Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Hello Pan!


One of my favorite things ever is unsolicited letters of hello. Thank you so much for writing me some thirty-three words. The circumstances of luck were enough for it to trigger a full-blown letter in return.


Way back in the olden days, when there was no such thing as internet and I traveled lots like a vagabond and there was no way to get a hold of me, I used to make sure I frequently mailed my friends and family lots of letters. I liked to imagine that they’d all write me back, providing I had an address. It was pretty unlikely my imaginings were correct. They were mostly all busy having babies and raising families, which, I’ve discovered, is the most time-consuming, all engrossing, I-don’t-have-time-for-anything-else-ing act one can undertake, should one choose to be so devoted. Which is what has, belatedly but eventually, happened to me.


I have recently moved my artistic musings over to the realm of doll making (Jessi Rose Dolls), which is a nice artistic outlet I can do with my children around. Meanwhile, my tarot journal sits stagnant like a bit of water caught behind a rock on the lee edge of a small pond far in the wilderness. Which is to day: it does not move. Two years ago I became a mere eight chapters short of finishing my tarot book. Now I see that it will probably wait until both my children are in school. Likely, no one will purchase it with a deck. Heck, no one will remember there was such a deck! But I am, first and foremost, a writer, so I’m sure I’ll finish it. I’ve always meant to. After all, it started out as an idea for a book. The deck was secondary.


As a mother, I am at peace. So many people say that the first child is the most drastic change, as this is the one that changes one’s life forever and so dramatically. I did not find it to be so. For me, it was much like buying a one-way ticket to an unknown place where I didn’t speak the language. Or it was like stashing all one’s possessions and hopping on a bicycle for an unlimited amount of time without a map or a plan. Or it was like jumping into the ocean alone to swim to a far-away shore and not telling anyone where I was headed. It was like leaving, and it was like going someplace new. Which is to say, it was, in so many ways, like nothing new at all. Without the least bit of preparation— as usual— I felt quite prepared.


But, like they all say, it has been, indeed, the most wonderful thing ever.






May you be at peace, and may you always know love—

Eight of Cups — Tarot of the Absurd

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Many years ago, an acquaintance of mine told me a dream. I like listening to dreams. I no longer remember the dream, precisely. All I remember is my impression. My impression of his dream was this image: 

Something here needs to change.




(to be read aloud, except in the case of parenthesis)






Let go, let go.

Fill your lungs and then let go.


(bigger inhale)


Let go, let go.

Let go, let go.

Fill your lungs, fill your lungs.

Fill your lungs and then let go.


(biggest inhale)


Let go, let go.

Let go, let go.

Fill your lungs, fill your lungs.

Fill your lungs and then let go.

Let go.


(full release)



(full inhale)



(full release)



(full inhale)



(full release)



(full inhale)



(full release)



(etc., as necessary)

The Two Moons of the Tarot of the Absurd

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Jes Shanahan

Artist: Jessica Rose Shanahan


Strange things happen by the light of the Moon.


The Moon shines light on the inner demons of the unconscious—
giving life to the shadow self’s distorted vision—
a moon-shadow landscape of illusion
where dream and reality swirl— undifferentiated—
where the self wanders bewildered and aimless—
anxious and mad— into the arms of deception.


When illustrating the cards in this deck, I incorporated the meaning of the card with a few traditional symbols together with a few symbols of my own into an illustration that attempts to embody the concept of the card intuitively. The conveyed meaning is based largely on posture and human expression rather than on the basis of occult symbols. What allowed me to do this relatively freely was largely my ignorance of the sacredness of symbols in the occult tarot. However, artists invariably have personal symbols that come through in work. Thus the cards— like any work of art— are not devoid of symbols. The symbols are merely different. My goal was to offer a new way of looking at looking at an old idea.


When illustrating the Moon I thought, What is the most deceptive thing? My conclusion was that the most deceptive thing is a creator who brings something into this world and endows it with the faith that it will be loved and cared for and protected fully— then from within the realm of confidence of its creation, the creator becomes destroyer. I illustrated this as a mad mother consuming her own child: the ultimate deception. It is a disturbing image.


This action can be seen overtly in cases of child abuse. However, it also occurs small-scale in every-day relationships. We let people down. Despite our best efforts, we are imperfect mothers, friends and lovers. We deceive and destroy even our own selves. This inevitability begs the question, Who is more greatly deceived in this relationship: the creator or the destroyed?


Upon becoming a mother myself, I find this image more and more disturbing and have found it necessary to deceive myself anew. Thus, I drew a second Moon. The second Moon contains not only the illusion that my creation will have the ability to wander into the wilds unarmed and sleep with the wolves, unharmed, but that I myself will be the perfect mother, able to produce such a miracle. This comforting illusion occurs when we refuse to take off the veil of deception and witness reality.


Unfortunately, although this is the more comforting image, the refusal to see reality ultimately does more harm than good. Facing the truth of one’s destructiveness allows us to better our actions. Choosing some comforting illusion allows us to be lead blindly by our own inner demons into the deception of dreams.


Which Moon you choose is up to you. I leave them both in the deck.

The Star — The Shakespeare Oracle

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Artist: Cynthia von Buhler
Author: A. Bronwyn Llewellyn


The first time I passed through Oaxaca, Mexico, I had one of the most amazing dreams of my life.


I dreamed I was a woman living in a small village in the mountains. I was newly in love and newly married when my new husband went off to war. He said to me before he left, “While I’m gone, make me a weaving.” So I made weavings. Every day I made weavings, weaving to no end until one day I said, “I can’t do this anymore. I have to stop. I have to do something else.”


I wanted to join the army. I bypassed all the armed forces where women are accepted. I walked until I came to a cement house where it was cold. I went inside. The house overlooked a canyon— a canyon familiar to my dreams, into which I often dove on wings of faith in search of freedom. The men inside wore black: black clothing, black hoods over their faces. This sector of the army was kept secret from women. No woman knew of it; none had ever been here.


I picked up a gun. “I wanted to fight,” I said.


The men looked at me askance. “You are a woman,” said one of them.


I saw into their hearts and knew then it was not a sexist remark. The men were aware that I could fight as well as they could, but they cared too much about me. Each one of them loved me and would not let me do this to myself. This squadron meant death.


In came the man in charge. He said I could not join. I was furious. One man after another of higher rank came in until at last in came the Zen Master. I paced in small circles as we talked.


I said, “I thought I knew this. I used to know what I was doing. I used to know detachment. I thought I knew what Zen was.”


He said, “We are all just learning.” He said, “Show me your weavings.”


I brought them out. He lifted up each of the weavings one by one and held each one in admiration. Each weaving depicted a different woman, sitting, weaving. There were piles of them, dozens and dozens of weavings, large, and in bright colors. The man nodded at each one. He knew the names and villages of all the women. He spoke highly of their weaving and spoke highly of mine.


At the bottom of the pile was a small weaving of a young child holding an empty spoon before her with two hands, as if in offering. The Zen Master could not place this image; he had never seen such a child. He asked, “What is this?”


I turned my head and looked at the floor. My eyes blurred with tears. I said, “Oh. That one doesn’t belong.”


He said, “Then get rid of it.”


“I can’t,” I said, and began to sob helplessly. “It’s my hope.”


“Well then,” the Zen Master said to me, “get rid of all the others.”


And I woke, sobbing.


*   *   *


The woman in the next bunk in the hostel noticed when I woke. She said she heard me crying but didn’t want to wake me in the middle of a dream. She sat at the head of my bed and listened as I told her my dream, crying. She said she never had dreams like that. I thanked her for listening. I am so thankful for her, so thankful for this unknown woman from Israel, for without her waiting for me to awaken and without her listening, I may never have remembered the most beautiful dream of my life: the dream of what hope is.


Hope is The Star. Get rid of all else.

Nine of Swords — The Enchanted Tarot

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Amy Zerner Monte FarberArtist: Amy Zerner
Text: Monte Farber


“In the night, a sleeping figure lies trapped in a dark, nightmare world existing on the edge of sleep. Strange demons, repressed hurts and childhood fears range freely. […] This is a lonesome place, far from help and comfort. Shadows of pain, suffering and depression overwhelm the sleeper until she becomes a victim of her own thoughts and, like a martyr, repeatedly impales herself on their hurtful points. […] The only way she can escape from these nightmares… is to open her eyes and awaken to what is really bothering her. She must confront it in broad daylight…. The alternative is torment.”


This is a good description. I like the Nine of Swords. I do.


From childhood through college, I suffered terrifying nightmares. Oftentimes, the dream itself was abstract: something akin to the task of counting backwards from infinity. It was represented by the perpetual division of an infinitely large form that filled my field of view. I would divide until my field of view was clear but for a tiny speck of what I had begun with. At this point I had to look closer, and the tiny speck would once more be infinitely large. I could do nothing until the task of infinite division was completed. When finally I passed the point of dream paralysis, I was completely hysterical and totally incapable of speech.


As I matured, the dreams became more conceptual and less abstract. I would dial a friend again and again, but the buttons would swim around and fall off the telephone. Panic. I needed to turn on the light, but the string came off in my hand. Over and over. Panic. Helplessness. Terror. I could not breathe.


Eventually I learned to face my nightmares. I learned there are things I cannot do in dreams. For example, I cannot dial a phone: numbers use the other side of the brain. I appreciate dream terror for what it teaches me about reality and waking life. I know there are things I cannot wrap my conscious brain around, but if I fail to learn from my mistakes and injuries, I go mad. I will not run down that same dark hall.

I like the Nine of Swords. I do, I do.

Ace of Cups — The Fantasy Showcase Tarot

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

C. Lee Healey[Although I’ve had this deck for a number of years, I’ve always been afraid to shuffle it in fear that I would thereafter never be able to tell what many of the cards are. Now it’s shuffled.]


Artist: C. Lee Healey


Interpretation: “Great love; fertility; bounty; productiveness.”


Ace of cups. To be full of love. The greatest love one can offer out is true love of one’s self. How can one truly love others if one does not love one’s self?


I am pregnant by means of love, showing my fertility, the bounty of which should be a child in another four months’ time, demonstrating my (re)productiveness. In order to best love my child, I need to act with love toward myself.


Last night I dreamed I was a fuzzy little winged-creature of the soaring (not flapping) type. I was clinging to the edge of a precipice with a strong updraft. I wondered, if I spread my wings and leapt and soared just right, could I go outward, round a small promontory in the cliff face, and land once more clinging to the vertical stone on the other side? My friends encouraged me. I leapt and plummeted down, down, with the cliff face shooting up before me as I fell faster and faster, the wind whipping through my wings at breakneck speed and the darkness ever deepening. It was a significant moment before I realized I needed to learn to flap if I was ever going to return to the cliff. I flapped as hard as I could, my body seeming heavier each moment, my forward movement barely negligible, my downward movement reaching terminal velocity.


Thus was the dream.


What impressed me about the dream is that I didn’t panic. Panicking would have been a waste of time. I thought only for a moment that, by the time I returned to the cliff face, I would have to climb upwards thousands of feet out of the darkness. There is no how to view private instagram profiles without following no survey point in worrying about the scarcity of handholds or the integrity of the rock or the height of a climb on a cliff face I might never reach.


Moral: Take care of the present, and the future will take care of itself.