Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Still Time to Sign Up for First Tarot Basics Workshop Feb. 28, 2010

Tarot Basics Workshops 2010:  I will be teaching four workshops on tarot in 2010. To enroll, you may contact me at 707-235-4211 or Angel Heart 4 You at 707-745-2024.

Angel Heart 4 You
501 First St.
Benicia, CA 94510

Tarot Card Basics Workshop

Air - Thinking Tarot. An Introduction to the 78 Cards - Sunday, February 28, 2010
Earth - Touching Tarot. History, Myth and the Tarot - Sunday, June 6, 2010
Fire - Inspired Tarot. Collecting, Writing and Creating Tarot - Sunday, September 19, 2010
Water - Feeling Tarot. Beginning Reading - Sunday, November 14, 2010

TIME: 3:00pm - 5:00pm


Class members are encouraged to bring their own decks if they have them. If they do not already have a deck, they can borrow one during the class but they are encouraged to obtain their own deck of cards for further study. AH4Y has some decks available for purchase.

Note: This is a class on tarot, not oracle cards. While oracle cards and other types of cards will be discussed in the second class, the focus of these classes will be on tarot. We will be reviewing both the major arcana (22 cards) and minor arcana (56 cards), the complete deck of 78 cards.

Price per person per class is $35 ($140 for the whole series).

Best wishes!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Fool’s Journey

Happily I opened the email from my friend Mike. How long has it been since we talked? It used to be daily when we worked together in now-far away Illinois, fellow technology soldiers in the war against bugs and for a major insurer’s health claims system. How far our paths had taken us! I had enjoyed watching Mike and the other guys from our department play volleyball and win. I was their slightly-past-prime cheerleader. It was a time when there were still two men to every woman in technology. It seems like a long time ago now. Happily we landed geographically a stone’s throw from each other in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our schedules were another thing, though, and we haven’t had that next dinner with his partner and my husband as we keep meaning to. Yet. We will, I’m sure.

But until then a little news was welcome. I’ve always envied Mike’s appetite for travel, not just appetite but resolve and accomplishment. He’s like a National Geographic all on his own. And he makes what I can only call “Killer Brownies” with fudgy chocolate interlaced with ripples of melted caramel. Ah. But I wander off the path a moment.

Mike had an opportunity for me, a connection with a good friend of his who needed a tarot reader for a Mardi Gras Ball in Eureka, about 5 hours’ drive away. Was I interested? I was! After assuring Mike’s friend David, one of the organizers of this event, that I did not expect to be reimbursed for mileage or lodging, I made plans for the long drive and overnight stay. I found my old Mardi Gras beads, selected decks with care and at the last minute grabbed a lamp in case the night club was too mood-lit to see the cards.

The drive was glorious, springtime in the redwoods. We saw horses running in a long field. We saw deer on the hillsides, hawks in the sky, early spring wildflowers near the meadow runnels. I loved my Fool’s Journey, packed light, dog and husband companions, not really knowing what to expect next. We stopped to eat in Willits at Busters and had one of their famous and delicious hamburgers. We revisited our Highway 101. I had not been to Eureka since 2001.

We found our motel and Auntie Mo’s without incident. I met David, found my table and chairs, well enough away from the music and dancing, and within good view of the pool tables, I noted. I met Chad and others helping to make the Mardi Gras Ball possible, helped make signs and got my cards out. I was ready. I did not mind that I was unlikely to recoup my expenses this trip. This was a mini-vacation for me.

Of the readings, one stood out, another Fool on his journey, one longer than mine. Chris was in the first days of his trip and truly the epitome of the card.

Many people interpret The Fool as someone foolish, at best “Baby-Wise” as in The Jefferson Airplane’s song “Lather.” He is not so much that as everyman who has taken steps into the unknown, a leap of faith without clear understanding of what is ahead, ready for the next bend in the road, ready to seek his path for better or worse and happy in the traveling. He is a seeker, perhaps not completely prepared for the journey, but knowing that the journey itself is preparation. There is possibility of fortune. There is danger of a fall. There are twists in the road. It is his Progress we trace in the Tarot. Like the King’s Fool, he may say or do what others in court may not; he may tell the king the truth. He may amuse. He may confuse. He is the leap into the void.

I read Chris’ cards, learning that his journey is as much spiritual as it is physical. Chris has a blog chronicling his journey, http://www.72daysofgod.com/journal/day1.html. So few of us interrupt our lives to go on a vision quest or spiritual journey that I feel his story is remarkable. I wish him well and hope he finds the *Great Zot!* of enlightenment a journey like this can bring.

The last visitor to my tarot table asked to read for me! This isn’t the usual request I get as a professional tarot reader, but I was open to what he had to say. My Fool’s Journey was meant to take me to a road not yet traveled. Or, had I traveled it before? As Justin spoke, I recognized him, not from this life of his but one prior.

A lovely elderly man volunteered at the hospital across the street from my house in New Mexico as I did every Saturday morning. He had a glow about him, more than the red coat, bright blue eyes and brilliant white hair. In the confusion of my teenage years, my imperfect gift often seemed more like a curse. But in Mr Shultz’ tranquil presence, I felt clear. One day, he told me that I would be going to California. At first I resisted the notion. I had no wish to go there. I wanted to go back to Florida, to the wildlife and beaches I loved. It took only a minute to know it was true and to further understand my path. The words fell out of my mouth, “Yes, but first I have to go here,” and pointed to a place on the map I did not know. In fact, I traced my own geography, years later going to Illinois, then moving to California in 1989.

As Justin held my hands, basically asking what a nice old broad like me was doing in a place like this, a raucous and costumed Mardi Gras party, when he saw my readings were serious and not a joke for the celebration, I recognized him again. And he recognized me, delivering a message of peace and love, solace and support. Once again, my Fool’s journey has taken me to the mountain cliffs with little more than a bag of cards, my dearest husband and my dog. Once again, the profit of the path could not be counted in coins.

Fool’s Journeys are like that.

Best wishes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Queen of Cups and the Short Half-Pipe

I don’t mean to brag, but I had a date for the Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance at the church around the corner from our house. Dinner, dancing, “preferred parking” (meaning we walked), what could be better?

Remember those statistics about most accidents happening within so many feet of your house? There’s a reason for that. You spend more time there, period.  I know.  It’s not a Big Mystery Revealed by the Universe. Sometimes you just have to go with Occam and His Razor. The simple answer might really be it.

This brings me to the other part of my Valentine’s Eve tale. Since I had given myself the gift of sloth and stayed in my jammies all day, even answering the door in my bathrobe to receive the windfall tickets to said dinner dance, it became obvious that I had to have a bath. Sometimes, these things just come to me. Actually it was a shower. I rummaged through my shampoo collection and came up with an oldie but goodie bottle of sweet smelling stuff, made sure I had nice fresh towels and my favorite Dr Bronner’s Hemp and Lavender castile soap and jumped into the steam. No, I don’t know what part is the hemp part; it smells so much of lavender that I’m not really interested in the other ingredients. I don’t drink the stuff.

My luxuriating was interrupted by the awful thought that I was, after all, going to have to shave my legs. I know, I know. This is too much information and I’ll spare you the details.  No one was harmed in the shaving of these legs, not even the startled cat waiting impatiently on the toilet lid. Tony is often amazed at the things I do.

Dates are so different now that I’m, well, not the girl I was. I remember high school and my best friend Cindy and I dreaming of some guy or another, speculating whether they had girlfriends already. We spent so much time in preparation for the Big Date, with no specific date in mind. Cindy tried to teach me to dance in exchange for my help with her homework. Like so many high school best friends, we tried things together we weren’t really brave enough to do on our own.

One of the things we tried was something that was tantalizing in its magical properties, Nair. Just in case you don’t know what Nair is, it was advertised as a gentle cream that made that annoying hair on your legs and anywhere else you were annoyed disappear and leave your skin silky smooth. In actuality, its formula back then had caustic properties much like drain cleaner, smelled worse and, to my ongoing dismay, had “varied” results.

I always figured if I let the hair grow on my legs, it would cover my feet and I would reveal myself to be the Hobbit or troll I really was instead of the princess I aspired to be. It was bad enough to have the “unibrow” I was blessed with as some echo of the Rom heritage from my Mom’s side of the family. In the genetic bingo game, I got blonde hair and this black unibrow deal and furry legs. The horror.

Nair worked just fine on Cindy, but on me it had an effect similar to trying to chop down a redwood tree with a nail file. It did, however, melt my skin pretty well. So for the Big Date, whenever that was going to occur, I was reduced to stealing my Dad’s razor. I was pretty sure he didn’t notice. Pretty sure.

Cindy’s efforts to teach me to dance were also fruitless. Apparently the farther away from my brain I get, the less teamwork happens between my body and my brain. I can sing. I can talk, perhaps in excess.  I can type. I loved reading and school. But I can’t reliably waltz or anything else involving my feet. That didn’t stop me from going to dances, having a crush on the band members, well, the ones who weren’t my brother, and wishing I could dance. At least all of that trying made me limber and strong, if not coordinated, so I could do a fairly amazing sideways splits and hold it long enough with a smile on my face to be captured by the yearbook photographer.

Ah, but that was then. So I found myself in my ablutions for my romantic evening with my husband Mr Right somewhat more than the girl I used to be and somewhat less bendable than the girl I used to be. Not everything has changed. I’m still a klutz. In spite of there being no snow in my particular short half-pipe which is my upstairs bathtub and in spite of the complete absence of a snowboard, apparently in honor of our XXI Olympics I executed a move never seen by my husband or, hopefully, anyone else. The noise drew his attention and, as I mentioned, startled Tony the cat. But I stuck the landing. Some medal-deserving feats go unsung. I’d say this particular time that’s probably a good thing.

I completed my mission unharmed and outside the tub, managing to shave my legs without cutting myself, de-whiskering Tony who is always so helpful at times like this or landing in the hospital. My sweetheart and I walked to the dinner/dance, talked with people we had never met before, applauded accomplishments we were unfamiliar with, honored the honorees, and enjoyed a dinner of overdone roast with an under-fueled Bloody Mary. And, just because tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and because I love my husband much, much more than I am concerned with public humiliation, I danced.

I’m just glad Cindy wasn’t watching. I would have to explain that it still isn’t her fault.

Best wishes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Death and Eric Fowler

There once was a nice kid named Eric Fowler who unfortunately was diagnosed with a rare and difficult form of leukemia. He was one of only 40 people in the US with this particular kind, A.L.L. He had a gorgeous girlfriend who was loyal and true. He and his mom may have had differences before, but they came together because nothing can really break the bond of love. In eight months of fight against this monster, his mom never left his side, basically living in the chair beside his hospital bed.

I got to meet Eric at a fundraiser for him. Our friends Dan and Annie opened their home for a silent auction, BBQ and music to rally around Annie’s nephew Eric and his family. There was a wonderful turnout and we had a great time. I took advantage of the moment to help sign up people to be tested as bone marrow donors.

It’s a really easy test, part of the Be The Match Registry. The worst part is filling out the form. When I sign people up, I tell them if they can get through filling out the form, the buccal swab thing at the end is a piece of cake, just some big Q-Tip-like swooshes inside your cheeks. The Hot Wings I had during the Super Bowl were much, much more painful.

Bone marrow transplants are pretty amazing. I got interested in helping people get tested to be donors through friends in the Tongan community here in the San Francisco area. Our friend Tui, who painted our house just the shade of peach with the red-orange trim I wanted, is Tongan and is one of my favorite miracles. He’s a member of the Tongan choir at our little church who got leukemia and a bone marrow transplant. It was pretty clear that both the leukemia and the transplant were no “piece of cake.” But Tui is able to work and enjoy his family. His daughter came up to me yesterday and gave me a hug. She started classes at college and I am so pleased for her. She’s so excited, scared and hopeful. One of Tui’s nurses at the hospital comes to our church too. She said Tui is a miracle.

We heard about another Tongan with leukemia, again through church. Robert’s granddaughter Tatiana needed a bone marrow transplant right away or, well, no one wanted to think about it. But she needed it within weeks. She was just a toddler. We were horrified to hear it, a baby threatened by something we hardly understand.

One of the challenges with the Asian-Pacific Islanders is that so few are registered as bone marrow donors, so finding a match for Tatiana or Tui is like finding a needle in a haystack without exactly knowing where to find the haystack. My husband rallied the Vallejo Rugby Club to register for bone marrow testing. This big, happy, crazy team of ours is comprised mostly of Islanders, so at one of the games I learned the whole, easy buccal swab thing and we registered over 20 volunteers at one rugby match. The next week, Tatiana’s doctor found a donor, not from our team but from cross checking heart donor listings. Within a matter of weeks, Tatiana was up and playing, the terror of the hospital to the delight of her doctors, nurses, friends and family. She was told she “had” to go home. What a fabulous happy ending and wonderful beginning for her.

My own family has been touched by lymphoma. My nephew too had a happy cure. I’m so glad to see how he and his family are enjoying life in their undersea and overland adventures. My great nieces are better than great!

Caroline, one of my co-workers loves to volunteer to give back to her community in many ways, so when she decided to do the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Triathlon, I was an enthusiastic supporter. I followed her training with the Team In Training group, her ups and downs with bicycling, running and swimming in the ocean, an ocean with sharp rocks and hungry sharks. On the big day, my husband and I got up early and drove to the beach at Malibu with our cameras, ready to snap photos of the finish line. It was a huge crowd of people from all over on that beautiful expanse of beach that looks just like what non-Californians thing the whole state is. I was even treated to a little “Star Dazzle” when I spied David Duchovny and William H. Macy among the triathletes. We watched the heroes in their wetsuits swim against the cold current, looking like so many sea lions. We watched them ride their bicycles miles and miles in the hills. And we watched them hop off their bikes and keep going to run the last leg of the race. It was a triumph when Caroline crossed the finish line. She was not what you would think of as a traditional athlete, but she had trained, tried and made it. She had raised a significant amount of money to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, to bring life to others.

That happy crowd at Malibu seems far, far away from the quiet fight Eric and his family had with the monster. After Dan and Annie’s fundraiser, Eric sent each of us a thank you note and a photograph. He didn’t forget us and asked that we not forget him. We were thrilled to learn last October that he had been matched with a bone marrow donor. It seemed like the victory line was in sight, just a few more pounding steps in the sand away.

It didn’t turn out that way, though. Last week, Eric had had a rough week. Because his leukemia was a rare kind, the teaching hospital was doing some experimental treatment to help with the problems Eric was having with donor rejection. What Eric really wanted was a hamburger from McDonalds but he had to wait because the treatment was scheduled. He talked to his lovely girlfriend, his family and friends. And, because his hospital closed its visitors’ room in the oncology wing at 9 pm, they asked the family to go home or at least go to the hospital lobby, an uncomfortable room with overflowing trashcans.

It was then that Death came for Eric and he had to go just a little while after midnight.

Do we forget, in all the silent auctions, the triumphs of Team in Training, and in the earnest form-filling and buccal-swabbing push to make a difference, that the monster wins too many times? We were not wrong to cheer for the lives saved, like my nephew, our friend Tui and little Tatiana. Eric just wanted to work, love his girlfriend and have a Big Mac. He just wanted to live like anyone else. We were not wrong to cheer for Eric, either.

So it is for Eric that I ask that you say thank you for the lives lived, however long or short, and to ask you to continue to help. Sponsor a Team in Training triathlete. Better yet, get out there and pedal with them and raise more money. Be a bone marrow donor if you can. Sign others up. Eric’s hospital had no psychologist on staff to talk to the oncology patients about their depression, anger and fear. Budget cuts, we expect; but had it ever been considered? Even chaplains have to get paid so they are being cut. Advocate for hospitals to get better funding so families can support their loved ones and be with them through good times and bad. Better yet, volunteer. Whose life will you touch? How short or long will it be? Let Eric’s death spark change for the better to mean something more than sadness for those who loved him.

I’m often asked if the Death card means death. The “warm and fuzzy” tarot interpretations say, “Don’t worry. Death means change. Don’t be afraid.” The reality is that sometimes Death means death, period. But like all tarot readings, you have the chance to make a difference. You can make Death mean Change. This time, please make a change for the better.

Good night, Eric. Enjoy that Big Mac, sweetie.

Team in Training: http://www.teamintraining.org/

To register to be a bone marrow donor, go to Be the Match: http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/index.html

Best wishes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Looking for a Light?

Why do I love Groundhog Day? There is something about a little wiggly-nosed squirrelly thing checking his own version of the Weather Channel to see how things are going. Spring or winter? That’s the question on February 2.

Thanks to the Simpsons television show (these are certainly words I never imagined I would say), in several fun-loving tarot decks there is a 79th card called, “The Happy Squirrel.” My interpretation of The Happy Squirrel in my own life is my love of tarot decks and collecting them and, as you saw recently, creating them. I squirrel them away but not too far away. I don’t always use the same deck to read and I like to keep my collection handy.

Groundhog Day is also coincidental with Imbolc, Candlemas and St Brigid’s Day. If you set aside the fact that people have been killing each other over religious disagreements for thousands of years and take a look at the commonalities among these, you’ll see that light plays a big part. We’re all a little tired of short days and long nights now and would like the thought that spring is just around the corner. We want to know if the block is a long city block, say six more weeks or so, or a short one, like NOW.

The idea is that the groundhog pokes his nose out of his burrow about this time of year. If the sun is out and he sees his shadow, it scares him and he goes back in to snuggle in for another six weeks. If it is cloudy out, he might roll out of bed and check out the landscape for some food. I like to think of groundhogs having quilts and down comforters but of course that’s a sort of Wind in the Willows view of things. But why not? After all, if you think a ground squirrel is scared by his shadow and predicts an early spring or not, why not a bit of patchwork, a tea cozy and some of those nice fleece slippers? I’m reaching out to my inner groundhog here. In any case, the groundhog is looking for light because we are all looking for the return of warm sunshine now that we’ve determined who this year’s Scrabble champion is and have grown weary of other indoor sports.

Imbolc celebrates the first noticeable return of the sun (among other things). Candlemas being a day when traditionally all that holly and ivy get taken down, you get from the name that candles are a big part of it. It’s the day for the blessing of the candles. Both Pagan and Christian traditions claim Brigid, who covers sacred flames, holy wells and springs; and, at least in Ireland, few saints can hold a candle to her, so to speak. Pope Innocent XII said:

“Why do we in this feast carry candles? Because the Gentiles dedicated the month of February to the infernal gods, and as at the beginning of it Pluto stole Proserpine, and her mother Ceres sought her in the night with lighted candles, so they, at the beginning of the month, walked about the city with lighted candles. Because the holy fathers could not extirpate the custom, they ordained that Christians should carry about candles in honor of the Blessed Virgin; and thus what was done before in the honor of Ceres is now done in honor of the Blessed Virgin.”


Who knew that there was a connection between groundhogs and pomegranate seeds? Remember, Persephone or Proserpine only stays in the Underworld for a few months, depending on how many seeds she eats, and then emerges in the spring.

What’s interesting to me about this is that, as diverse as these references are, they have the same concept communicated. More light, please!

If Candlemas Day is clear and bright,
winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
winter is gone and will not come again.

That’s a rhyme from the UK, but it might as well be right out of the old Punxsutawney Phil songbook. The Scots substitute Persephone and the groundhog with a snake, which seems a lot less cuddly all around. The snake in the quilt is just not the cute picture I had in mind for a bedtime story. Snakes being cold-blooded, they are much more dependent on more light and warmer temperatures to come out of their dens. At least the Scots version of this says the snake leaves them alone and they leave the snake alone.

As much as we long for The Sun, sometimes if it comes out too soon we must inevitably deal with more winter. That can be true in tarot too. Is The Sun ever a “bad card”? The Sun just is. It shines in its own time. Your actions and decisions can make it the wrong thing. Think sunburn, not a good thing. Those of you used to cold winter months with snow, remember the cycle of a snowstorm. Snow usually falls when the temperatures are about 29-31 degrees F. When the snowstorm ends, often the sun will come out for a beautiful view of freshly fallen snow, but the temperature almost always dips to very cold, often sub-zero temps. So bright sun and sub-zero temperatures are not spring (that's for the people who live in the non-snow places). And any snake, groundhog or daintily clad Greek girl with a weakness for sweets would do well to hunker down and stay warm. Don’t push the season or you could get frostbite. Last, there’s that fun, fun movie Groundhog Day where we’re going to keep doing this until we get it right.

Instead of this day’s card being The Sun, I cite the Page of Wands, the messenger of warmth who is the official notice that Spring is Coming. The page is a messenger and wands are fire, so the page can be Brigid, Proserpine or Phil or even a Scots viper. Hold up a candle bright to see your way. Stay warm and dry. The light at the end of the burrow is The Sun. Don’t rush to meet it too soon but enjoy these days too and know there are good things to come.

Oh, and this is my official request to make this year’s groundhog Punxsutawney Brigid or at least Persephone. Let Phil sleep in this year.

Best wishes.