put your cards back in order or charge the under the sun or the moon when they start feeling janky.
  4. Don't read cards when you don't feel like it. Just put them down.

Remember that you can't save the world by yourself and that if you're fried, your readings will show it.

Take good care. Thanks for reading along this month!  

xo!

Lis

Y is for Youths #atozchallenge

I did a podcast with my friends, Andrew and Rose, in which we talked about pop culture and tarot and spirituality and Big Trouble in Little China. 

One of the things that I said was that I hope that in 40 years, everything I write about tarot becomes irrelevant. I really do. I don't mean this in a self-deprecating way, but in that the core of tarot is rock solid, but that the means of interpretation of the tarot is ever-changing, and that's exactly what I love about it.

My son is 12, and his idea of the Hierophant is so wildly different than mine at 14. It's exciting and fresh and I can't wait to see what it turns into. 

Go forward, Youths, and reinvent the interpretations of tarot so it keeps living, wouldja? Knock the dust off of it.

xo Lis

X is for QuiXotic #atozchallenge

It is ok to pull a card for your day and count on the good things to come.

It is ok to read your horoscope and let it lift or prepare you for the month.

It is ok to put crystals down in ways that make you feel happy.

It is ok to believe in magic.

It is ok to decide that things will or will not work for you.

it is ok to use your intent to launch your life into another direction.

It is ok to assign personalities to your tarot decks.

And it's ok to not do any of this. Or to do some of it.

As long as you aren't hurting anyone, including yourself.

And it's absolutely ok to be an optimist. To believe in yourself. To look for sunshine.

It's ok to be silly when things are dark outside.

One could almost say it's necessary. 

xo Lis