Monday, June 30, 2014

What is an Astrological Chart? Part 1

Many of you know the 12 astrological signs. But a lot of people have never seen one before, or look at one and get confused. So I'm going to break down some of the basics for you, slowly, so you can get a feel for it. I'm not talking about interpreting a chart, which takes a long time to learn. I mean just getting the very basic lay of the land so they won't seem like hieroglyphics.

An astrological chart is a snapshot in time for a person or an event showing planetary positions, and it's a circle. As circles have 360 degrees, if you divide it up into 12 parts--one for each sign--these divisions are called houses. More on the houses and how we decide where the houses begin and end in a later blog. For now, know that those lines from the center to the outer part of the circle are called houses, and the edge of the house is called a "cusp".

Anyway, there are 30 degrees of each sign (12 x 30 = 360). So when the sun enters a sign it's at 0 degrees. Last Saturday, at the Summer Solstice, the sun was at 0 degrees Cancer. The sun moves through 30 degrees of Cancer, and once it gets to 29 degrees Cancer, it will be about a day or so until the sun enters 0 degrees Leo. Then we start again and move through Leo. That's why if you look at the dates for when a sign begins, there is always some variation because it's the degree that determines when the sign changes, NOT our calendar. Make sense?

Check out the chart below, taken when the sun was at 0 degrees Cancer this year and plotted for Occoquan, VA:

Let's take it further. I just said there are 30 degrees of each sign, right? Well, if you do a quick and dirty calculation, the sun is in each sign for about...30 days. So doing the math, the sun moves about one degree a day. Of course, there are always slight variations. But if you are born on the first day of a sign, likely your sun was at 0-1 degrees of that sign. You can have your chart done professionally or consult a free online chart maker to find out exactly what degree the sun was at the moment of your birth, but it's easy to make a somewhat educated guess. You'll need the date, time, and place of your birth, but if you don't have your birth time then estimate as best you can. 

Sometimes it's a challenge to find out what sun sign someone is if they are born close to a cusp. If you look up the beginning date for Aries, for example, usually it's March 19-20. I know someone born on March 21, and in that particular year she was still a Pisces. The sun hadn't left Pisces yet; likely it was at 29 degrees Pisces, and was only a few short hours away from moving into a new astrological year in Aries.

Some people will tell you if they're close to a cusp that they consider themselves part one sign and part another. Bullshit, people! If you're not sure what sign you are, look it up. Your sun sign is not the be all and the end all of astrology, but it is important and it's a place to start. If you're on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer, you're not part of each sign. The sun was either in one of the later degrees of Gemini or one of the earliest degrees of Cancer; the sun can't be in two places at once.

These degree measurements are VERY important also because astrologers use them to determine the relationships between planets, called aspects, which we also won't talk about today. Just know that they are.

Luckily, planetary motion with the sun is easy to work with. 30 degrees = approximately 30 days. All the other heavenly bodies move at different speeds, some fast and some slow. And neither the sun nor moon goes retrograde (backwards) so that makes the motion much easier to predict.

Anyway, that's it for now. We'll do some more work on this in future blogs, but I hope this makes you understand a little more about an astrological chart and what it can show you.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Deck Review: The Aquarian Tarot

The Aquarian Tarot

I’ll say right at the outset that this deck is an acquired taste. The deck was illustrated by David Palladini, who has drawn for the illustrated version of Steven King’s Eyes of the Dragon. He has also recently (several years ago) released his New Palladini Tarot, which I also own. 

So the artwork is not what many of us will be used to, given the difference in artistic styles between 1970 and today. That alone may well turn many of you off from it, but since anything “retro” could become popular at any given moment you never know.

The color palette that Palladini uses is heavy on subdued fall colors: oranges, browns, and red-orange hues. There are very few colors that really catch the eye; the one that hits me the most is yellow, which is not used that much but is bright when it does appear. For this reason I found it difficult to tell many of the cards apart. Palladini tries to help by giving each one of the Major Arcana cards a different font for the name of the card and sometimes a different location. Each card of the Minor Arcana has the card’s name clearly indicated at the bottom of each one in the same font for all four suits.

The images themselves are “inspired” by the Rider-Waite, but Palladini clearly takes some liberties with them. For example, this is the first deck in which I have ever seen the Strength card feature a man as the central figure. Also, the lack of a struggle of some kind is interesting. In the Aquarian, the card features a man with a dog that looks like a greyhound, but the dog appears to be the man’s companion and not an adversary. Another example is The Star, which features no person (a woman is usually present), but has a large peacock in the middle of the image. It appears that
Palladini exercised artistic license more with the Major Arcana than the Minor, as the four suits are very close in most cases to those of their Rider-Waite cousins.

What surprised me a lot more than I expected was the backs of the cards, whose loud blue and white pattern is a tremendous contrast to the cards themselves. I found myself staring at the card backs for some time; they’re cool!

My favorite card in this deck is the Five of Pentacles. The reason I like it so much is because while the Five of Pentacles is a card of “when bad things happen to good people” (bankruptcy, illness, rejection, daytime television, etc.), Palladini’s rendering enhances the spiritual aspects of life by putting the church window in the sky without a physical church building around it. It gives the interpretation that I like to stress when people draw this card: That the spiritual aspect of your life will see you through when things get rough.  Of course, it also means that your personal spirituality is not tied to a physical place; it should always feel like it is an integral part of you. Many times we look outside ourselves for spiritual answers that we already have.

This is not a deck for beginners, as much of the Rider-Waite imagery is lost or distorted. I would recommend it for advanced Tarot readers who feel comfortable enough reading without a book, and who enjoy a 1970s-styled deck.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Possessed by a Ouija Board?

Ah yes, the Ouija board! I've heard so many entertaining stories about people using them, and some are even true. 

This article appeared recently in the UK's Daily Mail about three people who were possessed by a Ouija Board.

Did this really happen? Were these people really possessed by something otherworldly? That all depends on whether or not you believe in possession. But if you've read this blog at all, ever, you should know what I'm going to say next: That the kids were either truly faking it or they took drugs before they started using the board. To ask if they were possessed is just not the place to start. 

The Ouija Board (pronounced Wee-Gee) is a device known as a spirit board and can be used to connect with the spirit world.

Most people just shove their hands in the direction of the answers they want to receive using the planchette, a small piece of wood, or in Ouija, it's plastic. But if you're going to take it seriously, then you use it responsibly.

Keep in mind that using a spirit board is like lighting a bonfire in the middle of a clear field at night: Everything around will be attracted to it, and that can be dangerous.

To ensure an excellent experience with a board, please make sure to do the following:

1) Cast a protective circle, and in some form say aloud that you only want "positive" or "good" spirits to come communicate with you.

2) If anything negative comes across to have its say, don't sit there and banter with it. Tell it to leave. You are the most powerful person in the circle. 

3) Use the spirit board with people you know and trust. In other words, not your sister's asshole boyfriend or your skeptical grandmother. 

Fun Fact: When Monopoly was made by Parker Brothers, the Ouija board was a close second in sales to the popular property trading game. So while everyone can say they're creeped out or would never buy such a thing, I'm sure we have a lot of liars on our hands. And that's fine...I won't tell anyone you still have one stashed away! 

No matter how you feel about spirit communication, I hope you'll heed my advice if you choose to use a spirit board. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Think Your Merc Retro is a Downer? Time to Count Your Blessings!

In the vein of "I need to remember to count my blessings when I get pissed off that my latte is too hot or my Internet service isn't loading my porn fast enough", I heard from a Leo friend who has had a very rough Mercury retrograde. 

He got severe sunburn and almost broke his neck helping build a barn for his brother. HOLY FUCKING OUCH! 

But while Mercury cannot be blamed for either of those two incidents, he definitely had a hand in this last one. His Aries wife decided on Father's Day to let him know that she was divorcing him. WOW. Just WOW. 

No offense, Aries folks, but even for a sign that can be as blunt, combustible, and arrogant as Aries can be, that's downright mean. 

I am so sorry he is in both physical and emotional pain. For us, it is a stark reminder of a few things. 

1) The fact that your sun signs are compatible with another person does NOT guarantee long term happiness. 

On paper, Leo man-Aries woman is a great combination. And while there is certainly more to marriage--and divorce--than astrology, a lot of people are much more likely to select people to date by their sun sign compatibility. So don't be fooled into thinking long-term harmony is dictated by one small (astrological) facet of a person. In life, as in astrology, there is SO MUCH MORE to consider. 

2) Mercury retrograde is not the time to have serious, relationship-altering conversations with a significant other. 

Evidently my friend's wife was more concerned about causing him pain than really communicating. Doing it on Father's Day was an especially bitchy touch, I will say, something befitting a Mars-ruled personality. 

She may not have known about Mercury retrograde, but it is NOT the time for a conversation like this, or a similar "talk" like when couples say "We need to talk." And starting divorce proceedings during Mercury retrograde is a huge mistake's all PAPERWORK! 

For the sake of my friend, I hope that Mercury has his way with his soon-to-be ex by throwing little roadblocks in her path the whole way. Add to all this the greater likelihood that she will eventually regret this decision. But I digress.

Let me re-state briefly the big Merc retro rules. Unless you have no choice...

1) Do not sign any important paperwork. 
2) Do not get married or divorced. 
3) Do not make any large purchases (home, etc.). 
4) Do not have any major conversations about anything with any important person (spouse, boss, etc.).
5) Do not purchase a new computer, upgrade a new computer, or do any significant computer work during Merc retro. (New apps on your phone are about as far as I would go, but you should be careful with those too!)

If you must do any of these things, take precautions...make backups, check frequently to ensure understanding, go over all paperwork with a fine-toothed comb, and cross your fingers!

I wish my friend luck as he moves forward, beginning the fight for custody of his children and putting his soon-to-be-single life back on track. He's a really special person who has taught me a hell of a lot, and his pain is my pain. My friend, I'll simply say you are in my thoughts and hope you feel better soon. 

For the rest of us, we need to COUNT OUR BLESSINGS EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even during Mercury retrograde!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Conversation about Mercury Retrograde, part 2: "Mercury broke my truck...and now he broke my wife!"

So you remember last week when my friend told me about the starter in his truck being "killed" by Mercury retrograde when he was getting ready to leave on vacation? 

Well, his quote on my Facebook status update the other day was stunning and priceless:

"Mercury broke my truck, and now he broke my wife!"

He received an abject lesson in the other area Mercury rules--the nervous system--as his lovely wife was struck down with severe back spasm the other night. OUCH! The lady is a Virgo, a Mercury-ruled sign, so I doubt she needed a lesson on the power of Mercury to fuck up a few days. Sadly, she got it anyway.

I know how she nervous system gave me a similar lesson as Mercury decided to send me to the hospital for my back for a few days in 2012. That really sucked. 

I'm sending Reiki to her and hope she makes a very quick recovery. 

If you get out of Merc retro without too much trouble, ladies and gentlemen, count your blessings. Just sayin'. 

As excited I am about the solstice and the Sun's arrival in Cancer, I'll be thrilled on July 9 when Mercury retrograde's storm is over and we can all go back to our more peaceful lives...that is, until October, when we do it again. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tolerance Vs. Acceptance: "That Man's God Isn't My God!"

So this story came out recently about a High Priest in Beebe, Arkansas, who was trying establish a temple and shop in his community. Everything seemed to be going along swimmingly for HP Bertram Dahl until the town found out he wanted to open a place for Pagans, and then he was given an abrupt "cease and desist" order by the town. He hadn't even opened yet.

You can see the story and local television coverage of it here.

I can see the town's point of view on some things here, but frankly, the town's on dangerous ground on this one, in my humble opinion. Sure, you can say that the area that Dahl wants to open the temple is zoned "medium residential" and as such he can't open a "shop" there.

Anyway, according to the local zoning laws, he could be granted an exception for the temple, as it is a church, but no one will give him the paperwork to file. If he did file it, he was told it would be denied. You'll see in the video that the town lawyer gets on and says something ridiculous like "If it's not in the code you can't do it." Sounds like someone needs another class on dealing with the media; he didn't make a great impression during the interview, though admittedly, we didn't see the entirety of it.

Honestly, however, any town employee who is an any way involved in this situation is in a bad spot, because of remarks by Beebe's mayor, Mike Robertson, and Dahl's alderman, to whom Dahl had turned for assistance.

Mayor Mike Robertson told Dahl he "would not be opening a Pagan anything" in the town. Robertson is a "staunch defender of Christianity", according the Huffington Post, and in a 2010 Beebe city newsletter, he wrote, in part:

It is my opinion and the Beebe City Council's that government leaders must pray to God as the true leader of the nation and that a nation cannot exist if they are not one nation under God trusting in God as the leader. It is my opinion government has allowed non-believers far too many liberties taking God out of our daily lives. As mayor of this city I will continue to open our meeting with a prayer and a pledge to our country – one nation under God.

Please remember in the coming November election for leaders of this nation to elect only those who will stand firm doing the will of God and not their will. If placing God or the simple mentioning of his holy name in this newsletter is offensive to some; so be it. I do not and will not apologize, ever, for giving him the praise he is due for all that he has done for our blessed country. Not now, not ever in the future, should we turn our backs to our creator.

And yes, seriously, this is an excerpt from a public document. 

Mayor Robertson is entitled to his opinions, no matter how closed-minded I believe they are. But as far as I'm concerned, he crossed over the line into bigotry with these remarks. In addition, these are his personal views that are in a public document produced by him in his role as the Mayor. To exhort people to vote in only Christians in an election, too, is way beyond the pale. 

I mean, come on now. "Non-believers"? Um, dude, you just bashed every single citizen of your town who isn't Christian, and essentially you called them "infidels". I hope there aren't many non-Christians who live there, and if you are, I'd stay hidden and then try to get the fuck out of town ASAP.

Bottom line: If you want to be discriminatory as a private citizen, that's your right, but when you do it as a public official, that's totally unacceptable. 

I'd tell the citizens of the town to vote him out, but that letter came out in 2010 and the Mayor is still in his job, so I'm guessing there was little or no public outcry. Likely it's just business as usual for Beebe.

Then there is the alderman, who is unnamed and would probably like to stay that way at this point. He went so far as to say "That man's God isn't my God." Are you kidding? Do you really think that God--you know, the merciful, accepting, forgiving God that I used to know as a Christian--would want you to have this attitude, alderman? Who cares if he doesn't worship the same God as you do? In a very real sense, since we're all going for the same thing, the God the Pagans worship is likely the same anyway. But his intolerance is likely preventing him from seeing it that way. 

Once again, as a representative of the people, you're being paid to speak for them, not to judge them and send them packing because YOU don't like their beliefs. If you are not prepared to faithfully execute the duties of your office for every single person in your jurisdiction, well...then it's time to resign. 

The actions and attitudes of these town officials shame every single amazing Christian person in Beebe. This is exactly the kind of intolerance that just breeds MORE intolerance as the other side--Pagans, in this case--feels like they have been unjustly slighted. Do you think the Pagans in the town are going to take the high road? I can only hope they will. Fight the good fight, but don't stoop to that level, or you have just become what you condemned. You know...hypocrisy. 

I think HP Dahl and his group is largely in the right on this one, but I'm skeptical that they will see justice. 

Truly, I do feel badly for how the Pagans were treated, but you know what? I feel even worse for Christians, because they have these two men in the public eye who are making all Christians out to be intolerant bigots.

What is my final word to these two city officials? "Namaste." I accept them for the place they are in spiritually, and hope that one day people of all faiths will have equal representation and total acceptance in Beebe. While I may not practice your beliefs or agree with them, I accept them.

Thanks as always for stopping by. Blessings and Namaste to all of you. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What is a LeNormand Deck? Part 2 by Donnaleigh De LaRose

Cartomancy expert DonnaLeigh De LaRose made a great comment on my blog about the LeNormand deck I'm going to be reviewing and I wanted to make sure everyone read it. Thanks very much, Donnaleigh, for allowing me to use it on this blog. :)

Her comments are below:

- The Lenormand is actually not a tarot deck; it is a different form of cartomany completely. They are completely different cards than tarot and the methods of reading them are also different than tarot. There are no elements, and no Major and Minor Arcana. The couple of cards that are similar don't necessarily share the same meanings (i.e., Tower). The cards are best read in combinations rather than by single cards.

-In my opinion, the meanings are best derived from traditional meanings that go back 200 years, not creating one's own keywords. I've found that creating one's own meanings becomes sloppy and the deck works better and with more precision if we don't "tarotize" it. I have very specific meanings for each card that have been passed down for many generations. Others are modern version meanings that could not have existed at the time the system was created (Stars for internet or electricity, for example). But my meanings are not self-derived; I have great respect for the system I've learned that leans on tradition. I don't treat it like some other oracle decks that are free-er with what the reader can do with the meanings. Believe it or not, this makes readings more accurate. One really gains trust in the cards.

- The methods/rules of reading Lenormand are more structured, although there are not the same kinds of spreads as in tarot. There are specific rules to reading Lenormand that really add tight precision to a reading.

-I don't believe it takes more psychic ability to read the Lenormand. If the reader follows the meanings, little to no psychic ability is needed. That said, using one's intuition really does amplify the readings. (I am also of the belief that tarot can be done without psychic ability and that intuition exponentially amplifies it).

- There is a bit looser freedom in how tarot is read and what the card may mean, with less restrictions. The images and expressions on different tarot decks can lead to different meanings. The Lenormand tends to have identical meanings in most decks even when the images vary. There are only a few exceptions to this with a few cards' directionality (clouds, coffin, for example).

-The meanings are tighter/stricter with Lenormand -- it rather pins you to a wall with the meaning, you can't squirm out of it like some tarot readings can allow.

- I find it has much more accurate predictions that tarot. I also find it shows more nuts-and-bolts information that is going on than Tarot. Tarot is an exceptional system for showing how people feel and what motivates them to their actions; the Lenormand shows what they *do* as a result of the inner stirrings (there are also exceptions to this, but this is a general difference between the two).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Surviving Mercury Retrograde

Since Mercury retrograde seems to be on everyone's mind these days, I figured I'd point out a great blog that has some good tips for allowing it to work with you, called "The Radical Virgo". 

For the record, this is one of the most interesting blog titles I have seen in a long time!

This post appeared a few days ago. Please take a look.

NOTE: "TMA" is short for "The Mountain Astrologer", probably the most respected astrology publication in the United States. I have a  subscription and I highly encourage those interested in astrology to pony up the cash and subscribe. It's under $40 a year, people, which is CHEAP! I've read lots of interesting articles in it, including a fantastic one last fall from astrologer Liz Hazel. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What is a LeNormand Deck?

Some of you may have heard of LeNormand decks. It was definitely new to me until a few days ago, when I started looking into it.

LeNormand differs from traditional tarot decks in a  number of ways. The most obvious of these is the fact that the LeNormand deck only has 36 cards compared to the standard 78 in a tarot deck. For newbies, that's less than half the cards to remember. So that's one thing in its favor for new readers.

The burden, however, appears to be much more on the reader's psychic and/or medium abilities than with regular tarot. The LeNormand method encourages you to call upon your spirit guides to help with readings, and you're also encouraged to come up with your own list of meanings--keywords, really--for the cards. That's only my first impression so far, based on what I have read. 

Also, it seems like reading the LeNormand cards is a lot more structured than reading tarot. There are certain layouts, like tarot, but they can be used multiple times in different ways. Seems kind of interesting to me! 

Donnaleigh De LaRose does a fantastic blog on this topic that you can find here. Since I'm so new to LeNormand, I figured I'd let her explain it to you.

I received one LeNormand deck to review, and I'm definitely going to check it out and see how it works. Not sure if it will become part of my repertoire, but it never hurts to take a look at new things, right? :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Neat Article about Tarot Readers from Brooklyn!

Hey there people...

I saw this cool article from the Huffington Post about some tarot readers in Brooklyn and their various spiritual paths.

There's at least one Witch in the group, but I was also excited to see a man who says he's a tarot reader but NOT a psychic, and one who self-identifies as Catholic. I think that's really cool!

I'd love for someone to do an article about readers in the Washington DC/Northern Virgina corridor. There are plenty of outstanding readers here as well. 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Shame on You, Franklin County, Virginia!

I am a resident of this great Commonwealth, but there are very few things that make me more angry than when people in power deny rights to others because of their own biases. 

This is one of a number of articles on this topic, but here is the bottom line: A couple in Franklin County, VA, went to the county courthouse to be married, only to be told by a court-appointed officiant--yes, someone paid by the county to marry people--that he wouldn't marry them because neither of them believe in God. 

You'd think with a plot line like this one, it would have appeared in the Onion, right? WRONG. 

Sadly, this really happened. A county official denied the right of marriage to two people who legally have the right to do so because of the official's religious beliefs. What makes it worse is that the officiant originally agreed to marry them, but only at his church and not in the courthouse. And then he refused to marry them. SUCH BULLSHIT! 

The couple contacted the county clerk, who was stunned, and the clerk asked the couple to contact the judge who appointed said officiant. The judge did not see any problem with the officiant's behavior. Luckily, the county courthouse has a second officiant who has no hangups with agnostics, and the couple will be married in the next few weeks. 

What is scary about this whole incident is the simple fact that the officiant said the couple "did not have the right" to be married because they did not believe in God. The couple recorded the officiant saying it, so while not everything you read on the Internet is true, they've got this on tape. Smart move on the part of the couple, actually. 

Every person has a right to marry if they choose. Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, homosexuals hopefully will be able to marry soon, but it is not legal yet. That aside, however, if you are unmarried, divorced, or widowed, and you want to marry someone, and obtain a license to marry that person, then the county should have no trouble performing a civil ceremony. 

What does this mean for non-Christians? Well, I would be hesitant working with the Franklin County Courthouse on anything, and I'm very glad I don't live there, because I wouldn't want to face the discrimination that this couple had to deal with. And we're not just talking about Witches or Wiccans, folks, or even Pagans of any kind. There are plenty of non-Christians out there. 

I had the same reaction to this story as I did when I heard that pharmacists can choose to not fill prescriptions for  birth control or the morning-after pill. If that's how you feel, then perhaps this isn't the right career for you. It's easy to say "find another officiant" or "find another pharmacist", but if people don't speak up, then these people will continue to get away with bigotry. 

And what about the judge, who believes this kind of behavior should be tolerated? Would anyone who is not Christian want to go before his court and trust that they would not be discriminated against? We don't have any evidence of bigotry on his part, of course. But could you trust his judgment if he allows discrimination to occur in his jurisdiction? I don't think I would. 

There is a simple solution to this problem: Both the officiant and the judge should be removed. There's no place for bigotry in any government--municipal, county, state, or Federal. 

I hope the citizens of Franklin County send a strong message by not re-electing this particular judge, and by firing this officiant. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mercury Retrograde: The Fuckery Continues

Wow, folks. This retrograde has been a rough ride for many of us. Here are a few stories to help you remember that this transit doesn't just affect you but all of us.

I started out the weekend reading cards at the shop, and then having a reading last night, and plans with a friend this morning. The shop was fine, but the other two didn't cancelled the day before, the other an hour before. 

People also seem to be having technical problems with Facebook, and I had one paper-related freak out and had to reschedule eye doctor appointments because we were double booked. D'OH!

I have a work-related story that just takes the cake for Mercury retrograde fuckery. I'm going to see if I can piece it all together for you. We'll put this under the category of "meeting fuckery."

I had a meeting with my whole work unit, our department head, and her deputy. Here's how it went.
  • Meeting scheduled. One portion of team works at offsite, other works at home office, so meeting would be accomplished via video teleconference. Two groups, two rooms. 
  • Two days later, meeting postponed for one week due to Deputy being out.
  • The next day, it was decided not to wait a week. Meeting rescheduled for the next day in that same week; deputy's deputy will attend in her (deputy's) stead. 
  • Department head works at offsite most days, but cannot make meeting at offsite because of commitments at home office. Wants to reschedule.
  • Less than 30 minutes later, department head realizes that she can attend meeting, but will do so from home office and not from offsite due to other meetings. Original date and time is kept. 
  • Deputy's deputy, who works at home office, plans to attend meeting at offsite location instead of at home office to attend in person with department head.
  • Department head says she will now attend from offsite, since other meetings at home office were cancelled.
  • Deputy's deputy decides to stay at home office because he thought boss was going to be there, but since it may be too late to arrive at offsite to make the meeting, decides to attend from home office.
The question is, "Did the meeting occur?" Yes, but it started 20 minutes late due to...wait for it...the fact that the home office hadn't told us what conference room they would be in. D'OH!

Once we made a series of phone calls and found out where they were, we connected successfully and had no technical problems with the communication. The jury is still out on whether or not anything was accomplished; that remains to be seen. 

Mercury, however, could not let us off the hook that easily. The meeting went 1/2 hour over its allotted time; thankfully the people who had scheduled the room both before and after us never showed up.

I know someone has a story that can top mine. Please write in and let me know and I'll share. 

Hang in there, folks. Only a few more weeks. We're in the clear by July 9. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

For Teachers Everywhere

The bell rings, and we're part of your world. 
You take us on your journey to faraway, foreign places.
Some of us go willingly and enthusiastically. 
Sometimes we make you prove you know your stuff. 
There are days when we won't shut up, or wish we were someplace else. 
But you stand in that room, and you carry on, hoping we will follow. 

You evaluate us, and it brings out the range of our emotions. 
Tests and quizzes, papers and projects, homework and homework and homework. 
We question why you would have us do it, and yet we have the answer:
"Because we have to."
The hours are long, but so is your patience. 
Day in and day out, we hope you will stop, but you won't. 
You stand in that room, and you carry on, hoping to see the lightbulb go off. 

For a rare few students in every class, the change occurs. 
So hard to see and yet it is so special. 
When the answer is no longer "Because I have to" but "Because I want to". 
Only then do you judge yourself a success. 
It's not measured by banks, exams, or auditors. 
This is greater than the mundane thoughts of money and power. 
You stand in that room, and while your students are many, you teach for but a few.

The next bell rings, and we're off like a shot.
We take the knowledge you gave us, but you know it's up to us how we use it. 
The next class comes in and there's no break for you. 
Another lesson is on tap...another group of minds to mold. 
And like the shore as the waves smash into it constantly, you do not waver, but hold firm. 
You stand in that room, defending your subject against the onslaught of ignorance.

When the classroom is empty and quiet, and you are alone with your grade book, 
it is only then that you realize the true magnitude of what you do. 
You have done work that is sacred, vital, challenging, and essential. 
You have taught for many years, but still, each student is a new experience. 
As the teacher, you are also the student, and with each student you touch, 
you gain something.
You stand in that room, totally alone, but the many and the few are still with you.

Tonight, dear teacher, I write for you.
I write for those whose names I still can recall, and for those many I forgot. 
I write for those who remember my name, and not necessarily because I was a good student.
I write to celebrate you and your sacrifice--
The long hours, the poor pay, and every single barrier to learning that you overcome.
I write because you won't be off this summer, but out earning extra money and planning lessons, 
buying school supplies with your own money and worrying about standardized tests.
And I write because when it comes to thanking the important people in your life, "teacher" isn't usually on the list. 

In honor of Sheila Becker Gailius

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

I was inspired by a fantastic video I saw on this topic, so this idea isn't mine, but I loved it so much that I've tried to make it a permanent change in my vocabulary. And if I find the clip I will attach it or link to it.   

There's something that bothers me about the word "tolerance" when it is applied to people's spiritual choices. If you tolerate something, you put up with it. Think about it: If you said to your significant other, "Hey...I tolerate you!" would you consider that a compliment? I'm thinking no. I know it wouldn't be if someone said it to me. 

So when I hear someone say "teach tolerance", it's not an uplifting message, in my opinion. What you're saying to children is, "Hey, you don't have to like those people. Just don't be outwardly mean to them, even though they are different from us and obviously more stupid because they aren't like us. But we've gotta act like they're OK, even though we know different." 

I've replaced "tolerance" with "acceptance" as much as I can in my vocabulary these days. We should accept people as they are. With acceptance of homosexuality thankfully becoming the norm these days, I'm surprised it's not spilling over into everything. But I figure people may feel uncomfortable giving up all their biases at once. 

If you're not a particular spiritual path, you don't have to become something you're not to accept someone else's choices. You just have to put your ego aside and accept them. The bottom line: Other are not stupid because they don't believe the same things as you. 

If you feel the need to judge other people's spiritual choices, then you're in for a world of hurt when you realize that other people have different needs than you do.

I know this is a message you've heard from me before, but based on some of what I have been seeing or hearing recently, this is a good one to repeat. Being able to accept the spiritual choices of others without judging them for it shows your true character. If you choose to judge, I guess that shows your true character, too, doesn't it? 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Witch Doctor Who Felled a Soccer Idol

Ok, so many of you who read this blog are NOT soccer fans, while those of us who are...well, we're pretty excited because the World Cup began today! 

If soccer's not your thing, please don't leave! I promise to make it worth your while. 

This article from The Guardian was not something that came across my personal radar. I was too busy reading the articles about world cup teams who are being required to abstain from sex during the Cup tournament. (No, this last article was not from the Onion. SERIOUSLY. Click the link and be prepared to laugh your ass off! And this is not the only article on this topic. You're welcome!)

Anyway, a friend at work (thanks Rita!) sent me a great article about witch doctor from Ghana who claims responsibility for the knee problems of Cristiano Ronaldo, an extremely talented soccer player. Ronaldo, the witch doctor alleges, will have problems that "no doctor can cure" and may prevent him from playing in one of the sporting world's most prestigious competitions. 

What makes this more interesting is that Ghana also has a team in the World Cup, and that Ghana is playing in the same opening group as the United States, Germany, and Portugal, the team that Ronaldo plays for. That group is one of the toughest in the tournament, called the "Group of Death". 

So essentially, what we're saying is that the aforementioned Ghanian witch doctor, whose name translates as "Devil of Wednesday", cursed a very talented player on a team that could cause Ghana problems in this tournament. 

I'll admit here that I don't know what religion or spiritual path this witch doctor practices. If he was Wiccan or a Witch, I could tell you that he'd karmically get his ass kicked. If you deliberately cause harm to another person, that's horrible, but then to do it because of a soccer game? I don't care that this is the world's biggest soccer stage. In the end, it's still a fucking game, people. And this is what you turn your energy toward, really? (For the record, some other spiritual paths are OK with this sort of magickal work.)

Of course, this is assuming that the witch doctor's claims are true, that he really did "curse" Ronaldo. As I've said before, hexes and curses are real, but do you know how many times people wish for bad things to happen to others when they want their team to win? As a Patriots fan, I'm sure that lots of our opponents would hope Tom Brady would get knocked out of a game so their team would have a better chance of winning. It's not meant maliciously per se but when you want your team to win, people do some crazy things. 

So do I really think that some Ghanian witch doctor caused one of the world's most talented soccer players to have knee problems? Likely not. It's like my other posts on curses. I'm guessing Ronaldo is going to try to rehab his knee, assuming that there are physical causes for it and not metaphysical ones. But I'll be interested to see if Ronaldo plays in the Cup, and if so, how he does. Of course, it may or may not help Ghana, who is a good team in their own right. 

If you think this blog sucked because you're not a soccer fan, my sincere apologies. Please blame Rita. If this was some of the best writing I've ever done, I'll thank her for inspiring me with this article. 

And if you couldn't care less about the World Cup, at least go read the articles about teams who think their players will perform better abstaining from sexual activity. It will just amuse you to no end that people care about sports that much that they want to control the sex lives of their players. 

I'll just say this: You can bet your ass that if someone gets laid and goes out and has the game of their life, they're going to re-think that strategy. 

And wouldn't "Devil of Monday" sound a lot more menacing? Everybody hates Mondays...maybe that guy's curse would have had Ronaldo's leg fall off instead. Just sayin'. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Conversation About Mercury Retrograde

So I got a message from an old friend today. Here's how it went:

Friend: Is Mercury in retrograde?

Me: Oh yeah man. Ends on July 9 or so. I have already experienced the fuckery. Had a big misunderstanding yesterday and the hits just keep on coming.

Friend: Mercury killed my truck. 

Me: Oh fuck! I'm so sorry!!

Friend: Lol. It's an old truck. Hoping it's just the starter. 

Me: You and me both. 

Friend: But now when this shit happens I think about Mercury. 

Me: That is kind of good I guess. :)

Friend: You're rubbing off on me. 

Me: Good! I think. Lol. 

Friend: Lol. 

Add "Killed someone's truck" to the Mercury retrograde hit parade, folks. That's a new one, even for me. 

I hope Mercury doesn't kill anyone's ride this retrograde. 

Drop me a line and let me know how you're doing!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Long Island Medium: Is She a Fake?

Being a psychic, tarot card reader, or medium is not an easy job. You have to tell people things they don't want to hear, for one thing. People also have pretty high expectations of what you're going to be able to tell them. But perhaps the most difficult challenge some days is the reputation that we have as a profession: People question our integrity constantly, and while I don't think that's a bad thing per se, we have to prove ourselves time and time again. Have one off day and your client can decide that you're not "for real" anymore.

The article here from Jezebel contains allegations that the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, is a fraud. While this particular piece is recent, there are allegations that go back a number of years. One site in particular claims to have a source codenamed "Kim" that says Ms. Caputo admitted she makes stuff up and doesn't really talk to spirits. Theresa is also accused of "cold reading" clients, a common claim among those who denigrate psychics on general principle. 

According to Wikipedia:

Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalistspsychicsfortune-tellersmediums and illusionists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do.[1] Without prior knowledge of a person, a practiced cold reader can still quickly obtain a great deal of information about the subject by analyzing the person's body languageageclothing orfashionhairstylegendersexual orientationreligionrace or ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. Cold readers commonly employ high probability guesses about the subject, quickly picking up on signals from their subjects as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, and then emphasizing and reinforcing any chance connections the subjects acknowledge while quickly moving on from missed guesses.

Let me start off by saying that I don't believe everything I read on the Internet, and I hope you don't either, because if that's true, pro wrestling really is fake and I'm totally crushed. I say that tongue in cheek, but you understand what I'm driving at. I'm not going to string someone up because of a few articles. 

With that said, we all know what can be done with the magic of television. Like every reality television show, "Long Island Medium" is edited. Of course they're not going to show you the times when she's off the mark. They're going to show you when she has a tremendously positive impact on people. 

We also know what can be done with information. With a few keystrokes you can find out quite a bit about someone you've never met and easily fudge the rest. Some of Caputo's detractors allege that her knowledge of people comes not from the deceased but from background checks performed by her staff, with live shows carefully choreographed for maximum impact. 

One of the allegations this site makes is that Ms. Caputo is "all about the money". A number of the arguments are somewhat compelling, but this one makes my bullshit meter go off. We all like to get paid, and if you have the ability Theresa supposedly has, you're out to help people but you want to make some money, too. She has the right to charge people whatever the market will bear. So on this one I say "Don't hate the player; hate the people who show up and pay her to perform." You can't cite that as a reason she's a fake. That's like hating professional athletes because we pay them millions; who do you think makes their jobs so lucrative?

To be fair, Ms. Caputo has an awfully big target on her back. She's the star of a very popular television show, and her practice is very lucrative. People are willing to wait for years for a consultation with her, and they pay top dollar without batting an eyelash. Speaking as a psychic, that's a good problem to have if you can manage it. But the more in the public eye you are, the more you are on a pedestal and the more people want to knock you off of it. 

I'm sure there are a lot of people who are extremely upset she has any kind of public acclaim, such as those who claim that psychics and other intuitives are "practicing the black arts" and other horseshit like that. (Incidentally, if you look up "Theresa Caputo Fake" on Google, you'll find a video that starts using bible verses to back up its claims.) So groups like that would want to bring her down, too. 

Of course, you'll also find plenty of other YouTube footage, like these from SciFake, that claim to prove Theresa is not for real. But even that isn't definitive proof; psychics can have off days, too. It's there for your edification. I encourage you to check out both sides of the issue. 

As a practicing psychic, my biggest problem with Ms. Caputo is an ethical one: She confronts people  to tell them what spirits were saying to her right off the street without getting someone's permission, or at least that's the way it appears on the show. For me that's a huge no-no. Unless someone asks you for a reading, even if you never pull out cards to get the information--it just comes to you through your intuition--that information doesn't belong to you and it's unethical to share it or ask about it. But Theresa appeared to help a lot of people and give them peace as they were going through tremendously difficult times as well. While I don't go out of my way to watch her show, I don't make it a point to watch, either. If it's on I won't turn it off.

So is Theresa Caputo a fake? I honestly have no idea. The information is compelling in some respects, but constitutes specious logic in others. One very close friend shared the possibility that maybe Theresa is gifted, but that she had to feed the publicity machine and in doing so started using other methods to "help" her. That's one of a hundred possible scenarios, ranging from "She's the real deal!" all the way to "She's a total fraud!" The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. 

One question I can answer is "Would I have a personal reading with her?" Speaking personally, I'd say no; I'm not willing to spend that kind of money or wait over two years for a slot. And for the record, these recent allegations wouldn't have changed my answer to the question. 

If it turns out that Ms. Caputo is a total fraud, then she has a HUGE karmic debt to pay off, and she will no doubt find herself in a world of shit from people who believed in her. Karma, as we all know, can be a bitch, but in deference to ladies everywhere, karma can also be a bastard. :)

In the end, you'll have to decide where you stand. But I encourage you to read everything you can and draw your own conclusions. Ms. Caputo just inked another season of "Long Island Medium", so she won't be going away anytime soon.