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!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Clown Child

“Be a clown! Be a clown! All the world loves a clown.


The mother tucked her child more tightly in bed, so tight the sheets were nearly smooth.

“There, there, dear,” she cooed. “Don't cry. Nobody loves a little girl with a red nose.” 

Her eyes grew dark and sharp.

“Mommy,” asked the child, her little chin trembling, her eyes shut tight like stars, like scars, “Are those teeth for me?”

Her mother smiled broadly.

“No, of course not, darling. Not today.”


8 of Swords. Not all the monsters are under the bed.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Readers Studio 2015

I try to go to Readers Studio every year. I don’t always make it but I was fortunate to be there this year. Led by Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone, this gathering of Tarot readers is truly a team effort to produce. It is distinguished by its format of three main presenters, different every year, who challenge the attendees with new ways to look at tarot readings, new techniques and fresh ways to see old cards. In addition, for the last few years, an extra day has been added focusing on Tarot and Psychology to highlight the uses of Tarot in therapy.

Readers Studio starts a little earlier than that for me. For one thing, I sign up early and pay for tuition on the payment plan. So I’ve already signed up to attend next year as part of the nearly painless monthly payment plan. I attend several conferences a year. As much as I seek the funny and sunny side of cartomancy, I’m serious about Tarot and Lenormand.

No matter what style of deck suits you, Rider Waite Smith and its many clones and offshoots, Thoth, Marseilles-style, Minchiate or truly original beauties like the Mary-El Tarot, 78 cards (or so, per the Minchiate) come together in what can become a full course in Liberal Arts and more. Even the strictly fortune-telling oracle decks can bring up the waters from deep in the well of human experience. Whether you feel the “woo” factor in cartomancy or use the card images to start off important conversations, there is a world of fresh perspective we get participating in conferences like Readers Studio.

My first big treat this year was Robert Place’s talk at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bob is serious about his Tarot too. He’s the author of The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination. I love his laser-beam concentration, his decks like Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, The Alchemical Tarot and his collaboration with Rachel Pollack, the Burning Serpent Oracle among others. I also have a few of his wonderful pieces of sterling silver jewelry.

Too excited and too afraid I would somehow be late for the program, I arrived some three hours early with the firm intent to study the museum’s examples of Joshua Reynolds’ work, one of my personal questing beasts. I was waylaid immediately as I looked up from the ticket booth and my eye was snagged by the words Medieval and Byzantine. My cell phone camera and I wandered into another world. Time and space fell away. Before I knew it, it was time for Bob’s talk. I groused that the museum does so little to provide cots and showers to the people like me who would stay there night and day if it weren’t for a small thing like closing time, etc.

Bob’s spent enough time at the museum’s Print Room that he’s the “civilian” who gets special access to work with their tarot collection, a breath-taking trip through the history of cards starting with a set of woodcut prints of a deck that dates from approximately 1475-1500. Still stunned that I shared the same air as this beauty, I resisted the urge to touch knowing my hands could destroy this marvel and, reluctantly, followed directions about no photography. Then, deck after deck, Bob spoke of the techniques, geography, materials, context and after a while just pure lust for this eye-popping collection. At the end of the presentation, Bob asked me to stay and read cards for the museum employee who is the only person who can handle the cards. An honor and a treat, we both later agreed that team-reading was fun. We were shooed out of the museum at closing and found a diner a block away that served breakfast for dinner, just the thing to talk over Tarot, self-publishing, travel and future projects. And this was just the first day.

The next day was the longest of the week. The Tarot and Psychology day stretched into the evening and by the end of three meaty and challenging sessions I was pretty sure my jet lag was in full bloom and I was “Junger” than springtime. I had flashbacks to management training back in 1990 when I had an exercise in determining my highest values by bargaining them away in order to escape imaginary drug lords in South America. I had been traumatized by how easily I had let go of some truly noble values to save my skin but ultimately could not let go of either of the last two; my imaginary self is still on the tarmac in a forgotten jungle trading other people’s values for their tickets to safety. It’s quite a flashback.

Then, Readers Studio opened officially. Aside from the top-notch line-up of speakers—and they really were!—I was so happy to reconnect with my Tarot buddies from all over. For Tarot Psych Day, Nancy Antenucci and I sat at a table of old friends and new and quietly cut up by diagnosing the sound problems with the speakers’ microphone by drawing cards. Naturally, our predictions of the issue, its location, the personnel involved in the fix and the source of the problem happened to be right!

Speakers Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, Theresa Reed and Carrie Paris gave us new and fun things to think about when we consider reading. Carrie’s challenge in the four elements forced us to be concise about the cards we selected from each element. My 3 of Swords final entry was something I liked well enough to remember: Reason and the heart are delicate enemies and violent friends.

Rana George and Dame Edna
And yes, in my dedication to keeping the Fun in Dysfunctional, I transformed into Dame Edna Everage in the guise of the Empress, bellowing, “Hellooooooooo, Possums!” to her adoring, if snickering subjects. My favorite Dame Edna moment was coming up behind Wald the second time and having him tell me that he had not recognized me at first. Dame Edna’s Moment of Triumph!

The dinner show featured Dan Pelletier, Rhonda Lund and Nancy Antenucci and a knock-down-drag-out slow-motion fistfight staged between Death and the Tower that had everyone rolling. Back in civilian clothes, I joined the newest addition to Readers Studio, The Ravers Studio Nightclub with flashing lights, glo-sticks, some dedicated dancers and even a few lookie-Lous from a group of guys apparently selling tools. We all felt the beat.

Thanks to everyone who worked long hours to make this year a success, too many to name all, but all appreciated. I came home with a treasure trove of new decks, new friends, new ideas and a shared love of this wonderful Tarot Tribe.

Of course I’ll be going next year! Best wishes, Possums!

Saturday, May 2, 2015


“You think you have a memory; but it has you!” – John Irving

My roomie at Readers Studio 2015 in New York is so bright and gifted. All she asked for was the bed by the window. I was happy to oblige; nearer the bathroom, nearer the window, both have their advantages. The New York LaGuardia Marriott has really comfortable rooms with perhaps the exception of not quite enough electrical outlets next to the beds for modern life’s plethora of gadgetry. We worked around it and were mindful of not getting in each other’s way.

I was especially mindful of being an extrovert in a world where 50% of the people are introverts. Rattling on, even in a friendly way meant to bond with your roomie, can be a nightmare to an introvert who just. Wants. A. Decent. Night’s. Rest. We talked into the night the first night we arrived about Tarot, astrology, life experiences, travel experiences, recovery from injuries, youth and age. I liked my friend more the more I got to know her, to my secret delight.

You can imagine my reticence to have a roommate for the first time who is not adequately prepared for my “active” nighttime activities. Oh, it’s all completely involuntary. I at least warn people about the snoring. Snoring is such a mild term for it. Rain describes the gentle mists of northern California and the violent thunderstorms that would walk my toiletries off my dresser in Illinois. My snoring is so little like the former, so much like the latter, like the roar of jet engines and not like a glider, like the shriek of a banshee not the twitter of songbirds. Yeah, I snore.

My roomie also was “entertained” by the talking. I’ve talked in my sleep since I was little. My mother, the extreme introvert certain she had spawned a monster extrovert, would hear me in the night and my running monolog, sometimes understandable but always with its own context. She would come to my “rescue” to pick me up from the terrazzo floor where I had fallen from bed and ask, “Are you all right?”

“Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera,” I would proclaim in deep profundity and very sound sleep.

Her theory was that as an extrovert, that alien creature to her, the changeling the fairies had left when no one was watching, I had just never gotten everything said during the day and was obligated to finish up all conversation at night. All night. Every night.

But of course there was more. These are not particularly my memories, but rather those of my—shall we call them victims?

I come by it naturally, I suppose, I explained to my good and patient roomie. After all, both Mom and Daddy snored to beat the band. Mom would wake herself up snoring and hit Daddy, certain he was the reason for her waking. It made perfect sense to me why some married people slept in separate quarters. I considered it a matter of self-preservation. Mom could pack quite a wallop.

Somewhere along the way, I learned that my uncle was a sleepwalker and would appear in the kitchen or living room with a midnight sandwich, eat it—or not—and return to his bed with no memory of his adventures the next day.

I have wondered if the filters that should be on in ordinary people that are off in me and perhaps members of my family are part of the thing that helps me read cards. More likely, though, I just snore, thrash, laugh, whistle, chatter and occasionally cast out demons as just one of the “features” of my personal software. I don’t remember most of it myself but I still have stories.

When my first marriage began to fail, there were occasions when I either punched him or kneed him in the nose and woke up first apologizing, then giggling, then apologizing. Perhaps that was thinly-disguised resentment at being told constantly that I was inadequate. No matter. We divorced and both relatively unscathed.

About that same time, my father called me at work one bright day and asked, “Are you…OK?” “Of course, I said,” surprised and confused at his mid-day call and his note of concern. “Why?”

“You sounded funny last night,” he said. I could hear from his voice that he had set his jaw in his typical offset way that signaled there was more to the story.

“I didn’t talk to you last night,” I protested, doubt growing as I spoke every word so much that it might have been a question.

“Oh,” he started to snicker. “Oh, yes you did!”

To this day I don’t know what I said to him but I have the feeling it wasn’t particularly the sort of conversation a father wants to hear from his never-in-his-eyes-grown daughter. All I can say is, sorry about that, Pops!

A few months after that, I remember waking up to hanging up the telephone, once again talking to someone in my sleep. This time I don’t know who it was but as I was hanging up and laughing uproariously I had the strange feeling that it was a crank call with sexual overtones. I’m not sure if I hoped it was one of my friends or a complete but creepy stranger; I don’t know which is better.

I’m grateful that I don’t walk in my sleep like my uncle. That can be dangerous. I related all this to my roomie who had, wise woman that she is, brought hopefully effective earplugs after that first night of my “performance”. I explained that once, while I was living in southern California in a small apartment, as a big fan of ghost hunting shows, I determined to record myself all night to see if I said anything interesting. After 15 minutes of rhythmic buzzing that actually seemed to be the overhead fan and not my adorable purr, I turned the recorder off—in my sleep, of course. Oh, well.

The 9 of Swords in the Rider Waite Smith tradition shows the sleeper has awakened, is sitting up in bed and has raised her hands to her face. Is she relieved it was only a dream? Was her sleeping life the real one and is this the illusion? Is her waking life the worse nightmare than her dream? At any rate, the card shows a change in consciousness, an awakening, a realization, an understanding of the objective truth compared to illusion.

To the aware mind, every new experience is an awakening and every new day is a chance to start over. All the past is not just a good or bad dream, but it is the past, now fixed in our lives like soft clay hardened in the kiln of experience. Work with the clay of the day, shape it to your will with the spirit of love and understanding. Remember the past, but do not be chained to it. And sometimes, bring earplugs.

Best wishes!