Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trash to Treasure

I’ve been playing around creating my own version of a “Junk Oracle” lately. I’ve been posting about it on social media, so I’m afraid some people think that I created the idea. I did not. It was shown to me at Readers Studio 2011 and I was tickled with the idea.

Actually, “tickled” is probably just the right word, like that invisible fiber that is on your eyelash. You think you’ve taken care of it and it’s back. So of course, I pay attention to that stuff. The junk oracle idea had to cycle through my subconscious long enough to come back up to the surface.

Yup, I wanted one. I had the basic idea in mind. There isn’t any specific number or type of item that can comprise your own junk oracle. It’s just yours. And, since charity begins at home, I thought no better place to start collecting little items for my junk oracle than my own cubby holes of Lost Things. The backs of dresser drawers and little boxes with tiny items, the detritus of a lifetime, were my first sources. Since Mom had an antique shop for many years, lots of little things got sorted away in pin boxes and in sewing kits in among the thimbles and spools. The tiniest ivory dominoes, three or four of them, and an interesting bead, a paper clip, a broken piece of jewelry, these were the starter pack.

It’s honestly better if the little things in your own junk oracle are meaningful to you, meaningful, not precious. After all, if you lose some little thing of great value, you’ll be kicking yourself around the block. If you lose that charm from a broken bracelet you found in the street, it’s not so bad. The important thing is to get enough of a variety of tiny things in enough shapes and symbols to become meaningful to you.

I remembered Miss Day from Orlando and her cobwebbed apartments sprinkled with dust in the afternoon sun. Nearly every surface was encrusted with Cracker Jack toys applied with mastic of some kind, a mosaic of childhood. I could go to Miss Day’s and tell stories for hours from the Cracker Jack toys covering furniture, lamps, vases, consoles, literally everything. Miss Day was the sort of person who invited one to tea in a magical world on a cul-de-sac of time.

Cracker Jack toys, I thought. A few eBay auctions later and I had a wonderful junk oracle, full of plastic charms and pewter game pieces meant to go round and round after real estate. I went to a delicious bead shop in Benicia, Benicia Bead, and began targeting gaps in my collection. If there were no rules, how could there be gaps? I knew them when I saw them.

I sifted through them, dismissing those made of paper (too fragile) or dollhouse items (too big).

“Choking hazards,” one of my Facebook friends suggested. Yes, that was it exactly. I was looking for choking hazards. It was something of a mission of goodness to get them out of the way of choking children and into the hands of the Junk-o-Mancer.

This past weekend was full of fun. I went to a friend’s birthday party and read both Tarot and Lenormand cards for them and even got a chance to try out Tierney Sadler’s The Deck of 1000 Spreads. It was a long evening and I was still tired the next morning. My junk oracle called to me.

OK, not literally called to me; please, plastic toys don’t talk. Much. But I decided to give them a whirl and posted that since I was unexpectedly staying home that day, I would offer junk oracle readings to people who signed up under that thread on FB. What a huge response! Everyone wanted one.

“How do you do it?” they asked. “What book do you use to figure out the meanings?”

I don’t, is the easy answer. I’m using my understanding of symbols, literature, astrology, Tarot, Lenormand, pop culture, movies, songs and whatever else is rummaging around in my own head, going with sayings and phrases that come together in the combination of the individual pieces. I read them like a sentence or two.

I decided that, like Lenormand, this was going to make sense only in the context of a specific question. So, questions like, “What’s in store for me next?” were disqualified. For each question, I sprinkled 5 individual pieces in a line and read them as the answer. I took photos and uploaded them and posted to my Facebook change.

Well, there’s where I went wrong, you see. I was a posting machine. Three pictures, three readings, three pictures, three readings I posted in a regular pattern. Apparently, it was such a regular pattern that Facebook temporarily blocked my account with the sincere warning of concern that I might have a computer virus. I waited three hours or so until unlocked my account, then did the balance of the readings a different way so as not to upset the algorithm. So far so good.

I thought I would post a little reading here today as an example so you can see what I mean. I followed my own rules and asked a specific question: What’s the best way to deal with a co-worker’s latest crazy passive-aggressive move that hampers progress for everyone on three, no, four teams?

Junk Oracle: Ring, Paperclip, Crazy Bug in a Nutshell, Pig, Bicycle, Watch, Turtle. Usually I go with 5 pieces but this seemed to make sense. So, here’s my reading: Yes, my co-worker is as crazy as a bedbug (bug) being stuck (paperclip) in their own circle of bad behavior (ring). While they are acting like a piggy (pig), move on (bicycle) because this will all be resolved in time (watch). Slow and steady wins the race (turtle) and it’s good to insulate yourself from insanity; pull in, disengage and wait it out.

There! In with the good air, out with the bad air, and I’m better now, at least until the next day’s work.

You can make your own Junk Oracle, too! Just remember that if they are really choking hazards, keep these treasures out of the little ones’ reach.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Think of Me

“You know,” my client said towards the end of our session, “if you ever get a feeling about how things are going to go for me, don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know.”

I was momentarily silent, even in my head. This is not my normal state of course, rendered speechless even unto inner voices.

I searched for the words to express, in the kindest way possible, that I don’t spend my waking hours with my wireless receiver turned on awaiting news from The Beyond about that client, or any other, in fact. Oh, sometimes I’ll get zapped with anything from a static-electric thought to a meteorite explosion that rattles or sometimes smashes my inner windows. Seriously, though, if I paid attention every buzz around me, I’d be, well, I’d be addle-brained. I’d look like Mrs. Beetlejuice or the Bride of Frankie or something. TMI, that (now probably passé) term for overshare, for a card reader translates to something like sticking a house key in a light socket. Kiddies, don’t try this at home.

I have heard and met some people with what I think of as “Open Channel Distress.” Most of the soothing sounds cooed to those people are urgings to “ground” themselves (still sounds like electricity, doesn’t it?) and then to take steps to “shield” themselves (waxing more into a Star Trek-like image). Personally, I drink a lot of water, do breathing exercises and somehow, the way human beings learn to do with other invasive input all through the day, learn to put the constant stream of input into a category of white noise. Otherwise, it’s like listening to all the radio stations at once and for people who are interested that’s probably a good way to kill me! But, I’d prefer to work things out before it gets to that, if it’s all the same to you.

Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

Nevertheless, I felt the need to say something kind to this person who is obviously in distress, listens to perhaps one tenth of the good advice anyone gives her and is trying desperately to figure out how to make the world work in her favor. She has real problems, no doubt, and the anxiety often clouds her ability to perform triage on her own life. She wants to know the equivalent of the winning Lotto numbers for her own life so that she can bet on them and make things work. She wants the Instruction Book for Success.

Please! If you too are an experienced reader, please stop gagging or laughing or being disgusted. Don’t be angry at my client. She’s a work in progress in her own life, trying to make the connections that there is more than one way to get what you want, what you need than by having the all the answers. She’s an example of someone who needs help, even if she listens to very little of it, who wants help even if she doesn’t realize that adjusting how she views things, rather adjusting those things, will reduce much of her stress and strife, allowing her to focus clearly on her priorities to get out of the hole she’s in.

And please don’t be angry with me for not booting her in the pants. Trust me, I have several times. She comes to me to talk about herself to herself in the guise of friendship. She will ask how I am with no follow up questions on the answer. She’s just not very good at that. She’s got too much going on with herself, plus a pattern of behavior that keeps her panicked and focused on herself. When she runs short of energy, she seeks that of others to buoy her spirits, entertain her, distract her, make her laugh, but only for a short while. The conversation inevitably goes back to her troubles, her life, her situation, her distress, her anxiety. And she cries over her losses and her anticipated failures. She may ask to borrow money.

Debbie Downer, you say? Probably more like Debbie Drowner, the one who would, if rescue should arrive, pull them under with her.

She’s pretty too.

She and other clients like her are the very reason that psychics, sensitives, readers, intuitives, fortune tellers and plain ol’ card readers need to ground themselves and figure out how to shield themselves. Many readers in the professional community will refuse to see people they perceive to be “chronically self-destructive with consistent collateral damage.” Even the people who charge much more than I do for a reading say the drain isn’t worth it, not for someone who doesn’t understand that the burden for change in their circumstances is on them, not on the world or the reader, not on the cards or their mother. It’s tough psychic love.

There are people in the business who seek out such histrionics, who actively look for people stuck in their own distorted hall of mirrors where they see only themselves and their own distress. They pump them for cash, cash in exchange for the fuel of attention that feeds the never-satisfied monster within them. The people who get the money are called frauds, and should be called that and prosecuted.

The people who come back again and again for the attention are frauds too, fooling themselves. They will not be prosecuted, but their punishment of themselves and others will continue until they make the connection, if ever. So, although I have my limit on how much of this kind of soul-sucking I can take, I have a couple of clients like this. (Nope, not accepting applications for more of this kind of client; full up right now.)

The 3 of Swords typically signifies heartbreak, the kind that doesn’t kill you, the kind that keeps going on and on. Practically everyone experiences it from time to time. There are some exceptions. It’s what you do next that counts. If you don’t do anything next, well, there you are, in perpetual torture. To me, the people who stay in perpetual torture get something out of it, some reward.

A poem and song came to mind while I was thinking about this, the Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott,” set in part to music by Loreena McKennitt. The Lady is cursed to look at the world through a mirror that reflects mostly grays and if she looks away, she will die. But she is tired of looking at the mirror and seeing her world reflected in grays.

"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady Of Shalott.

She is distracted by the gleaming Sir Lancelot, who is just passing through on his way home and takes no notice of her. Having looked up, she realizes her fate and her fascination with the world that she cannot have and takes a boat downstream to Camelot. She sings and dies and comes ashore where the people of Camelot find her dead in the water. Lancelot’s comment is that she had a pretty face, a superficial observation expressing his lack of connection to the unfortunate creature.

It sounds so romantic! Fabulous art has been created from this sad ballad, this story of wasted love supposedly based on the story of Lancelot and Elaine, Elaine the girl Lance didn’t love. It’s so pretty; you almost forget she’s dead! It’s one thing to appreciate a sad romance; it’s quite another to pattern your life from it.

What was the flaw? Was it possibly the perception that beauty and happiness are something other than what she was experiencing before she glanced away? Was it that she could not love the life given to her and having left it could not live? Was it that she made herself helpless?

I don’t know who cursed the Lady of Shalott. The poem says she doesn’t know either, or was it that she just did not want to see? I have a feeling that she cursed herself by the reflection of herself and her own life as gray and lifeless, by her refusal to see the possibilities of happiness within herself that needed only a small adjustment of light to reflect a better view, a tilt of the mirror under her own hand.

If she reaches out, even blindly, there may be hope she tilts her world into a better perspective. That's when I will be there.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Archaeology Begins at Home

I cleaned off my desk this afternoon and found a hippopotamus. OK, that’s an exaggeration. I did find a hippopotamus but my desk isn’t entirely clean. It’s just that I can see down to the felt my mother glued to the top of this Renaissance Revival beauty I call “desk” and consider my primary workspace. When life piles up, so does my desk.

Oh, the hippo is a celluloid charm, just in case you were wondering. Apparently it conspired with a celluloid pig to escape the herd of charms I’m gathering to create my own “Junk Oracle.” Some of the cool kids at Readers Studio 2011 had these and were demonstrating how they could be used. My mind is seemingly much like my desk, cigarette burns and all to carry a simile too far, and things pile up for later use. The Junk Oracle concept resurfaced recently and I started rummaging around in the backs of dresser drawers and things.

Perhaps I mentioned this before? One thing about antique dealers’ kids: They have everything the antique dealer wanted. They also have everyone nobody wanted. I have weird stuff. To my husband and house-elf’s despair, I have weird stuff in weird places and not terribly well-organized. If you come here looking for a treasure trove, you might find it, but you’ve got your work cut out for you. This is possibly one reason I don’t have nieces and nephews clamoring to be my heir. That, or I haven’t advertised the vacancy too well.

I love the stuff I find when I go digging though. For instance, I found the spare battery to the Hubs’ camera. Knew it had to be around here somewhere. And good news, I don’t have to re-order one of my prescriptions like I thought. Some of the finds are of more recent origin, like the killer earrings the Hubs got me for Christmas. I like both pair so well that I haven’t been able to put them away yet. And I found some of the stuff I had in mind for an online present exchange of handmade gifts that I’m participating in; and nope, I’m still not gonna tell what I’m making. And the hippo came up.

But that’s not as interesting as the stuff some of you folks are interested in. One of the Facebook games is to look to the thing immediately to your left and list it here. I don’t usually do that because the thing to my immediate left could be a cat or … well, it doesn’t really matter. I just don’t usually do that. But I thought I’d share a few fun things I unearthed today in the spirit of archaeology beginning at home, in no particular order.

A word of caution here: I don’t review stuff. I thought I did once and got a review copy of a nice book, listed here, for a review and realized something about me that I didn’t know before. I have some kind of moral aversion to giving reviews about things too similar to things I have created myself, so I don’t review decks or books on Tarot or Lenormand. I may add some of my personal notes about them, but in no way would my comments be considered a review. Show and tell, yes; review, no. If you are interested in more information about these, though, you can click on them for links. None of this is for sale from me.

• Pepi Valderrama’s Alice in Wonderland Vintage Petit Lenormand. Cute little collage deck that I have read with from time to time. There’s something about playing croquet with flamingos that has always felt a little creepy to me, but that in no way reflects on Pepi’s deck!

Britta’s Wahrsagekarten, a Lenormand-style oracle deck with instructions in German. I really like the fox card in this deck because he looks so inquisitive. The plastic box is handy because I hate losing cards.

• Melissa Hill’s Postmark Lenormand. I like this one but I expected to like this one. It kind of goes with my love of postcards. Melissa does a cool thing with these in that her tin boxes (thank you, again, for a box) have one of the cards glued onto it. That personalizes things for me. I have #17 The Stork which can mean “things to come” or transformation. There’s something about having the Stork that works for me, especially with this deck.

• Nice! I found one of Judy Nathan’s handmade deck cases. She usually has had her lovely items for sale at Readers Studio, often made from silky materials recycled from exotic costumes and her cases are one of a kind and reasonably priced. If you’re going to Reader’s Studio, you should look for them at her table of bags and bracelets; if you aren’t, lick your wounds and try to find her on Facebook.

• A junker Aquarian Tarot with the Star missing. I bought it that way, knowing it was incomplete, but I thought it would make a wonderful guilt-free decoupage or other craft project. I wouldn’t want to kill a complete deck, even if I have, what, 10 copies, right? But this poor orphan was dirt cheap due to its missing card and just calling my name, the ghost of some craft project in the future. It’s also proof positive that having a case like Judy’s or someone else’s is a good thing.

• Oooo, now here’s a treasure: My Mary-El Limited Edition, number 11/250. My LE is made of the majors and 4 Aces because at the time, that’s as far as Marie had gotten. I really recommend buying the delicious complete Mary-El Tarot. Dude, that raven with the eyes!

• The Z. Lismon Etteila Type II, Re-done and Re-issued by Molly Kahn. I haven’t played with this one much but I loved the look of it with its French names along the sides. It's available through Gamecrafters; the link I provided is a review of it with photos.

• The Travel Tarot Game tied up with a baby blue ribbon, handmade by the adorable and fun Jude Alexander. No, folks, it’s not an app! It’s analog! I’ve played The Tarot Game with Jude and some other Tarot buds and it was insightful and fun. This is not Tarocchi but a board game created by Jude.

Kirsten Weiss’ The Alchemical Detective, book two in her Riga Hayworth mystery series. Kirsten is cool, period. I want more Riga.

• Anna Burroughs Cook’s Tarot Dynamics Unleashed. It’s Anna’s approach to learning Tarot and uses the Lo Scarabeo Rider Waite Smith black and white illustrations. One thing I found fun was the discussion of Fallen Cards, which, since I’m in the middle of reading a mystery novel featuring Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud’s visit to the United States, has a certain “soiled dove” feeling for me right now. Anna also includes a section on what cards represent where the Moon falls in your birth chart in astrology; and foodles, but mine is the 8 of Swords.

• My Precious (said with a Lord of the Rings voiceover) working copy of The Cirque de Whimsy Tarot by Carol Hartman Devall. I have other copies. My precious. I love Carol’s art and her deck. Someday I hope to drag her out of Nebraska to Readers Studio or SF BATS.

Robyn-Tisch Hollister’s Crow Stones in blue on white. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own junk oracle with stuff from your dresser drawers and your friends’ kids choking hazards, one of these might suit you. They are less to study than runes but have a few things to tell!

• I must have been in a crow mood (puh-leeze do not speak of the SuperBowl; I’m still in mourning) last year but I could not resist Debra Klopp-Kersey’s Crow Tarot, #13 of 250. I love these hand-crafted decks with great art and a unique and personal perspective. Debra makes these a-MAZ-ing dolls and creatures in her Cumberland Falls Arts line.

• Lo Scarabeo’s Universal Transparent Tarot. Used it once. Got confused. Not sure if I could read with it. Pretty sure the problem is me.

• Monica L. Knighton’s Stolen Child Tarot. Monica put my favorite little yellow warbler in the Sun card and included a custom pendant with my Sun card on it. Monica’s art is breath-taking.

• And finally, my workhorse Rider Waite Smith of fairly recent origin and unremarkable characteristic, except the case is a delightful red knit by none other than Mary Greer!

Well, that was a long list! And my desk is still not cleaned off! Well, there’s always next week.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beauty Treatment

A friend of mine did not feel beautiful. In fact, she sounded like she felt she was losing the Shrek-alike contest. She’s struggling with weight, health and exercise along with the usual skin, hair and fashion maintenance that most of the women I know have. I felt bad for her. I struggle with all those things, too. The worst part was that she did not feel beautiful.

That’s really the trick for women and beauty, though. Your sweetie can tell you that you look fine, just fine, or even beautiful, gorgeous, fabulous, bright, anything at all and if you don’t believe it, it falls into the category of feeble attempt.

What does beautiful feel like?
I ask because it’s something women want to feel, not just my friend, but lots of women. Sure, we talk about letting go of the well-sold market gap that is the vast gulf between what we see in the mirror and famous beauties. Nope, I look at the mirror and mutter, I don’t look like Nicole Kidman or Ann Hathaway, unless you count the two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth thing. That generally means I look like George Burns or Lyle Lovett, too, so it’s not enough.

We talk about letting inner beauty glow through to make us beautiful. It seems like a consolation prize answer, like being known for your good sense of humor instead.

I look back at my pictures from high school, not too often, thank goodness, and remember that I thought I was fat, awkward, uncoordinated and unattractive at the time. I especially love the contrast between this feeling and the photo they took for the yearbook for the gym class student leaders. I’m on the gym floor at the bottom of the group of lovelies, doing the splits, just because I could, and smiling with momentary confidence.

That was it really. It wasn't about feeling beautiful. It was feeling confident. It was the absence of need for reassurance. It was feeling “enough” whatever that meant. I was just a kid, awkward like anyone else. I was too big on top and perennially embarrassed to be looked at. The boys my age usually addressed my chest when talking to me, if they talked to me. I remember while posing for the picture that they’d better hurry up before I died smiling and split. I didn’t think about feeling beautiful or not. I love that picture.

Later, in my twenties I lost weight, really lost weight. I got down to a svelte size 2. I bought clothes. I looked fabulous and I knew it. It was one of the unhappiest times of my life. I had filed for divorce after two years of insomnia and complete loss of appetite. I had moved out and was grateful that I could pay my own bills with my job. Suddenly, men who never paid the least bit of attention to anything I said were hanging on my every word, apparently hoping to hang onto more. I was heartsick at the concept and shallowness of beauty. Suddenly, I was an object of beauty, just as foreign and dehumanized as I had been when I had been an invisible heavy person. This may have been feeling vengeful but it wasn’t feeling beautiful.

I have pictures of me from that time too. Objectively, for me, it was the pinnacle of my own beauty compared to the cultural standard. I love looking at those pictures too but I’m well-aware that I was unhappy, self-destructive to the point of addictive behavior, although thankfully it wasn’t alcohol or drugs. I was addicted to risky behavior, to thrill-seeking, to saying things just to provoke responses from others. It was the interpersonal equivalent of cutting myself just to see what I felt.

One of the people who worked with me years later saw one of the pictures of me in my “man-eater” phase.

“You were a beautiful woman,” she cried in outrage in her best Ukrainian-accented English. “What happened? Why did you let yourself go?”

My teammates shifted in discomfort at the rude but honest question. My co-worker stood waiting for an answer, unaware of the social faux pas or ignoring it out of honest curiosity.

“Insulation,” I smiled cryptically, giving the most honest answer there was. I had figured out how to feel beautiful.

I just got back from giving a friend a pedicure. I'm not very good at it. But the doctors don't give her very long to live. We soaked her feet, did a sea salt scrub, then had a foot and hand massage with some organic herb cream, then remove the old polish, emery board to short and straight the way she likes them and finally nice new polish. I talked about family and work and other everyday stuff; she mouthed her answers because the tracheotomy doesn't allow her to vocalize any more. When we were done, she wrote me a note on a piece of paper towel, "What a nice journey, Marcia".

In Tarot, the Queen of Cups is the queen of love. She is receptive mature energy reflecting the essence of love and spirit. We so often equate love and beauty, that we often mistake one for the other. To be beautiful is to be loved; to be loved is to be beautiful. The Queen of Cups understands that the real beauty is in love itself and love can only be truly enjoyed if given away. In her worst view, she is a drama queen, demanding adoration and attention from all, insatiably and eternally empty, a black hole into which many can sink all their affection and regard and find, to their dismay, that it’s never enough. At her best, she knows that to be the queen of hearts, she must give love. Otherwise, she will be an empty cup, never full, never enough, never feeling right about herself.

If you can find someone to give even the simplest of things to, even an inexpert beauty treatment but most importantly your time, I guarantee you will feel beautiful. I do.

Best wishes.


PS -- This just in! Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady, just posted her Talkin' Tarot column, talkin' with me! Thanks!!