Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zodiac

Holy fuckballs! We've actually made it to "Z". AND THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING! Yaaaaaaaay.

Anyway, I'd like to finish out the month with a look at the Zodiac that we use here in the United States, as well as in other parts of the world. 

Many folks know what sign they are but they don't know how the Zodiac calendar is organized. As such, a lot of people can't figure out what sign a person is by their birthdate. That's actually pretty simple. 

Western astrology is based on the idea that the astrological year begins in the spring and ends on the last day of winter. Because it's seasonal, we don't have to worry that someday we'll need to add a sign--like Vedic astrologers did a while back when they came up with the 13th sign, Opichucus. 12 is what we have and we only need twelve of them, because while they were inspired by the stars, their progression is based on our seasons. 

Each sign has a QUALITY and an ELEMENT, a unique combination! In other words, if you can remember the element and quality it will help you remember the sign and where it is located in the astrological year.

An element is a description of the characteristics of the energy put out by a particular sign. In astrology we have four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. The signs are divided up equally among the elements, so we have three signs of each element. 

  • Fire—Rules the spiritual body; motivation, passion, courage, excitement, stress, anger, rage, and restlessness are all part of this element
  •  Earth—Rules the physical body; anything tangible is part of this element, including money/resources, job/work, practicality, reliability, work ethic, stubbornness, long-term views, and anything sensual are all a part of this element.
  •  Air—Rules the mental body; anything relating to our thoughts and ideas or the functioning of our brains is a part of this element.
  • Water—Rules the emotional body; anything related to feelings and emotions, how we express them and their overall effect on our lives is a part of this element. 

A quality is a description of the feel of the energy put out by a particular sign. The signs are divided into an equal number of qualities, so there are four signs of each quality. 
  • Cardinal—signs that most clearly express the qualities of the sign; these are natural leadership signs and ideas people. A cardinal sign begins each season.
  • Fixed—signs that are least likely to change over time; these signs are naturally inclined to take the ideas of others and develop them into something incredible. A fixed sign is in the middle of each season.
  • Mutable—signs that are incredibly flexible; they can lead or follow and are much more adaptable—and less predictable—than other qualities.  But they also have short attention spans.  Each season ends with a mutable sign.
Starting with the first day of spring, the elements are always in this order: Fire, Earth, Air, Water

Starting with the first day of spring, the qualities are always in this order: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable

Approximate dates of the astrological signs
Aries—March 20-April 19 (Beginning of spring)
Taurus—April 19th-May 20
Gemini—May 20-June 21

Cancer— June 21-July 22 (Beginning of summer)
Leo—July 22-August 23
Virgo—August 23-September 22

Libra—September 22-October 23 (Beginning of fall)
Scorpio—October 23-November 22
Sagittarius—November 22-December 21

Capricorn—December 21-January 19 (beginning of winter)
Aquarius—January 19-February 18
Pisces—February 18-March 20

Thanks again for sticking with me! See you next time. 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yankee, Y'all

I'm a Yankee. No question about that one, folks. I'm a born-and-raised New England Yankee. I moved to what is officially the south over eight years ago. Even here in Northern Virginia, I hear people saying "Y'all". And I can't say "Y'all".

I've tried to get into it, but I just can't do it. It's not that it sounds dumb at all--where I come from it's "YA PAHK YA CAH OVAH THEYAH" so I have no leg to stand on--but I can't wrap my head around it. I feel like I'm doing something I shouldn't.

I've encountered this type of thing before. When I moved out of Massachusetts for the first time, I noticed some curious things about my home state. People were wary of folks with Massachusetts license plates. They call us "Massholes". And they think we talk funny. In Pennsylvania as a college freshman, I took a lot of flack for my accent. What they didn't know was that many of the folks back home had much thicker Mass accents than I did; I was trying to shed mine anyway to speak French more effectively.

And then they talked funny, too. They said things like, "Hey, John, we're going to the mall. You wanna come with?" I would stand there, waiting for the indirect object. With WHOM? With us? With me? With the football team? I guess it was implied. Just like "Is the cereal all?" That's another Pennsylvania question I heard. All WHAT? Turns out that it means "all GONE". I still can't use either of those phrases without feeling silly or doing it for comic effect.

[NOTE: It's bad enough that my brother deliberately mispronounced many Pennsylvania cities for that same reason. I just can't go back to the Philadelphia area and not laugh when I see the signs for "Conshohocken", which he used to pronounce "Cockanockin". A local shortening of the word, "Cunchy" sounds too dirty to say...I mean, it begins with C-U-N! But I digress.]

When I lived in New York City for a few years, I kind of had the same thing happen when it came to the accent. But New Yorkers are used to foreigners, and many of them are transplants themselves, so it wasn't a huge issue. My taste in sports teams was an entirely different kind of flying, altogether.

So let's return, y'all. Apparently there are usage rules with y'all that I was not aware of. "Y'all" sounds like it's supposed to be used on more than one person, but it's really not. It seems like it's directed at one person, or maybe perhaps at the maximum two people. It wasn't until a few months after I arrived that I found out that "all y'all" is the plural form of "y'all", used when speaking to a group of two people or more.

Nearly eight years have passed since my arrival in the South and I think overall I've assimilated pretty well. I know what sweet tea is. My tastes in barbecue have come a long way. Hell, I've even been to both Carolinas at one time or another. But I don't see "y'all" entering my vocabulary.

Anyway, hope y'all--unless more than one person is reading this screen and then it's "all y'all"--will tune in on Monday for my final post of the month with the letter "Z". Thanks for sticking it out with me.

Perhaps I should make sure all my Southern readers feel more comfortable and translate the paragraph above:

"Y'all come back now, y'hear?" ;)

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X-Rated Tarot Decks

Tarot decks are an amazing art form and come in all different themes. Finding one that works for you may be hard simply because of the vast number of decks out there. I've got over 130 decks myself. But you may not know that there are some decks that definitely are for adults only. 

Nudity in tarot is a topic that tarot readers discuss, and every reader is different. Some love it, others hate it, and most are in between. But I want to make the distinction here between nudity in the cards and erotic tarot decks. Many cards have some nudity, but the X-rated decks are the ones that not only show nudity but various forms of sexual acts on them.

Admittedly, it can be difficult to pay attention to what the divinatory meaning of a particular spread is if the cards are distracting. Some of them are, so for the most part I would use these as "special occasion decks". I get requests for them occasionally, and make sure that no minors are present while I use them, but they're not part of my typical deck repertoire.

Here are few you can check out:

The Decameron Tarot: By far the most erotic tarot deck I own, there are representations of the male and female sex organs on every card just by the suit markers. But many of the pictures are men and women involved in various sex acts, and full frontal nudity is on pretty much every card. I once brought this deck to the store where I read one evening, and two hours later I was asking people where it had been borrowed and handed around. I'm guessing people didn't want to give it back. :)

Manara Erotic Tarot: This deck has many cards with nudity, but not as many with actual sex occurring on the cards. This one is a little more tame than the Decameron, but here, there are many more cards with people in sexy clothes and some that are totally free of both sex and nudity. 

Tarot of Sexual Magic: Lies somewhere between Decameron and Manara for me. Lots of sex happening on cards, lots of nudity, but it's not as explicit as the Decameron and hotter than Manara. Sometimes the sex is occurring in the background on this deck so it's not as much "in your face". 

If you read the tarot, what's your opinion on erotic tarot decks or nudity in the tarot? 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Tune in tomorrow for my "Y" post. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wicca and Witchcraft

I'm a proud, out-of-the-broom-closet Witch. I'm also the Head High Priest of the Tradition of the Witches Circle, a school of Witchcraft in Occoquan, VA, and a Minister in the Ministry of Light Interfaith Church. Blessings and welcome!

Many years of searching led me to this path, and while I'm very proud of being a Witch, I understand that many people don't really know what to do with us. Some think we're merely strange because we're not a "mainstream" religion, and others may fear us because they don't know what we're all about. There are also people who just hate us, which is something that I just don't understand.

First of all, let's start with some terms. Wicca and Witchcraft are used interchangeably by many, but there's a shade of difference between the two of them. For me, Wicca is the "religious" part of the spiritual activity. These are the rituals, the holidays, and the belief system. Generally speaking, Wicca is a faith that has both a God and a Goddess, and our ways are based on patterns in nature--the cycles of the sun and moon and the elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Balancing these elements in our lives is an important part of what we practice.

What one does inside of the ritual is considered Witchcraft. In other words, if I bring my will to bear on a situation by asking for divine assistance, that's Witchcraft. It's no different than prayer or meditation--we call them spells or rituals, but the action of doing them is the same as in other spiritual paths. This isn't something we do lightly. Ideally, we do as much in the mundane (non-spiritual) world as we can before we start whipping magick around. And make no mistake: If we do something that deliberately harms another, Karma will kick our asses. So the idea that we walk around cursing people all day long is ridiculous.

One phenomenon that I have experienced is that Wicca seems to attract many people who are disillusioned with patriarchal-based religions like Christianity. Consequently, many who discover the Goddess embrace her wholly and leave the God behind. In some sects of Wicca, the God isn't worshiped at all, and Wicca can become very "fluffy bunny", imagining the world only filled with good.

While a positive attitude is an asset to a balanced life, our tradition is about equality of both the masculine and feminine Divine. We are a rare group because we have both a Head High Priest and a Head High Priestess, so in a very tangible way we honor this duality. We also work to improve the darker parts of ourselves so that they don't prevent us from becoming the people we really want to be. In short, we want to create empowered Witches who embrace both the masculine and feminine in their lives.

I think the thing I love most about the Craft is its flexibility. I can use basically anything I want as part of my spiritual practice, and while I happen to be clergy, every Wiccan or Witch can decide what to do spiritually for themselves; we don't need an intermediary for our connection to the Divine.

I'll leave you with this final thought: Wicca is the only religion that I know that doesn't say "We are the only way" or "We are the right way". We say, "If you want to join us, welcome. If this path is not for you, may you find what you seek." That's a message of tolerance that I think a lot of people, regardless of their spirituality, can get behind.

If you want to learn more, check out our school's website at Classes are open to all.

Thanks for tuning in! Stop by tomorrow for my "X" post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Virgo

I have a special place in my heart for this 6th sign of the Zodiac. I've been married to a Virgo for nearly 17 years, and I'm truly fascinated by what I've learned about the sign from her.

Your typical Virgo is likely quiet, unassuming, and maybe even a little shy. Virgo folks don't usually push themselves forward, so they can be overlooked. But don't underestimate them, for behind that exterior lies the power of the planet Mercury, and they use that power to help others make things better.

Gemini is also a Mercury-ruled sign, but there's a huge difference in the way the Mercury energy manifests itself. The simple explanation is that while Gemini sends that energy outward by communicating and connecting the dots, Virgo turns that energy inward to analyze and synthesize the data to draw practical conclusions; Virgo is an earth sign, after all, and being practical is like breathing for most Virgins.

I'm not a big fan of the Virgin as the symbol of Virgo, but it does tell you a lot about the sign. Virgos are very discriminating--some might call it picky--about pretty much everything. Virgos also are about health and purity; many of them work in the health or biological sciences, or in the healing professions with humans or other living creatures. And let me debunk one myth: Virgos are not cold and "virginal" at all. They're very warm, but they are choosy about who they allow into their lives.

Then there's "the Virgo way". Generally speaking, Virgos believe there is a right way to do everything. And yes, I mean everything. The "right way"is a way that normally can only be achieved by other Virgos. I've actually seen this happen--a Virgo will explain the way they do something to another, who will smile and say, "Yes, exactly!" while the rest of us are like, "We REALLY have to do it this way? Our way was faster."

As the "Troubleshooters of the Zodiac", Virgos are excellent at poking holes in your well-laid--or not so well-laid--plans, and are fantastic at organizing ANYTHING. The way to get your Virgo person to do this is pretty simple. Stand there, looking frazzled, in the middle of your situation--like your disorganized bookshelves, for example--and say something like "I just don't know how I'm going to do this!" Usually the Virgo desire to help, and to rectify the situation so they don't have to look at it anymore, takes over and you can get out of the way as they do it for you.

This is the sign that you want as your safety person, lab scientist, proofreader, veternarian or doctor...provided you can handle the truth. If you can't, you'll want to pick another sign to help you out, but likely you'll be less successful than you would have been.

Some professions and areas ruled by Virgo include:
  • The armed forces ("Service" is one of Virgo's key words)
  • Health professional for any living thing
  • Scientist
  • Any profession that requires exceptional attention to detail
  • Writer
Speaking of writers, my beloved, Jennifer Wells, has a new book coming out next month that's set in an astrology-based world. Practically Dreaming is the title, the first in a series of astrological fiction called Sabian Symbols from Crescent Moon Press. Her main character? A Virgo named Tierra. You can check out her website at, or her blog at

Thanks for tuning in, and for checking out Jen's website and blog! Check back tomorrow for my "W" post! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Uranus

Uranus, the Latinized version of the Greek "Ouranos", was discovered in 1781 by Sir William Herschel. Since Saturn is the father of Jupiter in mythology, Herschel decided to continue the tradition and name this planet for Saturn's father.

Astrologically, Uranus is one of the "outer planets", and has less of a day-to-day impact on a chart, but it shouldn't be neglected. Many astrology students don't take the time to understand it, which is a shame; it certainly has a lot to offer and a lot of different areas fall under its purview.

Uranus rules the sign Aquarius, and is called "The Light-Bringer". It brings us originality, inventiveness, intuition, and social reform. Taken too far, the planet's energy can seem overly quirky or eccentric, anarchic, or erratic, and can bring those feelings to the fore in all of us. Those days when you think about chucking it all and joining the circus are when Uranus is driving the bus.

With this planet, expect the unexpected. No, REALLY. While every person is unique, Aquarians come by it honestly: Uranus gives Aquarius folks lots of interesting quirks that the Aquarius just explains away while the rest of us stand around saying "What the fuck...? You mean there's a reason why you cut your sandwiches into the shape of a rhombus on days you have big meetings?" You can bet the explanation will be interesting but don't expect the person to change.

Aquarians should also note the place of Saturn in their charts, as Saturn was your ruling planet before 1781. And speaking of 1781, there were quite a number of big world revolutions going on. Would it surprise you to know that Uranus rules revolution, rebellion, and abrupt change? Yeah, imagine THAT coincidence. :)

Uranus is another slow-mover, changing signs once every 7 years. If the calculations about the average American life-span are correct--check out the Washington Post article here--women have a better shot at seeing a Uranus return than men at 84. If technology, which is, incidentally, Uranus-ruled, continues to be developed, maybe we'll live long enough to see a second return someday.

What is more interesting is the Uranus opposition. let's break this down. When two planets are opposed in a chart, it means that they are 180 degrees apart, forcing the person to figure out how to balance the divergent influences. In my natal chart, I was born with Saturn and Neptune opposed. But what I'm referring to here is a transiting opposition--Uranus moving into a position exactly opposite the place when you were born--which means it will happen to all of us around the age of 39. What happens around 39? Mid-life crisis! Abrupt changes in attitudes, jobs, lifestyles and behaviors can abound. I'm actually going through it right Uranus was opposed last year, and because Uranus is often in retrograde it has come back into its opposite sign to my birth sign, Aries, several times.

Here are some of the other areas Uranus rules:

  • Computers and networks
  • Electricity
  • The future and the unexpected
  • Intuition and any extrasensory or psychic ability
  • Natural sciences
Thanks for stopping in! Tune in tomorrow for my "V" post! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Taurus

The most stubborn sign in the Zodiac by far, Taurus people can really show other people the meaning of hard work. It seems like they can take on more than other people in the workplace and just keep going despite the heavy load. Makes you think of a bull, doesn't it? :)

Taurus, which, incidentally started on April 19th at 12:12pm EDT, is ruled by Venus, a fact that many people find surprising. The typical Taurus person has a love of the simple things in life and enjoys sensual pleasures--good food, good wine, good conversation, and good sex, not necessarily in that order! OK, I couldn't leave that last part out. I mean...we're talking about VENUS here! Some of you may know her as Aphrodite. Anyway, for many Taurus people, the food vs. sex debate can be very intense indeed.

Taurus rules the throat, and as such many great singers are born under the sign of the bull: Stevie Wonder, Barbara Streisand, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, and Janet Jackson are some examples. Even if they don't have the world's most pleasing voices, singing is often therapeutic for Taurus folks.

If you're going to a party at a Taurus person's house, you will never go away hungry, sober, or disappointed; these folks are natural entertainers and really want to embrace you in their home. Many Taureans are also foodies. But don't ever throw them a surprise party; they don't take to sudden changes well.

Your typical Taurus person moves at one speed, and that speed is usually slow. Trying to rush them along won't help, so relax and don't bother wasting your breath. The advice is the same if you're trying to get a Taurus person out of a rut. Until they want out, you're wasting your time. And change? Well, attempt to get a Taurus person to do something they don't want to do and it's "like shoveling shit against the tide" as my mom used to say.

Taurus folks have generally incredible memories--the elephant is actually ruled by Taurus!--but they're not so good at keeping in touch. When you are back in touch, it will be like no time has passed at all.

Some excellent occupations for Taurus people include:
  • Retail ANYTHING
  • Florist
  • Clothing and jewelry design
  • Resource management
  • Cosmetology
  • Musicians and artists
For Taurus birthday presents, anything food-related will usually work well. :)

Thanks for stopping by! Tune in tomorrow for my "U" post. :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Saturn

Hi there! If you've read my past blogs, then my inclusion of Saturn should be NO SURPRISE! Astrologically speaking, Saturn is a very important planet for me, so I've talked about him a few times. Most of the time I actually let him speak for himself, but not today; when I asked him to say a few words he decided that it would be too self-serving. :)

"Old Man" Saturn provides us helpful limitations in our lives, and gives us an understanding of hierarchy and structure in things--think "pecking order"--as well as self-discipline and common sense. Of course, he can also be a stodgy SOB as well and make us more uptight and repress our emotions. Saturn also rules our relationships with our fathers as well as other male authority figures.

Saturn rules the sign Capricorn. As a Capricorn moon and with Capricorn rising in my chart, I definitely have a lot of his influence. It took me quite a while to loosen up; as a child I was very reserved. Luckily in adulthood I have managed to mellow quite a bit. Saturn-ruled folks tend to get better with age. Capricorn rising is a great placement for long-term romantic partnerships, while Capricorn moon is tied for the worst moon position with Scorpio moon.

He is the Lord of Karma. He teaches some important lessons, and will often come to bite you on the ass if you take short cuts. One of his major lessons is that you must take life one step at a time. He's also the planet of obligation and responsibility. Saturn-ruled folks often have a very developed--or over-developed--sense of responsibility to others.

We get the word for "Saturday" from Saturn...looks like this blog fell on the perfect day. What is hilarious to me is that many people really go wild on Saturday nights, even though Saturn is our "be sensible" and "use common sense" planet. Is it because the "day" is over and now it's time to throw off Saturn's restraint?

The term "over the hill" actually comes from Saturn as well. It takes Saturn about 29.5 years to go through the entire Zodiac and return to the place it was in when you were born, so when you turn 30 you are "over the hill". Once you turn 60 you're over the hill again. Oftentimes these two birthdays mark very significant times in our lives, often when we take a hard look at our lives and our responsibilities.

Occupations and disciplines ruled by Saturn include:
  • Architect
  • Manual labor of any kind
  • Bricklayer
  • Plumber
  • Real estate
  • Security guard
  • Governments and their employees
  • Anyone who supervises or manages other people

I'm heading off on vacation but I'm finishing strong...and I'm using Saturn's influence to help me structure all of the remaining posts before I take off. Tune in Monday for my "T" post.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Retrograde

In astrology, when a planet appears to be moving "backward" in its orbit, it is considered to be in retrograde motion. The planet is not actually moving backward; it's an illusion because we can only see it from the earth. But the effects certainly are not. 

There are two different kinds of retrogrades:
  • A natal retrograde is when a planet was in retrograde motion when you were born, and it has an overall affect on your personal astrological chart.
  • A transiting retrograde is when a planet is in retrograde motion during your lifetime, and it affects everyone. 

Most people are concerned with the transiting retrograde planets. Mercury, of course, is the one that everyone seems to be concerned about when it goes backward, because anything involving a number of different areas, including communications, has a greater tendency to go awry.

I'm not going to bore you with Mercury retrograde here...been there, done that. The most viewed post I have done is about it, and I've done more than one about the topic, so take a look at the archives if you're interested in that. Because it is such a fast-moving planet and is so close to Earth it does affect us quite a bit, but I figure you can navigate my blog archives quicker than I can type it all out again. :)

The only planets that do not go retrograde are the sun and moon, which are known as "the luminaries" in astrology. But the two other personal planets, Venus and Mars, have a significant impact when they are retrograde as well, and they're often ignored. I'll give you a few insights into both, whether they are in your natal chart or transiting. 

Please keep in mind as well that it's important to know which sign these planets are in, as that position will give you insight into what specific areas of your life may be affected. 

Natal Venus Retrograde: If Venus was in retrograde when you were born, you may feel awkward, shy, or unable to make small talk, or may feel uncomfortable relating to other people. Often, people with this placement have more than their share of commitment problems as well, questioning their worthiness of the love offered by other people.

Transiting Venus Retrograde: Venus is actually in retrograde less than all of the other planets, going "backward" only once every 18 months. During these times, outward appearances, money, and love matters may become less important. So this isn't a great time to start dating someone, get married, or throw big parties, either. Hold off on that new hairstyle or wardrobe as well. Couples in relationships may find that Venus Retrograde, true to form on its "re-" nature, may cause issues to re-surface so that any "unfinished business" may be resolved.

NOTE: Venus goes retrograde in a few weeks, beginning on May 15 and stays in retrograde through June 27, 2012. Its effects will be felt as early as April 12 and as late as July 31 of this year. 

Natal Mars Retrograde: If Mars was in retrograde when you were born, you may have difficulty asserting yourself or expressing anger, or dislike situations in which you have to compete with others. You need to be sure to stand up for yourself and for your interests, and not let others run roughshod over you.

Transiting Mars Retrograde: Mars goes retrograde once every 26 months or so. Definitely not a good time to start a business, transiting Mars retrograde can cause conflicts, at work or at home, to come to the fore, and also may aggravate any existing sexual difficulties. Mars doesn't like being held back, which is essentially what retrograde is. Expect major changes in big projects as well. 

NOTE: Mars was in retrograde beginning on January 24, 2012, and actually just went direct yesterday, April 14, 2012. However, you will continue to feel the effects of the retrograde for another few months, until it reaches its full forward speed on June 19, 2012. 

Thanks for dropping in! One more post for this week, my "S" post, will be up tomorrow. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Querent

Hi there...if you're a fan of older tarot books, you may find the word "Querent" in them. This is an archaic term for "the person asking the question of the tarot" or "the person receiving the reading". These days, I don't use that term. I've switched over to "client", mainly because it sounds more professional, but also because it defines the relationship for me.

Anyway, in this post I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about what makes a great tarot querent/client. I've mentioned before what to look for in a reader, but I think it's important to let all of you know what I look for in a good client.

One important thing to keep in mind: A tarot reader can choose to read for you, or can choose NOT to read for you. We're not obligated in any way. It's extremely rare for me to refuse to read for someone; I think it's only happened once in my career so far.

Want to make your tarot reader happy? Here's how to do it:

1) Respect--Have respect for my cards and anything on mytable, as well as myspiritual path. It's best to ask before touching anything on a tarot table unless you are invited to do so. I don't mind at all if you put a drink on my table as long as you are careful with it. And if you're not a fan of witches, for example, I think you ought to find another reader since I am one and work in a witch shop. I've had occasions where people act like the store where I read is the ultimate evil and yet they still believe that I have some insight for them. Insult my religion, or my store or anything in it and you'll find that I will be disinclined to acquiesce to your request for a reading. (If you think it doesn't happen, you would have to wonder why I have to mention it.)

2) Pay attention--Take notes or record me. Both of those are fine. Don't post recordings online where other people can listen; they are for your ears only. Put your phone away and on vibrate, please.

3) Children--It's best to leave them at home when you have a reading unless someone else is taking care of them for that time. I have had clients whose children have picked up my credit card machine or other objects (like gemstones), crawled around at my feet, or talked over me. While I understand that children do those things, you should really consider not having them present unless they are old enough to take care of themselves (like teenagers). It's also good to have privacy when you are having a reading;  you may not want them to hear what I have to say to you.

4) Friends--If you want moral support, please feel free bring a friend. It is up to you if they are present for a reading, with the understanding that they are NOT to repeat what they hear to anyone without your express permission. Your friends should also understand that this is YOUR reading; they shouldn't be asking questions of me unless you give them leave to do so. And let's be clear: Your friends may make fantastic faces--oh yeah, and they DO in case you were wondering--but I'm focused on you. :)

5) Payment--Find out how much the reading will be before starting. Good readers should tell you in advance. Pay when the reading is over. Tipping is nice but NOT NECESSARY. If you choose to tip, the amount is up to you, and I graciously accept them. There's no real etiquette on this one.

6) Feedback--I like hearing how things went, so feel free to send me an email and let me know about how the reading came out. Did what we discussed happened? Somewhat? Not at all? I'm always interested in knowing if I'm on the mark.

7) Emotions--If you're tired, stressed, upset, or sick, you should really think about whether or not you want to pick up those cards. I promise that if I'm sick or otherwise unable to give you 100%, I won't read.

8) Emergencies--To me, there are no such things as "emergency tarot readings". If you have something that pressing in your life, I'm not the person you should be calling. I'll be honored to give you some guidance once things calm down.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pluto and Prophylactics

OK, let me start off by getting one of the most common astrological questions out in the open about Pluto before we start: "Pluto is now a dwarf planet; does that change its astrological influence?"The answer is no. Pluto's astronomical significance might have changed, but astrologically there's no change at all.

With that out of the way, we can proceed. Pluto is one of the outer planets, the furthermost one from the Earth in our solar system. Pluto moves pretty slowly, and changes signs about once every 21 years. Unless you live to be 248, Pluto will not move back to the place you were born during your lifetime. It's considered a "generational" planet, and many world events occur during its trip through the signs to highlight its significance. It spends much of its time retrograde.

Pluto was discovered in 1930. Interestingly enough, 10-year-old Venetia Burney came up with the name; the Lowell Observatory, who discovered the planet, created a contest to name it and Venetia won. Later on, Disney named its newest character after the planet as well.

Astrologically speaking, Pluto rules my sun sign, Scorpio. Before Pluto was discovered, however, Scorpio, like Aries, was Mars-ruled. So it's important for Scorps to know where Mars is as well. These two planets are a powerful combination, which is why Scorpios are known for their unrelenting determination, ability and desire to do battle, and "nuclear" anger.

Pluto is considered by some to be a "higher octave of Mars" and while its power may not manifest itself directly day-to-day, over time it highlights change. It rules procreation, conception, annihilation, elimination, and redemption. If you need the energy to make changes, Pluto is the planet you're looking for. You might not see the results for a while, but you'll know when they show up.

Some of the areas and occupations ruled by Pluto include:

  • Anyone who works underground
  • Terrorists and gang members
  • Spies
  • Police and intelligence professionals
  • Researchers
  • Healers
You share your Pluto sign with millions of others in your generation, so you have to look at your own chart to find its significance for you. 

Of course, Father Irish had to take one last shot at birth control by saying "P is for prophylactics!" By this time we got the idea that he thought something was wrong with birth control. I desperately wanted to shout, "Thankfully you're too old to reproduce!" Luckily my manners got the better of me and I didn't.  :)

Thanks for stopping by! Tune in tomorrow for my "Q" post. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Occult

Occult is a word that I don't hear much anymore, and to be honest, I'm kind of glad. Here's the definition from

Noun and adjective: Matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them

A lot of people who do not take the metaphysical and nature-based religions seriously use this term to describe us and our spiritual activities. Well, here's why that's not true. 

The definition talks about the "influence of the supernatural or supernormal powers." Unless you've been watching way too much television or far too many movies, the abilities that we possess are neither supernatural nor supernormal; they're just part of our spiritual paths. If you think we can summon demons or stop time, for example, that's Hollywood talking. While it would be pretty cool, that's not what it's all about. 

For us, use of the metaphysical--spells, astrology, herbalism, divination--is normal. And it is powerful, I'll grant you that, but it is no more powerful than the spiritual activities of any other person--prayer, chanting, communion with the Divine, etc.

Let's take the other part, the "secret knowledge". Ummm, it's really not. I went to a school for my training, the Tradition of the Witches Circle. We're not a secret. We offer classes to all. Witchcraft. Psychic development. Herbalism. Astrology. Tarot. And then some. We have a So I mean, how truly secret are we? We're not keeping secrets...this knowledge has been around for many years. 

I think that the word resonates with many people because it is a putdown, whether people want to realize it or not. It's like saying that I "delve into the Dark Arts" because of what I do for a living. BULLSHIT. You should probably see for yourself before you open up your mouth. I doubt that any of my clients would say the same. 

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion and your lexical choices. But I'd suggest taking "occult" out of your vocabulary. Those of us who find it offensive thank you in advance; we know enough people who won't bother to do a little digging. :)

Thanks as always for tuning in...see you tomorrow for my "P" post! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Neptune

Neptune is considered one of the "outer planets" of astrology, and as such can have less of a day to day impact on a chart. With that said, its energy still plays a role in astrological interpretation.

Neptune is the ruling planet for the very watery sign of Pisces. Before the discovery of Neptune, however, Pisces people were ruled by high-minded Jupiter. Keep this in mind, Pisces folks--you should know where both of these planets are in your chart and how they fit in.

It takes a long time for Neptune to move through each of the signs, a total of about 165 years, so we won't see a full run of Neptune through the Zodiac in our lifetimes. Recently, however, Neptune moved into the sign that it rules, Pisces--astrologically, Neptune is "in its dignity"--and that is a very powerful position indeed. Many Neptunian events and problems will likely take the forefront over the next 14 years as Neptune makes its way toward Aries.

Generally, Neptune rules mystical visions, artistic endeavors, intuition, delusions, craftiness, self-dramatization, illusion, and unconditional love. Many believe that Neptune's energy is that of Venus, but vibrating at a "higher octave", if you will.

To put this in more practical terms--because Neptune is NOT a practical planet in any sense of the word--here are some areas and disciplines that are Neptune-ruled:
  • Dreams and dreamers
  • Artists
  • Musicians
  • Filmmakers
  • Deception, lying, or anything clandestine or deliberately kept hidden 
  • Psychics and psychic ability
  • Spirituality
  • Drugs--anything that helps you escape from reality is Neptune-ruled! 
  • Cosmetics
  • Psychiatry
This is a planet that I know very well, and one I have been working with quite a bit in my professional life. Just take a look back at my "Saturn vs. Neptune" posts pretty much since the beginning of my time blogging and you'll get a sense of why that is. 

In many ways, for me Neptune is finding that escape, that release valve from everyday life. It can help you get in touch spiritually and really feel a sense of peace and total ecstasy. Its energy is amazing. The problem comes when you overdo it with Neptune; too much of a good thing is always a problem. With Neptune in the driver's seat too often, you may have escapist tendencies that lead you toward abuse of alcohol or other drugs. Sadly, many Pisces folks do "drink like a fish", and addiction is also one of the areas Neptune rules. You need to have some Neptune but it must be carefully balanced among everything else. 

Thanks so much for your faithful, patient attention! Please tune in tomorrow for my "O" post.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Mercury, Mastery, and...Masturbation

I know...the title probably got your attention today. Well, we will get down to masturbation in a moment. It will be better if it takes you longer to get there, so let's start with Mercury. I mean, come on, Mercury moves so fast you'll hardly notice.

A lot of you get a bad taste in your mouth with this planet because of the havoc it can wreak when it goes retrograde. Please understand how astrologically important Mercury is!

Mercury rules communication, commerce, active intelligence, and the realm of the mind, logic, and reason. It changes signs once every two to three weeks, and is never more than one sign away from the sun. What does that mean? It means that if you were born in Cancer sun, Mercury will either be in Gemini, Cancer, or Leo.

It rules two different signs: Gemini, who projects the energy of Mercury outward as the "radio broadcasters of the Zodiac", analyzing details constantly; and Virgo, who turns that energy inward for the improvement of the self and the desire to improve the world around them by synthesizing data into practical solutions.

Mercury's energy prompts us to question and fuels our need to know information. Its position in our birth chart shows how we best express ourselves and understand the world around us.

I won't go into detail here about Mercury retrograde, since I have plenty of other posts about that. With that said, did you know that with Mercury going into retrograde 3-4 times a year some folks can be born with Mercury retrograde? It may seem obvious but yes, some people are born with it going "backwards".

One of my astrology students asked me the question you are dying to know the answer to: "If you have Mercury retrograde in your chart, are you totally and completely FUCKED all the time?" Luckily, the answer is no. Mercury retrograde in your chart simply means you may have tons of ideas but your brain works more quickly than your mouth and that you have difficulty expressing them, among other things. And actually, for those of you in this situation, you get a cool bonus: Transiting Mercury retrogrades--the ones that occur 3-4 times a year--don't affect you as much because you're "used to it." It's like saying you can deal better with the humid summers in Washington, DC, because you grew up in Florida.

Mercury rules the following disciplines and occupations:
  • All professions dealing with books, speaking, writing and education (the only exception is publishing, which is actually ruled by Jupiter (expansion of ideas!). See my "J" post for more.)
  • Postal workers
  • Administrative personnel--secretaries, assistants, program managers, etc. 
  • Accountants
  • Engineers
  • Anyone in the travel business (airports, bus stations, etc.), including people who help get people to and from places locally, like bus, train, and trolley operators
  • Anyone who facilitates communications--IT people are ruled by both Uranus (networks and high tech) and Mercury

In the "mastery" category, I found out Thursday that I have attained the rank of Certified Tarot Master with the Tarot Certification Board of America. To receive it, not only did I have to train a certain number of people to read tarot, but I also had to submit 17 articles and have them published. No, not here on this blog...I had to have an "approved tarot publication" put them out. In my case, all my articles appeared in the American Tarot Association's Quarterly Journal.

Anyway, I'm totally thrilled, humbled and honored to receive this title. It took more than two years of work to get here from my last level, Certified Tarot Consultant. Now, after another year or so I can apply for Certified Tarot Instructor. And then it's on to Certified Tarot Grand Master. That's the ultimate prize.

OK, on to masturbation. When you first learned about Father Irish, you should have KNOWN that in an all-boys high school, masturbation was a topic that was going to be listed prominently on the Alphabet of Sin. Well, it certainly was. 

Father Irish boomed, "M is for MASTURBATION...OF ALL TYPES, brothers!" 

If you thought the class was out of control and disrespectful before now, well...that was nothing compared to what happened next. We just lost it laughing. I couldn't hold it in anymore. Those of us who weren't laughing were cheering or clapping or some combination thereof. I can't imagine what the other teachers in the area must have thought was going on.

My classmates' intellectual curiosity was...well, aroused. I guess we felt our collective intellectual erections needed to be satisfied, so the questions began. "Hey, Fatha, how many types ah theya?" "How would you know anything about that, Fatha?" If he was talking about mental masturbation as one of the "types", this class definitely fit the bill. 

I mean, I know he was looking out for our immortal souls, not wanting us to spill our seed upon the ground and all that nonsense. But seriously...I hope no other teacher or administrator knew he was going to say this. One of his colleagues could have at least taken him aside and said, "Hey, Father...mind if we talk to you for a moment? That 'Alphabet of Sin' thing is pretty crazy, and while it's exactly what we're all about in many respects...I don't know that it's good to condemn 'bopping the bishop' in such a direct way, especially when you're supposed to be teaching MATH to adolescent boys. Just sayin'."

Sadly, we never did find out what those other types were. It remains a mystery to this day. Father Irish just went on with the rest of the alphabet. 

There you go. I hope that was as fun for you as it was for me. But don't read it again for a little don't want to strain something. :)

Thanks so much for tuning in! Stop in on Monday for my "N" post.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Lunar Astrology

When someone asks you "What's your sign?", what they're really asking is "What's your Sun sign?" In other words, where was the sun when you were born? Knowing where the sun was when you were born is pretty easy. The sun changes signs about once a month, and many people have learned over the years the approximate dates of each sign.

By contrast, very few people ask, "Hey, what's your Moon sign?" unless of course you're really interested in astrology. I'm surprised at how many people these days do know what it is, but it's harder to find out. The moon changes signs about once every two-and-a-half days, and runs through all of the astrological signs in about a MONTH. Amazing how that works out! :)

One of the more common misconceptions about astrology is that if you know the sun sign, you know everything. Nothing could be further from the truth, folks; astrology has a TON of moving parts. But you've got a much clearer astrological picture of a person if you know their Moon sign.

The astrological moon is very important in the overall astrological profile. Here are some of the things that fall under the Moon's large purview:

  • Emotions and emotional outlook on life
  • Intuitive and emotional response
  • Mother or other women who represent authority figures
  • Nurturing and protective instincts
  • Emotional security
  • Eating habits
In addition to knowing what your moon sign is and doing some research on it--most astrology primers will give you information on the 12 different moon placements--you should also keep track of what sign the moon is in. There are also whole books written about the moon's astrological influence. I encourage you to take a deeper look; the sun says a lot, but knowing the astrological moon will let you take your knowledge to a new level. 

Thanks for stopping in! Tune in tomorrow for my "M" post! :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kitten

Ok, so you are probably aware that I am the proud father of three feline daughters. But I wasn't always a cat person. My family didn't have pets growing up, so I didn't really understand how awesome they were until I met my beloved bride.

I returned from France in the summer of 1992 and visited Jen at her home in Pennsylvania. We had been dating for only a few months and when I went into her room for the first time, she picked up this cat and deposited her in my arms. "This is Madison," she said. "Learn to love her or I will miss you very much." She laughed as she said it, but it was clear that cats would become a part of my life.

I couldn't have asked for a nicer gift. When Jen and I got married and moved in together, Madison of course moved with us. It took some adjustment on both of our parts. I had to keep looking down to make sure I wasn't running into her, and she had to put up with me not understanding what she wanted. It took me some time to learn to speak "cat". But she was an amazing creature who really taught me how special animals can be.

A few years later, I decided I wanted a cat of my own. Jen was thrilled, but she warned me that she couldn't describe the experience of a kitten. I was ready, so around Valentines Day of 1997, we brought home my little empress Josephine from the Grateful Paws Shelter; she was the best present I ever got.

I remember meeting her for the first time; she was in a room with like 13 foster brothers and sisters, and she was running around batting all of them, playing her heart out. I didn't know which one she was, but I turned to Jen and said, "I hope she's that black one!" Turns out I was right. And that little black kitten just stole my heart.

Jen was right; I didn't know what "kitten" was like. But Josephine was fast as lightning and she had a fantastic voice. We suspect she may be a Siamese or Burmese mix, and her vocal skills are pretty impressive. She often "sings" to her many toys at night or in the early morning, when she's playing and knows we can't see her do it.

I didn't find out until later that my kitten was born under Scorpio sun, which explains her intense desire to use her voice to explain to us what she wants, usually wet food. And of course, if I'm reading cards, she's sure to be around; she's a magickal cat, that one.

While I love kittens, I am very grateful to this beautiful cat, who will always be a kitten to me. You never really have one cat like your first, and I hope to have her around for quite a number of years yet.

Thanks for stopping by! Tune in tomorrow for my "L" post!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jupiter

Jupiter is an important planet in our astrological lives, and along with Saturn forms the "bridge" between the personal planets of Mercury, Venus, and Mars, and the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. 

Jupiter is the happy-go-lucky, good times planet that rules our spirituality, our ability to expand, and our ability to work with the good fortune we are given in life. A well-placed Jupiter can influence a person's material wealth in a very positive way, while a poorly-placed one may lead a person toward being wasteful or self-indulgent. Jupiter also rules optimism and extravagance. 

Jupiter says "Press on! Explore! See what's out there over the next hill!" Not surprisingly, Jupiter rules Sagittarius, but what many may not know is that Jupiter also impacts Pisces in the sense that Jupiter rules philanthropy and all things religious. 

It take Jupiter about 12 years to make its entire sweep through the entire zodiac, so every 12 years or so, Jupiter will return to the place it was when you were born. This is a good thing; oftentimes a Jupiter return is marked by a re-awakening or life expansion. At 24, for example, many people have completed their first round of college and may be going back for a second, or deciding to get married. 

While Jupiter is considered a "benefic"--an archaic term meaning a positive planet--its energy can also cause problems. If you feel that sense of freedom that Jupiter brings so much that you decide to cross boundaries, then bad things may occur. Too much of a good thing is indeed a negative thing. 

Jupiter is retrograde about 1/3 of the time, and will be in retrograde beginning on October 4 of this year through January 30, 2013, in Gemini. This will be a time to question and re-evaluate your plans for expansion, spirituality, and educational and learning priorities. 

Jupiter rules quite a number of occupations, including:

  • Law  
  • Lawyers 
  • Lawmakers 
  • Spirituality and Religion
  • Higher Education
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Restaurant worker
  • Philanthropist
  • Entertainment worker (those NOT in the arts who bring fun to others)
  • Clothier
  •  Banking, especially international banking
Thanks for stopping by! Tune in tomorrow for my "K" post! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Intuition

Intuition is a very important part of what I do as a tarot reader. It's that inner voice, that sixth sense, that helps me understand what I'm seeing in the cards and interpret it for others. It's really a fantastic gift that I am thankful for every day.

Everyone has intuition; some people choose to embrace it and listen, while others do not. And that's not a value judgment, folks, if you don't use yours. But we ALL have had times when we've said, "I knew I should have [INSERT REST OF SENTENCE HERE]! because we could have avoided something nasty or enjoyed something cool had we decided differently. 

Yes, intuition is part of my professional life as a reader, but it's also a part of who I am. Certainly I don't try to turn it off when I'm not reading! That would be ridiculous! One of the best parts of using intuition in your life is that it will help you make better decisions and understand and accept hard realities. I use it constantly in my professional and personal lives, and it does help me make better decisions. 

Using the cards as much as I do has helped me develop it even more. I'm seeing and sensing more things even before the cards come out when I'm reading. Sometimes I'll even know what cards are coming up next, or if a particular card will make its appearance. 

In any case, many people don't listen to their intuition. They feel that if they feel something they don't want might happen, they don't think about it because that will make it NOT happen. I'm sorry, but you don't have that kind of control over every aspect of your life. 

Let's be clear: Our choices make our future. Anyone who has had any kind of divinatory reading knows this well. This includes not just tarot, but runes, crystal ball, tea leaves, or any other kind of psychic reading. The reader is using their intuition to "see" what may happen in the future, or what has already occurred. No matter what is "seen", it is up to the client to make the best choices for them. The reader's job is not to take responsibility for the actions of the client, but just honestly and compassionately tell them what is coming at this moment in time, with the understanding that the future is dynamic and change is always possible. 

I applied for a job a number of years ago that I really wanted. I was one of the top two candidates, and was confident in the interview. I woke up the next morning with a weird feeling in my stomach, and as much as it pained me, I knew this job was going to the other candidate. Sure enough, that's what happened. And while I was angry and upset about the fact that I didn't get it, knowing it in advance helped me to be calm and chilled when the announcement was made so I could continue to act like a professional in the office that day. I was "Scorpio nuclear angry" but at least I didn't show it. That knowledge was critically important to me. 

Think about get these "feelings", "vibrations", "thoughts"...all the time. They are not all as significant as the one I mentioned earlier, but they can validate your intuitive sense and make you trust it more. And that's what it's all about: Trusting your intuition and acting on it. You're in the supermarket and you stare at the flour for some unknown reason. You decide to buy some and someone in your house needed it. You decide to take a different route to work, and there's an accident on your normal route. You don't feel well on a Friday night and stay home. Had you gone to your normal happy hour spot, your ex-boyfriend you just dumped would have been there trying to patch things up. 

For me recently, it seems my intuition has been coming out on the road. I'll get a sense that there's police activity in the area and then I'll come over the hill and there's a police officer who has pulled someone over. That's happened about four times in the last few days. Yes, it's Easter weekend, and yes, police activity is high, so you could write it off that way. But a few months ago, I was coming home on an early Sunday morning from the gym and was waiting at a light at a deserted intersection. The light was really long and after two minutes of waiting I thought, "You know, I could just go since there's no one around!" Almost immediately, my brain says, "DON'T YOU DARE!" I turn to my right to see a police car sailing through the intersection; had I gone I would have been facing a nasty ticket. 

The bottom line is that you can act like it doesn't exist, but it just DOES. If you choose to embrace it, you'll "see" a lot of things if you give yourself time to develop this gift. Some folks are naturally intuitive, and that's fantastic. But ANYONE can develop this sense. ANYONE. 

If you want to start, keep a notebook with you and jot down any strong feelings you get during the day about things that might happen. Not everything is incredibly significant, but if you sense that it's going to happen, write it down. This is vital: Do not be discouraged if the things you see aren't happening. They have just changed. I often find people doubting their abilities with the tarot because what they saw didn't happen. You have no control over the actions of other people, readers. Know this one well. So what you saw didn't happen because the person's free will intervened. 

It takes time to develop this gift, but the more you notice it, recognize it, and act on it, the more the Universe will say, "Hey, s/he's listening! AWESOME! Let's provide more information!" And then you will start to realize that when you see things you don't like--which does happen, sadly--there will be less of an emotional impact, and you'll start growing to accept your intuition as a vital piece of the puzzle. 

Thanks again for stopping by! Tune in tomorrow for "J". 

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Hierophant

The Hierophant is one of the major arcana of the tarot. He's the spiritual teacher with the lesson for you, and I've adopted him as a personal totem. If you've seen my website,, yeah, I think that should convince you. LOL.

I guess the main reason that I like the Hierophant so much is that he reminds us that we have a dual role in life as both teacher and student. I am always looking for new ways to expand my mind and bring the spiritual into my everyday life. People in my life often teach me very valuable things, and while I don't believe that everything has a metaphysical/spiritual overtone, I do think there is a lot we can learn from the teachings and examples--good and bad--of others. So while I do have a role as a spiritual leader, I have a responsibility to both them and to myself to be the eternal student.

"The Hierophant" (Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot)

For me, here are a few of the many, many possible divinatory meanings of the Hierophant.

  • A spiritual leader or teacher--following one or being one
  • The idea of the "traditional"--following a path that has already been tread or doing what has always been done in the past
  • "My way or the highway"--the Hierophant may say "Use me as your example" but in the end, the choice to follow is your own
  • Education of all kinds, whether in a formal or informal setting
  • Any kind of leader or teacher role, especially one that has you showing people "your" way of doing things
  • Identifying yourself with a particular group, whether spiritual or not
  • Conforming to the group's needs or point of view
  • The important question of "What am I supposed to learn about myself from this experience?"

I have a pendant with the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot card image of the Hierophant, and sometimes I'll wear him when I teach or read cards. It's a reminder for me of what my role is, and to act accordingly. They always say "Teachers make the worst students" and in some ways that's true. So when I'm a student these days I try to keep the teacher very much in mind--how would I feel if someone talked over me constantly, or was texting throughout a class, for example? It's a good ego check. 

Personally, I think that teaching high school right out of graduate school was one of the most formative experiences of my life. It really taught me how to lead in a classroom setting, and to call it the school of hard knocks is not a stretch. In addition to the fact that they were teenagers who might have had difficulty staying on task, they critiqued my wardrobe a few times, and made comments about how little money I was making. In other words, you really develop a new appreciation for anyone who is brave enough to face a group of people as a leader, no matter what the setting is. That's definitely a Hierophant experience. 

One other Hierophant experience I can recall is the day that I put on a pentacle for the first time. I had been struggling spiritually for many years, but the day I decided to wholly embrace the Craft was the first day I wore the pentacle. Jen bought me my first one at 13 Magickal Moons just before our Litha ritual, which was the first ritual I ever attended. I knew I had found the path for me. Nowadays, I have quite a few pentacles--and lots of other jewelry as well--and it's very rare to find me not wearing a pentacle. I don't wear it outside my clothes most of the time--it's not necessary to advertise!--but it's there, along with my Head High Priest medallion. 

Thanks again for stopping by! Stay tuned tomorrow for my "I" post! 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Games!

I have always loved games of all kinds. From when I was very young, I wanted to play games; the more complicated they were, the better I liked them! It was difficult sometimes to find people to play with me, because Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders were boring for me probably about the time I was five.

One of the earliest ones I remember was “Enemy Agent”, a board game about spying that was just perfect for my Scorpio-ness. I also loved going to game events at my elementary school; just the sight of all of those games filling tables as far as the eye could see was a thrill for me.

After all these years, I’m still a huge fan of games. Today, I’m here to tell you about some of my favorites.

Let’s start with board games. My favorite board game hands down is Monopoly. It was practically a spiritual experience in my house. My siblings and I would sit down to play, and after a while it became clear that we had to start using tournament rules because inevitably someone would want to change the rules mid-stream. “House rules” in Monopoly are very popular—money for landing on free parking, loaning money to other players, etc.—but they contribute to one of the biggest complaints about the game: That it takes too long to play. Bullshit! Play with the rules included with the set—and no others—and it will take 45-60 minutes to play with four people. And I mean come on…who doesn’t like financially crushing those around you?

I’ve got Monopoly sets from all over the world but one of my most prized possessions is my Franklin Mint Monopoly that I received from my beloved bride as a wedding present. It’s incredibly cool, and it’s not an heirloom: I play on it! It has some wear and tear but a game is to be PLAYED.

Other board games I enjoy include Risk—I have a notebook that I write my blogs in made from an upcycled Risk game board!—Trivial Pursuit, chess, backgammon (thanks to Mr. Connors, my high school chem teacher!), Titan, Axis and Allies, and more recently, the Settlers of Catan.

I also play role-playing games. I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since about 1980 or so, and I’ve played most of the versions of it. Right now, I run a 4th Edition campaign of intrepid adventurers, one of whom is my wife. (Gentlemen, please take note: There are very few things more attractive than a girl gamer! Just saying.) I’ve played a few other RPGs, like Boot Hill and Top Secret, but D&D is the tops in my book.

Once gaming entered the electronic age, I was in heaven. For home systems, I had the Intellivision, Atari 5200, and the Nintendo NES, and just before I left home they bought a Sega. (As I recall, people around my house would say ‘SAY-GAH’ mimicking the announcer’s voice that said it as you turned it on.) I’ve played most of the different consoles available since the mid-1980’s.

I’ve continued on my own enjoying the console gaming experience. I’m an avid Xbox 360 player, but one of the best memories I have is coming home from my honeymoon and Jen and I deciding to buy the Playstation as one of our first joint purchases as a married couple. At least we had our priorities straight. (Jen’s also asked me to mention Skyrim, a swords and spells RPG that was so incredible that I was content to just watch her play for two straight months. Buy that one and kiss your social life goodbye, folks.)

Arcades were and are some of my favorite places. Now they exist in the form of Dave & Busters and DisneyQuest, but I still enjoy them immensely. Some of my old arcade favorites still exist today; I purchase the games on my Xbox and cringe as I see that 100 of them can fit on a normal CD that we have today. We’ve come a long way, because I can even play many of them on my iPad. The Midway Arcade app is a fantastic one; a ton of arcade games from the 1980s in an arcade setting. I mean, who doesn’t want to play Joust and Gauntlet all day long?

Some of my other arcade favorites were Burger Time, Berzerk, Gorf, Tron Deadly Discs, Gauntlet, Frogger, Bagman, Dig Dug, and Front Line.

One other arcade game deserves a mention here, a weird little Atari game called Food Fight. I only found it one arcade ever, the Dream Machine arcade on Nantasket Beach in Hull, MA. Anyway, you’re a kid and you’re pitted against these evil chefs. You take them down my hurling food at them, which can be found all over the board. Your goal is to get to the other side to eat the steadily dripping ice cream cone; each level was a different flavor. I never got past level 3, but this is a game that likely you missed. Maybe I’ll be able to find a version of it someday, but likely it’s gone the way of the 5 ¼ inch floppy disks.

Table top games? You bet. Ping pong. Air hockey. Foozball. A British friend introduced me to Subbuteo, a soccer game in which you flicked plastic players with rounded feet to propel a plastic soccer ball the length of a tabletop field. That game that took some skill, especially playing the goalkeeper, which was on a plastic stick.

And let’s not forget other games you can play on a table: card games. Mille Bornes. Uno. Poker. Rummy. Cribbage. Scat. I even taught myself to play bridge. Sound odd? Bridge is amazingly complicated; I hadn’t actually played it with a real person before my last cruise…I partnered up with a wily 70-something woman who was thrilled to show me the game. She’d come looking for me at the same time each day, and somehow, Jen wasn’t concerned about that at all. :)

Someday I’d love to have a game room with arcade-style machines and a large table space for D&D games. You’ve gotta dream, right?

As you can see by the sheer length of this blog, games were and are a huge part of my life. I often can remember what games I was playing when particular life events occurred. Honestly, I’ll play pretty much any game once.

What are some of your favorites? Leave a comment and let me know. And look on my Pinterest for images of many of the games I've mentioned in this blog! :)

Stay tuned for Monday’s “H” post!

PS: A huge shout out to Maggie, who I met today at 13 Magickal Moons and who’s a fan of the blog. It was great to meet you! :)