International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2022

Arrrr Mateys! It’s that magical holiday that once again celebrates silly pirate talk and provides me with an excuse to drink rum! Well, more rum. The holiday was “created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon, who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.” For some reason, it took off. I suspect one reason, is that it’s silly fun, and the other reason would be the Pastafarians embracing pirates in their theology.

And so, what kind of booty does Rebecca have for all you scallywags? A yet to be formally named cocktail created by yours truly. For those who do not know, I decided that 2022 was going to be the year of classy drunk Rebecca. No basic beers, no well drink rum and Cokes, etc. To start my classy journey, I decided to have a bottle of Prosecco pretty much always in the refrigerator, because bubbles are classy, and Champagne flutes are also classy. The two main spirits to be found in our house are rum and gin. This led me to try the classic cocktail, French 75.

This is a simple, but classy cocktail. Because I want to be classy drunk, but I’m still a lazy bitch. The French 75 is 1 ½ ounces of gin, ¾ ounce of lemon juice, ¾ ounce of simple syrup all in a shaker with ice. You shake it until it gets very cold, then strain it into a flute glass and top with a sparkling wine, such as Prosecco. Simple, delicious, classy af.

However, although I love gin, it is more my husband’s spirit of choice, and as most of you know, I’m more of a rum lover. Where is my simple yet classy rum cocktail? Then it struck me, why not just flip the script on the French 75? And it works perfectly.

Rebecca’s Simple and Classy Rum Cocktail
1 ½ ounces golden or dark rum (white/silver rum is a bit too rough for this one)
¾ ounce lime juice (in most rum drinks it’s lime instead of lemon, so I made the switch here)
¾ ounce simple syrup
Then, just like the French 75, you put those ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Then strain into a flute glass and top with Prosecco.

(Rebecca’s tips for the lazy and poor like herself. Lime juice used, from a bottle. Simple syrup, purchased instead of homemade. Prosecco of choice? Prosecco 90+ Cellars, which is around $10. Be sure to purchase a cap designed for bubbly beverages if you don’t plan on using the whole bottle at once. Don’t waste booze!)

And with that, I’ll be off to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day like the classy wench that I am!

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Banned Books Week 2022

It’s that magical time of year again, when all of us book nerds join together to celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual event to draw attention to the constant threat of censorship that schools, libraries, universities, comics publishers, and more face. It’s a large coalition, featuring the efforts of American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, Amnesty International, Association of University Presses, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Book Foundation, National Council of Teachers of English, and more that help put together the event.

The American Library Association works to ensure free access to information. To that end, every year their Office of Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most challenged books to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary reports sent to the Office from around the United States. In 2021 the Office tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials. Of the 1,597 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged books, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.
Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.

What now? Well, for starters, you might want to read one, or all, of this year’s most challenged books. I maintain a list in my Bookshop that contains the most recent top ten most challenged books for your convenience. The American Library Association has a great list of other ideas that I encourage you to check out! There are even more ideas at the Banned Books Week website!

You can find the top ten most challenged books of 2021 here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

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The Little Book of Satanism

Not to sound too much like Jerry Seinfeld, but what’s the deal with Satanism? Particularly, what’s the deal with our culture’s hang up about it? The answer seems obvious to most. Satan equals evil, so Satanism equals bad. It appears to be basic math, but it’s not that straightforward when you look closer at the history of Satan and those who have chosen to ally themselves with the Devil. Fortunately, alternative culture journalist La Carmina has laid it all out for us in her book, “The Little Book of Satanism: A Guide to Satanic History, Culture, and Wisdom.”

It is no easy task to unweave the tapestry that creates what Satanism is today, but La Carmina does an excellent job untangling the web and laying out a timeline for us to follow. “The Little Book of Satanism” begins in a time when there was no Satan, takes us to Satan’s Judeo-Christian debut, discusses some name branding with Lucifer, explores how “others” were by default tools of Satan in the Middle Ages, more branding courtesy of Dante and Faust, the witch hunts, the Hellfire Club, Satanic Panic, and public practitioners and organizations of today. It is an interesting journey, and once given context from the author’s research, it seems inevitable that there would be Satanists today.

La Carmina’s work explains many of the common symbols and beliefs of the modern Satanist, and highlights individuals and organizations of the past and present. You’ll find LaVey and the Church of Satan, the Process Church of the Final Judgment, Aleister Crowley, and The Satanic Temple. In fact, Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves provides an elegant foreward for “The Little Book of Satanism.”

In “The Little Book of Satanism,” author La Carmina makes a compelling argument for modern Satanism and the role a modern take on Satan could play in your personal spiritual practices. If you’re even slightly curious, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy of this book.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

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911 from your Soul: Are you being called?

By Jeanine Thompson

Life is a spiritual journey. Every breath, every relationship, every joy and sorrow are calling you to remember who you really are, and to be and experience all that you came here for. Our discomforts, challenges, and even crises are invitations to free ourselves, expand our wings and rise into our highest expression—for ourselves, for those we love, and for all of humanity.

For each of us, there will come a time when our Soul longs to birth something for us and through us. Often this is the thing that we most strongly resist, are afraid of, or think we aren’t ready for. When we ignore the call, it doesn’t go away; it gets louder. Eventually, it becomes a 911.

Tune in and see if any of these are resonant for you.

• You feel lost and unsure about the trajectory of your life, and the traditional resources that served you in the past are no longer working.
• Things that used to bring you joy are falling flat.
• You feel a persistent yearning—like something is missing or off.
• You run from opportunity to opportunity, looking for some trace of your old spark.
• You’re being asked to radically change some aspect of your life (or life seems to be forcing such a change on you), and some part of your familiar identity has been shaken or stripped away.
• You are hiding out or playing smaller than you know is possible for you.
• You are grappling with the bigger questions in life, such as, “What is the purpose of life? Who am I, and what am I here to do?

We all undergo challenges in life and not all become a 911. The distinction with a 911 is that there is a magnetic pull deep within ourselves, a luring forward, that accompanies the challenge. There is a bubbling-up of new questions that, try as you might, you can no longer brush over, sweep aside, or avoid. It might speak loudly; it might scream. Or it might whisper subtly, yet with such persistence that you simply cannot ignore it.

Ultimately, it prompts a holy reassembly of who you are, and who you know yourself to be. Life is speaking, and it’s asking you to grow beyond where you’ve been.

During a 911, you may wake up to everything you’ve been keeping yourself too busy to acknowledge, and all the ways you’ve been squeezing yourself into a box you didn’t create or desire. All the parts of you seeking growth and evolution are calling for your attention. You may be directed to take action you don’t understand or have feared. You may be invited to embody greater courage, truth, and alignment—to step into the space of the “and,” where all of you can be present and find room to thrive.

You’ve always been in search of this, whether you are aware of it or not. At the core of you is a deep, primal longing—a longing to meet yourself and live in union with the sacred, which is within, beyond, and all around you.

And yet, we miss or deny that call for months, even years. Why? Because it works for us not to address the struggle. We often prefer the pain of the familiar to the fear of the unknown. As long as life is still working (sort of), we see no reason to blow it all up. Why rock the boat that’s still afloat?

I think we’ve lost sight. We’ve forgotten we are more than human beings that do and acquire and produce. We deeply crave love, beauty, awe, and wonder. We crave freedom and belonging. We crave to potentiate to our fullest nature. Still, we don’t allow ourselves to actually go there.

When was the last time you let a sunset take your breath away, or really listened to the sound of the ocean waves as the salty air caressed your face? When was the last time you felt totally at peace, or connected to something bigger than yourself? When was the last time you felt true freedom? When was the last time you had a sacred experience, or knew that you mattered?

This is what your Soul is calling you home to. You are longing for a path back to your sacred self.

Will you listen? Will you hear those 3:00 a.m. whispers, that quiet voice? Will you make the choice to go where you’re being called?

Along my wild, not-at-all linear journey from psychotherapist to Fortune 50 Executive to Transformational Coach, I nevertheless accessed seven clear spiritual principles which I collectively call The Soul Solution for a 911 from your Soul. These 7 principles (Soul – Mind – Body – Heart – Gratitude – Service – Love) provide a blueprint for daily living as you invite the truth of who you are to come forward and take the helm in your life. They are statements to live by and also deep wells of wisdom that empower you to live in greater harmony with your truest nature and your human experience.

I’ve been a hospice volunteer since graduate school, both formally and informally. Often, as I sit with people whose physical lives are ending, they speak about the years flying by in the blink of an eye. Nearly all of them thought they had more time. More time to enjoy life and do all of things they had put off until a better time. More time to make a different choice. More time to have that difficult conversation. More time to be the person they knew they could become. And then—bam! Life shifted, and suddenly they were living their last days or months in this round of Earth School. They spoke with such clarity and conviction about what really mattered—connection, relationships, love—and what, in retrospect, did not matter at all.

The lesson from these beautiful souls is clear: if you want a life with no regrets, seize the precious, gifted moments now. Peace and joy are enlivened by the deep knowing that you gave it your all and left nothing on the table.

So, if you are feeling the pull …

If you are hearing the whisper …

If you are at a critical point of choice in your life, and you’re being called forward into the unknown … your Soul is speaking and inviting you to embark on a quest. Not the kind that will take you to a far-away landscape where your current life seems only a dream, but one that will take you deeper into yourself.

You are more than you know yourself to be. You are limitless, infinite, and whole.

Now is your time to answer the call. For you, for others and for all of humanity.

About Jeanine Thompson:
Jeanine Thompson is a Transformational Coach, speaker, and author whose breadth of knowledge and experience spans multiple disciplines and professional expressions from clinical psychotherapy to global business to advancing spiritual growth. She shares her journey and how others can reach their full potential in her first book, “911 From Your Soul” (World Changers Media, Sept. 6, 2022).

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

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The Hermetic Physician

It’s time for 100% complete honesty. I had no intention of reading “The Hermetic Physician: The Magical Teachings of Giuliano Kremmerz and the Fraternity of Myriam” by Marco Daffi and translated by David Pantano. If you’re a Patron, you would know what books coming out pique my interest, and this wasn’t on the list. However, David Pantano reached out to me about endorsing his book and I was so flattered I couldn’t refuse.

Thank goodness I said yes, because I would have missed out on a pretty inspiring book. Kremmerz was an Italian occultist that studied everything with an eye towards benefitting humanity’s health. Kremmerz felt he had found a way to use hermetic, magical, and Pythagorean principles to heal others, even from a distance. Daffi and Pantano assembled Kremmerz’s writings to provide an unbiased presentation of his beliefs, practices, and the workings of the Therapeutic and Magical Fraternity of Myriam, which he founded. I’ve recently been reading several books about occult societies and let me tell you, this one didn’t last, but reads on paper way better than many that have.

I’m not going to say that “The Hermetic Physician” sold me on the miracles Kremmerz claimed to be able to perform, but what it did do was introduce me to an occultist worth reading and considering.

“The Hermetic Physician: The Magical Teachings of Giuliano Kremmerz and the Fraternity of Myriam” by Marco Daffi and translated by David Pantano is coming out in September, but you can preorder it now.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Tarot

Tarot decks are wonderful, and versatile. They lend themselves to all sorts of reinvention, for better or worse. Today’s deck is for the better because it takes the mythic, fantasy setting of “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” (an insanely popular video game) and meshes it nicely with the mythic, traditional tarot.

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Tarot Deck and Guidebook” was written by Tori Schafer, who is a writer and narrative designer for video games, and has worked on titles such as “Elder Scrolls Online” and has practiced tarot since childhood. The tarot and “Skyrim” enthusiast could not ask for a better creator. Schafer’s obvious knowledge of tarot and attention to the source material provided by “Skyrim” has created a deck that requires little acclimation for the experienced tarot reader. The Minor Arcana Suits of Wands, Coins, Swords, and Cups become Spells, Lockpicks, Arms, and Voice and the Major Arcana keep traditional names while being represented by a who’s who of Skyrim.

Obviously, it is important for a tarot deck such as this to be well thought out, but if the artwork doesn’t do justice to the game, and the grand tradition of excellent tarot artwork, the deck is worthless. Fortunately, it was Erika Hollice’s artwork that first caught my eye, before I even realized I was looking at a deck based on a game I personally love. Hollice’s art deco, graphic, fantasy style translates wonderfully to the card. The only complaint that I have is in Insight Editions attempt to have the cards be matte, the cards tend to stick together, making for difficult shuffling.

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Tarot” by Tori Schafer and Erika Hollice is an excellent example of how wonderful a themed tarot deck can be.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

If you’re a Skyrim fan, like myself, I can’t help but bring these two very different interpretations of the dragon Alduin. One noble in gold……

You can get your own here. (This is an affiliate link to Entertainment Earth. If you make a purchase using this link, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

The other an adorable rubber ducky.

Which you can get here.(This is an affiliate link to Entertainment Earth. If you make a purchase using this link, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

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10 Questions with S. Elizabeth

Today we’re talking with S. Elizabeth, writer and curator extraordinaire of “The Art of the Occult” and “The Art of Darkness.”

1. I became familiar with you when your previous book “The Art of the Occult” released, and now you’re back with “The Art of Darkness: A Treasury of the Morbid, Melancholic and Macabre.” Was it hard to convince your publisher that there was an audience for books discussing art?

I don’t think it took much convincing at at all, and as it happens, my editor is the one who pitched both ideas to me! She reached out to me originally in 2019 for The Art of the Occult, a book which she had the idea for, she just needed someone to write it! I am not sure how she happened upon me and I have never asked (I’m weirdly shy to ask such a thing!) but I imagine it’s because I have been writing about art and artists for well over a decade now, and many of these artists have esoteric or occult leanings. I have been privileged to work with the same editor at the same publisher over the past 3 years, and I think for the most part she really “gets” me. She’s the impetus for The Art of Darkness as well–she presented the idea to me! And this publisher, The Quarto Group, as far as I can tell, is very big on art and artists, that’s very much their thing, to publish inspiring niche-interest books are visually appealing, information rich, and stimulating.

2. What is your process for selecting art for these books? Do you need to seek permission to use works of art in your books?

I’ve been collecting art online for as long as I’ve been online…I’ve been keeping a sort of mental rolodex for the past 20 years! So for both books, I already had so many works in mind for each of the projects. What I did is I started with a wish list of hundreds of artists that I would like to include in the book, which I would then share with my editor, who would give me feedback. Feedback usually looked like “too illustrative or too comic book-y or cartoon-y “or what have you (those pieces absolutely have a place in the art world and in my heart, but they may have not been quite the right fit for the books, I get it, even if I might have been a little disappointed!) So I would whittle down my list and build it back up based on loads of research and my editor’s suggestions, and then when I had a good-sized list to look at, I would look it over with an eye toward building groupings of images based on themes. I didn’t want the chapters ordered chronologically, or in terms of art movements, I wanted something that felt much more interesting and imaginative. So after some thought, I structured The Art of Darkness into three parts, each broken down further into four chapters. So you’d have something like Part I: It’s All In Your Head, in which we would then have chapters about dreams and nightmares, psychological distress and whispers from the void. Further parts include The Human Condition, The World Around Us, and Visions from Beyond. I am really quite pleased with how it all pulled together!

AND YES ABSOLUTELY. Permission to use the artwork is a MUST and it is a PROCESS. Gathering the permissions nearly takes as long as writing the book. Some images are in the public domain, and some can be acquired from museums and galleries, but there is a lot of reaching out to individual artists that has to occur, as well. And I did a lot of that work myself…and it’s not exactly a straightforward process. Between tracking down contact information for the artist (if they are still alive, that is–otherwise, you might be dealing with galleries, estates, etc.) and actually finding them and receiving those permissions, you then have the concern of whether or not the artist can provide a high-enough resolution of the work, whether it fits with the layout of the book, and to backtrack a bit–whether or not the publisher even agrees that the images you’ve suggested will be appropriate for the overall project. In the course of this process of research and reaching out, which was never tedious, believe it or not–I love to track down elusive art and artists!– I got a lot of email bounce backs, and oftentimes even if the email appeared to go through, there were a handful of artists I never heard back from. Sometimes I did get a response and received a “no” right off the bat. Sometimes, too, this occurred after some back and forth between myself and the artist, and we arrived at the determination that maybe my book wasn’t a good fit for their artistic vision. And that’s OK! It really is. It’s not all going to work out, and you can’t always get everything you want, and after getting over a bit of initial frustration, I frequently came to the conclusion that it was probably for the best.

With regard to those artists who are no longer with us, sometimes I couldn’t track down an estate contact, and when I did I never heard back from them. If it was the publisher reaching out, sometimes they either couldn’t come to an agreement or they were perhaps unable to acquire a high enough resolution image that would work for this particular print medium.

I know that was a lot of not -terribly-interesting info and not everyone cares how the sausage is made, but that all brings me to a point that I cannot stress enough. There are always going to be readers or critics who say “oh, I can’t believe she forgot to include X/Y/Z artist!” All of that boring explanation I gave just now? Any one of those reasons could be why I was unable to include such-and-such or so-and-so. It’s so galling that people automatically presume that I (or anyone in this position) “forgot.” Okay, so I don’t want to end that thought on a negative note, but that’s just something that always burns my muffins. Ugh.

3. After “The Art of the Occult”, what made you decide that darkness would be a good theme to explore, and were your publishers like, “What?”

I believe what happened is that over the course of working with me on The Art of the Occult, my editor had seen a blog post of mine in which I wrote about where my fascination with horror/darkness grew from, and the idea for The Art of Darkness was born from that. She came to me with a mostly fully fleshed out pitch, we built it out a little and she took it to the marketing team, who, I am told, loved the idea. I don’t quite get how that end of it works, and I realize that most of the time, probably none of it works that way at all, so I got pretty lucky! Sometimes we’re just too close to a thing to even think about it as a viable idea that others might have an interest in, so I wonder if it it ever would have occurred to me to write such a book if it wasn’t suggested to me? Maybe …? Who knows! I am glad I don’t have to guess. I will share that at first they wanted to call it “The Art of the Macabre,” and to be honest I didn’t love that. I feel like you’re going into that knowing exactly what you’re going to get. The Art of Darkness, though? That’s a bit more nebulous, there’s some mystery there. I liked that, and I really pushed for it.

4. What is the importance of exploring dark themes in artwork?

Well, The Art of Darkness was conceived of at a time when “Good Vibes Only” was a big thing that influencers and wellness gurus were all espousing. And that really rubbed me the wrong way. We’ve since started talking about that attitude as “toxic positivity” and I was sort of thinking of this book as the antidote to aggressively good vibes. A way to sit in a safe space with unpleasant, distressing, things that don’t feel good, and maybe find something beautiful or meaningful there. Or at least give yourself the opportunity to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Ever since I learned as a child that we all at some point experience difficult and troubling feelings or behaviors or conditions, whether that be fright or fury, melancholy or misery, sadness or sickness, I have been fascinated by how we describe and communicate these things, these darker aspects of the human condition–especially as it relates to language and visuals, and in particular the way these things are depicted in art. We all experience darkness. We can’t avoid it, and I don’t think we should. When we dismiss negative emotions and respond to distress with false reassurances, we are neither dealing with reality as it is nor adequately readying ourselves for the random pains and struggles that life has in store for us. As humans, for our emotional wellbeing, we need to experience and embody the full spectrum of feelings and emotions. Shit happens. Pain is pain, feelings are feelings. And we need to feel them. I think art is one of the ways that we can experience some dark shit and feel those feelings in a space of your own choosing that feels controlled and safe. Granted I am not an artist, a therapist, or an art therapist. But this is how I feel as a human who experiences darkness, and I think the idea has a great deal of merit to it.

5. You frequently discuss the darkness that haunts many of the artists featured in your book. Do you feel the “tortured artist” archetype is too frequently held up as the way to successfully be creative?

I do feel like the romanticization or the fetishizing of the tortured artist is a harmful mindset. We have for the longest time perpetuated this myth implying that an artist must experience pain, physically or mentally, to produce great works of art, that “madness makes the artist.” That artists need to make something beautiful from their pain for it to have meaning. That they must find meaning in their pain at all. Personally, I think that’s horseshit. This is of course the opinion of a layperson. The relationship between art and mental illness/wellness is complex and I don’t know how much I can really comment on it, having exactly zero background or training in mental health …although I do come from a family where every member suffers either with some form of depression or struggles with substance abuse, myself included…so maybe on some level that gives me a tiny bit of insight? Personally speaking, do I lean into my depression and anxiety and self-destructive behavior, because that suffering enriches my writing, and the torment proliferates my creativity? Those who glorify such things would suggest that yes, it’s vital for my work. But you know what? Art is vital. Period. Full stop. We’ve earned the right to share our art because we’re alive and we made that art. We painted the canvas, sculpted the statue, wrote the book, did the thing, not because we’re fucked up in some kind of way, but despite it. That is success as I define it.

6. What are a few of your favorite pieces featured in “The Art of Darkness,” and why?

Oh GOSH. I love so many of them, so much! I’ve been interviewing artists for years and it was amazing to include many of them in these pages, artists whose work has captivated me from the moment I saw it, and over the time that I’ve known them, I’ve seen their work grow and evolve in the most fascinating ways, such as Becky Munich, Amy Earles, Caitlin McCormack. Death Positive artists such as Rebecca Reeves, Susan Jamison, and Paul Koudanaris, whose works spark empathy and awareness and that conversations about death and dying are a cornerstone of a healthy society. But my favorite pieces? Well. Here’s a thing about me. It’s true, while I live to revel in the velvet shadows of a moonlit midnight and seek spirits in every lonely, crumbling corner, it’s not like I’m a gloomy Gus about it. If you can’t laugh at what lies waiting in the hungry maw of darkness, if you can’t giggle with the ghosts, or cackle into the nothing of the abyss–well, that’s hardly living, you know? If I have somehow fooled people into thinking I’m all about mystery and melancholy, monsters and morbidity, okay, well, that’s all true, I am. But it’s more than balanced with a significant sense of silliness, an appreciation of the absurd, and an adoration of ridiculousness. My favorite emotion to express is “demented glee”! I mean, I’m really just a goofy weirdo, is what I am trying to say here.

So it would stand to reason that I have massive admiration for artists who can combine these sensibilities in their practice, and these works of the kooky and the macabre, often filled with sly, weird humor are some of my favorite canvases to gaze upon. Enter Ruth Marten and Charley Harper. AND the cherry on top is cover artist Alex Eckman-Lawn, whose work I have described thusly:

“Initially, I was torn, truly torn, when examining the painstaking collage work of Alex Eckman-Lawn. Deep, dense, full of doom and gloom and dark details, these surreal, lonely portraits, on one hand, called forth a sickening dread in the pit of my stomach and give my heart a little lurch. But on the other, and at the same time… they caused an involuntary, choking giggle. As if a shadowy horror had crawled its way from the void to the sanctity of my home, and after an agonizing wait whilst I cowered at the peephole, it gave a smart rap on the door and told me a knock-knock joke.

Perhaps it’s an odd take on things, but I once envisioned the above scenario, I saw these pieces through fresh eyes– and instead of a face-full of nightmarish chaos, they appeared wondrously playful, like a funny postcard from the midnight recesses of your soul, just when you need it most. Have a laugh, they seem to say, or here, have a kitten! Oh, hey, it’s just your dear old skull peeking out to say hello, that’s all, no worries! Little voids, the faces-within-your face, checking in on you from the inside, popping out to say, “hi!” and, “how’s it going?” and, “have you heard the one about…?”

7. Goya, Van Gogh, or Brom? (FYI, loved seeing Brom turn up in the book!)

Ok, this is maybe a controversial take, but while we absolutely need to learn from and honor all those that came before…I don’t believe dead artists need our support all that much, you know? So Brom’s macabre, majestic creations, for sure. Or maybe the choice out of these three is too easy because while I can certainly appreciate Goya and Van Gogh, they just don’t excite me the way a moody 16th century Dutch still life might or a lonely midnight mountaintop by a lesser-known artist would. Maybe I’m just a philistine, who knows. Or maybe you’d show me paintings of what I just described and I’d still choose Brom! I mean, I really love Brom.

8. What type of art do you have on display in your home?

It’s mostly contemporary, like I would say probably 99% of it. And I would say that it is also mostly artists that I know. Again, going back to that idea of supporting artists. I’d much rather give my money to someone alive and creating and making art right now, and even better if it is something that I’ve interacted with, rather than buying a reproduction online of some renowned piece of art that was painted by someone who lived and died a hundred years ago. Although I am not criticizing that! However one chooses to beautify their home is up to them and certainly none of my business. Except I will say that I always see this quote:

“People need art in their houses. They don’t need Bed Bath and Beyond dentist-office art. They need weird stuff.”

…and I’m like, really?? Who is out there buying Bed Bath and Beyond art??

As to what “type”…I guess you could say it’s all pretty dark. I l do like my witches and ghosts and eerie landscapes and spooky castles and creepy crawlies. I can think of only two exceptions; one is a giant print from the NYPL of a carte de visite of my creepy fashion icon, Maria Germanova and the other is a canvas that my mother in law painted for my husband and I when we got married. It’s weird and charming and I love it more than words can say.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects that my readers should be aware of?

I sure do! I just started a newsletter, where I share little treasuries of stuff that I like or that I’m up to/into; at the beginning of the summer I started my Patreon where I talk about perfume, which is another passion of mine, and I do have a YouTube channel where I talk about various nonsense, and I hope to be updating it regularly soon! The biggest thing, I guess is that I am currently working on a third book for the Art in the Margins series, and this one will have a focus on fantasy! It is scheduled for publishing in September of 2023.

10. Parting shot! Ask us at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Just one?! Argh! Ok, but I will make it a two-parter:

Dark art–who is your favorite artist? Above ground and below?

Above ground, a favorite of mine who have own many prints from is NeNe Thomas, who does fantasy illustrations. I wouldn’t describe much of her work as “dark”, but her artistic landscape is sometimes populated by desolate winterscapes and the occasional vampire or demon.

Below ground, Keith Haring. Again, not traditionally “dark”, however, people frequently forget that buried in his MASSIVE catalog of brightly colored, cartoon art, are pieces that reflect the pain and fear of the AIDs epidemic.

I also should mention, I’m a HUGE fan of artwork inspired by Dia de Muertos and Santa Muerte. LOVE IT!

About S. Elizabeth:
S.Elizabeth is a writer, curator, and frill-seeker. Her essays and interviews focusing on esoteric art have appeared in Haute Macabre, Coilhouse, Dirge Magazine, Death & The Maiden, and her occulture blog Unquiet Things, which intersects music, fashion, horror, perfume, and grief. She is the co-creator of The Occult Activity Book Vol. 1 and 2 and the author of The Art of the Occult (2020), The Art of Darkness (2022), and The Art of Fantasy (2023)

Get your own copy of “The Art of Darkness” here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://

Fan Based Interior Design

In June 2022, Lombardo Homes surveyed 1,053 people to get their feedback about decorations for their homes. Respondents were 49% women, 48% men, 2% nonbinary, and 1% transgender. The average age of respondents was 37. 64% live in homes, 24% in apartments, 4% in townhomes, 4% in condos, 3% in mobile homes, and 1% listed other.

They also analyzed the Google search volume of more than 3,163 terms related to “nerdy house decorations” such as “Darth Vader mug,” “Mickey Mouse pancake maker,” and “Harry Potter string lights” to determine the nerdiest states. The rankings were based on states that had sufficient data available. The data they analyzed was from April 2020-April 2022 (the most recent data available at the time of this report).

And what did Lombardo’s survey reveal? Essentially that EVERYONE is a nerd for something. That my home state of New York isn’t even in the top 20 of nerdiest states based on their methodology and that Nebraska is number one. Apparently, 35% of the respondents say they like to decorate their home with “nerdy décor” and 43% own decorations or furniture based on popular television shows, movies, and games.

It is an interesting read, and I encourage you to read the whole report on the Lombardo Homes blog.

If you know me personally, or follow myself or The Magical Buffet on social media, you know I’m a fan of a lot of different genres and types of media. I have decorative figures and action figures of characters ranging from Penelope Pitstop to Osamu Dazai to Rick Sanchez. I have a standee of Mushu from Disney’s animated film Mulan, and a Dark Crystal lunch box. I’m absolutely a collector. Not necessarily of anything of value, or that will appreciate in value, but of things that remind me of things I love. Almost like souvenirs of the experience of interacting with a piece of media I enjoyed.

People will often ask me where I source my fangirl stuff, and more often than not, the answer is a website called Entertainment Earth. They cater to fans of just about anything by selling licensed merchandise in the form of nearly anything you can imagine.

A D&D slow cooker? Entertainment Earth.

An adorable Funko Pop of Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory? Entertainment Earth.

A Batman Beyond replica Red Batarang? I think you’re getting the picture.

I’m a fan of things, and I know many of you are too. That’s why I’m excited to tell you there is a new way to support The Magical Buffet, and it’s by shopping at Entertainment Earth! That’s right! Your girl is an affiliate for her favorite fan site! When you shop at Entertainment Earth through my link, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you! And until the end of the year, orders placed this way will automatically receive 10% off any in-stock purchase and free domestic shipping on orders $39 and up.

According to Lombardo Homes, “People are willing to spend a lot of money on fandom items to prove they’re the biggest fan in town. In our survey, Americans admitted to spending up to $10,000 on a nerdy item for their home!

On average, fans are willing to drop about $103 for an item, but if there is something they’d really want, they’d be willing to spend an average of $160. The top decorations fans own are stuffed animals/figurines, wall decor, mugs, blankets, and Christmas ornaments.”

If you’re going to do that, why not support The Magical Buffet while you’re at it?

You can shop The Magical Buffet’s Entertainment Earth site via this link.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://

The Secret Texts of Hellenic Polytheism

I can’t resist books touted as “first time available in English” or “never before seen”. There’s nothing like secret and/or forbidden knowledge to make me pick up a book. So, when offered a chance to read “The Secret Texts of Hellenic Polytheism: A Practical Guide to the Restored Pagan Religion of George Gemistos Plethon” by John Opsopaus, PhD., it was impossible to say no. I mean, this book is based off of the surviving sixteen chapters of Plethon’s “Book of Laws”. Surviving. As in, after Plethon’s death the authorities of the time wanted to destroy his work. Can’t. Say. No.

George Gemistos, who later called himself Plethon, lived from 1355 to 1452. In that time, he helped reawaken an interest in Plato’s works and Platonism. The church of the time was not a fan, and suspected Gemistos was a secret Neopagan, which was confirmed after his death when a Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church got his hands on Plethon’s “Book of Laws.” The “Book of Laws” outlined a Neopagan religion based on Platonism, and so, the text was destroyed. Fortunately, parts of the text had already been copied by students, and the Church, in an effort to always have “proof” of Plethon’s heresies on hand, kept parts of the manuscript. Thus, today through the hard work of Opsopaus, we have “The Sacred Texts of Hellenic Polytheism”, which is based off of the table of contents and sixteen chapters of the “Book of Laws” as well as other texts by Plethon.

Plethon writes that his theology isn’t anything new and is based on “notions common to humankind and supported by reason.” To this end, Plethon establishes a “Golden Chain” comprised of six lawgivers, seven legendary sages, seven sages of ancient Greece, and eight Platonic philosophers. Each link providing the insights that the “Book of Laws” draws upon. This is followed by an exploration of deities and the divine, which logically falls into the evocations, rituals, the sacred calendar, and more. Opsopaus has reconstructed Plethon’s ancient practices into a format for interested, modern seekers.

“The Secret Texts of Hellenic Polytheism” by John Opsopaus is a fascinating look at ancient Greek thought and practices. It may not be required reading for everyone, but those who it resonates with will find it indispensable.

You can learn more here.

Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://

Mead, Mead, Mead!

If you follow The Magical Buffet on social media, you probably saw that Saturday, August 6, was National Mead Day. Since it was a million degrees outside and we were broke, we opted for a small gathering at our place to enjoy mead, instead of attending events. It gave me a chance to try my hand at making some cocktails with mead. Of course, I opted for Helderberg Meadworks Mead, since we have a long history with the owners, and I know I like it. Our friend brought over some canned mead from B. Nektar, which I had never tried before, but it was delicious. I pretty much drank the whole can of Mango Sorbet myself, I didn’t want to share it!

We made sure to feast the way the ancient Norse would, with fried pickles, pizza rolls, and jalapeno cornbread. Gotta’ keep it authentic. And as long as we were already way off on tradition anyway, I tried a few things out with the mead that worked out in varying levels of success.

The most successful? Mead and Prosecco. I put a small pour of Helderberg’s Cherry Vanilla Mead into a champagne flute and topped it with Prosecco. The Cherry Vanilla is incredibly sweet and paired with the dry Prosecco it was perfection! 10/10 would drink again. I suspect this would have been good with the Heritage Mead as well.

The least successful? The Mead Slushie. I put a bunch of ice in a blender and added a big pour of Heritage Mead, then crushed the crap out of it in the blender. This was CRAZY refreshing given how hot it was, but it wasn’t really “special.” I still might do it again because it was fun.


Once all of us had more than a few pours of mead, my husband did an internet search for mead cocktails and he found one that sounded good AND we had all the ingredients necessary, minus the decorative bits. The Black Widow Mead Martini: mead, vodka, and pomegranate juice. This was okay. The pomegranate juice I had wasn’t sweetened in any way, and I think that made the flavor of the cocktail slightly “off.” It’s simple, so I don’t hate the idea of making it again, but I might add a splash of simple syrup.

Black Widow Martini

If you’re interested in Helderberg Meadworks, here is an article I wrote years ago about how mead is made, and here is one from when I visited their first tasting room (they now have two). You can also learn more by visiting their website.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! Https://