Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hangin’ With the Empress

One of the fun questions at the recent Reader’s Studio 2010 in New York was, “Do you know your birth cards?” Somewhere in my tarot travels I had run across this, calculated it and determined myself to be Hanged Man/Empress or, as one RS10 attendee corrected me, that’s Empress/ Hanged Man, thank you! Empresses are like that. You understand.

I was actually initially uncomfortable with the idea of birth cards or even a significator card at all. It’s a kind of “don’t fence me in” thing for me. Some readers will select one of the cards from the deck to represent the sitter. I don’t. It’s a matter of personal choice. When I first started reading tarot in high school, I identified with the High Priestess. I mentioned before I like the HP because she’s the library lady/nerd of the tarot, the guardian of mysteries. When you’re in high school reading tarot, you probably think of yourself as guarding mysteries. Now that I’m older, I’m glad to find a mystery with both hands. I think I do find them more often now but I’m a lot more comfortable with them than I was when I was in high school. I think that’s the process of unfolding knowledge anyway. There are some advantages to being older. But it’s interesting to me that the next card after the High Priestess in the tarot is the Empress, my birth card. My assignment as the High Priestess apparently was a temporary position on my way to my real job.

This works for me. I’ve always been interested in the creative urge in arts, writing, needlework, landscape, even computer programming. And I always wanted to foster creativity in others rather than guarding it from the everyday world like the HP. Fostering creativity is a very “Empress” thing to do.

Not to badmouth the glorious corn and soybean fields of central Illinois, but when I lived there years ago, I craved any shift in the landscape. I stalked creativity with all the ardor of a hunter after its quarry, a cat after a spider. I found it too. There was a terrific dinner theatre in the biggest barn I’d ever been in, good food and good fun. I bought cheap season tickets to the theatre at the private college near my house. I chased the small town festivals in the summer and found my favorite local artist, Gerry Erley. With my usual lack of self-restraint, I bought many of his pastels, telling him, “Gerry, you make Illinois look like someplace someone would want to live!” This, of course, says more about me than about Illinois, since there are plenty of reasons to want to live there. But his landscapes are transformational, evocative. One of my favorites is a view of a pond and a barn that has a sort of aura about it. Gerry patiently explained to me that pastels often have this quality and this was actually a view from his friend’s backyard one morning when he had a tremendous hangover. What ended up in the picture was so much more ethereal than an aspirin or hair of the dog. Gerry used to list me as having a “major collection” of his works. I was a patroness of the arts.

When I learned my birth cards, though, I was a little surprised to find I had two. Besides the Empress, there is also the Hanged Man. I loved Rachel Pollack’s discussion of the Hanged Man at BATS 2009. She talked about the choice the Hanged Man makes. When the card is right side up, the Hanged Man has consciously chosen to follow his own path, even if it separates him from society; upside down and he’s given up his own path to conform to society.

It was during that discussion that I realized that the bird that I use as my icon is a representation of both the Empress and the Hanged Man. The bird is the female of her species and she is hanging upside down, looking at the world her way. And I recognized that that’s the difference I see in myself, something I like about me, something about the creative, intuitive and actually, in the truest sense of the word, synthetic way that I approach just about everything. The Empress/Hanged Man has grown comfortable in her own upside-down skin.

This evidences itself in so many things I do. Today, I noticed it when I was cooking.

So first off, I didn’t really mean to cook today. I thought my husband was going to do that. He likes to cook and we talked about recipes and ideas the night before. I thought I was fostering the creative process. I found out this morning that I was actually doing the creating. He had invited a friend of ours over to pick up baseball tickets and actually had something of a tea party brunch in mind. One thing that happens when two extraverts marry is that they make the often erroneous assumption that the other person has expressed themselves fully. We then are confused to find out that a detail or two might have been omitted. For instance, the detail today was that I was doing the cooking. After we got that figured out, I sent him off to the market and stood looking at the open recipe book. And the Empress/Hanged Man took over.

I like recipe books. I think of them as interesting suggestions on what to cook. They are just a little too linear for me to feel comfortable actually following the directions in a recipe, especially when I’m doing this on a Saturday morning as an unexpected activity. And just about anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a lot better at following suggestions than directions. A fine point, I admit.

The menu had solidified itself enough in my mind last night that I had slept well. We had determined that my favorite salad (mixed greens heavy on the arugula, onions, sliced red pears, walnuts and bleu cheese with a vinaigrette dressing), plus some egg frittata-cheesy-thinger, plus, the “snails” we jokingly promised our friend, which turned out to be the forbidden fruit of Pillsbury’s orange rolls would be just enough. If you put those orange rolls on a pan and turn the outside tail out, you get a roughly snail-shaped roll covered in that yummy orange frosting that cannot be good for your blood sugar. But now I was faced with that egg thingamajig.

So, in true Bippety Boppety Boo Empress/Hanged Man fashion, I made up a recipe and, if I must be forced to brag about my own cooking, it was really good! I wanted quiche but I didn’t have time to make a crust, and felt a little guilty about a crusted item when I was already planning for the all-too-sinful “snail” rolls. So I improvised. If you try it, let me know if you like it! Also, I’m pretty sure you can make this in a much more healthy version than I did with Egg Beaters, turkey bacon, lowfat Swiss cheese, and skim milk.

Marcia’s Crustless Quiche

8 eggs

8 slices of bacon

½ cup of diced green onion

¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley

6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese

3 cups of half and half

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray glass 8”x8” baking dish with release agent (e.g., Pam). Cook bacon until crispy; blot and crumble. Line bottom of baking dish with crumbled bacon so that entire bottom of dish is covered. Cover the bacon with 6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese. Using a wire whisk, beat eggs just until mixed. Add half and half and beat until well mixed. Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg, parsley and onions. Pour egg mixture over bacon and cheese. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour until top is puffy and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes.

Serve with salad and sweet rolls for and elegant easy brunch. Also serve with Brook Bond tea with cream and sugar. Add friend and her fascinating stories about her recent trip to Viet Nam. It is a recipe for delight!


Want to know how to find out your tarot birth cards? Here’s a site that will calculate yours for you at The Tarot School. Thanks, as always, to Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone and their always fascinating insights to Tarot!

Best wishes!

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