Friday, April 29, 2011

Tarot: The Tarot of the Trees

Copyright: Dana Driscoll
Because I prefer using Tarot decks for meditation, I am fussy about the decks that I select for use.  The ones that I choose are usually original, colourful, and of a subject that I can relate to.  Because of my esoteric tastes, many of my Tarot decks are not accessible to the general public for readings.

One deck that I am considering is the Tarot of the Trees (Dana Driscoll, 2008).  Few decks are focused on trees, a subject that I dearly love.  In addition, this private deck features colourful and expressive trees in various circumstances.  Also, Ms. Driscoll’s sequence of the seasons matching the Minor suits (Cups-spring, Wands-summer, Swords-autumn, Pentacles-winter) makes intuitive sense to me.

Since I am attuned to trees, the pictures draw me in further for mediation.  For example, The Fool (0) of the Major Arcana features a seedling tree on a cliff edge.  The ravine is deep but the other trees below invite him to take the first step.  Also, the sun and the friendly clouds beckon to him.  To me, this card speaks of hope and possibilities.  I can relate more to this particular Fool card more than to others in many decks.  But since it lacks the customary Tarot imagery, I do not see how this can be understood by many people.

I chose the Tarot of the Trees for mediation because of its rich artwork and subject matter.  Since it lacks the usual Tarot symbolism that people expect, I do not foresee using this deck for pubic divination.  It is a personal deck with particular meanings for me. The Tarot of the Trees calls to me on an intuitive level to go deeper.  Because of this deck’s vibrant and interesting artwork, it sings to me.  
PURCHASE FROM THE AUTHOR at her site: The tarot of the trees - purchase

Monday, April 25, 2011

MILK SNAKE: Telling Stories

One of the most widely distributed of terrestrial Snakes, Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) are found from Canada to Ecuador.  People will often discover these Snakes living under rocks or wooden boards.  As opportunistic hunters, Milk Snakes successfully prey upon Rodents that live in those places.
Boldly patterned Milk Snakes are sometimes mistaken for Copperheads and Rattlesnakes.  Moreover, one member of the Milk Snake Family, Scarlet Kingsnake resembles Coral Snake.  Like their fellow King Snakes, Milk Snakes also hunt Copperheads and Rattlesnakes but not Coral Snakes.
An Old World folk tale has become associated with Milk Snakes.  According to various stories, Milk Snakes suck the milk from nursing mothers and cows until they are dry.  Of course, Milk Snakes lack the anatomy to suck and digest milk.  So these folk stories are false.
This myth arose because people discovered these nocturnal Snakes nosing about their homes and barns.  Milk Snakes were of course hunting Rats living in abundance there.  However, instead of sucking milk, these Snakes brought good health by killing vermin instead.
            Check your facts thoroughly before telling stories counsels Milk Snakes.  Silly stories may abound about these Snakes but they do cause undue fear in humans.  Imagine a person encountering a Milk Snake after hearing these inane tales.  Instead of repeating tales, discover if they are true or not or you may cause harm to innocent parties.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

KINGSNAKE SUBFAMILY (Lampropeltis): Love of Art

Exceptionally adaptable for a Reptile, Kingsnakes live in a rich diversity of habitats, ranging from scrublands to wetlands.  To keep warm and cool, They often hide under rocks or fallen logs.  Kingsnakes living near ponds and streams will swim to hunt for their meal.
As powerful constrictors, Kingsnakes hunt and eat other Snakes.  The “King” in their name refers to their preying on other Snakes as food.  Immune to their venom, Kingsnakes hunt Copperheads and Rattlesnakes.  (However, They are not immune to Coral Snakes.)
            Brightly colored Kingsnakes are sometimes mistaken for Coral Snakes.  In fact, a multitude of rhymes exist to inform people how to tell the difference.  (“Red and Yellow kills a fellow.  Red and black are safe for Jack.”)  However many Kingsnakes do not share the same habitat with Coral Snakes, and also are not convincing mimics.  But the rhymes are entertaining nonetheless.
            Kingsnakes come in a rainbow of polished colors – reds, oranges, yellows, tans, blacks, and whites.  Designs of bands, patches, rings, speckles, spots, or stripes are vividly displayed on their bodies.  In fact, Kingsnakes are best known for their kaleidoscope of colors and skin patterns.  With bright contrasting patterns on their bodies, Kingsnakes create optical illusions as They quickly move across the earth.  This usually startles any predators lurking nearby.
            Kingsnakes ably demonstrate the depth and breadth of art, since their bodies are a riot of designs and colors.  Each Snake is an incredible work of art.  With their fanciful markings, individual Snakes within the species can differ from each other.  Explore color and design and create beauty as Kingsnakes do.  Love and appreciate art along with Them.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

HOGNOSE SNAKE SUB-FAMILY (Heterodon): Proper Use of Masks

            Preferring the sandy areas of North America, Members of the Hognose Snake Sub-family hunt their favorite prey – Toads.  Immune to the toxic secretions of these Amphibians, Hognose Snakes will dig into the dirt for Them.  Contrary to popular belief, these Snakes do not use their rear fangs to pop Toads who puff Themselves up.  Instead the venom of these stout Snakes are toxic to the Toads. 
            Hognose Snakes use their unusual nose to root around in the soil looking for buried Toads. (Their snout is a large nostril scale.) Named for this distinctive nose, these Snakes use it for digging and burrowing.  Unlike the other Snakes, Hognose Snakes will dig their own burrows to sleep in. 
            Besides their upturned noses, Hognose Snakes are noted for their myriad ways of evading predators.  First, these clumsy and slow Snakes will blend into their environment.  If that does not succeed, Hognose Snakes will burrow to escape a menace.  Finally, They will also roll over on their backs and play dead.
            Hognose Snakes are also called “Puff Adders” or “Blowing Adders”.  When threatened, these Snakes rear back, flatten their heads, and take a deep breath.  After that, They inflate their bodies and hiss loudly.  People often mistake Hognose Snakes for venomous ones, and leave Them alone.
            Hognose Snakes teach about hidden identities and the proper use of masks.  Although, They do not pop the bodies of Toads, Hognose Snakes have become known as “Toad Poppers”.  Their threat displays have earned Them their name of “Puff Adder”.  These harmless Snakes have taken on an identity of a venomous Viper to save Themselves.  This serves Them well to have a fearsome reputation, since They are usually left alone.  However, Hognose Snakes are sometimes mistaken for Rattlesnakes and are usually killed. Therefore use masks wisely counsel Hognose Snakes.
Science Notes:

1.      The common name of “hognose snake” also refers to the hognose snakes of Madagascar (Leioheterodon) and hognose snakes of South America (Lystrophis).
2.      Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) is a venomous member of the Viper Family.  This African snake is not related to any of the hognose snakes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tarot: The Tarot of Jane Austen (1)

My preferred deck for Tarot use is “The Tarot of Jane Austen” by Diane Wilkes (2006).  Based on the novels of Jane Austen, this deck depicts her understanding of human society.  Each card gives her advice for that human situation.

The deck includes scenes from her lesser known works –“Lady Susan”, “Mansfield Park”, and “Northanger Abby”, as well as popular ones such as “Pride and Prejudice”.  The minors are divided into Candlesticks (Fire), Coins (Pentacles), Quills (Swords), and Teacups (Water).  The Aces set the theme for each suit.  Unlike the other cards, the Aces are the novels themselves – “Pride and Prejudice” for Candlesticks, “Sense and Sensibility” for Coins, “Persuasion” for Quills, and “Emma” for Teacups.  Each of these novels conveys the elements of each suit.

I use this deck for personal use since it mines the richness of the books for the Tarot.  For me, The Tarot of Jane Austen is perfect for meditation.  While pondering a particular situation depicted with the cards or in a spread, I often ask myself, “What would Jane do?”  

However, this deck is not really for divination.  In fact, the suggested spreads in the accompanying book focus on relationships and self-actualization.  Moreover, the cards as drawn do not lend themselves to prediction.

As for public use, this deck would be useful in exploring romantic relationships or for general questions about situations.  However, the reader would probably have to explain certain cards to the querent.  The majority of the cards do depict scenes from “Emma” and “Pride and Prejudice”.  However many people are more familiar with the film adaptations, which usually leave out some aspects of the novels.

For example, certain card combinations take on additional meanings in a spread.  The Lord of Quills (King of Swords) depicts Fitzwilliam Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice”.  Meanwhile, the Lady of Candlesticks (Queen of Wands) is Elizabeth Bennett from the same novel.  When these two appear in a spread together, it takes on additional meaning because these characters eventually become husband and wife.

The Tarot of Jane Austen” is good for problem solving and for meditation.  The writings of Jane Austen add to the basic meanings of the Tarot cards.  However, the main focus of this deck is self-actualization.  Because of this, the deck is not suited for divination.  Moreover, a deep knowledge of Austen’s novels is needed to understanding the cards.  Therefore the deck is suited more for private use.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Musing on Black, White, and Grey Magic (3)

To me, the best working definition of “black”, “white”, and “grey” magick entails intent, permission, and understanding.  For a spell to be considered white magick, the intent would have to be benign such as seeking healing or blessings. The recipient or intended focus of the spell must consent to the aim or objective of the spell.  Finally, all the participants need to understand the aims, and potential outcomes of the spell.
            Of course, black magick would be the opposite.  The intentions of the spell would entail cursing or humiliating someone.  The spellcaster would expect the object of the spell to obey them.  Finally the spellcaster would not care if anyone else understood the potential outcomes.  Under these guidelines, a love spell could be considered black magick, since it does not usually involve seeking consent from the intended.
            Grey magick would have some of the elements of white and black magick.  The intent could be benign or malevolent.  For example, I could want to better myself unknowingly at the expense of others.  A healing spell for someone who did not ask for the healing or knew about it would be considered grey magick.  If the recipient does not understand the spell or the outcome would also make the spell a grey one.
            In doing magick, the spellcaster has to be clear on their intent.  They also have to consider the participants and consent of those involved.  Because white and black magick are the extremes, most magick is grey.  How grey depends on the spellcaster and their ethics.  Before a spell can be cast, intent, permission, and understanding need to be worked out first.  No consent or understanding, but a good intent will make the spell only a grey one.
Works Used:
Corrigan, Ian, “Why I’m Not Right Hand Path”, Druid Occultism and Pagan Sorcery, 27 March 2010,
Hine, Phil, “Black Magic and the Left-hand Path”, Phil Hine: Magic, Sorcery, Ritual, Tantra, 2002,,
Kirali, “7 Types of Magic”, Aeclectic Tarot Forum, 2002,,
Murphy-Hiscock, Arin, “Power Spellcraft for Life”, Provenance Press, Avon MA, 2005
Rideau, Francois-Rene, “Black Magic vs White Magic”, “Government is the Rule of Black Magic”, 2002,,
 -------, “White Magic vs Black Magic”,,