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.
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.
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)
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.
Lady Astral Tarot provides two outstanding videos in which she demonstrates how you can make your own Tarot Spreads by using individual cards from RWS and RWS Clones to help frame questions.
To test run this concept I pulled a card from the Tarot of Curious Creatures by Chris Anne. This six of swords is quite unique. By contrast the image in the RWS Six of Swords shows a woman and a child in a boat being rowed in the water to a land that is on the other side. We can gather from the images that the woman and the child are leaving something behind, as their backs are faced towards us. The woman’s head is covered with a cloak – perhaps she is fleeing something, and must go without others knowing her true identity.
Here the Hare sits on what appears to be luggage, waiting to leave. As she waits a tortoise approaches.
Using Anna’s approach I take the time to take in all the details in this image but my focus is on the approaching tortoise and the story of the Tortoise and the Hare comes to mind. The moral lesson of this story is that you can be more successful by doing things slowly and steadily than by acting quickly and carelessly.
Seeing the Tortoise approaching makes me wonder if the Hare has thrown in the towel too quickly. I also wonder about what assistance may come from an unexpected quarter and I frame a question around this.
From what unexpected quarter may I get support?
I shuffle and draw another card. It is the Four of Pentacles depicting a Pig protectively keeping her gold to herself. Initially it is not clear how this provides any support.
However, in a general context, the message from the Four of Pentacles Tarot card could help the Hare by demanding she consider if she is are holding too tightly on to people, possessions, situations or past issues.
The Four of Pentacles tarot card may also be an indication that there are deep seated issues affecting the Hare that she needs to process and let go of. Perhaps the Hare has only been valuing things for their material worth, is trying to hard to control her life or is holding back. It is possible that she has become too greedy and needs to be reminded that money works best when it can flow and exchange, not when it is being stashed away in her luggage.
Certainly, as the Hare sits on her luggage waiting to leave, she is given things to think about.
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.
What about addressing the difficult topic over tea and biscuits? If tea’s not your drink, do a little online search for alternatives. Lots of cultures have versions of hot beverages to try. Try them! Go on a tea/coffee break adventure and create space for sharing.
I invited the very youthful Anna K Fool to take a moment, before leaping off that cliff face, to have a cup of my tiny tea. Despite being in a hurry to go wherever she was going she agreed to take a few moments to talk to me.
As we sipped tea, and ate some of the Christmas shortbread, I remarked that my daily life has come to feel like a rubber band, that despite wanting to start afresh, I slip back into old ways of doing and being.
“This is not how it has to be! Your spirit is every bit as young as mine” proffered the Fool.
I all but choked on my tea and spluttered as I considered this. The saying that we are only as young as we feel went through the replay screen in my brain and I conceded that she might just be a very old soul in a young body.
“What about I lay down a couple of cards” suggested the Fool. “I am sure there will be a message for you”.
We contemplated the cards together. I suggested that I might position myself at the top of the wheel and dance joyfully like the figure shown there.
“Rather than hanging on to an established pattern of thinking about the ending before you begin” said the Fool “what about you focus on climbing up from the hub? The project you have so publicly been talking about will not materialize overnight. It will quite literally take a significant amount of time to wrangle. It will be awhile before you can really celebrate.”
With that the Fool drained her cup, put her swag back over her shoulder and leapt into some new world leaving me to ponder whether, at my age, after having responded so often to the call, if I have the energy to do it again.
Consider what might happen if you:
For more than 25 years Noriko Morishita studied and practised the intricate ceremonies of the famous Way of Tea, attempting to learn its complexities and achieve a perfection of movement and mood that few can master. In The Wisdom of Tea Noriko describes her gradual discovery of freedom and insight within the very rules that once seemed so constricting. Looking back across her life, Noriko illuminates the real teachings of the Way of Tea: to live absolutely in the moment, to notice and delight in the smallest of details, to embrace the vital skills of patience and perseverance, and to allow yourself to be.
made tea and sat chatting with one of the Major Arcana
added tea to a meeting with a client,
poured a cup of tea and brought it to a disheartened friend,
set up a tea service for an imaginary friend on your back deck.
bought yourself a child’s tea service and made tea for the nature spirits in your garden
called in and had tea with an isolated elderly or disabled person and encouraged them to share stories about their life.