10 Questions with Mallorie Vaudoise

Today we’re talking with Mallorie Vaudoise, author of “Honoring Your Ancestors”. We talk about family, mediumship, Italian magic, and more!

1. What is ancestor veneration?

Any spiritual practice that connects us with the people who were here before us is a form of ancestor veneration. This could take the form of prayer, ritual, and offerings. Or it could take the form of genealogical research, cooking traditional foods, and playing folk music.

Ancestor veneration is found throughout the world. Even within our own culture, which I consider spiritually impoverished, we still see the impulse to hold funerary rituals, create memorials, and leave offerings of flowers at cemeteries.

My book is about adding new depth and color to these simple actions. It’s also about grounding your magical practice in a loving relationship with these powerful spirits who have a vested interest in you as their descendant.

2. What sparked your interest in working with ancestors?

I was a weird kid. Some of that weirdness was unique to me. But in retrospect, some of it was a failure to integrate messages that I was receiving from spirits through mediumship. I didn’t have a framework for understanding the weird physical and emotional sensations that I now associate with spirit contact. And yet, there were some things that I could perceive, like the presence of my great-grandparents around me.

As an adult, I became involved in two lineages of African-diasporic traditions. Both traditions required me to undergo rituals aimed at nourishing and seeking the blessing of my ancestors before I could be initiated. They gave me a practical understanding of the phenomena that I had experienced throughout my life. It was life changing. I wanted to share the gift of ancestral consciousness with other people, outside of any traditional lineage. That’s why I wrote the book: as a guide for people who don’t have the benefit of a tradition or teacher, so they can find their own path. Or for people who are working within a tradition but want to further develop their ancestor veneration practice into something more personal.

3. In your book you explain there are different types of ancestors. Can you explain this for our readers?

When we think of ancestors, sometimes we assume these are always blood relations. I definitely think there is an inherent power in connecting with your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. because they made your body with their bodies. So, as ancestors, they are connected to the great Mysteries of incarnation: birth, death, and rebirth.

But there are other types of ancestors that we may honor as well. For example, the ancestors of an initiatic lineage might consider you their descendant as much as your blood ancestors if you ritually died and were reborn as their godchild. We also have connections to ancestors that come about without ritual initiation that I refer to as “affinity ancestors”. And of course, there are other spirits of dead humans that we might incorporate into our ancestor veneration practice, like saints and spirit guides.

At the end of the day, they’re your ancestors. You get to decide who you honor and how. You’re already the high priest/ess of this religion. That means you have the power and the responsibility to honor them in a way that works for both sides of the equation.

4. Can ancestor veneration be incorporated into any spiritual practice?

If you’ve got ancestors, you can venerate them. How you do it and how it relates to your other spiritual practices is entirely up to you.

5. Is making offerings a requirement of ancestor veneration? What constitutes an offering?

I don’t think there are any universal requirements in ancestor veneration. But offerings can be profoundly meaningful for many people, especially for those of us who were raised never to show up to a party empty-handed.

An offering is anything given as a gift to your ancestors. This could be incense, food, or flowers. It could be the sacrifice of time or money to charity. I consider writing this book the biggest offering I’ve made to the ancestors to date.

6. You talk about mediumship as part of ancestor veneration in the book. What is mediumship?

Ancestor veneration is a two-way street. If prayers and offerings are communication in one direction, then mediumship is communication in the other direction.

Unlike other spirits, our ancestors were all once human. They remember what it’s like to have a body, to go hungry, to fall in love, to stub their toes, to feel feelings, and to have dreams. Just like us, they once chose to come here and learn the lessons that can only be learned through a human body. But their day was different from our day, and their lessons where different from our lessons. Through mediumship, they can share their learnings with us so we can be free to focus on the new lessons we have come here to experience.

7. Can anyone perform mediumship, or do you need to have special gifts to do it?

Anyone can perform mediumship. But what that looks like for you may differ from what it looks like for me. Some people see spirits. Some people hear them. I am always shocked to find how many people feel them physically like I do.

I’ve met mediums who can give hard facts, like names and dates, through mediumship. I’m not that type of medium. But names and dates wouldn’t be terribly helpful for me anyway. I need guidance on how to accomplish the unique work that my spirit chose to incarnate for. Names and dates aren’t going to help me with that.

Mediumship is like any other skill. Anyone can do it. Not everyone can do it in the same way. But ultimately, if you want to get better at it, you have to practice it.

8. You have a beautiful website, Italian Folk Magic. What inspired you to create a site devoted to the subject matter?

I’m Italian-American. Growing up, it felt like my family was haunted by Italy. I was raised with stories about how difficult my grandparents and great-grandparents’ lives were, both in Italy and when they immigrated to the United States. But at the same time, it was almost taboo to talk about our heritage. That tension between the depth of gratitude that I was taught to show and the shame my family had acquired about our roots led me to go searching for our ancestral traditions. I wanted to find the things we had sacrificed to become American: the passion, the ecstasy, the magic.

At the time, there were very few resources on the topic in English. Now, I see more and more Italian-Americans proudly embracing their heritage in the form of traditional herbalism, devotion to the saints, and yes, folk magic. I like to think my site played a small part in inspiring other Italian-Americans to explore their roots.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects my readers can look forward to?

Right now, I’m focused on getting Honoring Your Ancestors to as many people as possible. Your readers can stay a part of that conversation by following me on Instagram and Facebook.

I think of myself as a missionary for the spirit world. I started with the ancestors because people were already asking me about them. But I’d like to start writing more about other types of spirits: spirits of place, for example. Ultimately, the goal of all of my projects is to remind people that they are not alone. We are all connected with each other and with a vast ecosystem which includes every other living organism as well as discarnate spirits.

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

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from a dead person?

“Don’t check the value of your retirement accounts daily, it will just make you crazy. You’ve got a long time to retirement.” That’s what my father always said, and now my day job is working for a financial advisor and seriously, a lot of people would be a lot happier if they followed this advice.

About Mallorie Vaudoise:
Mallorie Vaudoise is a NYC-based spiritualist of Italian descent. She is the author of Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration (Llewellyn, 2019) and Italian Folk Magic, a blog about devotional practices from Southern Italy and Sicily. She is an initiated Olorisha (Orisha priestess) and an apprentice in the ecstatic music and dance traditions of her ancestors. She believes that music, food, wine, and kissing are vital tools of spiritual evolution. Visit Mallorie online at www.roadsideomens.com or follow her Instagram account @honoringyourancestors.

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An Honest Liar

Today a documentary about the life of Randall James Hamilton Zwinge released into theaters. You may know Zwinge better as James Randi or The Amazing Randi. Upon reflection, a documentary about Randi is long overdue. However, after watching the film “An Honest Liar” any documentary released prior to this one would have been woefully lacking. Filmmakers Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom managed through goodwill and happenstance to be on hand to capture real truth from a master magician, thus a master of diversion and manipulation. Or as Randi says, “in other words, bullshit.”

“An Honest Liar” could easily have been twice as long. We’re talking about a subject who at the age of 17 years-old ran off to join a carnival, and who now at over 80 years-old has never sat still. The film briefly touches on Randi’s childhood, then dives into his successful career as escape artist/magician The Amazing Randi, and we see how that segues into his career as professional skeptic. If you find that Randi’s arc follows in broad strokes the life of Harry Houdini, you’re not the only one who finds that parallel. The coincidence is brought up by magician and skeptic alike throughout the film.

It’s odd that I never knew Randi as The Amazing Randi. I always knew it was part of his background, but until “An Honest Liar” I never saw him escape a straightjacket, a pair of handcuffs, or even a length of rope. To see him so young and roguish, for me, it was like being introduced to a stranger. Then thanks to some excellent archival footage and interview legwork I got to bear witness to stuff that to me was almost legend: Randi vs Uri Gellar, Randi vs Peter Popoff, and Project Alpha, as well as other investigations from that era. Finally the film gets to the only James Randi I’ve really ever known. Long white hair, long white beard. The consummate skeptic, proud atheist, and founder of James Randi Educational Foundation (amongst many other things). He has a keen intellect and a razor sharp wit.

Then, due to a strange twist of fate, a deception that had been lying dormant in Randi’s life being revealed, I come face to face with a James Randi I’m not entirely comfortable with. Gone is the man who is certain of how the world works and who brushes things that disagree with him off with aplomb. In those few moments I am face to face with the fully realized human being that is James Randi.

Weinstein and Meason captured a master escape artist from every angle with “An Honest Liar”. If you get a chance to see it, do so.

To learn more and/or help get the film in more theaters visit: http://anhonestliar.com/wp/

The Inner Wizard

Many decks I’ve featured on The Magical Buffet are designed to tap into your intuition more than using a divinatory system. The cards I’m writing about today are touted as “Message cards from your higher self” and I couldn’t agree more. However, what at first may appear to be merely random notes on cards begin to reveal far more thought and design than one might have originally thought.

The Inner Wizard contains 84 cards with messages on them. The notes are from you, God, Venus, the Soul, etc. These personal notes will hopefully offer insight into your situation. The reverse side of the card has what they call a “renewed choice proclamation”. I might almost call them affirmations. Now if things stopped here, I would call this a wordy oracle deck, but it doesn’t.

Front with Message
Reverse Side

Did you notice the little Aries symbols in all four corners of the card up there? That’s right, each card is given an astrological designation and the enclosed instructions discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each sign. So you have your message, and then you apply this extra layer of information in the form of astrological data on top of it. But wait! There is still more.

Once you know the astrological designator for your card, and you have the informational sheet out, you’ll see that the four elements (earth, air, water, fire) are listed on it. Each astrological sign is listed with an element, and each element reveals a bit more information. It’s one last layer of information to that original card draw.

Due to the nature of The Inner Wizard the writers only suggest the single card draw reading and the three card past, present, future reading. I would have to agree with them, although honestly I only ever tried single card draws and that was enough for me.

The Inner Wizard is a truly unique divinatory experience. As far as I know, you won’t find anything like it, anywhere else.

You can find Inner Wizard at http://www.kabbalahinsights.com/en/products/the-inner-wizard.

Opening to Your Intuition: Building a Strong Foundation for Your Psychic Work

By Karen Harrison

The “trick” to being psychic is very simple: you need to be able to hear and listen to your inner voice clearly in order to receive the information that is being offered to you via your psychic senses. Learning to meditate teaches you how to quiet your thoughts and center your focus and concentration so that your inner voice can speak clearly to you—and so that you are ready to listen. In addition, the practice of meditation teaches you how to enter the alpha brain wave consciousness purposefully. In the alpha brain state, your focus and awareness is on your internal experiences—feelings, intuitions, and creative thought, because your electrical brain wave patterns are moving at a slower frequency or rhythm.

Scientists and physicians who study the human brain have discovered that it generally produces brain waves in four basic classifications: Beta, our normal waking consciousness state when we are focused on tasks and memorization, exhibits brain wave frequencies between 12 to 38 Hz; alpha, the brain wave state humans experience during meditation and times of relaxed creativity with a frequency between 8 to 13 Hz; theta, the brain wave state we experience in between waking and sleep when we are just coming out of our dreams with frequencies between 4 to 8 Hz; and delta, when the brain is in a deep sleep or unconscious mode with frequencies below 4 Hz. Hz is the abbreviation for Hertz, which is a unit of frequency measuring the change in state or cycle of a sound wave, alternating current, or other cyclical waveform, in this case the electromagnetic activity of the brain, of one cycle per second.

Being in the relaxed alpha brain wave mode of consciousness allows you to have a clear bridge of communication between the right hemisphere of the brain—the place of creativity and psychic sensitivity—and the left hemisphere of the brain—the place of logic, linear thinking, and perceptions. Meditation and centering allows for a clear channel of communication between the two halves of the brain, which will bring you clarity, insight, and understanding of the psychic information you receive.

Now, when I speak about your “inner voice,” keep in mind that you may get your psychic information in a different way than “hearing” it inside your head. Sometimes you may just get a flash of information and suddenly simply “know” something. You may have a vision that could be a complete scenario, or it may be simply a symbol or a face that you will need to work with as you interpret its meaning further. You may hear a quiet voice in your mind which gives you information. You may receive psychic information via your dreams. You may use a psychic tool such as the tarot or I Ching and interpret the cards or the throw of the coins. You may use a scrying mirror or crystal ball to psychically “see” scenes, images, symbols, colors, or numbers. You might employ a pendulum and use it to gain answers by the direction that it moves. There are many ways to obtain psychic impressions, intuit answers, and receive specific information that will help yourself or others.

When I use the term “inner voice,” I am talking about accessing that part of yourself that receives, interprets, and recounts information not obtained from your everyday material world or physical senses. It doesn’t matter the method by which you get the information or how it may be presented to you. The important point is that you pay attention and take note of the information that you receive.

Your inner voice is like any other part of you—the more you use it, the stronger and more skilled it gets at giving you information. The less you use it or pay attention to it, the more it atrophies and weakens. Everybody is a born psychic. You, me, everyone. It’s a natural ability and a part of what it means to be human. Some people are born with such a strong inner voice that they can’t help but hear it—these people, if not trained, may not be able to understand what they are getting, but the voice is strong. If they don’t understand why they are having these visions or why they can feel emotions and thoughts so strongly from others, they might work hard to shut it down, but it will always be there, ready to communicate again. Learning to hear your inner voice is like learning to play an instrument, becoming skilled at a sport, or mastering anything. What you have to do is acknowledge the desire and then practice the discipline. And then practice some more. The more you practice anything, the more skilled you become. It’s exactly the same with developing and honing your innate, human psychic skills.

The ability to meditate is essential to clearly hearing your inner voice. If you cannot quiet your mind, relax, center yourself, and focus, you will find that trying to access that inner voice and listen to what it has to tell you will be a frustrating experience. Sure, you’ll still be able to get the occasional psychic “hit,” but it will come sporadically, and I bet it will come when you are daydreaming or in that half-asleep, relaxed alpha brain state before you begin to drift into sleep at night or as you wake up in the morning. You will have a psychic experience at times when you are inadvertently in a slightly altered, quieter state of mind. If you want to use your psychic skills dependably and in a conscious way, you’ll learn the basics of meditation.

Sometimes when people hear the word “meditation,” they have the mistaken notion that they have to commit to a lengthy process in order to achieve a mental state of complete, total sublimation and control of the conscious mind. Not at all. No, you don’t have to chant mantras or be able to keep your mind absolutely blank for ten minutes or more. I’m talking about creating a meditative state of mind wherein you are calm, relaxed, and receptive. A state where you can focus on just one thing for a few minutes at a time, allowing your quiet thoughts to examine that one thing, consider it, and explore it. As you do this, your breathing will naturally slow, your body will relax, and you will feel at great ease. This thing that you are focusing on can be an image, a question, a feeling, a sensation, or a concept.

About Karen Harrison:
Karen Harrison has been involved with magick, the psychic arts, and occultism since early childhood. She earned a Master of Herbology from the Emerson College of Herbology in Montreal, and has worked as a professional psychic since she was seventeen years old. A third generation psychic, she has taught thousands of people how to open their own intuition and use that insight to enrich their lives.

Copyright © 2012 The Everyday Psychic by Karen Harrison Reprinted with permission from Red Wheel/Weiser LLC Available wherever books or ebooks are sold or from www.redwheelweiser.com or 1-800-423-7087.

Power Crystals

A while back I received a review copy of “Power Crystals: Spiritual and Magical Practices, Crystal Skulls, and Alien Technology” by John DeSalvo Ph.D. With a title that diverse, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It certainly had the potential to fly far afield from reality, if you know what I mean. But I was intrigued, and I had never really read anything about crystal skulls before, so I decided to give it a try. Since you’re here reading this review, it’s safe to assume that I’m glad I did.

I’m blown away by the depth of research in “Power Crystals”. The first four chapters of the book are devoted solely to the quartz crystal; what it is, its history, psychic studies, and its use in healing. Personally, quartz is one of my favorites so I found this interesting reading. It is also in the beginning, when discussing psychic studies, where we start to see DeSalvo’s efforts to bring as much scientific study and reason into subjects that sometimes struggle to be defined by science.

Next up, the crystal skulls. How insanely fascinating was this section of the book guys? Wait, you probably haven’t read it so you don’t know yet. It was great. Again, it’s all about the detail. As I mentioned, I hadn’t really read anything about crystals skulls so the bulk of my knowledge was, “There are skulls out there. They are made of crystal. That seems to matter to some people.” Now I feel like I have a good understanding of these skulls and their allure. DeSalvo shares the skulls history and personal journeys, the attempts at scientific testing of the skulls, and much more. As far as I’m concerned, at this point I’ve gotten my quartz crystal money’s worth, but there is still more.

DeSalvo goes on to discuss scrying and meditating with crystals. Also, crystal’s use in magical rituals. He even includes The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram! Some time is even given to examining the belief in Atlantis and its denizens’ potential use of crystals and the alleged phenomenon of crystal alien implants. It’s hard to imagine that DeSalvo left any crystal role or use unexamined!

“Power Crystals: Spiritual and Magical Practices, Crystal Skulls, and Alien Technology” at merely a touch over 200 pages (and that’s including the index!) is an amazingly in depth resource for everything quartz crystal. Upon finishing it, I immediately wanted to start reading certain sections (cough, ahem, crystal skulls, cough, cough) again. It’s a fascinating and entertaining ride designed for both the new age spiritualist and the skeptic.

Learning to Love Tea….and Their Leaves

Anyone who has read The Magical Buffet for a while knows that I love food and drink. When the opportunity presents itself to review a book that could potentially give me ideas of new things to eat or drink, I always go for it. And that is why I was thrilled that Llewellyn Worldwide sent me a copy of “Tea Leaf Reading for Beginners: Your Fortune in a Tea Cup” by Caroline Dow for me to take a look at.

There are a lot of books out there about tea leaf reading. For instance I own a copy of the second printing of “Tea Leaf Reading” by William W. Hewitt that Llewellyn published in 1992. My discerning teenage eye choose it because of the pretty gypsy woman peering into a tea cup on the cover. “Tea Leaf Reading” is a fine book. Total truth in advertising. Looking to learn about reading tea leaves? Try “Tea Leaf Reading”! However Caroline Dow gives you tea leaf reading and so much more!

Yes, “Tea Leaf Reading for Beginners” gives you everything you need to know to start attempting to read tea leaves. Part two of the book is an ample section on interpreting symbols, although Dow also encourages practice and intuition to determine what symbols mean to you personally. And let’s face it, that is the bulk of what most books about tea leaf reading are, a big ol’ glossary of symbols. Let’s take a look back at my “Tea Leaf Reading” book from the 90’s. It is 226 pages long with pages 25 to 205 being a glossary. I’m not complaining, I’m just pointing out what you can expect from most tea leaf reading books. “Tea Leaf Reading for Beginners” is 288 pages long with the glossary of symbols being pages 131 to 246. That leaves 128 pages of other stuff!

So what can you find in those other 128 pages? Tons. Of course there are the nuts and bolts of how to set up a reading, but there is also information about different types of tea, cups and saucers, herbal infusions and decoctions, tips for cooking with tea, suggestions for pairing different teas with food, ideas for tea parties and more! The first part of this book is so inspiring! I dare you to not be excited about tea after reading it!

Yet what I love best about Dow’s “Tea Leaf Reading for Beginners” is her overall attitude to the practice of reading tea leaves. It’s an event. It’s a magical experience, filled with wonderful stories. I’d say it’s theater, but I fear the jaded among you would then assume it’s a sham. It’s divination with a floor show. It’s a reason to get together with others and enjoy some tea.

Caroline Dow’s “Tea Leaf Reading for Beginners” is for those who want to learn to read tea leaves, but also for those who just want to learn to love tea.

10 Questions with Sasha Graham

1. What got you started in learning about tarot?

I was born on Halloween. My Iowa grandmother always called me her good witch of the east. I thought since I was a Halloween baby, reading tarot should be my automatic skill or some sort of birthright. Buying my first deck at age 12, I was completely overwhelmed. Part of the reason I wrote Tarot Diva was to hopefully make tarot more accessible to people. Easier for them to grasp.

2. Can you tell my readers what a Tarot Diva is? How is it different from being a tarot reader?

A tarot diva is anyone, male or female, who uses a deck of tarot to illuminate, inspire and empower his or her lives. A tarot diva knows that ultimate knowledge, be it self-knowledge, spiritual knowledge or creative knowledge ultimately resides inside herself. Knowing this lies within, she uses tarot to help her access this divine knowledge.

A tarot reader becomes a tarot diva when she uses tarot to empower herself. A tarot diva puts herself to the test by being as good a reader for herself as she is for her clients. There are loads of tarot diva’s walking around out there!

3. Can the philosophy and perspective of the Tarot Diva be followed by a man, or is being a Tarot Diva just for women?

Men can totally use Tarot Diva! I call them Tarot Devos. Every single sentence in my book can apply to a man. The simple fact of the matter is statically, more women than men read tarot. I attend an annual tarot conference of about 200 tarot practitioners. Something like 98 percent of attendees are women. Tarot is a field dominated by women!

I had no problem writing from a female perspective to a mostly female audience. I adore Hemmingway. Do I let the fact he’s writing from a macho, male point of view keep me from enjoying his work? No way. I trust my male audience enough to understand this as well. Any male reader who is curious enough will open my book and have fun with it.

4. In your book “Tarot Diva” you use images from many different tarot decks, and in the book you talk about exploring the variety of decks that are available. What are some of your favorite tarot decks?

I’m a book collector (tarot, fiction and cookbooks) but not much of a tarot deck collector.

My favorite all time deck is – no surprise – The Halloween Deck by Kippling West. Loves! J’adore! Bowing to it!

Usually, I read with the Rider Waite. Plus, I focused so much on Rider Waite while writing Tarot Diva, it is as if we’ve been glued/fused together.

I’ll examine deeper subconscious issues with Patrick Valenza’s genius Deviant Moon or sometimes when I’m feeling “moody.”

5. Being a Tarot Diva is definitely more than a hobby, it’s like a lifestyle. In your book you suggest recipes for foods that you feel reflect certain cards and aspects of the tarot. What’s your favorite recipe from the book?

Ohhhhh, that’s such a hard question because I really put in recipes I love and cook all the time!!!

In the fall, when I’m entertaining a small groups, I love to serve Strength’s Warm Garlic, Brie and Chutney. It works great for like 4 – 6 people.

I serve the Empress Goat Cheese and Cherry Salad for lunch for girlfriends all the time – any season it is purrrrrrfection!

My husband and I worked for years (we are still tinkering) to perfect our Lover’s French Onion Soup. We both love it so much and the smell of caramelized onions is soooooooo divine! We use chicken stock in the summer for a lighter version and beef stock in the winter for a heartier feel.

The Fool’s Croque Madame is my Sunday morning special when I really feel like indulging myself and pretending I’m at a café in Paris.

Gee, can you tell I love to eat??

6. Your book has all kinds of wonderful quotes from women in it. Who are some of your favorite divas, tarot or otherwise?

Madonna all the way! I think the moment my first teenage hormone popped was the second Borderline was released. I can mark every moment of my life by her songs.

Now that Madge is slowing down, I live for Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Beyonce. Give me a strong woman in a pair of stilettos, false eyelashes and a poppy song and she’ll have me dancing around the living room in no time.

I adore all the Broadway Diva’s like Pattie LuPone and Julie Andrews.

Fierce female writers like Toni Morrison and Jeanette Winterson.

My personal tarot diva’s include the phenomenal Rachel Pollack and the amazing Corrine Kenner. I idolize them both.

I searched for quotes from Madeline Albright cause I think she is one hell of a diva. Sadly, I couldn’t find any that would apply to the book.

Such an honor to quote these amazing women!!!

7. What are your thoughts on the rise in popularity of the “oracle deck” (decks designed for intuitive or psychic work that do not necessarily follow the traditional tarot template)?

Interesting question. Any device that increases psychic or intuitive work is a good thing. I just adore the history, occult and otherwise, attached to tarot decks. The Trumps who sprang to life in the Renaissance really float my boat.

8. What do you feel is the best advice you can offer to someone considering learning tarot?

Don’t be afraid to read the card. Trust yourself and your first instinct. Allow yourself to weave stories about what you see. Don’t be indecisive. Take risks.

Then take this exact same advice for cards and apply it to your life.

9. With your book “Tarot Diva” now out for public consumption, have you considered doing a “Tarot Diva” tarot deck?

You know, I’ve been asked this question. Unless a seriously gifted artist came knocking at my door, I don’t know this is something I’d pursue. There are so many amazing decks out there. What would I really have to add? The power of tarot comes when it takes shape in your subconscious. I have no idea how I could put that on a card. It would be like painting a dream . . .

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

Okay, I’ve got a good one. Where do you think Tarot is going? What direction is it moving in?

It’s hard to say because my perspective is skewed. I get loads of emails from readers, authors, and publishers about tarot, so in my mind, tarot seems to be on an upward trend. However, I’m not sure outside of my warm, wonderful, Buffet bubble. If me and my blog achieved global domination (and it is on the “to do” list), I would definitely make certain that tarot had every opportunity to achieve “market saturation” (as the ad execs would say).

About Sasha Graham:
Sasha Graham was born in Saranac Lake, NY, to a free spirited hippie mother and moved 27 times during her childhood. Settling in Manhattan in the late 80’s, Sasha acted in B-horror films, received a BA in Literature at Hunter College and began working with Tarot. Sasha now organizes tarot events, teaches tarot classes and provides tarot outreach to young people all over NYC. You can learn more at www.sashagraham.com

Attention Albany, NY area readers! Sasha Graham will be at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza on Saturday June 4, 2011 at 3pm signing books and doing one card tarot readings! For more information, visit The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza website!

Even a Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day (You Can Decide Who the Clock in Question Is)

Look, it’s finally happening…the me and Billy Graham blog!  I almost bumped it again because of the “Evangelical Manifesto” press conference, but then I thought maybe I should actually read the manifesto before writing about it. 
Perhaps it’s hard to imagine, but I recently came across some advice Rev. Billy Graham gave someone, and I kind of agree.  I know, spooky.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an Ask Dr. Graham section, weird but true.  The column I read involved a Mrs. N.D. writing to Graham about her recently passed husband.  Her friend says she knows a psychic that can put her in touch with a loved one who has passed, and asks if there is any reason to not visit this psychic.
Well, Graham advises against it, of course.  First he explains that much of what passes for psychic activity is actually fraudulent, so she would be wasting her money.  Then he goes on to play the usual song of “Let no one be found among you who…is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.”  Party poopers.
If Mrs. N.D. had asked me, I would have also advised her against it.  I truly believe there are people with psychic abilities, but I also believe that the profession of psychic is a nebulous one that is rife for abuse.  When you visit most psychics they emphasize that it’s “for entertainment purposes only” and although I try not to make light of psychic readings I do try to put them into a perspective.  I would not let anyone’s opinion, regardless of how informed; blindly tell me how to live my life or what to believe.  Sure, a psychic may knows things that you don’t, but you know, my Mom does too and I don’t let her tell me what to do (much).  I view the advice of a psychic the same as I view advice from my Mom, well intended.
And then there is the matter of who she wanted to speak to.  That’s risky business in my book.  Penn Juliette kind of sums it up on his show “Penn & Teller: Bullshit”.  He talks about how when someone dies, you have the memories of them.  Some are good, some are bad, but they are all 100% true and real memories.  When you ask a psychic to communicate with that person after they passed, whatever that psychic tells you rewrites your history of that person and your relationship with them.  In my opinion, that’s too big of a chance to take.  I would talk to a psychic about my love life, or my career, but I don’t think I would trust a stranger with the memory of someone I loved.  Maybe that’s just me.
So, there you have it, Graham and I would actually have given this woman the same advice.  For different reasons, but still, we agreed.  Yep, definitely scary.

Philadelphia Psychics: Screwed, and then Not So Much

Originally Posted 5-03-07 

On Friday April 27, 2007 news sources started reporting that Philadelphia police were alerted to a 30 year old law banning fortune-for "gain or lucre".  The exact damning phrase is "A person who pretends for gain or lucre to tell fortunes or predict future events by cards, tokens, the inspection of the head or hands of any person."

As of the writing of this blog at least 16 Philadelphia based fortune tellers have been shut down with the promise of more to come.  The law has been in place since 1971, but apparently no one was aware of its existence until recently.  News outlets are reporting that the law was first brought to the attention of the police.  The police approached the Department of Licenses and Inspections who were shocked to find that in fact, yes, the practice of fortune telling for money was illegal.  It is considered a third degree misdemeanor.  It also should be noted that they are not making arrests or issuing fines, but will if the offending individuals attempt to return to work.  Bummer for all those they issued business licenses to, eh?

A city official has been quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying, "Most psychics were con artists who prey on vulnerable people."  A sentiment that I’m sure skeptics and rationalists world wide are agreeing with, and cheering this new development on for.  The difference being, the skeptics I like, such as James Randi, are man enough to put their name with their quotes.  (It’s one of many reasons I love him.  James call me, I adore you.)

But was Philadelphia being ravaged by charlatan psychics?  I’m not going to sit here and say that every psychic is legit and not in it for the money.  On the other hand, I think that many psychics and fortune tellers view their chosen occupation as an entertainment and something that is filling a specific need in our modern society.  It is a sad but true statement that some psychics take advantage of needy and desperate individuals, but I think it’s an equally true statement that people will also get taken advantage of by doctors, lawyers, and a host of other professionals.  Just because one doctor screwed their patient certainly doesn’t mean I view all doctors as quacks.  I think we can afford to extend the same courtesy to fortune tellers and psychics.  When any of these professionals take advantage of or mistreats one of their clients, the wronged person has the option to sue … and the same happens with psychics.  (They can also be reported to the Better Business Bureau.)

I have had one psychic reading so far in my life.  I paid $25 for a unique experience.  I have spent that amount of money many times over for all kinds of experiences in the forms of books, movies, concerts, and more recently things like seances and travel to religious observances.  Although perhaps sometimes let down by the purchase, I never felt taken advantage of for having spent the money for the experience.  Except for when I bought the movie "Alone in the Dark", if I could’ve taken someone to court over that loss of funds I would have.

What I’m trying to say is this, visiting a fortune teller or psychic should be viewed perhaps more as an entertainment based experience.  Sure, listen to what the psychic has to say, many of them wish nothing more than to help and support you, but by no means allow a fortune teller to run your life.  The good ones wouldn’t want you to let them.  Visiting a psychic or fortune teller should be a rewarding experience that you may want to repeat, much like seeing the movie "Serenity" (three times in the theater).  It should never take over the entirety of your life, much like the movie "Serenity" (don’t ask how many times on dvd).

Come on Philadelphia, they were local businessmen and women.  Paying for licenses, paying their taxes, voting in elections, and being a part of your local economy.  Can’t something be done to help them out?


Apparently something can be done!  Starting May 3, 2007 news sources out of Philadelphia began reporting that psychics and fortune tellers operating within the city are going back to work.  Monica Mitchell, who runs a psychic shop in Manayunk, PA, was rightfully peeved and instead of sitting around whining about it, like I was doing, she took action.  She lawyered up, and thanks to her attorney John Raimondi, psychics in Philadelphia have a second lease on their business lives.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer Raimondi filed a request last week for a restraining order and preliminary injunction on the ground that the statue could be invoked only in cases of fraud.  He is quoted as saying, "What we said is the law is part of the crimes code.  You have to prove that someone has been taken advantage of, and you can’t expect L & I (Licenses and Inspections) to enforce that."

The City Solicitor’s Office agreed with Raimondi and advised the L & I to back off because the state law banning fortune tellers seemed better suited to fraud prosecution than to regulation. 

Hopefully, this means things will settle down for the storefront psychics and fortune tellers in Philadelphia.  We’ll keep you posted…..

HSI Seance

“The people at the Holistic Studies Institute were incredibly friendly and a lot of fun. They hold weekly séances (Fridays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 6:00 pm) and I have every intention of visiting them for one of those sooner rather than later.” – Rebecca “A Moveable Feast: HSI” 10/02/06

Well sooner just happened. On Friday January 19, 2007 I headed back to the Holistic Studies Institute in Albany, NY to attend one of their séances. My husband Jim, who has gone with me on every Magical Buffet field trip, was unable to go with me on this one. As a testament to how cool Jim is, it took 3 members of the Northern NY Paranormal Research Society and one of their friends to compensate for his absence! That’s right, I brought together two great groups that go great together, the Holistic Studies Institute and the Northern NY Paranormal Research Society. If you know the NNYPRS, you know they never turn down a chance to check out any paranormal experience!

Just like my first visit to HSI, things were not as anticipated in a very good way. It looked like the renovations on their offices were either complete or very close to it. The space is a wonderful mix of metaphysically homey and professionally officey, is it any wonder why I like these guys? Things there were bustling as people were leaving from the healing circle that just got done and people were showing up for the evening’s séance. In that bustle, Dave (NNYPRS Albany Team Leader), Dan (Team Member), Misty (Team Member), her friend, and myself made our way into the sacred space set up at the back of their offices.

The lights were dimmed and relaxing music was being played. A large group of people started coming in and grabbing chairs that lined the walls of the room. In the center of the room was a small table with two Spirit Trumpets sitting on it, and later a chair was positioned near it so spirits could take a seat there if they chose to. The room is wonderfully multi-functional. That evening it was being used for a séance, but other times it serves as a church, and others a classroom.

Charlene Robbins was leading the séance. The first thing she did was split up our motley group, which might seem a bit odd, but it was done for a reason. Since we all knew each other we could be sharing the same energies, which could confuse the mediums from being able to determine exactly who certain messages were intended. So after we all split up, the séance began.

Charlene first gave us all a little information about HSI and their séances. Someone came around to collect donations. We were all told to put ourselves in an open position, which meant arms down and feet on the floor, a difficult task for a leg crosser like myself! Then all of the lights were turned off and the music was turned up.

We started out with what I will describe as a group guided meditation. Charlene guided all of us to an open and relaxed state. I have to confess, I am notoriously bad at relaxation and meditation, so I was not as relaxed as I probably should have been at the end of the opening. After that, Charlene began getting in contact with spirits.

For obvious reasons, I agreed not to write about messages relayed to people at the séance. These can be of a personal nature, and although I’m not naming everyone there, most people would probably not like me airing their spiritual laundry in a public forum. Here is what I will share with you.

Charlene was the lead medium, but HSI helps people get in touch with their psychic abilities and there were other HSI people there that also acted as mediums. They were encouraged to share impressions they were getting with others. In fact, if anyone felt they were seeing or experiencing anything of note they were encouraged to share with the group. It made for a séance, but also an educational experience for those interested in exploring their possible inclinations towards mediumship.

I wish I could say that I saw some mind blowing physical manifestations, but alas none were to be had. That’s okay though, the Holistic Studies Institute does not endorse the use of any of the tricks that gave Spiritualists of the past a bad name. This means that sometimes there are no big surprises, but what it also means is that if something happens….something actually happens. Also, not being that psychically aware, there could have been spirits forming a cheerleading pyramid in the middle of the room and more than likely I would have been oblivious!

The séance lasted about an hour and a half, and was worth the time for the relaxation practices alone! Just like the last time, the folks at the Albany, NY Holistic Studies Institute were friendly, kind, and just gosh darned likeable!

Just like I mentioned the last time I wrote about HSI, they hold weekly séances (Fridays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 6:00 pm), except on the weekends they hold their psychic fairs. To learn more about the whens and wheres I encourage you to visit: www.holisticstudies.com.