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.
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.
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.
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.
Literary Studies is the study of written works of the imagination, of which poetry, drama and narrative fiction constitute today the most familiar types or genres. Most students and teachers of literature, however, see it as a more complex matter. It might be more accurate to describe it as a set of methods for examining the richness and diversity of experience through unusual uses of language, through a language that we recognize as different from everyday language and that thereby aspires to produce a reflection of and on the world not available to us otherwise. As such, literary works are also primary documents for investigating national histories, world events, the individual psyche, race, class, gender, science, economics, religion, the natural world, leisure and the other arts. Because literary studies engages with countless other disciplines, it is among the most interdisciplinary of any field of study.
Back in the day, when I was teaching Year 12 Literature and English I applied some interesting techniques to draw out responses but I cannot deny that it never occurred to me to use Tarot or any other cards for that matter. Yet it was the Head of English at Monash University who gave a lecture about the Tarot and their relevance.
Whatever! Time has passed and it has become clear that exploring the insights cards have to offer can prove very illuminating.
When I drew a card to see what the White Numen Deck thought about the idea of working with Saving Sorrento by Monika Roleff (available at Amazon) out popped the Ace of Wands.
They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The Ace of Wands tarot card carries a similar message, representing a bold step toward a new beginning. The first card in the Suit of Wands, this Ace is full of energy, a creative kind, that breathes life into things that did not exist before.
According to Labyrinthos “Wands symbolize creativity, and the Ace of Wands is the boldest among the cards in the suit. It is not the kind of creativity that you learn from school or as a hobby. It is bravely finding your own voice, it creates a place where you can develop your own vision. In other words, it is associated with willpower, and creativity in the cosmic sense.
When you draw the Ace of Wands, it is an indicator that you should just go for it. Take the chance and pursue an idea that you have in mind. Take the first steps to start the creative project. The Ace of Wands calls out to you to follow your instincts. If you think that the project that you’ve been dreaming of is a good idea, and then just go ahead and do it.
Initial Character Study
One way to reflect upon characters is to do a spread like this. It enables us to put in an anchor and glean what forces are impacting on our primary protagonists. In this instance I used the Margarete Petersen Tarot.
The cards that appear for Isabella suggest that when she first meets the stranger on the beach she is threatened by his demeanor. On a conscious level she knows she needs to bring a halt to these unbecoming, fickle and shadowy thoughts. She has experienced fear before and understands she can leave such fears in the realm of the past. By contrast Alexander is unsettled by the appearance of this woman at his makeshift camp. He has good reason to be wary of seemingly attractive women. He is bereft and tries to hide it. However he has the gift of sensitivity and knows his feelings have been blurred by the events that bought him to this space. He senses that he will melt into what awaits him.
Mouse symbolism is centered on the idea of having the ability to accomplish anything in life regardless of your size. It is a spirit present in many tales and myths and has various positive and negative meanings.
Wary of the Deviant Moon Fool, unsure about following such a renegade, I turned to the Northern Animal Tarot. I figured I might get the best guidance from an animal. I didn’t need to do a spread to decide whether to accept a date with this young fellow.
Mouse reminds me to go slow and to tend to the smaller details. Mouse spirit signifies a time when you need to take a closer look at your life and scrutinize the details that you may have missed. As a big picture person this advice seems very timely. I am guilty of overlooking detail.
I pull two more cards to guide me, to help me see what I may have overlooked as I embark on this project. I realize that the seed I have is going to need to be nurtured if it is to flourish and that while I have a rich bounty already there are many more cups to fill along the way.
But I am tired now. The negative noise that has permeated everything for the past two years feels overwhelming. It is ridiculous to imagine that anything really changes on the last day of a year, that everything will be transformed at the dawn of a New Year, but the prospect of more of this is relentless stress is daunting. Earth feels like a very crazy place to be at the moment and I wonder what is going on out there in the galaxy.
Mouse looks through his contacts in the deck and suggests that I really need to find the Knight of Swords.
When I come upon this fellow, striding forward, wielding his sword, his ferocious energy is daunting. I am just plain weary and my intellect feels blunted. I recall my High School Principal telling me that “worry is rust on the blade” and I am sure Marcus Aurelius would have some sage advice. Obviously I have always taken things way too seriously and this has blunted my sword.
I choose to simply watch as this energetic warrior struts his stuff, hoping for some of his enthusiasm to be infectious.
The Deviant Moon Tarot has surreal, very unique, and sometimes disturbing moonlit artwork. It’s inspired by (and incorporates) images of cemeteries and mental asylums, and designed to illuminate deeper parts of the subconscious. The talented illustrator is also a tarot student, and the deck is the result of three years of artistic work.
Some find the Deviant Moon Fool menacing but as I watch him dancing I find myself recalling time spent in Venice, drawn to all the Venetian masks, mannequins and puppets.
In his richly illustrated book Patrick Valenza says that the Fool “begins his journey with a delirious dance. With maniacal laughter he heads out into the unknown still clothed in his sleepwear”.
There is certainly a dreamlike quality about this character and his bizarre appearance makes me hesitant to approach him.
However, I am mesmerized by his invitation to abandon all inhibitions, take the plunge and create my own unique path. Having said this, it feels like I have been taking leaps of faith ever since I walked away from my former life and reinvented myself in the town I moved to. It feels like I am getting a bit old to be letting go of more inhibitions.
Perhaps it is old age that makes me more cautious about the motives of this Fool.Rather than take the plunge on a whim, I pause to read what Valenza has to say about his Fool and decide to tackle a spread to help me determine how a date with this fellow might turn out.
The initial energy of the Seven of Swords confirms my suspicion that I may be taking an incredible risk to engage with this Fool, however briefly. The presence of swords pierced in the ground imply that this Harlequin performers act has not only, not been a raging success, but that the performer has risked life and limb in his endeavor to perform a unique act. Add the Death card and I cannot deny that I seriously question the advisability of hanging about for long.
The truth is I am not much of a risk taker. I have been known to crumple at almost any height and recall clinging like a leech to the wall of a lighthouse that my late husband insisted we climb. He never gave credence to my fear and thought it was something I should get over. However I let him climb the arduous steps at the Vatican and capture the view of Rome all by himself. While he was gone I sat in St Peter’s Square taking in the passing parade.
Bibliomancy is one of many divination practices found around the world, and involves the use of books—typically sacred texts—as a method to foretell the future and find guidance. There are many different techniques of bibliomancy that can be used, and a practitioner’s own belief system often informs the way in which results are interpreted.
All the Tarot, Oracle and Lenormand readers I have come to know are constantly updating their knowledge. Inevitably, most folk who collect decks also collect reputable resources to further their knowledge. I know my shelves are literally full of resources about Tarot and the art of writing in particular.
In his book, A Healing Space, Matt Licata specifically says that his book is not one to be read from cover to cover in one sitting. He expresses the hope that a reader might take his book out into nature, sit on the earth and ask to be directed to a passage. What Licata is describing is the art of bibliomancy.
Bibliomancy is often used with sacred texts to divine the future, but can also be performed with fiction.
The tradition of bibliomancy is found in religious practices all over the world.
To practice bibliomancy, you can select any book that is important to you, and focus on finding an answer to your question.
Now this got me thinking! It is true! The Jury is back in! I am guilty, as charged, of being critical of myself for not reading all the pages of the countless books that I have gathered over my lifetime. But I am confident that I could establish a simple Bibliomancy practice using the Tarot books, and other resources that surround me.
To test drive the process I pulled Mindful Tarot by Lisa Frienkel Tishman. PhD off the shelf and called upon this book to show me something I needed to know about Tarot and my specific practice.
Remarkably the page that opened talked about the Hangman and how the earliest decks called this the Traitor, in reference to Judas! This may not be news to you, but it was news to me.
I sat quietly with the whole notion of the Judas archetype and the provocative argument presented by Jorges Luis Borges, that without Judas we would not have Christ saving us all.
I pulled out the Hangman from the Cosmic Tarot and drew in the image! I considered how once in awhile someone comes along who, by the way, is not thanked for turning everything upside down. I remembered a moment in time when I turned everything upside down.
Curious? Perhaps it is best that I keep that memory to myself for now.
Over to You
What reference beckons you? What do you learn? Will you try this again and again?
The moon is an integral part of our lives. Whether it is celebrating a festival or starting an auspicious task, or meditating, we consider the movements of the moon.
The moon is your old friend, when you understand it and know how to lean on it, it won’t let you down.
In this universe, every object has an impact on the other. The full moon as well as the new moon are thought to have an effect on the body and mind to some extent. But practicing pranayama, yoga and meditation can help counter these effects.
A Guided Meditation
Layout some Moon cards and spend time meditating on them. It may help to play this Guided Meditation or another imagery, like this, that you can find online.
A Full Moon Spread
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon, The moon, The moon, They danced by the light of the moon
The energy of the moon has an undeniably powerful influence—on people, on plants and animals, and on the cycles and rhythms of the world. These tarot spread may help you manifest the changes you want for yourself and your community. Whatever! They will provide fodder for journal keeping.