Weekly Readings

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Punch more Nazis.

An article about why it is SO important to make the women’s march more inclusive.  Talking about issues of racial justice is NOT a distraction from the issues the women’s march was trying to raise.  Some thoughts from the black woman who had that viral sign with the white women on their phones.

Five things White People Need to Do right now.

I SO needed this:  On Being and Doing Enough for the Resistance.

From Autostraddle – ways their staffers are keeping themselves sane and active.  Downside – now I want a passion planner and can’t really afford it. 😉

Witches Resistance Action List

On Giving Up Multitasking.

Journalling 101

Cute Gay Mermen – because we could all use more cuteness!

Nine things you need to know about organizing a protest.

It’s a little early, but Imbolc is coming up and it’s a good time to plan:  Growing your own salad garden.

 What it means to be a secular witch.  She mentions that just because this is how she defines herself, it doesn’t mean every witch will.

Boy Scouts allow Trans kids to join.  FINALLY.  Girl scouts has been on that for ages, not without issue, but SERIOUSLY, guys, about time.  And this step isn’t perfect, but it’s progress.

Knitting as a Political Act.

Why Queer Advocates are worried about the Trump Administration.
“Trump talks a big game on his support for LGBTQ people, yet he has filled his cabinet with people who have literally spent their careers working to demonize us and limit our rights,” he said in a statement. “Claiming ally status for not overturning the progress of your predecessor is a rather low bar.”

What I’m knitting: Still socks, always socks 🙂
What I’m writing: intentions into my new journal, also postcards to my elected officials about things that are important to me.
What I’m eating: Soul Soothing African Peanut Stew.  So GOOD.

Deck Review: Everyday Witch Tarot

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The Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake and Elisabeth Alba.

I picked this deck up this weekend (because obviously I needed another deck after IMG_0431.JPGgetting two new tarot decks AND two oracle decks over the holidays ;3 ) at Barnes and Noble because I had some store credit burning a hole in my pocket and they didn’t have the Tarot Coloring book in stock.  I’m going to get the coloring one at some point, but I wanted some instant gratification.

So here’s my thoughts about it:

It comes in a nice sturdy box with a magnetized flip open cover, inside is a 252 page book and the deck itself.  The deck doesn’t come in a separate box or bag, which is kind of a bummer for me, I like my decks to have a box for JUST the cards so I can toss a deck in my bag.  I’ll have to get a drawstring bag or something like to store the cards when I don’t want the big box.

IMG_0430.JPGThe book is pretty nice, it’s full color and has glossy pages.  There’s a short standard introduction to what tarot is and what it does and how to use it.  Nothing revolutionary, but all decent as an introduction for someone who might be picking this up for their first deck.  There was one line about using a card that falls out while shuffling as a signifier which was something I hadn’t heard before, so that was a nice little gem for me.  It also had a little table that spelled out the number pattern thing for minor arcana (aces being new beginnings/opportunities) which I had been meaning to review.  Finding little synchronicities in something like this makes me happy.

As for the cards themselves I quite like them, they’re not perfect, but really I haven’t found The Perfect Deck ™ yet if it even exists.

I’m going to start with the things I didn’t like about this deck.  First of all, as I img_0429mentioned above, no box just for the deck.  Also the card stock that they’re printed on is pretty thin.  The cards aren’t going to hold up as a deck for The Ages, these are going to bend as I work with them.  My last problem with them is a big one, I still like this deck and I anticipate working a lot with it, but it’s got a real problem with lack of racial diversity.  It would have been so easy to add some witches of color into these cards.  There are a handful, I think I counted ten, that could be people of color.  Or they could just be Caucasians with a little bit of a tan.  I find that really disappointing.  Deck creators, please, diversify it up!  I want more people of color in my tarot decks.  Diversity is beautiful and awesome and it’s so important.  Representation is important.  There are a few hints of representation in here, but I don’t think it’s nearly enough.

img_0435This problem aside, there are a lot of things I like about this deck.  It’s witchy, which, spoilers, I’m definitely into.  😉  There’s a cat familiar on almost every single card (cards without cats: Three of Swords, Hanged Man, Six of Wands, Hierophant, and the King of Pentacles, in case you’re interested).  I’m a cat person who has a cat familiar so this scores big points in my book.  One of the first cards I always want to see when I look at a new deck is The Lovers.  I was pleasantly surprised to see two figures that could be easily queered.  There are no gendered markers (aside from possibly the long curly hair, but these days plenty of guys I know have long curly hair) on them.  I looked at a handful of other cards and I saw a handful more semi-androgynous figures.  Then as I was reading the book that came with the cards they said that it was intentionally done “in the hope that everyone will feel included and see themselves somewhere in these cards.”  Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s too bad we couldn’t get some intersectionality here with witches of color!  In other cat related stuff, did you see the cat tails and how they make a little heart!  I loved it!

I also love the way they depict the Hierophant in this deck as well.  This card is oftenimg_0428 shown as a Papal like Christian church man.  This obviously wouldn’t fly in a witchcraft deck so they had to go with something else.  So there’s a yoga instructor with two students.  I love the fact that there’s a woman instructor on this card.  I have often, in the past, struggled with a white Christian male as the authority figure when that’s so far away from my hoped for reality.  Ideally, seeing as the practice of yoga originated in India, I would have loved the teacher to be a woman of color so as not to continue white washing the practice of yoga, but this is progress.  It’s not to say that there isn’t more work to be done, there always is.  I also like that this card shows an ambiguously gendered person.

IMG_0427.JPGThe next card I wanted to share with you is another of my favorites, The Hermit. It shows a witch sitting in front of a crackling campfire.  I adore the change from the dark robed old man with a lantern, even though I really like that traditional imagery too.

Campfires are such wonderful places for recharging for me.  I grew up as  a Girl Scout and so I’ve been to a lot of campfires and I have such strong positive associations with them.  Meditating listening to the crackle and pop of that fire with a cat purring across fro me sounds like a little slice of heaven.  And I always love seeing an owl pop up in readings.  Athena is my matron goddess and seeing her symbol always gives me a little boost.

Overall, I like this deck a great deal.  I think it’s got some great symbolism, I love that it’s witch themed, and I like how easy it is to queer the cards.  I really like that they put those androgynous figures into this deck with intention.  I think this will be a great deck to read with and I’m looking forward to seeing what it has to teach me.

Deck Review: Universal Goddess

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I’m excited to be talking about one of my favorite decks in this post.  The Universal Goddess Tarot is one of my oldest decks; I think I’ve used it more than any other deck I own.  It’s not my oldest deck, because I have a Robin Wood deck that I owned before the Universal Goddess deck found its way into my life, but this beautiful deck of Goddesses is what really kept me moving forward in tarot.

IMG_0566Obviously, this is a goddess based deck.  There are a few nods to some of the classic Rider-Waite-Smith card designs: the Strength card still features a woman with a lion, the Chariot still has a chariot on it, but other than a few recognizable features the deck strikes out on its own, using goddesses from many different cultures as the central figures on the cards.

Their choice to feature Athena on the Emperor card really won me over right away.  I loveIMG_0570 any deck that can take traditionally male designated cards and spin that on its head.  Athena is my matron goddess, I’ve felt an affinity with her since I first read about her in my Edith Hamilton’s mythology book in middle school.  And what a perfect figure for the Emperor.  A warrior goddess who sprung fully formed from her father’s head, already clad in armor.  She is depicted here as a powerful commander of men.  It’s a nice reminder that women posses all the power and wisdom of men and are just as capable of leading.  This theme runs through the entire deck and is one of the things that I love the most about these tarot cards.

As a queer woman, one factor that influences my ability to connect with a tarot deck is how it handles male and female archetypes.  I look through the deck to find the Lovers card and
see what is depicted on it.  I don’t necessarily need all my decks to feature queer couples, but I find it easier to connect when they have more inclusive representation.  This deck comes through for me in that regard.  The Lovers card features Aphrodite, dancing in the ocean.  She isn’t shown with a partner, which I like here because it gives the card a reading that reminds us that it’s so important to love ourselves.  To quote RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else.”

Another rave that I have for this deck is how many goddesses of color are represented.  At IMG_0568least 30 of the goddesses on the cards are women of color.  I chose Pele to show here, since she’s another goddess that I am very drawn to.  Her depiction here on the Five of Wands is great.  As a Hawaiian volcano goddess, she is a powerful creative and destructive force, which is a great representation of the energy of the wands suit and the energy of fire.  The volcano can destroy everything around it, but volcanic ash is rich in minerals and can be an excellent fertilizer.  It’s a lovely symbol of the cyclical nature of life.

I also appreciate that the artists took time and care to create realistic women of color in these cards.  Pele’s face isn’t just a carbon copy of Athena with her skin tone changed.  They are real nuanced depictions of goddesses.  They also include a range of age in the goddesses depicted.  Hestia and Hecate have a more mature look, lines on their faces and wisdom about them, younger goddesses like Aurora fit the maiden archetype better and are shown as such.

Every reader can have a different experience working with a deck, for me this deck is very IMG_0561closely linked with my own spirituality work.  I use it mainly to read for myself and I’ve used it extensively in tarot self-development.  It has a very magical and spiritual energy when I work with it.    When I was just beginning to learn to use my intuition as a reader, I had some trouble reading with these cards and I found myself having to rely very heavily on my notes and the LWB that came with the deck.  There are some cards that don’t seem to fit with what I’d been taught that the cards ‘Had to Mean’.  I found myself stumbling over meanings and only getting half the meanings of cards.  This deck was trying to slowly and painstaking pull me forward into trusting in my own abilities and intuitions.  I owe a lot of thanks to the goddess work, and to the goddesses who guided me to where I am now.  I don’t know that I would have been able to hear their messages if not for these cards.

I love this deck so much.  It wasn’t until I’d been working with this deck for quite some IMG_0562time that I discovered a Tarot Deck Interview Spread on LittleRedTarot that has become my go-to spread any time I get a new deck.  I can’t recommend that spread enough to
anyone starting out as a reader or for a new deck.  Interviewing the Universal Goddess deck revealed to me what I already knew about it.  In this case, the interview just helped reaffirm that I could trust my intuitions around the deck and how we could work together.

It told me that it was a deeply personal deck for me, that it would help me connect with my higher self and to work with goddess energies.  It’s a fantastic deck to use as a meditation tool.  I use a Tarot meditation where you journey into the card and can interact with the figures in the card, and my handful of meditations have been affirming and humbling.

On a purely more physical note, I can recommend this deck as well. I’ve worked a lot with these cards and they’re still in great shape;  the cardboard flap top box shows some reasonable wear around its edges and corners, but the cards aren’t torn and they’ve help up well to lots of shuffling and handling.  I own a not inconsiderable number of tarot decks and this is still one that I come back to again and again.

Card of the Day: The Moon

S W I M I N T H E S E A

The Moon

Today’s card comes from the Wild Unknown Tarot deck (first edition).  When it was first coming out I knew that I wanted it right away but I couldn’t find anywhere local.  We were visiting Salem, MA to see this adorable little shop our friends recommended, Haus Witch, and boom, there it was.  Katie and I each bought one and we were scarcely out of the shop before we were shuffling through the cards.

img_0548The Wild Unknown has such a beautiful aesthetic and that’s definitely evident here.  One detail that you’ll often find the the Wild Unknown cards is watercolor rainbow look, it shows up here in the thin border around the card.  So, even if the Moon card is dark and shows only a sliver of the moon, you can see that it’s bounded by the entire spectrum of light.  This card is all about turning ideas about knowing, daylight ideas, on their heads.  In a sunset trees can look like black silhouettes against a brightly colored sky, but in this card the trees are starkly white against a black sky lit by just a fraction of the moon.

In some ‘traditional’ readings the Moon card can indicate fear and disillusionment and other negative things about operating in the dark, but as a witch and a queer person I find there’s a lot of meaning to be mined and understood in that dark.  The moon is a card that I am very fond of.   The moon is a huge symbol to witches, representing the goddess who is often associated with the moon, and huge volumes of moon magic as well.

In the dark we can’t see as we’re used to seeing in the day, we must rely on other senses, touch, hearing, and other methods for finding our way around.  That’s the message of the Moon.  Use those senses that aren’t made for the daylight.  Trust your inner wisdom and your intuition.  If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve felt like you’ve ‘just known’ something that you couldn’t rationally have known, that’s the energy of the Moon card.  Intuition, Magic, and Shadow Work are her hallmarks.  Rational knowledge isn’t what’s at play in this card.  It’s an intuition.  At the risk of going a little too Obi-Wan, trust your feelings.

The moon also represents that feeling of being lost in the darkness, where it’s all too easy to let fear of the unfamiliar take over.  This interpretation of the moon is very much about stillness, it’s the feeling of being lost in the forest on the side of a hill.  There’s a clear view of the moon and the comfort of knowing that if you can sit a while in that stillness and still your mind with all its racing thoughts, you’ll find that inner knowing and you’ll be able to find your way out again.

As a footnote, if you’d like to read more about queering the tarot, there is a fantastic series of posts by Cassandra Snow hosted on one of my favorite tarot blogs, Little Red Tarot.

Knitting is Magic

Knitting is Magic.

My house is filled with yarn. I’ve been deep in the throes of a love affair with wool and knitting for years now. My wife can tell you about the “joys” of finding bits of wool everywhere (ask her about the yarn in the freezer). I’ve always felt the urge to be creative, when I was a kid I wrote illustrated stories about talking cats, I made entire tea sets out of Fimo, I made dream catchers at summer camp, and I’m sure there are tons more things I can’t even remember. I was moderately proficient in my youthful crafting adventures, but I’d never really excelled in any of them.

And then came knitting.

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Knitting everything from hats to toys to mittens to shawls has brought me so much joy and fulfilment that, as sappy as it sounds, I want to share knitting with the world! I do that mostly by giving gifts of knitted things to keep my loved ones warm and entertained. As much as I love giving knitted gifts, for me, the very best thing in the world is when I can share the gift of knitting by teaching it to someone else.

I am literally giddy with happiness when a friend comes up tentatively and says that they’ve always wanted to learn, but either they’d never had anyone to show them or they’d tried and failed. A lot of times I can’t stop myself from wrapping them in a giant hug and running arm in arm to the nearest shop (or my own stash!) where I can put needles and yarn into their hands. Honestly, I’ve jumped up and down with excitement and squealed at the prospect of teaching friends and family how to knit.

I had never really even considered that knitting could be a spiritual practice until some dear friends told me that what I was doing was magic. It was ritual, it was spiritual, and it was beautiful. I’d never particularly believed that I was a spiritual being. I sometimes still have a hard time believing that anything I could do could be magical or spiritual. When I was invited to a magical spiritual gathering with people who would become like family, even though I didn’t know it before that weekend, I believed that I was going along with my wife, who was much more spiritual and in tune than I was (so I thought), sort of along for the experience, not as an integral part of it.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. This beautiful, transformative gathering of women helped me to see that the things I do, the things I have to share, were worthy, special, and deeply spiritual. Something as simple as knitting! The more I think about it now, the more obvious it is. The act of creation, transforming raw materials into a something useful or beautiful is always deeply rooted in the magical. What I didn’t understand was that there’s a piece of the person creating that goes into that finished object as well. What makes this important is that when we are creating, whether we’re drawing a mandala, cooking a meal, or knitting a shawl, we put ourselves into our creations. And more than just adding a personal touch, we add intention, and energy to the piece.

When a knitters give you something we’ve made, it’s so much more than a thing. In that pair or mittens or that hat there is so much more. We’re thinking of you as we make the loops, weaving intention and love into every knit, breathing life into each purl, taking time, countless hours of creative energy all funnelling down into that gift. It might not always have complicated ritual words or incense burned, but it’s the best kind of spellwork that I know how to do. It’s the strongest magic that I can make.

Sitting with someone, guiding their hands, showing them how to wrap yarn over needle again and again to create something from sticks and string, is a beautiful experience. I’ve used knitting as meditation to get through some very difficult times in my own life and it’s the first thing I reach for when I want to tell someone I love them or when I want to comfort someone who is hurting.

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For me, it’s an affirmation. I make things! They might look like scarves and mittens and hats to most other people, but they’re really protective charms, enchanted gauntlets, and magical helms. I just didn’t realize what I was doing. I understand now, even if I do still wrestle with ideas of my own worthiness in all things spiritual, that there is magic in those stitches.