Literary Lenormand: Forecast for Brave New World

[Update to this post: I've decided to make this a regular feature...so watch this space for more book forecasts using the Lenormand!]

So, one of the techniques I’ve been trying, to learn Lenormand, is using my Lenormand deck to predict what will happen in books, movies, and t.v. shows. To that end, I did a Lenormand reading on my husband’s favorite book, Brave New World, which I had never read. Now, here’s the thing: I read him my prediction, which I logged in my Penzu journal on March 3, and his comment was “You are almost entirely totally wrong.” But now, having finished the book, I have to say that I see a lot of my predictions in it (a controlling government based on the employer-employee relationship, sex without commitment, a son who is taken somewhere, the book starting in an institutional setting, and even the hoses/tubes, which turned up in the first scene, etc.), though there are also some things here that didn’t pan out in the book. I’d love to hear comments from those of you who have read Brave New World! I’m pasting the spread and my Penzu journal notes (which are pretty rough; I wasn’t originally planning to publish them — and unfortunately the photo is a bit dim) from March 3 below.

Nine card forecast for Brave New World, from the Art Nouveau Oracle Lenormand

Nine card forecast for Brave New World, from the Art Nouveau Oracle Lenormand

The beginning: Perhaps the book begins in a tower or apartment, or in some institution, or on the road to that place. If so, the road might be twisty and turny (the snake). It’s not always clear what is around the next bend.

The Tower: a government with a lot of restrictions. Deceptive choices were made; politicians went down that road. The future of the government is clouded, there is a lot of worry and anxiety. Perhaps the government itself puts clouds in the way of people’s happiness.

The Crossroads: The book begins at a decisive point in time: a crossroads. Perhaps there has been a complication (snake) and a choice needs to be made. This problem involves things that may be hard to digest, or hard for people in general to digest. There might be hoses involved, or tubes of some sort. OR, a choice is made to protect the tricksters of the world, or to protect those who are sneaky and underhanded. Possibly to use money or institutional power to protect them, and maybe letting the foxes into the henhouse.

The Bear: money, resources, and protection are a central theme in the book. Also, loyalty, or love and loyalty. However, there is deception connected with love as well. The dog: friendship as well as love is being put to the test. Perhaps it is that loyalty is clouded by love, or that love is clouded by loyalty (to other things).

The Fox: finding sneaky ways to be loyal and to be a loving friend. Finding sneaky ways to be happy. Work-related ways. The employer-employee relationship is a subtheme. OR: there is a trap being laid at work, or at a police station. Just when everything seems to be working out happily, it turns out to be a trap.

Another subtheme: I see some sex in this book, though it might just be alluded to. The heart and the tower knighting each other. But the relationship is threatened, it’s not clear whether it will be possible for the lovers to be loyal to each other. Though they might have a son together. But if so, that son might be taken in and deceived by the book’s tricksters, just what the parents would have wanted to avoid.

Want to recommend a book for my Literary Lenormand series? Write to me at bonnie@tarotsalve.com!

Ostara Blog Hop: Resurrection and Rebirth

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So, I want to look at resurrection and rebirth from two perspectives. To begin with:

In order to create, it is necessary first to destroy.

The Sun, Yoga Tarot

The Sun, from Lo Scarabeo’s Yoga Tarot

In order to rise like a phoenix from the ashes, one first has to burn to death.

In order to be resurrected or reborn, one first has to die.

"Resurrection," from Biblepictures.net

“Resurrection,” from Biblepictures.net

Or, put another way, in order to have spring, we must first have winter.

That’s why death is not necessarily bad news; losing a job is not necessarily bad news; getting sick is not necessarily bad news; experiencing loss and betrayal is not necessarily bad news; even global warming is not necessarily bad news. Not looked at from a longer perspective. Destruction is the precursor to creation.

But from another perspective:

Although I do believe in offerings, I don’t really believe in sacrifices, at least not at the level of religion (I do believe in day to day sacrifices — we could not live our lives if we did not sacrifice some options for the sake of others). For many of you reading this, the crucifixion of Jesus was a beautiful and necessary sacrifice. To me, it’s just blood sacrifice taken to a whole new level. And to me, to partake in Christianity would be to give my blessing and approval to the actions of a mob of people who chose to basically lynch Jesus. I also think that if Jesus saw this coming and had the opportunity to avoid it, it’s utterly wrong that he did not do so, a form of ritual suicide, of which I can’t possibly approve. Jesus on the cross

How do we (or at least I) reconcile these two perspectives?

First, I would say this: make your offerings to your god or gods by all means, or to the universe, or to the earth, but don’t think that an offering has to be a blood sacrifice. An offering can be a piece of fruit laid on an altar, or a heartfelt prayer. It does not have to require the shedding of blood. See, an offering should be a good thing, like a present. Something wonderful. Something you would look forward to. NOT something terrible.

Second, when terrible things happen on their own — do you see the difference? — we can embrace those things. We can recognize them for what they are: the opportunity to transform a situation, the chance to rise like a phoenix. We can recognize that while earlier there were few options, now, because of the Tower moment we may have just experienced, or because Death came to visit, there is suddenly a plethora of possibilities: many, many, many options to choose from. Suddenly doors have opened that were previously closed.

While the polar vortex of winter may have made our lives ever so much more challenging, it may also have made our lives ever so much more of an adventure. The crisp clean air of winter may have refreshed us and woken us up. If we had nothing but warmth and ease, we would remain drowsy. We wouldn’t fully wake up. We wouldn’t be in the present moment. And we wouldn’t have this opportunity to sprout something new in the spring.

What I’m saying is, even the challenges in our lives are blessings, and maybe “even” is a word that shouldn’t even be in this sentence. Our challenges almost always bless us, don’t they, in the long run? Our depressions, likewise. They give us what we need to grow.

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For One Great Big Dose of Happy, Watch Aliy Zirkle!

It’s Iditarod time again! And that’s a great thing if you are someone who is prone to depression, because you can head on over to You Tube and watch Aliy Zirkle, the musher who I think could frankly be called a one-woman antidepressant. I’m not necessarily saying that she’s a complete substitute for Zoloft, I’m just saying that you truly cannot be in the same space with her, even virtually over the Internet, and be anything other than positive, at least for those few minutes. Although your mileage may vary (pun intended!).

If you’re not an Iditarod fan, what do you do to add a quick shot of joy to your day when you need it?

Practical Tarot: Reacting to Transportation Delays

StrengthSix of CupsI tend to think of tarot as a spiritual tool, so it’s taken me some time to trust that it can also be extremely useful on a practical, everyday level. But I had a nice lesson in trusting tarot last night. I was trying to make it to a reiki 3 class on the other side of town, but I don’t have a car. My plan was to take the bus to the end of the line and then walk the rest of the way (it would have been about a 30-minute walk). I knew a winter storm was coming in, though, so I brought taxi fare with me just in case it didn’t look feasible to walk once I got that far. And, it didn’t. Our “winter storm” turned into a thunderstorm with rain turning to ice on the roads — I decided walking on the side of the road (no sidewalks), on slippery ice, in the rain, at rush hour was not going to be my wisest choice, so I ducked into a Taco Bell and called a cab.

And waited.

And waited.

I knew I had about 45 minutes to get to my class, so I thought I could afford to wait 20-30 minutes for a taxi. While I waited, I pulled tarot cards using an app on my phone: Strength, plus the Six of Cups. To me, the Strength card has to do with inner strength. When I see this card, the first thing I think is “Patience.” So…I counseled myself to be patient and wait. And I interpreted the Six of Cups in light of my circumstances (since this was a cups card and it was very wet outside) instead of thinking about it in terms of its more usual associations of nostalgia, childhood, and being with children.

But here’s the thing. My interpretation wasn’t wrong, in that it was very wet out and was going to continue to be wet. We had many “cups” of rain coming out of the sky…but tarot cards have layers of meaning, and I missed the more practical advice on this card because I was so anxious to make it to my class. This card, I now think, was saying, “go home to your children.” I just couldn’t accept that advice because I had planned so carefully to make it to this class. So I waited.

An hour and a half later, after talking to the taxi dispatcher several times, I gave up and got back on another bus and went home. If I had been open to the message I was receiving from the tarot in the first place, I could have saved myself a good 90 minutes of worry and anxiety.

Though this may seem like a trivial application of tarot, I think there’s a larger lesson here — about being open, about being able to listen, and about developing the ability to let go of a desired outcome in order to pay attention to actual circumstances.

Are the cards accurate? Only if we let them be.

Is Hollywood Hillbillies’ Memaw a New Incarnation of the Queen of Swords?

So, Hollywood Hillbillies is my first reality show. Ever. (It was on You Tube a few days ago, but is gone again now…see if you can find it.)

And I will be honest with you. My first reaction was, “I must never, ever, EVER, set foot in the South again.” That was probably just because this family may have triggered a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder from my own visits south of the Mason-Dixon line. I have many, many relatives, and friends, in the South. But–you friends and relatives in the South have to admit that y’all have no kale whatsoever in your damn grocery stores. (You know, kale? It’s a cruciferous vegetable. Like broccoli and spinach and cauliflower. Yes, people eat it and it’s delicious.) No tofu either. And that is a fact. I have checked. (Y’all need to write some letters to Winn-Dixie, stat!)

My second reaction was, “Why do these people have to talk like they have a mouthful of marbles? This is not My Fair Lady! We are not all being taught by Henry Higgins! Can’t we talk like it’s not painful?” (Did you realize that the Southern drawl is based on an upper crust British accent? Listen to it, people! Neither accent is my personal favorite, but, you know what, that’s really okay.)

But my third reaction was, “You know, though, I kind of like Memaw.” (The show doesn’t spell her name that way, but I honestly think you have to if you’re going to pronounce it right.)

And my fourth reaction was, “Actually, in some ways this family is really rather sweet.” How can I say that? Because they hold hands walking down the street! Could we start there? This is a loving family of people who are deeply loyal to and protective of each other. Is that wrong? Actually, no. Now, if my whole family came with me to a job interview or a business meeting, I’d have some words with them. But that’s my personal problem because I am just that intolerant and/or independent and because I have a bit of a temper when it comes to family members bossing me around. But those are my own flaws, which don’t give me the right to judge other people who are kind, sweet, and tolerant enough to cope with family being right up in their faces all the time.

And then there’s the fact that they stop and talk to the people working on the side of the road and ask to try the cactus they are eating for lunch! When was the last time YOU stopped to chat with a road worker and shared his lunch? To me, being willing to talk to and relate to and share food with ANYONE is the heart of democracy.

But let’s talk about Memaw, since she’s the heart and soul of this show. And Memaw TOTALLY is the Queen of Swords. Why? (I know some of you are thinking, “how can Bonnie denigrate the Queen of Swords like this?” Well, just listen for a minute.)

1. She doesn’t like phonies and she doesn’t like people acting like they are highfalutin’. She believes in honesty and in being yourself. And God bless her for that! We see too little honesty in this world. And I agree with her: I am tired of phonies, frauds, and lying.

2. She cuts through the bullshit. And in Hollywood, there is plenty of it. In fact, Memaw even cuts through her own bullshit. She tells her grandson that she doesn’t want to see any sexual activity going on while he’s living with her but then adds, “but if you do, make sure you use some protection.”

3. She IS the unrivaled queen of her family. No argument there. They all agree on it! She is the boss and there is “no negotiating with her,” according to her son.

4. Yes, she’s overweight, and no, that’s probably not technically any of your business, actually. What of it? Big deal! She looks pretty healthy to me despite the weight. You know what being overweight means? It does not mean you eat too much (even if it did, that would be nobody’s business but your own). But usually, being overweight means you maybe eat the wrong stuff, probably because you are too busy taking care of other people to take care of yourself, and it means you have led a stressful life so far and so your fat-producing hormones have gone into overdrive. That is what it means. These are NOT moral failings. Quite the contrary. They just indicate that like all queens, Memaw is preoccupied with looking after and protecting people. That’s her priority — not making a fashion statement.

4. You may think Memaw’s racist but I think she’s just plain interested. Yeah, she makes comments about people of different cultures and ethnicities. But have you noticed? All her comments in that department (or all the ones I’ve heard so far) have been complimentary. She frankly seems to admire diversity. “Japanese people are so smart,” does not sound like hate to me. “The only thing David Weintraub’s got going for him is he’s a Jew” does not sound like hate to me. To me, racism is a type of hate. Racism leads to violence and genocide. What I see here is not that. What I see in Memaw, and many, many other people like her, is racial stereotyping that stems from ignorance of other cultures combined with total fascination with those cultures. She’s thirsty for diversity — and that’s wonderful. What could be wrong with that?

And by the way, if you think she’s “white trash,” then you are more hateful than she is. And way more shallow. By far. Because this is a woman who walks up to literally everyone she meets and gives them a hug. She is love.

Imbolc Blog Hop: Tarot, Healing, and Creativity

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Ten of Wands -- Samurai Tarot

Ten of Wands, Samurai Tarot. From the LWB (Little White Book): “Free the mind of prejudice and learn to watch. The greatest fear is often impalable like the wing of a moth.”

Welcome to the first blog hop of 2014! Happy Imbolc (“in the belly,” the Irish holiday in honor of lambing), Happy Brigid’s Day, and Happy Candlemas! Or if you prefer, happy Groundhog’s Day!

To Catholics, Brigid is St. Brigid, and you can read about her at Catholic Encyclopedia. But to me, Brigid is a goddess. To read about her, try Encyclopedia Mythica. She is a goddess of smithcraft and martial arts, poetry, and healing…which leads us to…Dostoevsky? Well, just for a second.

Seven of Wands -- Samurai Tarot

Seven of Wands, Samurai Tarot. From the LWB: “There are times when there is no demon in the demon, no man in the man.”

The first gift my ex-husband ever gave me, before we even began dating, was a copy of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. Inside the front cover, he wrote, “To Bonnie the Rationalist: Read it and weep!” He called me a rationalist because I was so doggedly logical in my arguments with him. And as a rationalist, Notes from Underground never made a bit of sense to me. Yet, intuitively, it makes no sense either — it just left a bad taste in my mouth. (So does Crime and Punishment, for that matter.)

Here’s my point, and I promise this will relate (eventually!) back to healing, creativity, and tarot, and even to Brigid. My point is this. It doesn’t matter whether I look at Notes from Underground as a rationalist OR as an intuitive. Either way, the book sucks (in my opinion, which I am entitled to, this was NOT Dostoevsky’s best book). And so often this is the case…not that a great writer could write a terrible book…but that logic and intuition lead us to the same conclusion. They are like yin and yang; each contains the other; and for healing, we must have BOTH, without fail. Again, in my opinion. Here’s an example: A good doctor needs to know your history, because little bits of information from that history can foster intuitive leaps — and the doctor can (or may) figure out how those bits of information were actually linked later, using logic and science.

Both intuition and logic, or science for that matter, can be wrong, of course. But we often don’t accept that possibility, do we? We come to the conclusion that we come to, using our favorite method, either intuitive or rational, and THEN we deploy the other method, the one we didn’t use in the first place, to give our conclusion a little extra support. So the second method is inherently biased by the conclusions arrived at by the first method.

Now, I’m working my way to the truth here as if I were knitting a scarf, and I am a slow knitter, so please bear with me.

The Magician -- Samurai Tarot

The Magician, from the Samurai Tarot. From the LWB: “Even the gods and buddhas began with space.”

Nothing is true and yet everything is true. Life, and everything in it, is an illusion. And yet it also isn’t. And those two statements are simultaneously, both, totally and entirely true. And they are simultaneously, both, totally and entirely false.

Now this is the point at which my old graduate school friends would certainly jump in and call me a moral relativist. “You believe in nothing! And if you believe in nothing, what’s to stop me from murdering you right now? And what’s to stop you from murdering me?”

Well, if that isn’t the stupidest question. First, I do NOT believe in nothing. I believe in everything. Like Inspector Clouseau, I believe everyone, and I believe no one. I’m not going to murder you or anyone else, why? Not because I don’t believe murder is real! But because I’m a kind and gentle person, and I’m gentle even to rocks, and would continue to be so even if it were proven to me definitively that it makes no difference to the rock whether I handle it gently. Even if it were proven to me that the rock didn’t exist, or that I didn’t exist. What does compassion and lovingkindness even have to do with the existence of things? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Tarot readings can heal. So can rocks. So can thoughts and beliefs. So can medicine. So can a splint. So can a salve. So can energy applied in various ways. So can faith. Why? How is that possible? Well, it comes down to intuition and logic. You already know the intuitive explanation (or at least an intuitive explanation) or you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. One version might go something like this: we have a mind-body-spirit connection and what happens to the spirit and the mind, of course, affects the body. But you could just as easily explain a faith healing using logic and science. If all we are is biology and chemistry, then you can’t very well argue that faith isn’t biological or chemical or that it doesn’t have a biological or chemical effect, can you? If we can even agree that faith can accomplish one single thing, such as reducing stress, then we’re there, logically speaking, because as soon as you reduce stress you’ve changed the biochemical balance in your brain. You’ve changed which neurotransmitters are being released and absorbed and in what amounts and you’ve changed what hormones are being released and in what amounts.

Nine of Wands -- Samurai Tarot

Nine of Wands, Samurai Tarot. From the LWB: “If your heart remains steadfast, the ice becomes hot, the snow warm. –Nichiren.”

Of all the types of magic we can think of in the world, healing is by far the easiest one to explain logically. You could heal with anything, even dirt, if you put faith in it. (In fact, dirt is one of the most healing substances around, but that’s another topic for another day.)

Seriously, just think about that.

Five of Wands -- Samurai Tarot

Five of Wands, Samurai Tarot. From the LWB: “If you understand that you cannot beat others, you will understand the path to conquering yourself. Then you will be victorious.”

In the Samurai Tarot, so many things that we struggle with are ghosts. Does that mean they are not real? Does that mean we need not struggle? Does that mean we need not engage with these illusions? No. But massive, major healing takes place when we can see them with a sense of perspective. When we widen our viewpoint to, oh, let’s say a geologic time scale. Or when we make our viewpoint very tiny, so tiny that we can see that all these problems are made up of nothing but space.

Tarot helps with that. Whether you have faith in the intuitive process (and I do) or whether you think it’s all bunk — ask yourself whether that even matters when it comes to healing.

But, specifically how does tarot help us to heal? Instead of listening to more crazy theories from me, choose an area of your life which needs healing, and try a simple spread based on the triple aspect of Brigid (see, I told you we’d come back to her!):

  1. What is my best weapon, tool, or resource in this endeavor?
  2. What kind of story do I need to tell myself in order to facilitate release?
  3. What would healing look like, in this case?

And don’t be afraid to let life turn you upside down like the Hanged Man, below. Remember — if you know the Musashi story — before he was hanged upside down from a tree, Musashi wasn’t yet Miyamoto Musashi — he was only Takezo. Not that there was anything wrong with being Takezo. But: I think he was happy with his transformation.

The Hanged Man -- Samurai Tarot

The Hanged Man, Samurai Tarot. From the LWB: “Don’t be stifled by fears. Trust in the spirit and ignore the material.”

Ready to hop to the next Imbolc Blog Hop post? Click below!

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Bachelor Cooking with Bonnie: The Method and Five Fast Recipes

So, I am a notoriously bad cook. Yet, I can walk into my kitchen, throw a few things together, and walk out with something delicious! How is that possible? Two reasons:

1. I’m willing to mix ingredients that have never been mixed before.

2. I am not that picky.

These are all  you need to be a wonderful chef! I consider this bachelor cooking, though I’m not a bachelor. (My husband says, “you should call this bachelorette cooking!”)

Here are a few combinations to get you started. (Note: all of these recipes CAN be gluten free. Use rice pasta or gluten free cereal. Substitute a gluten-free bread for sandwiches.)

Southwestern Lasagna

Follow a lasagna recipe. Substitute salsa for all or part of the tomato sauce. It’s that easy!

Trail Mix and Cereal, or, Trereal

Cheerios are just fine for making Trereal.

Cheerios are just fine for making Trereal.

1. Put cereal in bowl.

2. Add 1/4 cup of your favorite trail mix, even if it includes chocolate. Especially if it includes chocolate!

3. Add milk (or in my case, almond milk).

4. Enjoy the spectacular deliciousness!

Salad with Tahini Dressing

Why do all the work of making tahini dressing? Do this the easy way:

1. Put salad in a bowl.

2. Distribute some tahini (1-2 tablespoons should do it) across the top of the salad.

3. Add your favorite oil and vinegar salad dressing.

vegetable soup

…and this.

For ventil soup, you need this...

For ventil soup, you need this…

Ventil Soup

My husband came up with the name for this one. It’s one can of lentil soup, mixed together with one can of vegetable soup. So good that you won’t need to add crackers.

Everything Stir Fry

Have extra rice in the fridge? Dump it in a frying pan with an egg and whatever vegetables you have on hand (spinach and kale are good). Add ginger powder, maybe some garlic, and soy sauce. And water so your concoction doesn’t stick to the pan.

Have extra pasta in the fridge? Do the same thing. If you don’t have soy sauce, garlic, or ginger powder, try melting cheese on top, or adding salsa or tomato sauce. It will be delicious! You’ll feel like a real cook!

Honorable Mention: Peanut Butter and Nutella Sandwiches

My ten-year-old invented peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches while visiting her grandparents (I’m sure many other children of all ages have invented them as well). But you can also do pb and honey, pb and sugar (my friend Lara Weeks taught me that one in 2nd or 3rd grade), pb and leftover broccoli (no, my kids won’t eat those, and right now, the broccoli sandwiches are still just a theory for me–they remain to be beta tested…).

Happy “cooking”! And, if it doesn’t turn out perfectly, remember my mother’s sage words of wisdom: “Bonnie, the reason you’re not a good cook is that you just don’t care how things taste.”