The Perfecter – Celtic Wisdom Tarot

Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
Destiny Books, 1999
ISBN 0-89281-720-8

The Book says – Completion, perfect or satisfying resolution; the end or finalization of a cycle; successful achievement; triumph; self-respect; synthesis; a sense of communion with all life; clear self-expression and realization.
Reversed: Lack of momentum impedes endings; failure to achieve; inability to accept oneself; to allow changes or perfect closure, or to release potential; inability to see the wood for the trees; fixed of received views obscure self-essence.

Tarot Hunter’s Theories: This card speaks of balance and a sense of completeness. Nothing is missing; all the parts are present. There is a quiet feeling of self-worth and achievement. This can happen when we have worked hard to achieve something – a deep sense of personal satisfaction and inner peace. There is something about this card that suggests being centered; focused on our inner world and our inner needs. We no longer need to search the wide world over for excitement and adventure because at this particular moment in time we have found what we were looking for. The sense of well-being and joy just radiates from the center of this being. And it also suggests that if we

There is something about this card that suggests being centered; focused on our inner world and our inner needs. We no longer need to search the wide world over for excitement and adventure because at this particular moment in time we have found what we were looking for. The sense of well-being and joy just radiates from the center of this being. And it also suggests that if we blend our different parts and elements, allow ourselves to be at one with the world, we too can feel this blessed state. 

What I really love about this card is that it portrays this sense of well-being, peace, and blessedness as intrinsic to the being in the card. We are the source of this, not any external stimuli. All the external world can do is help us realize this fact. All the drugs, alcohol, sex or possessions in the world will not give us this feeling. They might create an illusory substitute which tides us over for a brief time, but ultimately its falseness rings through and we are left as empty and bereft as when we started. If we look within ourselves and realize the gifts we have and the fulfillment we can find; the sense of achievement and personal satisfaction that is ours for the taking, then we too can be radiant, blessed, perfected beings.

CotD – 3 of Cups (Arcus Arcanum Tarot)

Joy!  Overflowing!

Filling hearts and cleansing souls

Beloved, cherished friends

Blue Rose Sun

Blue Rose Sun

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Book says: Traditional meanings  – Principle of unity in spirit; experiencing a time of rekindled enthusiasm. Revitalizing something that has previously existed in your life. Joy, happiness and a great sense of the beauty of life. Clarity. Signifies the transit from the manifest light of this world to the light of the world to come. Law of radiance. Abundant joy.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: The young girl holding the pineapple gives a sense of the joy of youth and new possibilities. She holds the faceted pineapple and each facet can serve as a reminder of the potential and possibilities. She reminds us that each of us possess a crystal pineapple – with hundreds of possible opportunities to sparkle and shine. Maybe she is offering us a chance to explore new possibilities and expand our wings. The rainbows and sun shining overhead give a sense of joy, well-being and happiness.

The overwhelming message from this card is one of celebration and exuberance; a chance for a new start and new pathways to explore. But is also shows that once the sun has shone on our lives, there is no more room for self-deception and hiding from the truth. The sun shines its light into all corners of our lives, waking up whatever shadows may have survived our journey through the lunar landscape. And perhaps we first need to come to grips with our deep, intuitive and inner nature before we will be ready to enter the brilliance of the solar world. It will burn away whatever we need to drop by the wayside and release in order to continue our journey. Just as the sun can wither crops if it shines too brightly and too long, so it can wither things which we no longer need or use. This can be beneficial or negative, depending upon focus and needs. So, as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm sang on the Flintstones, “open up your heart and let the sun shine in“.

Bohemian Gothic DevilBohemian Gothic 6 of Cups

The other day I pulled these two cards as my cards of the day. I found myself looking at them from a different perspective because of past readings and exercises. It suddenly struck me that my antipathy for change has an almost addictive quality to it. I’m addicted to the past because of the memories (both real and rose-colored) I have. The “good old day” were never always good but time has washed them in a patina of gold and rose.

The truth is who the hell wants to sit around and remember lousy times? Who wants to dredge up unhappy, painful memories? That’s what therapy is for not reminiscing. Unfortunately reminiscing can also become problematic when it becomes a crutch, an addictive behavior that allows us to avoid facing current realities. Of course this also creates problems down the road because if I’m so focused on the past then I ignore the present and in the future will have fewer good memories from which to reminisce. It’s a vicious cycle! It’s like plowing and sowing seeds in the same field because they’ve proven fertile in the past but not giving them time to rest and regenerate. Eventually your harvest will become smaller and smaller before the field becomes barren. I don’t want my life to become barren.

So, how can I combat this? It’s not easy simply because I am in a nice rut and feel so little motivation to get out of it. However I have noticed that taking the time to consider the things I’m grateful for in my life can help. I did keep a gratitude journal at one point but it just became one more thing I had to do so I let it lapse. However that doesn’t mean I can’t take a few minutes every day and focus on areas of my life that are good. My life doesn’t suck. It may have sucky moments but overall it truly does not suck. What I need to do is find ways to keep this uppermost in my mind, especially when things really do seem pretty sucky.

Hobbies, friends, books and escapist television programming all help but at the end of the day it’s my choice, my decision to focus on the positive. I know it’s not easy because I seem to go through this cycle every few months but I like to think I’m getting closer to shortening my “life sucks” cycles. Coloring, Tarot cards and music help me de-stress too and that definitely helps elevate my spirits. I know I can do it, I just have to keep trying and not give up. I will not be defeated even by me and my inner demons and self-doubts and moments of wallowing in self-pity. I’m stronger than that. I just need to remind myself of this fact sometimes.

Blankness and Joy

Have you ever felt completely blank; uninspired, uninteresting and unintelligible? I feel that way today. I want to write an amazing blog post that will explode minds, expand horizons and elevate consciousness. Instead I’m drawing a blank. This is one of the rare moments in my life when I have nothing to say, or at least nothing I’m willing to write on a public blog. So in desperation, I am going to turn to the Tarot and pull a card to inspire me. I drew the Page of Cups reversed!

Legacy of the Divine Page of Cups

My first reaction was “Oh great, a freakin’ court card!” Court cards can be something of a pain in the butt to interpret on occasion. Then I thought about it a bit more and laughed. I got the sense the Tarot was telling me to stop being such a crybaby and grow up! Of course you have things to write about, just look into your heart! So I did.

At first I was still drawing a blank. Then I realized there are a few things lurking around in there that I can share. I’ve been doing some work lately about determining my heart’s desire, my deepest, truest heart’s desire. Like a lot of folks, I’ve been acculturated to think that my heart’s desire rests in possessions, wealth or status. It doesn’t. For years I rode that horse and it finally died of exhaustion. My life experiences over the past six years have shown me that money may help relieve some stresses in life but it genuinely does not bring happiness.

Instead of yearning for things I cannot possess (especially right now), I’m looking deep within to learn more about myself and what truly makes me happy. For too long I allowed myself to be distracted or convinced myself that I wasn’t really interested in things that truly nurtured my soul. What the hell happened to me? The same thing that happens to so many of us – we think that growing up means giving up all the things we loved as children. Well I say to hell with that! It’s time for me to revisit those childhood things that brought me joy like coloring, writing poetry and talking with gods! I want to find new things that fill my heart with joy too like learning a new skill or refining an old one. I can do it! So can you! So what if people tell you to grow up, nothing says we have to listen. Let’s embrace that inner child everyone talks about so much. Let’s find ways to reconnect with that child-like sense of wonder and whimsy we had when we were young. Let’s play Kick the Can (for those of you who don’t get the connection, this was the title of a classic Twilight Zone episode)! Who knows what benefits we’ll uncover!

Celebrating Joy

Ghosts & Spirits Tarot Devil/Chains (Jacob Marley)

As the holiday spending season shifts into overdrive, I find myself once again almost devoid of “Christmas spirit”. Watching the chaos and greed at Black Friday events all over the country I am struck by how truly soulless this season has become for some people. Don’t misunderstand me, I like getting goodies as much as the next person, I’m just not willing to trample over folks to get them at a discount. This is truly nothing new. Even in the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street characters are heard lamenting about how commercial Christmas has become. Kris Kringle is seen as crazy and dangerous because he wants to help people. What does that say about us as a society? I suppose what it really says is that we’ve always been this way. The primary difference is that now the chaotic madness is televised.

Whimsical Queen of Swords

At one point I decided to make gifts for folks on my list – personalized colognes, shower gels etc. That went over like a lead balloon with most of them. I also got tired of receiving gifts that were clearly choices made from convenience with no real insight into what I might like. Once again, not that I wasn’t appreciative but if it’s the thought that counts then what does it say when no thought was behind the gift at all? It can really suck all the joy out of the holiday season. Add to that the friggin’ political correctness bug that has infected us all. Happy Holidays is really not the same as Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Yule. Aren’t we grown up enough that if someone wishes us a happy holiday that isn’t our own we can simply smile and thank them or thank them and politely correct them? That certainly seems easier and less stressful than stepping on eggshells while trying to wish someone a happy holiday season.

BoS As Above Yule

I think the biggest issue that can suck the joy out of the season for me is its lack of spiritual focus. I may not celebrate it anymore but Christmas is supposed to be about honoring the birth of Jesus Christ the Christian savior not deciding what kind of video game the kid wants. I would even consider a family focusing on what kinds of cookies to leave out for Santa to be something of a triumph compared to the current topics of conversation – where the best bargains can be found. As if that isn’t sad enough, many of the crazed mob charging stores on Black Friday are primarily buying stuff for themselves.

In addition to all the seasonal madness that can quickly sour one on this time of year, the family responsibilities that limit me can become especially onerous right about now. I can’t even stroll through a shopping center or along the main street of the village without it requiring some major planning beforehand. Who would have thought that simply viewing Christmas windows would become practically impossible. Sometimes this entire situation leaves me drowning in self-pity and depression at this time of year. On the positive side, at least I have a choice. I can focus on what makes me miserable and sad or I can focus on what makes me feel happy and fully of joy. It’s all about where I focus my intentions and attentions.

Whimsical Emperor

So I have decided that in order to increase the sense of wonder and joy I feel at this time of year, I plan to savor holiday movies – from classics to some of the rather cheesy newer entries. Even when I know they’re unrealistic, happy ending holiday movies make me cheery. The fact is that I do believe in Santa Claus and always have. I enjoy the feeling of Christmas cheer that sprinkles over many of us at this time of year. I have signed up for a 30 Days of Yule ecourse with Joanna Powell Colbert. I will focus on the happiness I feel when I give someone a gift they will truly enjoy (rather than just a gift card or money). I will lose myself in the happiness I feel simply looking at twinkling Christmas lights. Rather than sink into the dark morass so easily accessible at this time of year, I’ll try to steer my course towards shores filled with tidings of comfort and joy. Oh and I’ll drink tea – lots and lots of warming, comforting tea! I hope others find themselves willing and able to do the same to keep their joy and cheer levels up this Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa or whatever seasonally appropriate holiday they choose to celebrate (or even if you celebrate none at all).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I am not the cynic I believe myself to be

Wildwood Pole Star

Tonight, while sitting on the porch staring up at a deep blue canopy of stars, I found myself thinking about H.P. Lovecraft and his view of the Universe as a cold, distant, uncaring and even hostile place. I realized that while I may enjoy reading his eerily eldritch stories, I do not subscribe to this viewpoint. As I sipped tea and stared at the stars I felt as though all of my ancestors were looking down and watching over me. I had a sense of connection and belonging. It was as though the Universe cared, even if it couldn’t do much to show me right now. It filled me with a sense of hope and wonder.

Mythic Tarot Star

The more I thought about it the more I felt like Pandora in Greek legend. Despite being surrounded by a world filled with personal and global ills, I do have a sense of hope. I harbor and nourish that little seedling even through the darkest times. I have layered this spark in a thick, protective hedge of sharp thorns and snarky barbs but it glows within me and refuses to allow itself to be diminished or extinguished. She dances within, occasionally surprising me with her exuberance and strength.

As imperfect as my life might be right now, there are moments of transcendent joy and beauty. They are usually such simple things as enjoying a cup of tea or seeing the heron that has taken to hanging out nearby. They are easy to miss and dismiss but recently Joanna Powell Colbert shared a practice of honoring Happiest Moment of the Day (#HMOTD). I have decided to participate in this practice. It’s so easy to focus on the misery, unhappiness and chaos that swirls around us. It’s more challenging to find the joy and happiness in small things; brief moments.

Pearls of Wisdom Star

I must admit, my surprise at realizing that I am an optimist.  For so long I viewed my self as a pessimist. Now I need to readjust that and say I’m a practically cautious optimist – I brace myself for the worst but hope for the best. It’s also a relief to finally embrace this side of myself. Sometimes it’s exhausting keeping up the charade of being a pessimist. Of course that doesn’t mean I’m not a cranky optimist prone to rants and bouts of snarkiness, but that just add more dimensions and layers to my personality.

A case of the “mean reds”

I always remember that in Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly refers to her bouts of anxiety as the “mean reds”. I like that expression although for me it tends to refer more to bouts of self-doubt, jealousy, anger and anxiety triggered by realizing I’m not where I’d thought I would be at this point in my life (such realizations usually occurring when I learn of something wonderful happening to a friend and feeling happy for them and jealous of their good fortune). I suffered a bout of my own mean reds the other day. They were triggered by the realization that I am no longer the new kid on the block, the new generation of anything or the young turk. I’m not a prodigy anymore. I’m going to be 50 soon and while that doesn’t preclude new and interesting experiences, it does pretty much ensure that opportunities to feel like a young turk will be as rare as hen’s teeth.

I don’t like feeling this way. It makes me uncomfortable with myself and resentful of friends’ successes, which really sucks. So I have decided to take the mean reds by the horns and try to develop a strategy so that I don’t get lost in them. I pulled out my Tarot of the Hidden Realm and asked how to handle bouts of the “mean reds”. I drew the 9 of Cups crossed by the 8 of Cups. My first reaction at seeing the 9 of Cups is that I need to look inside my own heart and see what resides there. What do I truly wish for and desire in my life? Many times I realize that although I’m happy for a friend’s success, I don’t wish to so what she does. That changes the dynamic and shifts my perspective. I’m don’t wish for their success to become my own. I don’t wish I had their lives. I just wish I felt more like a success in my own life. The first step to achieving that would be to look inside my heart and see what I find. Instead of a vague “I wish that was me” type wish, I really wish for success on my terms.

Tarot of the Hidden Realm Nine of CupsHidden Realms 8 of Cups

I believe the 8 of Cups is telling me that before I can manifest any wishes or desires in my life, first I need to go on a bit of a quest to see what that would look like for me. There are things I need to let go of, things that I used to enjoy but have now become a distraction. Once I can release those items along with their emotional charge I hope to feel less burdened and freed up to find new joys and new satisfaction with my life. I’m realizing that carrying around all those unfulfilled hopes and dreams is burying me. The only way to free myself from these negative emotions is to simply let life wash them away; let them stay in the past.

At the same time I also believe the past holds some of the keys to finding a fulfilling and enjoyable life for myself. I need to reconnect with young me, hopefully a truer me who remembers what I enjoyed doing before working and the expectations of supervisors and coworkers mutated what I love do into what I’m good at doing. This part of the answer isn’t especially new to me but it is something I haven’t focused on much lately. Obviously I need to change that. I’m sure I’ll develop other techniques for dealing with the “mean reds” but I think this is a good start.

Okay – I want to start off with full disclosure, I received a copy of the Minoan Tarot from Ellen Lorenzi-Prince for the purposes of writing a review. I consider Ellen a friend but don’t think that will impact my review, I just want readers of this blog to be fully informed.

So, I first got a glimpse at this deck when Ellen brought its prototype to a past Readers Studio. I remember looking at the deck and feeling that it wasn’t one I might feel compelled to add to my collection. The art was lovely but I’ve never felt a real attraction to Minoan culture. In fact what I know about Minoan culture can probably be counted on one hand:

  • Minoan culture thrived on Crete and Thera before the advent of Mycenaean Greece
  • It was severely devastated by the volcanic eruption on Thera
  • It’s where the myths of the Minotaur and his labyrinth are centered
  • Among other artistic and athletic endeavors, it celebrated bull leapers (or is it bull dancers) – youths who trained to leap over bulls and display other acrobatic prowess not necessarily related to competitive endeavors.

I hope that working with this deck will give me a greater appreciation for and knowledge of  Minoan culture.

The deck is packaged in a sturdy cardboard box with an accompanying companion booklet. The booklet offers a brief introduction to Minoan art, civilization and culture as well as information about the origins of the artwork incorporated into each card. There is a lightheartedness and joyfulness to many of the images, giving me the sense that Minoan culture didn’t take themselves too seriously. I don’t get the sense of pompousness and elitism that I often feel from Greek & Roman art – as though they’re above human frailties and emotions.

According to the companion booklet, “The suits of the Minor Arcana, Earth, Sea, Sky, and Art, illustrate the great powers present in the lives of the Minoans. Earth shows children of the Mountain Mother, Sea for companions of the Ocean Father, Sky for the Lady of Heaven and Art for their own expressions of humanity. Sea and Sky are used rather than the more abstract Water and Air because these represent realms of the divine rather than elemental concepts.

The number cards for Earth, Sea, and Sky portray living creatures of those realms, as one of the hallmarks of Minoan art and religion is their exuberant embrace of the natural world around them. The number cards for the Art suit show Minoan people engaged in everyday activities.

The Minoans had no known numerology. The images are assigned to the cards by the correspondence of their energies alone. Also, they do not represent a progression of quantity , but rather stand for the selected qualities, no one of which is greater than another. The key concepts for the Ace through Ten are:

Ace – Individuality
Two – Sensitivity
Three – Creativity
Four – Practicality
Five – Adaptability
Six – Harmony
Seven – Spirituality
Eight – Power
Nine – Consciousness
Ten – Transformation

The Court Cards in the Minoan Tarot are Worker, Priestess, Master, and Mistress. The Workers relates with the energy of the suit in a physical and practical way. The Priestess expresses spiritual direction and action. The Master and Mistress are aspects of the God and Goddess as represented in the realm of Earth, Sea, Sky and Art.”

As an introduction to the deck, I asked “What will this deck teach me?” I drew Art Five, Visionary (Hermit) reversed and Earth Seven reversed. Before looking at the book, my interpretation is that working with this deck will be a struggle but it will be a fun, playful one. It will help me explore areas within myself and connect with my inner spirit but it will be an uphill climb inward. If I want to get the most from this deck I will need to be persistent and stubborn to receive the maximum benefit.

Minoan Art Five Minoan Visionary Minoan Earth Seven

For each card, Ellen offers a background on the symbolism and what it is believed to have represented to the Minoans. She also explains the origins of the artwork as well as three messages from each card. Here are the messages for the three cards I drew:

Art Five

  • Do it. Show people what you’ve got
  • Respect your rules but push your boundaries
  • Your struggle will make you stronger. Consider if it will make you wiser.

Visionary

  • Seek the thousand inner senses
  • What shines cannot be seen at noon
  • Give yourself time for wisdom to grow

Earth Seven

  • Leave the crowd behind to get a clearer look at the whole
  • Have no fear of a challenge, you are up to it.
  • Take the path a step at a time. Make each step sure, strong and agile.

I think each of these messages fits with my take on the card, which means that while these card meaning might not be standard RWS, they are somewhat intuitive.

A few other favorite cards I pulled from the deck include:

Minoan Art Eight Minoan Earth Worker Minoan Sea Ace Minoan Sky Ten

Art Eight, Earth Worker, Sea Ace, Sky Ten – these cards give you a taste of how Minoans viewed the world around them and their connection to it.  They seem to play with the bulls rather than trying to dominate and control them.  There is a lightness and playfulness to the art that vibrates off the cards.  I want to dance and play with these charming people and the creatures that inhabit their world.

Minoan Oracle Minoan Earth Priestess

I especially love the images on the Oracle and Earth Priestess because they show two different aspects of the Snake Goddess, one of my favorite goddess images. She touches my heart with her serenity and simple strength. She has no fear of the snakes and wears them as ornamentation to show her connection with them. I don’t get a sense of domination but of collaboration and cooperation.  I can almost hear them whispering secret knowledge in her ears as she nods her head in understanding.

Minoan Ecstasy

Ecstasy also makes me smile. The dancing priestess is lost in her groove. I feel a sense of ecstasy and pure joy shine through this card. It reminds me of a line from a 70s song Magnet and Steel, “You’re a woman who’s lost in your song.” She has surrendered to the rhythms coursing through her body and celebrates them. She is not truly lost forever but is in a moment of trance, of divine connection. She reminds me of a Sufi dervish, using her dance to create an ecstatic trance state that connects her with the sacred; with the Universe.

There are many lovely cards in this deck all offering glimpses into Minoan art and culture but does that make it a good Tarot deck? I’m sure we’ve all had experiences of purchasing a deck that looks lovely but doesn’t speak to us (I’m something refer to this as a dumb ditz deck). If a deck is lovely to look at but has no depth or character then I often find them useless. I don’t feel this way about this deck. In fact I’d describe it as just the opposite – I think this deck will prove to have quite a learning curve because there is so much meaning and symbolism to be unearth and teased out from each card. This deck strikes me as one that will lead its users down the path to learning more about Minoan culture so that you can acquire greater depth of understanding the symbolism and meanings of these cards. Of course I also think it’s entirely possible to work with this deck and use the imagery to develop your own intuitive meanings without any further knowledge of Minoan culture. It’s a matter of preference.

My biggest complaint about this deck is it’s size. They are the same size as the Dark Goddess Tarot which means the deck will be difficult to shuffle for someone with small hands. I consider myself to have medium-size hands and I find them a challenge. So I will give the deck a borderectomy (I have grown to dislike borders on my Tarot cards) and that should make shuffling the cards easier. Oh and I would love it if Ellen created a longer, more detailed companion book but I digress.

So, to wrap it all up – do I recommend this deck? It depends. If you find yourself drawn to ancient cultures I think you will find much in this deck to feed your interests. If you are interested in learning a bit about an ancient culture that was less aggressive and misogynistic but no less cultured and civilized than Mycenaean Greece, this deck will intrigue you. If you seek decks that challenge you to expand your horizons and explore new perspectives and meanings for the cards, this deck will enthrall you. If you want to support privately printed, small batch published decks then this will fit your bill.

I will admit that prior to actually seeing this deck I was on the fence about acquiring it. The likelihood is that I would have purchased it to support Ellen if for no other reason. Now that I’ve played with it a bit and explored it energies I am eager to give it a longer test run and see where it takes me. The artwork is lovely and calls to something within me I wasn’t even aware existed. It tantalizes me like sunlight sparkling across a still lake. It shimmers and dazzles but in a quiet, understated manner like a classic beauty who is at first overshadowed her her more showy, extroverted sisters but whose true value is soon acknowledge and honored.

So if you haven’t already done so, get your copy of the delightfully delicious Minoan Tarot here

And if you’re still up in the air about purchasing a copy, you can read additional reviews here

Simple Pleasures

The other day while working with the Dark Goddess Tarot I drew Tefnut/6 of Water. She is associated with dew and rain and simple pleasures. This got me to thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve allowed myself to enjoy simple pleasures.

Don’t get me wrong, I can find plenty of ways to waste my time on a daily basis such as sitting in front the television and staring mindlessly at the screen. However it’s been a while since I’ve really been able to lose myself in a book or spend time playing with my dolls. Tefnut reminded me that these are the things that make life enjoyable – small, everyday pleasures that bring joy and contentment into our lives. So today I thought I’d share some of my simple pleasures with anyone out there who might read this post and maybe encourage them to spend some time reconnecting with their own simple pleasures.

One of my earliest remembered simple pleasures is reading books. I can clearly remember how excited I was to receive a few Dr. Seuss books as a child. I’m sure I had Golden Books too but the Dr. Seuss ones were special because they came in the mail (thus beginning my life long love of online shopping ;D). My mother had signed me up for a Dr. Seuss book club and I remember how much I loved those books – Green Eggs & Ham, The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss’ ABC – all were beloved and read over and over again. As I got older I remember losing myself in my local library and bookstore for hours. I remember how S.E. Hinton’s books impacted me. I remember such bizarre titles as Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack and If I Love You Am I Trapped F

Forever. I remember discovering Lois Duncan’s tales of horror and suspense. Let us not forget Judy Blume’s amazing tomes for teens. I still remember the subtle subversive sense of rebellion the girls in my 7th grade class felt reading Forever and referring to “Ralph”, much to the confusion of our male classmates and teacher. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself was my first remembered exposure to the Holocaust. Are You There God it’s Me, Margaret was the first time I grasped what puberty and menstruation were all about (thank you Sheila Mayberry for recommended this classic). I’ve recently determined to reread these books because I have such fond memories of them.

I’ve also found some new authors to love and treasure. I just finished Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons and I’m currently reading Cruddy. Her book What It Is reminds me of a darker, snarkier SARK, which is right up my alley. I’ve always had a fondness for historical romances (well-written ones anyway which is still somewhat hard to come by). Once I find an author whose works I enjoy I will stick with them until they’ve disappointed me over several books. One bad book isn’t enough to deter me. I love books that take me to another place and make me feel for the characters. I still remember crying my heart out at the end of Patricia Kennealy-Morrison’s Hedge of Mist, the final book in her trilogy about King Arthur. Judith McNaught’s and Elizabeth Lowell’s historical romances often bring to tears as their tortured heroes and feisty heroines battle with each other in search of love. Stephen King, Dean Koontz and H.P. Lovecraft all scare me and fill me with vague terror at what lies hidden beneath the veneer of civilization. There are many more books and authors I could mention but I think I’ve made my point.

Another simple pleasure I’ve always enjoyed is coloring. I’ve never considered myself especially artistic but I still using my box of 64 Crayola crayons to color images in coloring books. I’ve always loved it. In fact I can think of fewer fragrances as enticing as a newly opened box of Crayola crayons (cheaper ones just don’t have the same aroma). It brings me right back to my childhood. I even still have some older Barbie coloring books that I occasionally pull out and lose myself in bringing color to the black and white pages. I used to have a fondness for color by number paint sets as well but even as a child I often found that the paint would dry up on me before I managed to finish painting.

Yet another simple pleasure I’ve always enjoyed is playing with fashion dolls – especially Barbie. She’s taken quite a hit over the years for her alleged negative impact on young girls’ self-esteem but as a child I saw Barbie as a gateway to possibilities. Barbie wasn’t married. She didn’t have kids. She was a free, independent female who could spend time with Ken if she chose or hang out with her buddies. She could be an executive, a doctor, an astronaut or a model and if she could be those things then so could I. I still remember my first Barbie – a Malibu Barbie I got when I was 6. Over the years I added a few others Barbies (Quick Curl and Superstar) as well as other dolls (does anyone else remember Tuesday Taylor?). I even got a Barbie dollhouse one year – it folded up into a cube shape and when opened became a 3 room house with very mod furniture. I eventually lost interest in Barbie as boys and friends took prominence. Then one day while working at a recreation center I was faced with a distraught young boy who had received a Barbie doll by mistake at the center’s Christmas party. I happened to have a brand new football in my office and offered it to the boy in exchange for the doll. He was thrilled with the trade. The doll was a 1995 Jeweled Hair Mermaid Midge and

 

I still have her. She slowly rekindled my interest in dolls. Every so often I would add another. Then Mattel released the Silkstone line and I was enthralled. They were lovely and felt so solid and substantial. They also had wonderful fashions. A few years later the Fashion Royalty dolls by Integrity were released and once again I fell in love. These ladies were gorgeous, poseable and had some great back stories. I eventually managed to accumulate quite a collection – over 200 Barbies and approximately the same number of Fashion Royalty dolls.

I’m no longer an active collector for a variety of reasons but I still have most of my dolls. I think Tefnut is telling me it’s time to play with them again. I used to love taking photographs of them and posting them to various doll-themed boards I frequented. Maybe it’s time to get back into the hobby. In fact I think I might find a way to combine my dolls habit with another simple pleasure – Tarot cards.

My Tarot card hobby started off slowly. I had known about Tarot for several years because I was reading about witchcraft, Wicca and Paganism and somehow they just seem to go together. I eventually bough myself a few decks – the Arcus Arcanum Tarot, The Hallowquest Tarot and the Norse Tarot.

I loved the imagery and would look at them quite often but I realized I really didn’t know much about their meaning. As is my tendency, I found a few books about working with and reading Tarot cards such as Eden Gray’s books and Mary Greer’s Tarot for Yourself. These offered some insights but it wasn’t until I discovered the Comparative Tarot group on Yahoo that I really began exploring the world of Tarot (and Tarot card collection). Thanks to this group I eventually became a decent Tarot reader and an insatiable Tarot deck collector. Each deck seemed to open the door to a new world, a new realm of knowledge to explore. It’s what still keeps me interesting and active with the Tarot.

Last but certainly not least on my list of simple pleasures are music and tea.  I still believe listening to Led Zeppelin is one of the most most-blowing, sensual experiences in which I can indulge.  I also have a fondness for AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Melissa Etheridge and P!nk but S.J Tucker, Incubus Succubus, Laura Powers, Enya and Loreena McKennit also have a place on my playlist.   I have to admit that I have even created my own playlist of stripper songs in my head.  I should probably make that playlist up one of these days and just dance around like no one is watching (and they probably aren’t).  If music can get me revved up then tea is what soothes me and calms me down.  Whether it’s a traditional blend like Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast or a seasonal blend like Pumpkin Spice or Gingerbread, I find making a cup or pot of tea grounds me and helps me focus on myself for a few precious minutes.  I have learned to love the exotic and varied blends available in the tea world.  My favorites will always be black teas but I’ve also come to appreciate oolongs, especially the stronger, darker blends.  There are also myriad flavored teas out there for every taste (mine tends towards chocolate blends).

So how about you? Are there some simple pleasures you once enjoyed that you’ve lost touch with over the years? Why not try reconnecting with them and see if they bring some joy and happiness into your life.  I’m going to listen to some music and make a pot of tea.

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