Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Monday promised to be a hot day with only a little breeze. My set up for reading at the Antiques & Art Faire was quick and easy. I had remembered to bring my new patchwork quilt table cloth made by my friend Rosie, my box of tissues, even my sunscreen. Instead of dressing in antique costume, I had chosen one of my favorite tie-dye t-shirt dresses, something simple, cool and colorful for the day.

My husband disappeared in the crowd on a mission of breakfast mercy and returned with Peets coffee, a donut, a bag of ice, two bottles of water and some carrots. We agreed on an end time and he left to see his cousins who live in the same town.

I looked at the roofline of the museum under whose eaves I had set my table. I judged the unrelenting sun to encroach on my comfort at about noon. I was scheduled to read until 3 pm. I had a while to adjust for comfort. I shuffled my cards, Robert Place’s 4th edition of The Alchemical Tarot. They had seemed perfect for an outdoor antiques show when I had packed my things earlier in the morning. I spread them out into an arc and pulled a few out to show examples. I dug in my purse to get an old Carreras Dondorf Lenormand from 1926, part of my collection but also the deck I had determined to read with if Lenormand felt right. I remembered I still had a tiny crystal ball in my purse from BATS, one with an inclusion that would flash an inner rainbow in the right light at the right angle. I set it on its stand on my orange and purple patchwork. I sipped my coffee. I was ready.

It started slowly. One woman toyed with the idea, tracing the edge of the table with her eyes, at the edge of decision. She sat down casually, or tried to. There was nothing casual about it. Her reading was one of the most poignant of the year. I was riveted, understanding her question, including the unspoken one. On the surface, she asked casually, “What about work?”

It was not her question really, but some topics must be approached carefully. She wanted to give nothing away. So many clients are like that, smart people who do not want to be fools. I don’t mind. I see them do it. I understand. I read the cards. We talked about pulling in from giving so much energy away, the habit of teaching being so automatic, but the need now being to make the best use of resources. Of time. Time with family. I ached for her fears. I asked if they had suggested surgery; she would find out soon.

My table was set near the steps to the restrooms and I was very good as informal ambassador, pointing the desperate up the stairs, smiling as they returned relieved, repeating the schedule for the antique appraisal booth and the museum, taking custody of a purple-cased smartphone left in the restroom. So soon the wide-eyed owner, breathless, came to find it and was overjoyed at the reunion.

Soon, several others stopped and business picked up. The sun rose high in the sky and I hugged the wall for the last bit of shade and read for several other people. My husband surprised me with a sandwich and I hadn’t realized he was still around—excellent timing!

Just after I downed my lunch, one of the men doing appraisals came to me with another phone, black rubberized case this time.

“A man’s,” I thought, then remembered that my own work phone had some commando-black case on it so perhaps not. I waited for the frantic owner, the glad reunion. The sun drove me to the edge of the wall. I would have to move soon or burn. I started to worry about the phone and its owner. I pressed the button, just to see if it had some way to identify the owner.

No password! The phone was completely unprotected. I was shocked. In this time of identity theft, here was an expensive new phone exposed to anyone who might pick it up. I looked for the information that might provide the name of the owner. Jackpot! In the contact list was the owner’s name. Not only that, but the owner had put his wife’s numbers, other relative’s numbers and astonishingly his bank account numbers. My jaw dropped. What if someone else had gotten this? I quickly dialed his wife’s cell number, ringing but no answer. 

I asked the organizers if they knew someone by that name. Enough time had passed that I was certain he had left the antique show. Surely he should notice by now. A few minutes later I looked down and saw his wife’s name light up on his phone. Contact! I was too late but called her right back and we connected.

“Hi, this is a little awkward but your husband left his phone at the antique show and I have it.”

She laughed and we had a good chat about lost phones and sudden realizations. He was on his way back to the fair, having left his lunch mid-bite at a nearby restaurant. I asked her permission to give him a good scolding for having his cell phone so completely unprotected and she eagerly agreed.

Moments later he arrived, grinning, sheepish, towed by my friend, the show organizer. It was clear he felt exposed to women in charge of his well-being and was ready to take his punishment.

“Sit down,” I said, using The Voice.

“Oh,” he said. “A Tarot reading?” He was clearly confused.

“No, we are going to sit here and password protect your phone. And your bank account numbers are in your contact list! You’ve worked hard for your money. Why would you want to lose it to carelessness at the hands of someone who isn’t honest like I am?”

We looked at his phone features and decided it was better if his wife set the password.

“When we finish lunch,” he said with pleading eyes, “I’ll have her come to get a reading from you.”

“I’m much more interested in your promise to secure your phone. Pinky swear?”

We crooked our fingers. He brought his wife back at the end of the show and I read her cards, the last of the day.

The Sun finally won and I moved to the shade of the tall sycamore in the parking lot. Some readers think the Sun in Tarot is always a good card, shining its light in the darkest places. But that shining light can represent the unvarnished truth that’s hard to face. It can expose secrets that should be secret and leave you unprotected and burned. The choice is yours.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I knew Saturday was an unusual day but I couldn't put my finger on it. It's like having an itch you can't quite get to or trying to remember who played the blacksmith in the old Gunsmoke TV series (it was Burt Reynolds--I can't let this become a mindworm for you). For one thing, there have been some unusual noises around the house.

My old dresser, a beautiful cherry piece with smooth lines from around 1840, has been making noises. Naturally, I don't notice them until I go to bed because I don't spend that much time in the bedroom (hold your guffaws, please). But on nights when I'm especially agitated, it seems to sound especially loud with creaks and pops as if it too is settling in for a snooze after a long day. I might think it was cooling but it's on the northeast side of the house which tends to be cool anyway and there's seldom a ray of sunshine that hits it.

Then one evening last week, I was pretty sure I heard a whistle in the hallway. It's a very small hallway, about the size of a disappointing closet and right outside the bedroom door. All noses were accounted for, especially those prone to whistling snores and this seemed to just come out of the air. Well, no worries.

Friday night--technically Saturday morning, everyone woke up yelling because somehow the television in the bedroom had come on at 1:32 AM and everyone had been nicely asleep, even Louie. Saturday morning at a reasonable hour I found the TV remote on the headboard above my head and was pleased to conclude I had flung my arm up and unconsciously turned everything on. That was something of a relief.

Creaks, pops and whistles I'm OK with. The occasional phantom cat seen in the living room does not bother me. I'm quite sure that the late Normie, from whose estate we purchased the house, is happy we're here because we were kind to him while he was alive. But the TV thing. That was going to be a little too much like a Ghost Hunters all-nighter. I prefer to find the mundane solution first and I'm confident I did this time.

Still, it left me with a feeling Saturday of not-quite-unease. It was more like expectation, like waiting for a spoon to be nudged off a counter. Nothing big, just...something.

I had a reading with a repeat client midday and hoped that what I said was something they could make good use of. I'd purchased a cup of coffee and drank perhaps a third of it, tossing it on the way to the fabric store to look for something. I wasn't sure what, inspiration maybe. I did find a lovely bargain that was just the thing I had been thinking of for a couple of weeks.

"Do you have your Hancocks card?" the tiny service clerk asked. No, alas, I had lost my keys more than a year ago that had my little shoppers card on it. I gave her my telephone number and returned home with my purchase.

I hung out online a while and was inspired to write something funny, about what an automated answering system would sound like if you called heaven (local call from Ireland, of course).

"Hello, you've reached Heaven. Our options have changed recently so please listen carefully and choose one of the following. For St Anthony Miracles or Lost and Found, please dial 1 and have your credit or debit card ready. For Parking or Barbecue with St Laurence, please dial 2. For hopeless cases and/or casino assistance with St Jude, please dial 3. Cats, dogs and other small animal issues with St Francis or St Martin de Porres, please dial 4. Travelers, please be advised that St Christopher is no longer taking referrals. Please dial 5 and a saint will help you. Wait times maybe up to 30 minutes, so reservations and donations are recommended. If you just need someone to talk to, St Joan of Arc and Mother Theresa have limited hours. For more information, please dial 6...just one 6, please. All other questions, please dial 0. Have a wonderful life."

A couple of chats and a quick reading for a friend later, and I was still trying to figure out what the unease was. I made dinner plans for Sunday night, checked messages in email and social media.

What?? What was it? Had I forgotten something? In Lenormand, the Book represents a secret or mystery if not a literal book. One end is closed and can't be opened. The other end might be opened but in Lenormand is usually closed because it represents information not yet available, something hidden. For me, I couldn't even tell what was hidden, let alone where it was.

I paused in my marathon of Midsomer Murders, sent a note to Mary K. Greer about an episode with a Tarot reading in it since Mary "collects" representations of Tarot in art, film, etc. At least it was a Swiss 1JJ deck in a Celtic Cross, even if (bring up strains of "Danse Macabre") the final outcome card was Death. I groaned at the cliche. It's a murder mystery, after all. And I decided to change into my "soft clothes" for the evening and went to the bedroom with the sometimes-noisy dresser to root for a t-shirt and sweats.

Something fell on the floor with a crash. I looked down and saw keys. At first they didn't make sense to me. These weren't my everyday keys I use with a red and blue Snoopy-on-his-doghouse housekey and a couple of dangling plastic seashells, something big and obnoxious enough to find in the deep bucket of my purse. No, these were Other Keys. Those keys. I bent to pick them up, filled with curiosity and the culmination of the strangeness of the day.

These were my keys from a year and a half ago, finally slipped from the pocket of a blue denim jacket where they had slept all this time. I picked them up as if they were a baby bird. Were they even real? There was the Hancocks tag and a couple others, the leather tab with The Hanged Man tooled into it, the keys, the electronic fobs I was afraid were in someone else's hands or smashed in a landfill.

"My keys," I said stupidly. What was lost was found. Well, no need to call Heaven after all, I thought.

Book + Key is the Answered Question, the Solved Mystery, the Secret Revealed.

Now I have to figure out if they went through the wash and ruined the electronic fobs. I think in Lenormand as well as physics, everything has to be somewhere.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

BATS Post BATS 2015

Perhaps my favorite SF BATS yet, this past weekend was a blast of fun, Tarot, Lenormand, scholarship, collecting and meeting new and old friends! SF BATS is the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium, the annual event organized and executed by one-woman show Thalassa Therese and her scurrying minions of the Daughters of Divination.

Some of my dear favorites were not able to attend this year (You Know Who You Are) but those who attended were richly rewarded with serious scholarship in the art of cartomancy and serious fun in the off hours. And I have to say that my loudly-voiced complaint is still my lasting impression: There were just too many good programs to choose from. I was SO annoyed with my inability to be in three places at once to see all of the presenters' classes. If anyone out there has a spell for multiple instances of the same person in three classrooms, I'm looking for it!

Some (not all, by any means) highlights:

  • Carole Pierce's study of Virginia Woolf's surreal story "The Watchtower" and how many of the images feel much like a spread of Tarot cards. I have not studied Woolf closely in the past, so this was just like a welcome home to my original college degree in literature.
  • Newcomer Benebel Wen broke down just a few of the Asian written words for Fortune Telling and Divination with a look to the origins of those words as clues to their differences in meaning in Eastern culture. How wonderful to have this fresh look from a knowledgeable source! Catch her book on Amazon if you have not already.
  • The always intriguing Carrie Paris shared her new project which will become the Relative Oracle, sharing old family photos for an audience participation exercise in psychometry. It was a mesmerizing exercise, stimulating for the class participants and validating for Carrie. I couldn't help but catch up with Carrie after class to talk about the photo I had randomly selected from the pile. "Carrie, I had the most interesting experience! My photo was a man standing next to a little girl who was riding a mule. I couldn't get anything at all from the girl, but had all sorts of information about the man, including the message that he wished he hadn't smoked so much." Carrie laughed and told me that she wondered who would get that picture. Our instructions were to get impressions of people from the Other Side. My photo, as it turns out, was of Carrie's own grandfather (now deceased) and of her mother who is still alive. I passed the test! I can't wait for more from the delightful Carrie!
  • Mary K. Greer's discussion of Jung was great fun with slides from ancient alchemical texts juxtaposed with Tarot cards and Myers-Briggs personality typing tying in. Mary's work is always fascinating to me. When she earlier presented a choice to the SF BATS attendees between the Jung presentation and a dissection of the historical meanings of the Lovers card I was sorely torn! Why not both?? But of course, there was so little time and there are so many interesting topics. I'm holding out for a future class on the Lovers in History.
  • Rana George had a fun audience-participation Lenormand game to make us stay with that all-important question that is asked when answering using three cards. Her jumbo-size cards are from her new deck coming soon, so stay tuned! Rana threatened to be "mean" to us, but that quickly went by the wayside since "mean" is just not Rana's wheelhouse!
  • My own class on the Lenormand Grand Tableau was well-attended (so grateful for that!) and was a hands-on exercise with the participants setting out their cards and looking for the major landmarks in their own spread. Naturally the worst part for me was keeping the class to an hour because...well...I talk! Class members were asked to work through their readings with the tools they had (handouts handy) in a safe space. I was at least able to reassure good friends Don and Sue that the kids had not burned the house down while they were away since the clouds and scythe were nowhere near the house.
  • With all the follow up questions from my own class in the hallway, I barely made it to the very end of Kristine Gorman's class on a new spread Shaking the Tree. I was so disappointed! Lucky for me that we carpooled on the way home and she kept me entertained and awake by going through her class with my very own personalized class in the car. It's an insightful spread, great for a Tarot reader who gets "stuck" when reading for themselves. Happily all my A-HA!! moments were from the spread and Bay Area traffic conditions were ideal.
  • Vendor Market: I was on a budget this time or I think I would have bought at least one of everything. The vendors were excellent this year: my friend Beth Seilonen with her handcrafted decks and boards, plus: vendors of jewelry, tea, spices, crystals, pillowcases, books, decks, tiaras, boxes and the Millard Fillmore Memorial Garage Sale where bargains galore are snatched up by the clever early birds (that's Birds+Sun+Fox for you Lenormand students).
  • Donations throughout the conference went to worthy causes including the SF BATS traditional donation to bat conservancy in nature and finding a cure to white nose disease. Bats are key pollinators and bug-eaters around the world and do not get tangled in your hair! But another important cause was also highlighted this year. Tarot's bright light, Rachel Pollack, is now in remission from Hodgkins' lymphoma and while still taking treatments has a GoFundMe site to help keep her going through this ordeal. The generosity of the Tarot community was evident in the huge number of delicious drawing prizes. Rachel, get well soon and come back to SF BATS!
  • Finally, one of my favorite activities at SF BATS is something not specifically on the program. It's meeting with all of the brilliant attendees and vendors, veterans and newbies, where we can sit down and laugh and talk seriously about readings, decks, spooky experiences, projects, family and plans. I love my SF BATS family! And this year I had the pleasure of meeting Marieke, Benebel, Richard, Nora and Yolanda for a little extra conversation and connection. I was thrilled to see Bonnie Cehovet at SF BATS for the first time, a respected name in the Tarot community and valued reviewer of books and decks. I was gratified at the partnership between SF BATS and NWTS organizers Jay and Jadzia DeForest of Devera Publishing. From my "old-Bies" and "newbies", I felt the love and I send it right back atcha with big Aunt Marplot hugs and a reading from an obscure Sacred Text from 1971, Ace of Cups style, spilling all over your good outfit, drowning your snackplate and dripping on your shoes! Let's do it again--soon! Now, where's that cup of tea?

Best wishes!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fresh Ink

I took the plunge Sunday and got a tattoo, fresh ink. I was nervous about it, I'll admit. I couldn't tell The Hubs about it until after I had come home. I don't know why. I didn't want to talk about it before I had it.

It reminds me of more than 10 years ago when I was a manager of programmers in San Francisco. I had a great team of programmers, most of whom had come to the USA from the former Soviet Union. They had tested me in the first few weeks, passed me then told me that they wanted to find out if their new boss was fair. I was honored to have passed. I wanted to be a fair boss, not one of those dreadful nightmare managers who get some workplace equivalent of a Darwin Award for Boss Awfulness. I've had those bosses and knew I didn't want to be one. I couldn't make up for all those dreadful bosses, but I could try to be a good one.

One of my programmers was a tall young man who spoke very little, very precisely and was known to be an excellent technician. There was some speculation that he was arrogant, but I thought he was a combination of self-confident, truly talented and introverted, making him something of a cipher to the chatty managers and administrative staff. I learned quickly that he was reliable and quick, things a manager grows to like in computer programmers. I trusted him and perhaps more importantly I learned to let him be an introvert and not to try to bombard him with my extroverted chit-chat that other extroverts know means, "I LOVE talking to you and being your friend!!" but introverts tolerate, barely, with polite scorn.

One day The Strong Silent Type came into my office and said he wanted to talk. Very uncharacteristic, I marveled, and cleared my desk and mind to prepare for his message.

He told me that he was going to need to take a couple of weeks of vacation very soon but he did not know the exact dates. I checked the schedules for the team and while I was checking, he went on to say that he must have this time off.

I looked at him a moment and said, "Well, yes, of course." And I waited.

He shifted uncomfortably in his chair and made the rare eye contact.

"My wife," he started and stopped. "My...we are having a baby." He smiled a rare smile.

"Oh, wow! This is fantastic! This is fabulous!" I bubbled. "It's our first team baby! Can we have a baby shower for you? What do you need? Do you know if it's a boy or a girl? Do you have names? This is so exciting."

He drew back, horrified, blanched and set his jaw.


"No?" I stopped short and resumed being a "safe" extrovert.

"No. My wife...," he studied the top of my desk for inspiration in the wood grain. "We do not talk about the baby before it is born."

"No?" I repeated, sure I was in too deep culturally or something.

"No," he sighed. "It is...what? Bad luck to talk about baby before it is born."

"Oh." Well, of course. I mean it was their first baby, my first team baby, a tense situation and all. My Aunt Manager visions of fashionable baby clothes and adorable stuffed toys started to fade in the distance.

"Well, then," Marcia Manager resumed her dignity, "you'll tell me when you need to go?"

"Yes. Thank you."

The baby was born and we had a shower after the happy event when everyone was comfortable talking about the Little Darling, safe arrival assured. I checked with my female team members to find out if this were a common thing, not talking about the baby before it's born.

"Oh, no!" They laughed out loud, their teammate safely on Daddy leave. "His wife is just nervous."

I thought of that time when I was about to get my tattoo and realized I was nervous like my programmer's wife. I didn't want to talk about the tattoo until it was "born." The tattoo represents a lot of things, the way we cling to life and fight with it at the same time, the nature of love-hate relationships with just about anything or anyone, my DNA recently confirmed by a well-known genealogy website, and even the 2 of Wands. The 2 of Wands is the comparison between what we have and what may be. It is the process of learning and the need to embrace new things in addition to what we already have. It's a forward-looking card that expects that the future has possibilities, the past has lessons and the present is a tender moment that may tilt the universe one way or another depending on our choices.

I want to thank my tattoo artist Shotsie Gorman, who is a famous tattoo artist (and I admit I am ignorant of such things). I want to thank my dear friend Kristine Gorman, his wife and excellent Tarot reader for talking to me while I was mid-tat. Together, they have the T.A.T. Gallery in Sonoma, California, with beautiful works of art to sell besides Fresh Ink. Check it out, seriously.

And there are just two--two--places left available for you to make a last-minute decision to attend this year's SF BATS, the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium, where the 2 of Wands will be very busy. Kristine will be teaching a class on Tarot and I will be teaching a class on Lenormand. Click on the link and expand your world!

Best wishes!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Pen

I’ve seen talk lately (I interrupt this moment to reflect that my synesthesia is apparently in play). Starting again, I’ve seen talk lately that schools are considering bringing back handwriting as a subject for students. How remarkable, I think, my wonder betraying my age, again. I’m in favor of it. 

I would hate to see such an intimate form of expression become lost among the ashes of the Library of Alexandria. No matter how much healthy self-esteem we want to instill in our youngsters, sadly not all of them can or should become doctors whose handwriting cannot be read.

As wedded to the concept of crayons as I was with their 64 or more colors, writing was always the skill of power when I was a child. Could you? Your name first, then other words appeared. Did your d’s point the right way or were they b’s instead? Did you run out of room on the line? And you learn to judge space rather than have a machine automagically pop the last word over to the next line. Did you stay within the lines, the two solid lines for the biggest letters and the dotted line in the middle for the shorter letters? Did you hold your pencil correctly, the extension of the point of your dominant hand, meant to be the focus of your conscious self, the mind within?

I went to Catholic school starting my second grade year. We used pens and learned cursive writing years before our public school friends. We had Sheaffer cartridge pens to learn to write correctly. My brother became fond of Peacock Blue ink and even dyed a strip of my long blonde hair with it one afternoon while I nattered on unawares, far ahead of fashion. My brother struggled with left-handedness. I had the scribe’s ink-stained callus on my middle finger. We followed the guides and practiced curling letters over and over.

Mom offered encouragement, showing us antique pens, explaining the “Palmer Method” she had learned, an artistry of loops and whorls that, practiced over and over, became the exquisite “perfect handwriting” I identify with her generation. Her signature was perfectly readable, stopping just short of calligraphy with no extra flourishes but possessing an authority, dignity, femininity, artistic motion and unassailable finality and gravity that putting one’s signature to a document was supposed to have. I was awestruck by her handwriting.

My father’s showed the vestiges of the Palmer Method, but with the architect’s angular precision and confident ego, much like an artist’s signature in red at the bottom of an important painting. His signature betrayed his personality as much as my mother’s, attention-getting, bravado, bragging, essential, aggressive, visionary, the signature of the View of the World As It Should Be.

I began to realize that signatures and writing were such an intimate expression of personality as to be like a fingerprint of the soul, the revelation of the mind of the one who wrote it, as much as we see those signatures on the Declaration of Independence.

What would my signature be? Who was the soul within? These are weighty topics, especially by the time I reached third grade. That year, I decided to explore my inner self in my handwriting and especially signature. I went experimental. This was frowned on by my teacher, young Miss O’Brien, the “lay teacher” with bouncy black hair and blue eyes who wore sneakers to work in spite of the strict dress code. I received the only C on my report card ever. It was clear that artistic experimentation with expressing my identity was something I needed to do on my own time. I gave up and returned to conformity, so often the result when the values of achievement and responsibility dominate.

By junior high school, handwriting was no longer a subject taught and I began to find my own voice in a signature, readable at least but neither my mother’s perfection nor my father’s ego. One weekend around the kitchen table, we were looking at my parents’ high school yearbook. They were in the same high school class in Kansas, my grandfather was on the School Board, my father looking like he should wear a beanie and have tea with the faculty, my mother looking like she would have been Goth if Goth were a thing in 1929. I marveled at the lovely awkwardness, how they all looked older somehow than teens in the 70’s and yet more innocent of the world at the same time.

I saw a signature on the margin of the yearbook and showed it to my mother saying, “I don’t remember seeing this yearbook before, but look! I’ve written Daddy’s name here in the margin.” It was the most curious thing.

She leaned toward me at the large round table and adjusted the glasses on her nose, then smiled.

“You didn’t write that. That’s your grandfather’s signature.”

I was stunned. I had posited that signatures expressed the personality of the person. Now I had mistaken the signature of the grandfather I never knew for my own. A million possibilities flooded my head. This was Hal, Sr. not my dad. And would that mean that his personality was more like my own? He had committed suicide just a few years later, a family mystery full of shame and scandal. Was that…me? My life? My possibility? Did we inherit the signature patterns of our ancestors the same way a grandchild will have his grandfather’s walk or laugh or gesture?

The Ace of Wands in Tarot is the new project, the inspiration, the intuition, the fire in the belly, the life force. It is also commonly interpreted as the pen for writers, for who would pick up a stick and poke it into a dark and wet substance, then guide that pigment to form the translation of human thought? Who would contrive such a wonder but humanity?

That signature in the yearbook started many things for me. I was inspired to know my relatives, including the ones long dead, as people. I was struck by the connection, beyond the boundaries of physical space and across time, between people who never knew each other in life. It was not long after that that I experienced a ghostly visitation from my grandfather with his love, sadness, and assurance that while we had much in common, I need not choose the path he took. For all our commonalities, we were individuals, as unique as life itself.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I was talking with a friend yesterday who mentioned that she was tempted to go on a media "blackout" just to get a break from the negativity in the world. Even well-meaning friends who are working to make things better by tackling a difficult issue and trying to drum up support can be overwhelming sometimes. Sensitive/empathic/receptive people need a break from so much input.

Off-Center Lenormand (out of print)
(c) Copyright 2012 Marcia McCord
When you make that empathic knack one of your means of income, you need to protect yourself from working full time, just like any other occupation. Being "out there" in a community doesn't mean "The Reader Is In" sign is always up.

Back in April, someone contacted me privately, initiating the conversation for a reading, a free reading as it turns out. We had never spoken privately before.

The Querent: Hi, do you might just pulling Some cards for me please
Me: Hi actually I read cards as a business. Did you want a reading?
The Querent: I just wanted to ask a question (smile emoticon)
Me: That's often what a reading is.
The Querent: Okey im sorry
Me: No problem. You might see if one of the FB groups has someone doing free readings or exchanges.
The Querent: Where can i find it
Me: You can search for groups with tarot in the title

I had hoped the person had found good advice and learned more about reading cards.

Interestingly the topic from the same person cropped up again in a more public way this week.

The Querant: I don't understand how some people can be full of sh** and fake and bitter and disgusting all the time !! AROUND THE CLOCK go **** yourselves
The Querant:  some people here are so disgusting, they realy are.. allways beeing negative, if you ask them something they bite ur nose off !!! no seprect, you ask them if they can pull some cards for you and they say no bcause they are proffesionals, yet they are on learning grouops all the time, i dunno but don't they have clients to keep themselves busy with?? if ur a pro like you claim you are *** off from the groups then we can see who the real students are.. i hate people like that !! so disgusting !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: A girl walks into a restaurant with kind intentions and asks for a free meal. She is turned away because the restaurant is a business. She is given directions to the free Soup Kitchen where volunteers help people who need a meal get a good one. She sees the owner of the restaurant helping at the Soup Kitchen. She is angry because she does not like having been turned away only to see the owner volunteer. What is the difference?
  The owner volunteered their time and resources for walk-ins at the Soup Kitchen for a certain amount of time and a certain amount of food. But the owner still runs a business and in the restaurant must charge money to pay expenses, even the "expense" of volunteering at the Soup Kitchen. 
  Is the food better at the restaurant? Maybe or maybe not. But everyone at the Soup Kitchen understands the meal is free there for those in need, just like the people who go to the restaurant expect to pay. 
  Is the owner a mean person?
Another FB Member: If a professional reader joins a group of beginner readers, then turns someone down because they're "professional" and don't want to read for free, that's the same as the restaurant owner volunteering at the soup kitchen, and then turning the girl away because he's an owner and too good to serve others. If they don't want to help people then get out. I think that's what she's saying, if I understood her correctly.
Me: The difference is the venue. The client approaches the professional reader in a venue other than the learning group and asks for a free reading. Instead they might have done better to state the question in a posting in that group, pull cards, offer their interpretation, then request that others in the group assist. That's how learning groups work.
The Querent: Thats bullshit
The Querent:  I asked paris [Australian reader Paris Debono] plenty of times for a Reading and he did it And posted in the groupe without bitchig About it.
Me: Here is your reading. Ship+Whip+Man. It looks like you prefer the readings from the man from far away that you've talked to before. That's the energy you seek. Best wishes.

I kept looking at the cards I drew for The Querent and more and more I connected to what my experience of this person is and my advice from the cards.

One of the big topics in the news today has to do with consent. Just because a woman wears a dress or makeup or visits a public place like a bar or a mall or a movie, it doesn't mean she is giving consent to strangers to approach her for her favors. Even if she is single, even if she is looking for a special person or even just a friend, she isn't saying her favors are free to take without her consent.

Similarly, even professional readers learn from the efforts of beginners, get refreshed by stimulating conversations about reading cards and like to contribute. I'm always so encouraged to see people starting out and growing in their understanding of Tarot and Lenormand. I think of myself as a perennial student. I also read cards professionally by appointment only. And, I even do free readings sometimes when I'm up for that. For instance, normally on Halloween, I set my tent up in my driveway and give free readings to the parents of the children who come by for candy.

A Tarot or Lenormand learning forum is a place where newbies need to at least make an attempt at reading for themselves (even if they are certain they lack insight in their own readings) and then ask for help. The help may be in a better-formed question or the help may be with insight to the cards themselves or something more mechanical.

The insight I gained from this exchange was that this person actually just wants free readings and apparently has tapped well-known readers for this service in the past. I don't say that's necessarily a bad thing if the reader consents.

But if the reader doesn't consent, it's a lot like disappointed unsuccessful sexual assaulters who complain that their unwilling partner is "frigid" or "a bitch" because they won't comply. Ship+Whip+Man can actually be the "sexually predatory foreigner"  or the "repeat-offending traveller" or even a simple "Go On With Your Bad Self."

Readings must be consensual, by both the reader and the person being read. That's why we have ethics like not reading to spy on a third person, not reading for children--who cannot legally give consent--without a parent's permission, and not revealing very personal details outside the boundaries of the reading. The truth, which may shock some, is that readers are not obligated to give a reading if they don't consent. If they are kind, they will show The Querent where they might find such a free service and wish them well.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hot Night Cool Dinner

Some summers here are a steady high of 67 degrees F all summer. Not this summer though. Right now the remnant of a hurricane is soaking southern California. Why, even a baseball game was rained out! Unheard of! Here in northern California, which often seems like a completely different state from southern California, we’re getting heat and humidity. This is also almost unheard of.

I even got a case of the heat-related “woozies” today which have at least worn off now that the heat of the day has passed. It did inspire me to follow The Hubs’ suggestions for dinner.

Our friend had given us her roast chicken after having eaten a dainty quarter of it and that became the foundation for a cool dinner on a hot night.

My inner Queen of Pentacles has stirred lately and I have wanted to cook more, get out my Lenormand Grand Tableau embroidery project, pay attention to girly facial products and—gasp!—even clean a little. This feeling passes all too soon but with Venus retrograde, I’m feeling the love in the more traditional domestic arts. Naturally, I’ve got to share, so here are my Hot Night/Cool Dinner recipes, slight variations on old-fashioned favorites.

Curried Chicken Salad
Most of a leftover roasted chicken, cubed
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
20 seedless green grapes, cut in halves
½ C. chopped cashews
½ tsp. sweet pickle relish
1 tsp. Jack Daniels No. 7 horseradish stone-ground mustard
½ tsp. (or more) curry powder (I used Curry-ency I got from The Kitchen Witch)
½ C. Low-fat Miracle Whip (because that’s what I had)

Mix it up. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. I didn’t have any fresh parsley but I really recommend it on the side with this. Makes great sandwiches too.

Fresh Macaroni Salad
One small or ½ large bag of elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
6 eggs, boiled, cooled, and sliced or chopped
1 red pepper, chopped fine
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
½ C. canned sliced black olives
¼ C. sweet pickle relish
¼ C. Jack Daniels No. 7 horseradish stone-ground mustard
1 C. Regular Miracle Whip
1 T. celery seed
1 T. ground white pepper

Mix all together and cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. All amounts approximate!

Serve with ice water, sliced fresh peaches in season, as few clothes as legally possible in the circumstances and a decent baseball game.

Best wishes!

Thursday, July 16, 2015


The Page of Cups learns of love in all its joys and sorrows.

The Knight of Cups seeks his love with hope for all tomorrows.

The Queen of Cups embraces love, delights and mourns the most.

The King of Cups shares his love, from infant unto ghost.

The Ace of Cups says, “There is no I, not here nor above”

The Ace of Swords says, “That is truth. There is no I in love.”

Best wishes!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hold the Phone

There was a sudden noise this afternoon. No, actually it was a sudden lack of noise. I was on my work computer fussing over a problem with a document that stubbornly would not display where it was told to display. I had chased the problem down and frustratingly concluded that I had to try again tomorrow. I paused and my computer screen dimmed. That was odd too. I picked up my house phone and realized it wasn't working. In fact the internet was down. I was about to dial my internet provider and realized with a laugh that it was really the power that was off. A quick check on my cell phone confirmed it might be a couple of hours or so. While I still had batteries on my cell phone I sent a note to my boss.
Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

And for a moment I realized I was out of touch with my workaday world. What little battery life I had left was running out. How odd, I thought, after being so very connected with so many little machines, machines I might have barely missed 20 years ago, I am momentarily "out of touch." What a funny, free feeling. But I was delighted that I had cats, dogs, books, cards, needlework and that spider in the bathroom to occupy me. That's hours of entertainment for my over-active Mercury Mind.

My friend Chea, an astrologer, marveled recently (politely, I might add) at my need for what would likely be entirely too much input for someone else. I agreed with her. Too much was almost enough. I once was faced with an assignment to do just one thing; I couldn't imagine a worse job.

Tracking several things at once feels right to me. I had been keeping an eye on a couple of Tarot threads in Facebook. One of the discussions touched on whether cards could be predictive.

This might astound people who aren't part of my regular crowd of Tarot buddies. How could people who read cards professionally question whether cards could actually be used to look into the future? After all, isn't what what card readers do, tell fortunes, foretell the future?

Seriously, many pro Tarot readers don't believe in predicting the future. What do they read about in the cards? The answer is lots of things. A good interactive session of Tarot can help clarify choices for someone who is struggling with what to do. A deeply spiritual Tarot session can assist a person with dealing with grief or change or just a higher level of consciousness like being present in the moment instead of distracted by past or future anxieties.

One perspective on the future holds that free will and often blind chance muddy the waters of the future so much that those umpteen zillion alternate universes that split off with every decision we make are just too many to pick a future outcome. I respect the people who hold this view. Some of them are my best Tarot friends and good readers. I also hold the other view and do predictive readings. I even agree with the currently-held physics-based concept of the alternate universes at each juncture. Where I disagree with my non-predictive friends is that the ability to sense an outcome is not always so close to a zero percent chance of picking the probable future. True, sometimes it is complete mud.

And then there are those other times.

Another Facebook thread, one from a more famous paranormal investigator/psychic/actor named Chris Fleming asked people if they had ever had a moment of ESP. He went on to specify, Did you ever know something in advance that you had no real way to know?

I thought, Sure. Lots of times. And I flashed back to the 1970s.

No, no, not THAT kind of flashback! I never experimented with hallucinogenics even though they seemed fairly readily available. I always figured my best asset was between my ears with my extreme vanity for my feet coming in a distant second. But flash back, I did.

It was August in the mid-70s when the dream started. It happened over and over. I would pull cards about it, but it was still a mystery to me. The experience in my dream was actually being in the car during the accident. I heard myself scream. Crumbles of glass flew at me as I turned my head over my left shoulder in the direction of impact. The dog jumped in my lap. The car that hit our car was in some way locked in its front end to our driver's side back fender...where the gas cap was. The other car was spinning counter-clockwise in the fog, heavy fog and forcing us off the road, into the ditch. Was it deep? And my ex-husband was fighting to keep the car from rolling, from flipping, from doing anything but stopping just off the road.

And then, there was the quiet. We looked at the car that hit us. In the fog, I could not tell if it was blue or green; I just knew it was big, bigger than the little yellow sportscar my ex drove. We had come to a stop, not flipped, not rolled, at the margin of a cornfield. And my ex walked to the corner of "Cornfield and Cornfield" to call in the accident from the pay phone there.

I had this over and over again all winter. It was always the same. I heard myself scream, I watched the glass fly, the fog, the spinning car, the cornfield and the pay phone. I told my ex about it, assuring him that the car was a bit messed up but we were OK and that that was the message. Don't freak out. We're OK.

He shrugged it off like he did most of my interest in metaphysical studies. He listened, but he shrugged it off.

Winter was over and it was St. Patrick's Day. We had traveled with our little dog Stoney in my ex's treasured yellow sportscar to his parents' home in Wood River, Illinois, partied with his friends and decided it was better to get up early Monday morning on March 17 and get back to Carbondale in time for the ex to go to work.

It was foggy, really foggy near the intersection when we turned South on Highway 4.

"I'm getting that weird feeling again," I said to my ex. "It's like that dream only I'm awake."

"Shut up," he said. "Just shut up" He chewed his fingers, his easy tell that he was nervous, that he had heard me all along.

And just south of Lebanon, Illinois, it happened. We slowed in the fog to let someone turn right when the impact came. The nurse driving the car had just gotten off a long shift at the hospital, we found out later. She had looked up, saw us unexpectedly stopped, slammed on the brakes in the fog-wet pavement and started spinning. I heard myself scream. The dog jumped in my lap. The crumbling glass flew in slow motion towards me as my neck wrenched around to see the big car. We landed in the cornfield. I picked up Stoney's leash and stepped out of the car, knowing he would need to piddle after all that. My ex started screaming.

"My legs are trapped! My legs are trapped!"

I ducked my head back into the open car and smiled at him.

"Unbuckle your seat belt."

As I watched him direct the nurse to move her vehicle out of the road so the accident wouldn't be compounded, then head for the phone booth which was, of course, on the corner behind us, surrounded by cornfields, I thought, We're fine. At least I know how this goes.

Sometimes, like the 8 of Wands, the message just has to get through because transmission started a while back.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Just a brief mention of the Supreme Court ruling that supports marriage for both gay and straight people. It may seem like this represents the end of a long journey and for the decision’s supporters, a happy ending like the 10 of Cups.

In fact, while a tremendous milestone, like all social change, there is still much to do. I realize I may have friends and family who may “unfriend” me because of my belief that joy and love are gifts that are not limited to just a few defined by religions.

Many of those same people want government to stay out of the other rooms of their houses, like the room they keep guns in, the room they keep money in, and the room they express their faith in. They do not want intrusion by strangers into their private lives, yet are keen to intrude on the private lives, the bedrooms of others.

Today I celebrate that I have the freedom to marry the person I love even though some churches or other places of worship may disagree, the freedom to choose my religion even if it is not exactly what someone else would choose for me, the freedom to pursue quiet enjoyment of my life as long as it does no harm to others.

I am an optimist. I recognize that approximately half the population of the world are pessimists. I find pessimism a self-fulfilling prophecy for me. When I expect the worst, the outcome is seldom good. 

But I would no more tell pessimists that they must be optimists because it works for me. It presumes I am 100% right not only for myself but for everyone else. That’s ridiculous. There is evidence that traits like optimism and pessimism are ones people are born with and unless there is significant personality or brain function disruption, people can’t and don’t change. In fact, this polarity of optimism and pessimism isn’t an either-or choice. You might land somewhere in a continuum in the middle.

This is much like sexual orientation.

If a group of people told you that you could not exist the way you are, as a pessimist or a realist or an optimist, you would think they were out of their minds for suggesting you can’t be yourself, even if they cited a religious reason for it that they firmly believed with all sincerity. After all, there are boundaries.

But first people need to recognize the humanity and divinity in each other and the equality that free will gives each person dominion over themselves and no one else. The first boundary to respect is the end of your own scope of control.

Make someone else’s day better as they define it, not as you define it. And if you can’t do that, just quietly leave them alone and feel the kindness in your heart that respecting your fellow human being brings to you, even if you don’t agree. Rainbows really don't come in black and white.

Best wishes.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

High Summer

High summer holds the earth. 
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far
Of shadows on the stars.
     --James Agee, Sure On This Shining Night

It was warm today, warm, not hot. I got up early, not meaning to, but the sunlight would not let me sleep further. I had some plans for the day, a couple of readings and a rare trip shopping. Before then, however, I had to verify some software changes really worked.

It was too early for the software changes. My part of the working weekend was small and I was glad for that. As soon as they called me, I could make sure they worked, make sure the data looked good, make sure the changes didn’t break something else.

I checked up on Alice, a little close inspection just to be sure she was doing better. She is doing much better and seems better than she has in a long time. I think now that the antibiotics she took for her kitty-cat pancreatitis had an overall “sunshine” effect of clearing up just about anything that was ailing her. Further, I think she may have had some kind of low-grade infection for a while. I posted something funny on Facebook because people had been asking how she was doing, imagining that she, like some famous-for-being-famous-for-five-minutes person in too deep and too much in the public eye, woke up from anesthesia certain that she was drugged and given a Brazilian wax. Horrors by light of day!

The Sun in the Tarot is sometimes thought to be good no matter what. Even reversed, for those who read with reversals, the Sun’s positive light shines through just about everything. There’s no dark side of the Sun. Or is there?

The Sun is not welcomed by everyone. One of my classmates in high school had a skin condition that gave her an allergic hives-like reaction when exposed to the sun. That was a tough problem to manage in New Mexico, where sunlight was obscured more often by dust storms than rain storms. If the Sun came up in a reading for her, would it be good? Would it mean hide? Cover up? Set her life by the opposite of most of society and become safely nocturnal?

The Sun is good news and bad news for amateur photographers too. When the Sun is high in the sky, the breath-taking views of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim are washed out glare, dust and rocks and a reminder to stay at least your own height in distance from the edge of the cliff. White clouds sail across a light blue sky with little definition. It is hot in the summer there. There are stories of the numbers of people who go over the edge. The dry trees, some dead, some alive gnarl towards the edge of the irregular canyon, and provide one of my favorite experiences, the smell of pinon pine sap.

As the Sun falls low in the sky toward the end of the day, no longer glaring down on all it rules, the canyon’s colors come alive in reds, purples, oranges, blues and yellows with a last hurrah of the coraling curtains of clouds before it rests, and lets all others rest, for another cooling evening. Colors and creatures come out then. Do they flee the Sun, the Sun that brings life and cooks it to dust and ashes?

That evening at the Grand Canyon, the angle of light at Monterey Bay, California, the brilliant sunsets in New Mexico are all made possible by the Sun, the Sun in the right position.

The Sun can expose the truth, bring realization. It can also dazzle and blind, create mirages in the desert or a lonely stretch of blacktop road. It can warm; it can burn. A happy day can turn into a sleepless night of pain.

Is the Sun always good?

A reading like this, the 10 of Swords, The Sun, the 9 of Swords seldom makes a “sunny” message. A betrayal has come to light and is exposed, known, perhaps known to all, and the realization that all illusions are gone, dreams are over and nothing but the real world faces the person betrayed. It’s hard to call this a positive reading. The shadows on the Sun may be the darkest of all.

In a larger sense, though, while a betrayal never feels good, perhaps it may be best to know, to know for certain finally and to wake to a new day even in sorrow so that the Soul may progress on its journey. It may seem like the longest day, but we and the Sun rest and begin again tomorrow.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Public Offering

I’m so glad I’m not a celebrity. I have an inkling every once in a while of what it’s like to be pursued by the wrong person.

In my Tarot life, I originally set up my Facebook account to the settings that make everything public. 

My background in technology has taught me that no matter how personal a conversation you thinking you’re having, if it’s electronic, it’s recorded somewhere and accessible by people other than the one you think you’re talking to. So I originally figured my Tarot life was open, out loud, ordinary, unremarkable or at least amusing.

Recently, some strange things have been showing up in my electronic world so I took advantage of the Facebook settings to limit access somewhat. It’s helped a little but there are still stories to tell.

When I was younger and svelte, I got used to catcalls from construction workers. I thought they were disgusting and stupid but also threatening, that implied threat that men stronger and faster than I am could overpower me if they dared. Oh, I would have put up a fight, no doubt. But the fear, just the fear, that made what should sound like a compliment turn into something menacing was bullying on a level that terrified me, revolted me and basically made all men seem like coarse slime. I hated that feeling. I liked men, still do, so why would they do something so mean? I realized I was an object, not a person in that instance. I didn’t want to be an object.

Then one day while I was in the public library in my unremarkable town in southern Illinois, the police swarmed in and surrounded the young man on the other side of the stacks from me. I had not noticed. The policeman and librarians told me later. He was stalking me. As I hummed happily to myself, savoring books on antique glass and china, looking up marks and dates and manufacturers, researching patterns and processes, then popping over to Agatha Christie, remembering my mother saying she could write a better mystery (she never did), I noticed the Army green jacket through the stacks and thought idly how odd it was that the guy was interested in the books on the other side of the shelves. When the police came and took him away, I was stunned, then shaken, then scared, then reassured. I’d dodged some awful situation and was grateful for others looking out for me.

Cyber-stalking can be much more subtle. Someone can have the account of someone you know or they can friend a bunch of your friends. Then they send you a friend request and you check—briefly—and think even if you don’t recognize the name, the folks in your home town or your Tarot community must be real friends with this person and you might accept their offer.

Most of the time people are just people, not stalkers or creeps. They have good days and bad. They have political opinions you agree with or don’t, take subjects too seriously or not seriously enough, have pet causes that resonate with yours—or not. Most of the time, people are OK.

Then there are people who presume to be innocuous enthusiasts who are actually advanced hackers who are looking for something valuable to them in your world. I don’t “get” why people would do this, but then again I’m too nice. I don’t get why people will threaten each other or feel threatened by someone, why people will hurt animals or feel little regard for nature or other people, why people will persist in sharing negativity and spurn any ideas on how to resolve it. I don’t “get” that. That’s me.

And some people just feed off others’ energy. My friend Fortune says there is a word in Danish, superlomsk. It’s the “creeptastic” feeling you get when being menaced by a vampire only perhaps moreso. Sometimes it’s just love. Sometimes, it’s like the Devil.

Reading in public venues opens me to a wide variety of people and their problems. I’m glad to be able to help in some small way and always emphasize to my clients in public or private readings that they have free will. They can choose their next actions. But I get surprised sometimes, of course.

Recently I had my table up at a public venue. Happily in the shade on a warm midday, I welcomed the brave souls who had never, ever had a Tarot reading before. A few of the readings were upbeat. A few were heavy and deep. As the sun rose high in the weekend sky, I stood to stretch my legs, knocked my cards off my table, laughed and bent to pick them up. I looked up to see a middle-aged man in a polo shirt and khakis walking towards the table, smiling. I quickly scooped up the rest of the fallen cards, then looked up.

He stood in front of my table smiling, looking at me with shark’s eyes, blue irises thin around suddenly wide chasms of pupils. He was an unremarkable man, clean, clean-shaven, medium everything except his close-cropped light-brown hair around his balding hairline.

“Hiiiiiiiii, Marrrrrrrciaaaaaaa.” He looked me up and down and scanned my table. He paused too long. Something wasn’t right.

“Did you want a reading?” I asked, still standing, not wanting to make myself smaller in front of a predator. I smiled too. It was self-defense. I faced him square on.

“I just have one question,” he said, shark eyes never leaving mine as he spoke. “Is there anyone here as pretty as you are?”

A thousand things filled my mind, all the alternate realities based on my response. I assessed the effectiveness and lung capacity should I determine screaming bloody murder at a Farmers Market was the right response. My matching alternate personalities appeared in my mind, only. I reviewed the possibilities:

SmartAss: Still live with your mom, huh?

BabyBoomer: That line didn’t work 30 years ago either.

CompletelySarcastic: Eeek. It’s a man.

PublicOfficial: Move along, sir. There’s nothing to see here.

And a lingering favorite, NinjaPsychic: Back up slowly or I will kill you with my mind.

I resisted all those temptations, understanding that any engagement, positive or negative, was the response he wanted. Whether he was a socially awkward sincere admirer or serial killer or anything in between, the answer was still, No. No way. What part of no…? No, thank you.

I gestured broadly with both arms wide, again increasing apparent size, some lizard-brain reaction from some non-human ancestor.

“Why, look around you! Everyone is pretty here!”

He stepped back, shark-eyes back to blue, hands in pockets and turned away.

I offer my services reading cards for a small fee. I have boundaries. And I like this work. If you want to meet me, strike up a real conversation with me. Leave the lines and the shark-eyes at home.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Rat Lay Dead--A Love Story

I was all set for a quiet weekend and unaccountably I woke up earlier than I expected. A member of the British Royal Family said something about never passing up the opportunity to go to the loo. This applies to young dogs too, so I got Louie up and we walked outside.

It wasn’t really that early. It was just earlier than I meant to get up. But the 3-footed squirrel who resides in my yard was making a real racket. She’s usually pretty quiet and actually rather friendly, considering somewhere along the way she suffered a terrible accident and lost her right front paw. In spite of this injury, she gets around well, leaps from the oak tree to the fence and back, follows the circuit of squirrel path from the oak tree to the magnolia, to the roof, to the magnolia on the side yard to the crepe myrtle, to the side fencing, to the Fuji apple, to the plum tree and back to home base, the oak. The apples, plums and acorns keep her well fed and the birdfeeders invite the Little Creatures of the Yard also.

So that was actually what the racket was about. She pointed out to me and then also to Louie that there was, alas, an issue that I needed to deal with. First, was the matter of Alice the cat who apparently had made a break for it sometime during the nightly trips to the backyard that The Hubs makes with both dogs. He carries the elder statesman Quincy down the stairs since he’s not much on stairs nowadays in either direction. Nobody is as sharp as they might wish at 2:30 or 3:00 am except of course Alice who takes advantage of the boys on their wobbly pegs and inattention, and she easily slipped out the door.

I used to be utterly horrified when Alice would slip out. I’ve had cats killed in the streets because my parents would not allow indoor cats. I’m a staunch indoor cat person. Over time I realize that at least Alice has no intention of leaving the yard and, much better than either of the dogs, comes when she is called.

Alice sat on the low brick wall, the remains of an old summerhouse, under the plum tree. She was entirely too close to Mother Squirrel. And I was instructed to do something about this. Now. 

Neighborhood outdoor cats are much more inclined to climb trees than Alice. Alice prefers her prey to come to her and enjoy taking her heart’s ease in the morning air, with an occasional glance at the squirrel. But she had no intention of climbing a tree.

Second, and as it turned out more inspiring, on Mother Squirrel’s list was, and she did in fact point it out to me, the small dead rat near the patio of the former summerhouse.

“Oh,” sharp as ever in the morning, I mutter, “a rat. Dead, huh?”

Louie nosed the rat and, since I was interested in it, picked it up in his mouth and took a few gamboling dance steps sideways, offering a rousing game of Get the Dead Rat.

“Louie!” I tried to use my Stern Voice. I’m told I’m spectacularly unsuccessful at sounding stern. “Drop it right now!”

Unaccountably, he did.  Without a second thought, I stepped over, picked the unfortunate up by the end of his now cool tail and set him out of doggy range.  This started a chain of creative events that lasted the weekend.

In the quiet of the morning, I began the story with the obituary of one Rat, struck down mysteriously in the prime of rodent life and shared it on Facebook.

It wasn’t clear that Alice was the culprit although she was seen near the deceased when he was found. The Hubs, in defense of Alice, made a good case that it could not have been her since Rat was found in his entirety with just a bit of saliva at his neck and shoulders. After all, Louie had moved the body, and if you’ve ever watched a whodunit you’ll know that will always get suspicions aimed at That Guy.

Fictional CROX NEWS, a station known for making a mountain out of a molehill with the neighborhood fauna, got the exclusive with shots of the major characters in the dramatic investigation. My Facebook friends joined in the investigation with many theories of the crime.
Who killed Rat? His wife, always treated like a princess, or so she claims? As it unfolded, PerpPetual Life, the animal life insurance company wouldn’t confirm that there was a life insurance policy on Rat, but moved quickly to make an appearance at the scene. Was there a drug connection with the New York Sewer Rats who were fast to send their “condolences” on the loss, although Rat himself had made every effort to distinguish himself as a backyard resident of honest, if modest, means. Were Alice and Louie in on it together or was Louie an unwitting dupe? And finally, before charges were filed, Judge Quincy came out of retirement to oversee the moving of the body to the morgue. And what about Baby, a kitten of uncertain loyalties who spoke up early as a character reference, but apparently a reference for the highest bidder?

Alice and Louie were held on suspicion of murder and interrogated relentlessly by cynical local police. A team of special investigators from PerpLife was called in and by the next day the yard was crawling with S. Nail and his teammates. Mr. Nail, who declined to give any particulars about their investigation, gave a brief interview with CROX NEWS but spoke only about his company’s procedures and the Serious Undertaking and Crime Control Specialists (SUCCS) team searching for the facts on behalf of PerpLife. The District Attorney, a shady politician if I ever saw one (thanks to artist Debra Klopp Kersey) came out in support of law and order and justice for Rat and his family.

There was even a break in the broadcast for an ad from the local undertaker, Kelly’s Happy Endings.
In the end, the Coroner, another seeming member of the Good Old Cats Club (thanks to ceramics artist Sharon Boom) pronounced the death a “raticide by person or persons unknown”. The suspects were released and no charges were filed because of insufficient evidence.

Alice was seen reading the tabloids in disgust and is rumored to be considering a cosmetics modeling offer or two. When asked if she is opposed to animal testing, she replied she was not if free samples were available.

Louie was seen with a blunt object that turned out to be a paper towel roll. While it’s unclear whether this is the actual murder weapon, one of the many unknowns in the case, Louie looked very worried when his photo was snapped.

And the investigation continues. But, I have to say, sad as it is that somehow in my very own backyard a small furry creature met his 10 of Swords end, this has to be the most fun I’ve ever had with a dead rat.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


So one of the things they say you’ll probably be able to get away with during a Mercury retrograde is reviewing what you already have rather than getting more or making concrete plans to change.

Now I know. You friends and family are going to ask me, “Seriously, Marcia. You mean you actually let something like the apparent, not even REAL backwards motion of an itty bitty little planet too close to the sun to have an atmosphere determine what you are going to do for something like weeks out of the year??”

Well, no, not exactly. See, I have free will. I can start a trip on an empty tank of gas if I want to. I can hang out under a tall tree in a thunderstorm. I can wear white before Memorial Day. I can, if I want to. But for someone like me, someone who probably packs a little too much into the schedule, having certain times of the year where it’s recommended that you hold back on new things and perhaps take stock of current stuff, maybe let go of technology a little, maybe build in some quiet time or maybe, with gasps from the crowd, throw some things away that no longer serve—great pause for breath—maybe it’s nice to have a reminder a few times a year to pause and reflect.

So I have. For instance, one of my tarot buddies Arwen Lynch Poe said something about finally getting a handle on her collection of decks using a certain app. I used to have a list of my decks. That was years ago, I reflected (see? It’s working already). I miss having that list. People ask me, do you have THIS deck and lately I can’t rightly say. I might. I might have two or three of them especially if I liked it. I might have wanted to buy it and didn’t. It’s good to know what you have.

For instance, one of the things staring at me every time I walked past one of my bookcases was the POMO Tarot Deck by Brian Williams. In fact, I had accidentally gotten two copies of it. Brian’s work was pretty special in Tarot and others ought to enjoy it. So I grabbed one of them and put it on the swap table at Readers Studio in April. Usually you don’t see decks that have collectible value on those swap tables but I actually found a deck I was truly interested in to swap for my offering.

I started to wonder if I have other candidates. Arwen’s idea about inventory sounded good to me, especially with this app that reads barcodes. That should help speed along some of the data entry, at least for the newer decks. Most of my collection is older, self-published, weird and not bar-coded, but something that helps speed the process along is an attractive feature.

So I downloaded it, sprung for the no-ads version that wasn’t free. Sometimes I don’t mind the ads that help pay for free features, but sometimes getting interrupted by someone else’s really good idea of how I could spend more money gets irritating.

Using an app on an iPhone is probably one of those things that Mercury Retrograders would say I should avoid. I deal with software in my Day Job, so naturally the first thing I did was to run into the bugs and “obvious” enhancements to the app and shot off an email to the people who created it. They said they’d get back to me within 48 hours. But it’s Mercury Retrograde. I’m just hoping that they take the suggestions to heart. Heck, I think I’m just happy they got the email and sent an automated reply.

I started slogging through my collection. One thing about making a list of your favorite things is that you get to play with all your toys. I know, I know. Nerd alert. But there are some truly fascinating Tarot, Lenormand, Oracle, antique kids’ games, and other decks out there. I collect because I like them, not because I’m trying to invest for a profit. 

The last time a couple of the bookcases were tickled was perhaps four years ago. Just getting the real dust bunnies out was a good thing. And in the process, I repacked the bookcases so that there’s a better use of space, a very 4 of Pentacles concept. In fact, the whole inventory thing is a sort of 4 of Pentacles thing if you can get past the fairy tale image of King Midas counting his gold. Sometimes it’s a matter of conserving physical resources rather than being miserly, a matter of stability in corporeal space.

As I was sitting on the floor with a hundred decks stacked around me, shelf after shelf, day after day, I thought at least I’m doing something I meant to do for a while now that will help me during some head-spinning shopping spree later. Plus, I’m not spending money while I’m doing this counting and recounting. This project cost me less than $5.00 and could save me a lot more.

This being Mercury Retrograde, I’m not taking chances on software though. Two features I like about the app, bugs notwithstanding, are that it can back your collection up offline and you can send yourself a spreadsheet. You just never know when something electrical can ruin your efforts, right? 

The current count is 658 but I have more to go. I sure don’t want to start this project over due to some silly glitch.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oh, Zolar

The summer after my 6th grade year, my Nerd Self went into full bloom. While happy children played baseball and bicycled in the outside air, I went to the library. In fact, I went to the library so much that my mother became worried.

You have to understand the irony of this. She was a bookish person herself, a journalist, a reader, a writer and that year an antique dealer. I had consumed everything in her shop except a book entitled Strange Fruit that she wouldn't let me read, presumably for its hot and steamy content and not for the violence against oppressed people. I had just shrugged and walked the three blocks to the city library, which in my small town in New Mexico took up some of the space in the court house.

That summer I read anything I could get my hands on, often up to four books a day. I read so many back issues of the Reader's Digest that I was on a first name basis with Joe's Liver, could quote Humor in Uniform, had aced all of the word games and read all the condensed books. I joked that I had graduated from the Reader's Digest School of Medicine.

I also tore through the metaphysical section and read everything: Palmistry, cartomancy, astrology, hypnotism (which I considered to be misidentified as metaphysical), UFO's, ghost stories, the whole magilla. You name it Woo and I read it. I wanted to know about what had happened to me all my life, astral projections, whistling up the wind, knowing things about people just by touching the things they had owned. Some of the fun things I found were the Zolar books, especially Zolar's It's All in the Stars.

I didn't get much past sun sign astrology in the meager pickings of a Bible Belt county library, but many years and many books later, I have come to view the Zolar books with affection. So, in honor of those first moments of studying esoteric subjects, and in honor of those who seek help and consolation from unusual sources, I have written a poem called "Oh, Zolar", a reflection worthy of Mercury in Retrograde, I hope.

Oh Zolar – by Marcia McCord, 2015

Oh Zolar, shall I tell you my heart?
Or is it already too plain in my chart?
My path full of fears,
My lovelife in tears,
And Fortune, where is thy part?

Oh, Zolar, shall I be married?
In libraries too long I have tarried,
Ignoring the looks
In favor of books,
And now I am nigh to be buried!

Oh, Zolar, does Sun ever-bright
Sift through the stars of the night
And down past the trees,
Rain clouds and breeze?
Oh, Zolar, tell me my plight!

Oh, Zolar, was ever a Moon
In the right spot for more than a noon?
Too hot or too cold,
To young or too old,
My feelings always slightly off-tune.

Oh, Zolar, I have Mercury rising.
A chatterbox? I’m just surmising.
It controls all my egress,
Transgress, progress and regress
In Pisces, a seabreeze surprising.

Oh, Zolar, tell me, between us,
Can there be an aspect of Venus
To make me a cutie
With the slightest of beauty
Like the glittering jewels a queen has?

Oh, Zolar, look at my stars
And find me some strapping young Mars,
With all of his powers
Not dimmed by the hours
Nor shrunken with blight or catarrh.

By Jupiter! Shall increase be mine
With other than rich foods and wine?
The nights all alone
With but an ice cream cone
Are pushing me over the line.

Oh, Zolar, is Saturn gentle,
Its effects on me just elemental?
Is my short height dependent
On well-aspected Ascendant,
And my eighth house merely a rental?

Oh, Zolar, can you see Neptune clearly
Opposing my Sun? Can it merely
Be the Avalon mists
That keep hiding my lists,
Synesthesia I cherish so dearly?

Oh, Zolar, to Uranus now turn,
The Tau of a t-square, I learn
Means explosive creativity
And peculiar nativity,
My lightning-struck Tower of churn.

And dear Zolar, my karma defend
From a Pluto I hardly call friend.
Inconjunct in a Yod
With fogged Neptune is odd.
Beg Mercury' s mercy! The end.

Best wishes!