Priscilla Queen of Cyber Space as she became known did a world tour in 2007 – 2008, crossing the USA, Western Europe and spending time in the United Kingdom. Her mission was to help patrons of the Soul Food Cafe, which I created and operated between 2000 to 2010, learn about blogging. She has spent many years since, living quietly in a regional Australian time but is gearing up to enjoy the annual, much loved Spooky Season.
A Three of Wands Moment
All-Hallows Eve, All Saints’ Eve, or Halloween is affectionately known as the Spooky Season. It is a much loved time of the year for many and the build up through October can be a lot of fun. It is Spring here in Australia but that will not stop us from joining in the fun and games.
Priscilla is joining forces with Rosie the Redback Spider and Skellie Stan (who you will know if you follow us all on Instagram) for a season of Halloweeen fun. They are plotting and scheming all sorts of fun from graveyard readings to Halloween themed spreads.
Fun Fact: Did you know that According to the History Channel, the name jack-o’-lantern is rooted in an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack who fooled the devil and in turn was forced to walk the Earth with only a burning coal in a hollowed turnip to light his way. The Irish began to call him “Jack of the Lantern,” and then just “Jack o’Lantern.”
A writing challenge is a foolproof way for a writer to practice the discipline of writing on a daily basis. A Tarot Writing Challenge provides a list of words and encourages you to shuffle, let a random card/cards appear from a deck and then write spontaneously. Initial writing can obviously be edited and used to contruct poetry, fiction, drama or whatever takes your fancy.
These are just two examples of challenges that I have engaged in that have been featured for August 2022. My responses varied but I found myself having the most fun using a combination of an Oracle, Tarot Deck and Storytelling Card Deck. This was completed in stages and is rapidly becoming a work in progress.
Word Prompts – Tell – Live – Ancestral Animism – Mysterious Ruin – Lost Memories
She followed the birds through a wasteland, trusting that they would lead her to crystalline waters where could quench her thirst for something more.
It felt like she had been journeying forever. She was old and tired of this life now. She yearned to know where her spirit would go, if she could return to the old world and fly with her flock again, if she could live a truly wild life
She called upon the reflective water to tell the complete truth
and was more than a little surprised when an awe inspiring magician appeared before her. She blinked! Could this really be true? Was this really she who had grown so weary? Did she still have the power to manifest the change she had been been yearning for.
She held her treasured ally and loyal friend, the Raven wand as tightly as she could in her gnarled, arthritic hands, casting a spell she had read in in an old alchemists book of secrets.
Everything went black and when she regained focus
she found herself being guided by a Ferryman who ferried her across the lake where, according to the Ferryman, live intelligent crustaceans who see out their full 140 years and more.
At the shore she paid the Ferryman his due and was met by a Raven who had clearly feasted on the skull of a predator. The Raven simply said “You can hoard your breath. You can breathe in after you have breathed out. It is really as simple as that” and pointed to a path.
The path wound through a darkened forest, full of mysterious ruins. As she walked, firmly gripping her treasured, carved stick, she shuddered, was more than a little unsettled by the breathless panting of a ghost, rambling in her ear about not being able to find her lost memories.
Blocking her ears she walked on, reaching a stone staircase leading to an arched doorway. Unlike the naive woman associated with Bluebeard she heeded the wand that was jiggling frantically in her swag and approached tentatively.
The dying woman lying just inside what had clearly been a foyer wasn’t making much sense. The barely audible words she kept uttering repeatedly were ‘hunter gather’.
As the dying woman’s spirit drifted away she heeded her wands timely caution. She knew she couldn’t stay in this place, knew not to interfere, too risk reprisal if she moved the lifeless body. Others would claim it. It was time to move on to a new place.
Leaving nothing to chance she pulled some dice from her swag to help determine which direction to take. She had come to trust these cubes, made from the same sawdust as herself. This was a very different, yet similar world to the one she had fled from and, as she followed the path the dice pointed to she knew she had to be careful.
As she tried to stay with, fully absorb the images that made up this environment, it appeared that she was in a loop, walking the same path. There seemed to be no real destination, no escape. Was this some interconnected set of pathways that kept bringing her back to the same place?
But then she came into a clearing and came face to face with death herself. She had no fear of death but rather welcomed her presence, suggesting that they scoop up some of the water of life itself, boil a Billy over a campfire and have a quiet cup of tea together.
“In ancient times, Winter Solstice festivals were the last celebrations held before the deep, hard winter began. There was plenty of food and wine, for now, – and hopes that all would survive the coming famine months until spring arrived again.”
On May 1 it is Sahmain in the Southern Hemisphere. It is not Winter Solstice but ‘Winter is Coming’. As the days shorten our thoughts turn to life and death, to the past and the future, to what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained and what we are yet to do with our one wild and beautiful life. It felt like the right time to spend a few moments in quiet reflection in a cemetery.
Take the time to pick up the energy of the Cemetery you choose to visit. Find the grave that calls to you. Shuffle and lay out some cards and then spend quiet reflective time journaling.
The Art Oracles: Creative and Life Inspirationfeatures 50 artists with corresponding oracular messages inspired by each artist’s point of view. The deck was created by Katya Tylevich and Mikkel Sommer Christensen and published by Laurence King Publishing.
Are you suffering from creative block? Struggling to make a difficult life decision? Find out what Picasso, Pollock, Kahlo and other great artists would have done. Simply select an artist’s card from the Artist Oracle pack and take in the oracle’s advice on life, work or inspiration and any obstacle becomes surmountable.
Some 200 children were buried at Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery between 1852 and 1857, during the height of the Australian gold rush, and not much has happened here since. There have been no more burials. There’s no garden to tend to. No fresh flowers. But you will find small offerings from children who leave toys on the graves.
In a post Tania Braukamper notes that “Aside from those few with markings, the babies and children buried here are voiceless, nameless; nothing but soft bones and dust crushed beneath anonymity and piles of arid earth. The tiny mounds are even sadder because they are mute: the dead are always silent, but the unmarked dead are the quietest of all.”
Skeleton Stan and I doubted that these children remain voiceless, agreeing that it is just a matter of listening.
Stan, being a dead dude, is the perfect conduit to communicate with the tiny residents of this place so he and I agreed to go and try listening.
We took some Inner Child Cards out with us and visited an unmarked grave. We waited quietly to see if the resident had any message for us.
It was very moving when the card that emerged told the story of Peter Pan.
The story of Peter Pan begins in the nursery of the Darling household in London, where Wendy, John, and Michael are going to bed when they are surprised by the arrival of Peter Pan and the fairy Tinker Bell. Peter is a little boy who lives in the faraway world of Never Never Land who has come to retrieve his shadow, which he had previously lost there. Peter reveals that he lives in the Never Land as captain of the Lost Boys, children who fell out of their baby carriages when their nurses were looking the other way.
As a young mischievous boy with the power to fly, Peter Pan sweeps Wendy into his world and takes her to the promised Never Land. It is there that the pair encounters friends and foes alike, ranging from the loyal Tinker Bell to the antagonistic Captain Hook.
Neither Stan or I felt a shadow emerge from the grave but we both heard voices calling us to come again but we agreed that if these children are residing in a place like Never Never Land, telling stories, having adventures and living in a big hollow tree, this is a comforting thought.
You really get into the picture of the card and observe the details of that image.
You can really internalize each and every aspect of the card’s picture.
You can get creative and let your imagination run wild while writing the story.
Imagination and Intuition mix really well together – you never know which aspect of the story will suddenly appear like an intuitive notion while you do your reading (and you’ll be surprised at how accurate you are!)
Let Me Show You
Once upon a time, only yesterday, there was a Crow who was the familiar of a Hermit who lived in the a long abandoned Travellers Inn deep within the Hollow Woods ….
Over to you! You might continue the story or get out some of your decks and play with them.
In this case I have pulled out my Writers Emergency pack for some additional ideas to keep the whole thing going. I will set a timer for 20 minutes and just keep writing whatever comes into my mind.
Hepburn Graves is the historical private cemetery of the Hepburn family of Smeaton Hill Run. Located near the original homestead, Smeaton House, the cemetery has been excised from the surrounding private land and is now managed by the National Trust of Australia.
The grave site has been used for burials by the Hepburn family since 1859. When the family sold the property in 1904 they excised the grave site and access road from the main title. After the death of the last family trustee the land with the graves was acquired by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). The site is cared for by the Ballarat Branch of the National Trust and the owners of Smeaton House.
The headstones commemorate:
John Stuart Hepburn, Eliza Hepburn, Thomas Hepburn, Alice May Butterworth.
Alice Hepburn Murray, her husband Charles J.B. Murray and daughter Eliza Marion Murton.
Harriet Frances Hepburn, Alice Ella Purey-Cust, George Stuart Hepburn, John Stuart Hepburn, George Stanley Hepburn, Elaine May Hepburn, May Ina Hepburn MacGeorge.
Henry Hepburn 1842 – 1874 (died at sea).
John Stevens – long time gardener at Smeaton House. No headstone – his grave is marked by white stones.
Statement of Significance
Hepburn Graves is the private family cemetery established by pastoralist, Captain William Hepburn near his homestead, ‘Smeaton House’. Hepburn (died 1860), his wife, family and relatives are buried in the cemetery withone retainer. The cemetery is fenced and plantings enhance the graves. Hepburn Graves are important as an intact private cemetery, representative of a number of such cemeteries associated with Pastoral Holdings. The graves have historical associations with the Hepburn family and are an excellent example of the arrangement, elements and plantings of a small nineteenth century cemetery. Captain Hepburn’s grave is a notable example of a tombstone of the period. Classified: 21/05/1964. File Note: See B1114, Smeaton House
The still beauty of this resting place took my breath away. As I sat on a bench, taking in this private cemetery I drew cards from the Macabre Tarot and the Ghosts and Spirits Tarot by Lisa Hunt. I figured that the place might have a ghostly story that they wanted to share with me.
I cannot say that I was surprised when the Magician appeared again. The Macabre Tarot is leaving me in no doubt that it is excited about this whole project.
The Ghostly story that emerged told of a dyke builder named Hauke Haien who built his masterwork, but refused to follow the time honoured tradition of sacrificing a living creature by burying it alive in the dyke. The villagers were very unhappy about this and it all ended in tears when the dyke broke and Haien’s family were washed away and he came to grief.
Interestingly enough, when, despite protestations Captain Hepburn allowed a loyal faithful Chinese employee to be buried in the Hepburn family cemetery, he became the first white Victorian settler to allow a ‘non-European’ person to be buried with other members of his family, as an equal.
Sometimes we simply need to break away from tradition no matter the outcome.
DEATH OF Capt. JOHN HEPBURN, ESQ., J.P.
In our last report we announced the serious illness of Captain Hepburn, and expressed a hope that he might be soon restored to health, but that hope was doomed to disappointment, for after several alternations of the disease, and in spite of the utmost medical skill, the silver chord was loosed and the scythe of death laid low one whose very name has become almost a household word from Creswick to Castlemaine. (Creswick Advertiser, August 10th 1860)
Life on the goldfields was particularly harsh on children. They were often used as a source of labour and could earn small amounts of money for errands. Their young immune systems were still developing and children were highly susceptible to diseases that sometimes ran through mining communities. However, even the young were drawn to the lure of gold and could also be found panning along the rivers.
In 1852, on a barren piece of land that was of no use to gold miners or fossickers, a cemetery for the deceased children of the Castlemaine goldfields was set aside. Located within the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park is Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery. A pennyweight is a very small measure of gold.
The graveyard is little more than a bee-stung patch of ground, small swellings rising up here and there where the earth’s surface was long ago prickled by rough shovels. Some of the mounds have their perimeters acknowledged by rows of stones, no more sophisticated than those you might set up around a campfire; others are marked only by a single jutting rock, or nothing at all. Looking out from Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery, the Australian scenery is beautiful.
Surrounded by grey box gums in a tranquil setting, the Children’s Cemetery tells a silent story about some realities of the goldfields during the 1850s. Many families travelled to the Castlemaine diggings in the early 1850s as word spread about alluvial (surface) gold to be found.
The Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery in Moonlight Flat is a heartbreaking result of the awful living conditions in the diggings during the gold rush of the 1850s. Around 200 shallow graves, mostly children and babies, are scattered amongst the trees.
Aside from the associated danger of children wandering off and getting lost, the poor and inadequate drainage of the early settlements caused much discomfort not only for everyone’s olfactory nerves but on the community’s health problems. A lack of clean drinking water along with accidents and diseases were the main causes of death for children living on the goldfields. The first recorded deaths on the Mount Alexander Diggings were of two small children, who perished of dysentery in November 1851.
Many graves are simply marked by stone arrangements, but there are a few which have headstones with readable engravings. There have also been memorial plaques added to some graves in recent years.
Pennyweight is one of my favorite places to visit with my dogs. For me it is the equivalent of going to church and spending time with the divine. It is also a popular destination for families. No doubt inspired by stories such as the one about Nannie, children leave small toys on many of the graves. I have considered taking children’s books out to this beautifully tranquil place, sitting and reading to the children. Meanwhile I am sure they have enjoyed the visits of my dogs.
Today I took my Macabre Tarot with me and was delighted when the Magician fell out of the pack, demanding to be featured.
Wondering what Tarot Tombstone Tourism is all about? Quite simply it is visiting a cemetery with a Tarot Deck and gleaning messages from those who lie there.
The Battle of Lone Pine was one of a series of actions fought by the Australian and New Zealand forces during the Gallipoli campaign. The fighting there lasted four days and resulted in over 2,000 Australian casualties, and an estimated 7,000 Turkish casualties. Of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded to Australian troops during the Gallipoli campaign, seven were for actions during the August Offensive, which included the Battle of Lone Pine.
It is called the Battle of Lone Pine because the ridges, once covered with the Aleppo pine, had been cleared by Turkish troops and placed over the top of their trenches to provide cover, leaving just one, solitary pine standing. The area became known as Lone Pine ridge.
The meaning of the Six of Swords is that you are experiencing a transition of some kind, but one that is not happy and filled with regret. This transition will most likely be the result of decisions you made in the past, and now they are forcing you to leave something behind in order to move forward. Despite your sadness, you need to remember that moving on is the ideal option for your future.
When the Six of Swords appeared from the Macabre Tarot in this setting I couldn’t help thinking how appropriate the message was. Quick to volunteer, believing that they would have the opportunity to “see the world”, thousands of young men boarded the ships that took them overseas, leaving everything that was familiar behind. They were heading into the unknown and unbeknown to them, their fate was sealed.
I found myself meditating on the futility of war. Australian towns lost so many young men in this senseless, ill conceived battle. Visit rural towns today and you will find monuments with lists of the fallen. The numbers are staggering! The heart was ripped away from so many places.
Are you ready to let your skin crawl? Are you ready to get lost in the night? Are you ready to embrace everything that lives in the shadows? Step into the darkness and release your fears. A 78-card tarot deck, with premium design aesthetics, that calls you to turn away from the light and explore your own shadow.
Put ‘how to bond with a tarot deck’ into your search engine and a host of ideas about how to develop a relationship with your deck will appear. Ideas range from smoking it with white sage, sleeping with it, rubbing the deck edges in the dirt or simply taking the time to interview it.
Having recently acquired the Macabre Tarot I was very taken with the interview, shown here, by Owl and Bone Tarot.
Taking the time to reflect on the messages that laid before me helped my appreciate just what this deck might offer.
Another strategy I employ, as I familiarize myself with a deck like this, is to take it out on an adventure. So, given the macabre nature of this deck I bundled it and the dog into the car and set out to visit a lonely grave that can be found off the the road from Chewton to Fryers Town.
To visit this Escott Grave, in which lies a mother and daughter who died during the Gold Rush period, you have to walk some distance along a bush track.
Not much is written to support this insight but the Macabre Deck was quick to pick up on just how devastated these women had been about being betrayed and deceived.
The story of women on the diggings is largely untold. Only rarely did women work as diggers in their own right. Often, though, they worked side by side with a husband, brother or father.
The first woman made her appearance at Mount Alexander in November 1851, and a digger who was there later recalled how `all the men left off work to gaze on her’. Mrs Andrew Campbell couldn’t help noticing the way she was always being `gazed on’-
‘… sometimes as a strange animal, and at others, notwithstanding my claim to toughness, as a brittle bit of porcelain to be labelled “glass, with care”…’’
Towards the end of 1852, women were an accepted part of the diggings scene. Writer-turned digger, William Howitt, was surprised at the number of `diggeresses’ on the goldfields when he arrived: ‘You see a good many women … and some of them right handsome young girls. They all seem very cheerful and even merry; and the women seem to make themselves very much at home in this wild, nomadic life.’’
The grave of Elizabeth Escott and her daughter Fanny lies in bushland on the east side of the road to Fryerstown.
When Elizabeth’s husband died, she left England with her eleven children to make a new life in Australia. She was one of many who were beaten by the hardships of life on the diggings. Fanny was sixteen when she died of consumption at Blacksmith’s Gully in 1856, and Elizabeth died six months later. Another daughter, Mary, had died in 1855.