The Summer of Sovereign

Astute Magical Buffet readers will remember that back in December I commented on a music video by Lady Sovereign, who is a British rap artist. Apparently Perez Hilton wasn’t aware that the video was actually paying homage to the movie “The Warriors”, and instead declared it a video with “Dancing Midget Zombies”. By the way, as proof (as if it was required, but still) that the ladies over at Go Fug Yourself kick ass, they are aware of the film “The Warriors” and name checked it appropriately in a post about Christina Aguilera. Take that Perez! Where was I? That’s right, Lady Sovereign. In the December post I commented that I didn’t know when the album with the song “I Got You Dancing” from the music video would be released. Well it’s out now!

I know nothing about the British rap music scene, or the grime scene, which is what Wikipedia tells me, is the classification for Lady Sovereign’s music. Here’s what I do know. Roll down the windows, slide on the sunglasses, because Lady Sovereign’s new album “Jigsaw” is your summer jam.

The single I’ve been hearing off the album is “So Human” that relies heavily on The Cure song “Close to Me”.

I’m only vaguely familiar with Lady Sovereign’s work previous to “Jigsaw”, so I don’t know how typical or atypical this album is when compared to past efforts. It’s filled with catchy songs, bizarre humor, and flip flopping between spoken word and sort of singing. Lady Sovereign’s voice has a wide range so one song, like “Human” will feature a light feminine voice, and another, like “Guitar”, will have low moans. Also, I suffer from that all too common American affliction of just adoring a British accent, so there’s that too.

If you’re looking for a fun album to tap your foot to while driving in the summer sun, this will do nicely.

I Couldn’t Resist Sharing

Several years ago for my birthday my husband bought me an antique witch’s costume. As in, a Halloween costume from the late 1800s/early 1900s. It was in pretty rough shape, but still beautiful, and I loved it. I had always planned on giving it a proper display treatment, but to my great shame for years it was displayed by having it hang on a wire coat hanger attached to a tack in the wall.

Recently, prompted by a 60% off all framing sale at our local Michael’s, my long standing shame has been transformed into beaming pride.


The Arizona Paranormal Research Society: The RMS Queen Mary Investigative Reports

Note: This is the text from the reports submitted for this investigation. To see photos and listen to EVP recordings, visit this investigation’s page on their website.

Name: RMS Queen Mary
Location: Long Beach, California
Case# B-216
Date: 01/24-25/09
Weather conditions: Calm and overcast
Outside Temperature:64
Humidity: 32%
Wind: 0-3 mph
Moon: Waning Crescent
EMF Spikes: to 4.5
Geo. storm activity: normal
EMF baseline: 1.2
Time of arrival: 3:30am
Time of departure: 5:45am

Investigators: Frank Madrid, Lori Marshall, Gino Madrid, Randy Arbogast, Todd Bates, Michael Chappell, Brian Simpson and Matt Schulz.

Reason for investigation: Validation of reported Paranormal Activity

General Impressions:
When I walked into the 1rst class swimming pool area with just our team and without the addition of other people, it gave me kind of an eerie feeling as I looked around the room. Maybe it was the low level of light, maybe it was the quietness of the room when no one spoke or maybe it was the way our voices echoed when we did. Either way, the feeling accompanied me where ever I went. The swimming pool must have been a sight in it’s day. The ceramic tile and color scheme was beautiful as was the incredible mosaic tile on the ceiling. The changing room was dark and the stalls were small and intimate. The sound carried different in there and when you stand in a stall being very still and quiet, you begin to get an anxious “you’re not alone” feeling that makes you want to go back to the pool room.

I loved this place and wanted to get to work as we didn’t have much time. All equipment was set up very quickly and we proceeded to investigate. We had our custom made experimental energy emitting equipment and the HVI team had some as well, so it was a brief field testing investigation that we undertook.

What an opportunity we all had and we appreciated every second there.

Frank Madrid

Investigation Report

The Arizona Paranormal Research Society team, along with Todd, Michael, and Brian from Haunted Voices Investigations, and Matt from San Diego Ghost Hunters, arrived in the pool area about approximately 3:30am. We set up the TAzPRS energy emitting devices and turned them on while we finished getting our personal recording devices. Perhaps it was due to the salt water surrounding the ship, or maybe the spirits in that area didn’t need much energy, but within a few minutes I noticed a shadow running around on the upper deck. I turned to say something to the rest of the team, but when I did I saw everyone else looking up and pointing at the upper deck because they were seeing what I was seeing. Frank started an EVP session, so we were all doing our best to be still and quiet, but I couldn’t help myself from going upstairs where I had seen the shadow. After I got upstairs, I looked across the pool to the other side and saw the shadow walking across. I was taking pictures as fast as my flash would allow me, but it seemed that wherever I went, the shadow would be across from me walking across the deck. I called to Randy to come up and we stood shoulder to shoulder snapping pictures in all directions. It was decided to take a break since one of the team had to leave in order to catch his flight home, but before we left, Randy and I placed our video cameras on the ground and left them recording. Unfortunately, my camera, for some reason, didn’t focus properly, so all I got from that was a dark picture. When we got back, we did more EVP sessions, and from that point on I didn’t see the shadow anymore. We investigated for about 2 hours then packed it up and returned to our rooms.

Side notes: During the day, Michael, Brian, Randy and I went exploring. Although the ship has a way of making you feel very small, I didn’t get any feelings of anything paranormal. That is, until we went into a small room that encompassed one of the propellers. The room was added to the side of the ship and there was sea water in it. As soon as we entered that room, my heart started beating really fast and I started shaking. The room was not overly small, and I have never been claustrophobic in the least. Yet there I was, shaking and sweating. It was overwhelming. Randy, Michael, and Brian also reported feeling strange in that room, and Randy even told me to get away from the rail I was leaning on. I asked him why and he said, I don’t know, but I think you should get away from it. I definitely think that room deserves more attention next year.

Also, upon returning to our room, Frank got dizzy and nearly fell on the floor. Luckily he made it to the bed. Randy grabbed the Geiger Counter off of the table in the center of the room and got a reading of 1.5 rads. NEVER, have we gotten a reading on the Geiger Counter before that, and shortly afterwards, it dissipated and Frank started feeling better. Randy and I took Frank out for some air and Lori stayed behind. While the three of us were outside talking to Todd, Lori came out and reported an experience she had in the room while she was talking to what she felt was a woman in the room. She told us that as she was talking, the bed started shaking and that she felt that it was a spirit trying to scare her. Randy and I had enough at that point and we went in to “encourage” the spirit to leave the room for the night. I feel that every spirit has a right to be wherever it likes, but when it attacks one of the team and puts them in danger, I take exception. After capturing it in “the net” we told the spirit that it needed to leave the room for the night and that we would be gone in the morning so it could come back then, but for the time we were there, it needed to find somewhere else to go. Randy held the door open and I turned “the net” off and Randy felt a cold breeze go past him. We had no more trouble for the rest of our stay.

In Closing: I would like to thank Todd Bates of HVRN for inviting us to come along and help with the conference. Meeting him, along with Michael and Brian was a great experience. Special thanks to Matt of SDGH for his professionalism and help during the investigation. Finally, Thank you Pat and Brian of Beyond Investigation Magazine for allowing us to come along, hosting Ghost Fest III, and giving us permission to investigate.

Gino Madrid
T.Az.P.R.S. Adminstrator/Investigator and Assistant Technical Director

We arrived at the Queen Mary on Jan 23, 2009 at 7:30p.m. Upon arriving, we met up with Todd, Mike, and Brian from Haunted Voices Investigations. A little later, we met Matt from San Diego Ghost Hunters. After dinner, we went up to top deck, where we started investigating.

I started getting EMF spikes near a working exhaust vent. After further investigating, we seem to have made contact with the spirit of a little girl by the name of Ellen. We asked several questions and received several answers through our equipment. We then proceeded to the front of the ship where Brian was testing the equipment that he had developed (they worked very well). We worked our way back to the exhaust vent and had asked more yes and no questions. we were still getting answers on the EMF, K-2, TriField EMF meter and TriField Natural EMF meter. We continued this session for a little while longer until our exhaustion set in, so we then decided to call it a night and went back to our room to rest.

Saturday, we got up and had breakfast with Todd and his crew. Gino, Michael and I then proceeded back to the top deck afterward and again made contact with the little girl during the morning, which was awesome.

Afterward, while exploring the ship, we found a small cubby hole behind the main engine room. Gino, Michael, Brian and I started our recorders and asked questions. Michael and I heard a “no” response to one of our questions. Later on, we moved over into the propeller room where instantly Gino felt very strange as did Brian and I. Michael indicated that he obtained an EMF spike as he walked in. I kept getting the feeling as not to get too close to the railing that separated us from the propeller. I could see that Gino was sweating, as if something was really bothering him. About that time, Michael sat his EMF meter down. Brian said “take my picture” as he got a hit on his device. I took the picture at that time but there with nothing paranormal captured in the picture. Soon after, we all felt a breeze go past us. As we journeyed through to the engine room, no EMF spikes or EVP were recorded at that time. We investigated the whole area and decided to take a break afterward that night.

While waiting in our room, Frank felt a dizziness sideways feeling while sitting on the bed in our room, I hurried and gave him some Motrin before he started to pass out. At this time Lori and I knew something was trying to drain him of his energy. Gino and I took him out of the room while Lori stayed in the room. Frank felt better as we got off of the ship. Lori came out after a few minutes. She made sure Frank was alright and told us of what happened after we took Frank out of the room. As she was laying the law down to the spirit that attacked Frank, the bed started to shake. She wasn’t scared but was angry at the spirit and waited for something else to happen. After a bit, the bed stopped shaking and she came out of the room to check on Frank and then told us what happened. It was then that Gino and I went in to regulate!

We turned on our audio recorders and set up three of our experimental devices, but didn’t turn them on just yet. We set up various meters as well, which started to fluctuate as we were asking questions of why it was attacking one of our team members. Gino and I gave it the third degree and then turned on one of the devices, a few seconds later another. We gave it some more hell and told it to leave the room as we turned on the third device. We let the final device do its job for a bit and soon after I went over to the door and opened it. We kept two of the devices on and turned the other one off. Gino said “now leave the room and don’t come back while we were staying there!” After he said that, he turned off the last device (the net) and I soon felt a wisp of cold air blast past me and out the door. We left the room and went to smoke and check on Frank who was feeling back to his old self again.

Todd had asked us to take some people around the ship as he and Frank went on the Ghost Fest tour. We took them up to the top deck to see if we could make contact with the little girl again. We did in fact make contact again and started to ask her questions. I had asked her if she could make all of our hands cold as we all put our hands close together. There was no change in temperature. At one point, one of the people we were showing around said he felt the sensation of hair moving across his hand. I did too, it was a rush! After communicating with “Elle” for a while, we walked to the stern of the ship and asked questions for recording EVP to no avail. After us giving the tour, we went back to the room where we stayed and rested until the next Ghost Fest tour.

We went on the last Ghost Fest tour of the evening and afterward (3am) we had the pool area to ourselves. We did our set up in record time as we didn’t have much time left. Not 5 minutes after turning all of our devices on, we all were seeing shadows on upper area collectively. We conducted an EVP session, asking numerous questions. Just before we went on break, I set up my camera on the upper level aimed down the corridor towards the stern. Upon reviewing the tape, no shadows were recorded but did record on camera audio some weird sounds like clicking and something being dropped near the camera. After break, we asked more questions but the room felt inactive so we turned off the devices and continued to ask more questions.

I had my recorder in a Faraday cage at the “slide” end of pool and audio from my camera as well as another recorder. No conclusive evidence was captured in still photos or video but I did get lots of interactions with the little girl with meter spikes on video.

All in all I would say the ship is haunted.

Randy Arbogast
T.Az.P.R.S. Case Manager/Investigator and Technical Director

The T.Az.P.R.S. team arrived at the RMS Queen Mary around 7:30pm on Friday January 23, 2009. We were anticipating meeting the Haunted Voices Investigation team. Todd Bates and Michael Chappell came down from the ship to the front entrance where we were and there was hand shakes and hugs all around. It was truly incredible meeting them for the first time and our previous phone conversations finally had the faces behind them. Our van was loaded to the ceiling and the Queen Mary staff was very helpful in loading up their carts and taking our equipment to our room.

Later on, we met with HVRN Equipment Developer- Brian Simpson and had a great dinner and later, met with tech manager, investigator and sdGH webmaster- Matt Schulz from San Diego Ghost Hunters. These are a great set of people with backgrounds in the technological and paranormal investigative field and we couldn’t be happier to have met them all.

Todd became ill and was encouraged to set the first round of the speaking engagement out so he rested while the rest of us had dinner and explored the ship. We made our way to the top deck where we laid out our meters on a railing and started having, what seemed to be, interaction with a spirit. This continued for a while and was captured on video. We then proceeded to the bridge side lookouts where Brian’s new equipment items that he had developed were tested and was deemed successful. After such a long drive and staying up late, we were exhausted and decided to call it a night and went back to our room and rested until morning. The next morning, I woke up and noticed that Gino and Randy were gone from the room. Lori was still asleep so I looked out of the portal and there was a fog over the water that looked cool so I started to shoot video. No sooner than when I stopped shooting. I heard a woman’s laugh whispered right in my left ear. I turned to look at Lori but she was still asleep. I thought it was cool and started to get ready for breakfast when Randy and Gino came back in the room. Randy had explained that earlier he had heard a woman’s voice and laughter in the room. We exchanged stories and found it to be quite strange that we both heard a woman in our room very early that morning. Breakfast was indeed a feast. Afterward, we all split up and gave ourselves a walking tour throughout the ship. This was very enjoyable and relaxing for each of us. Soon, it was lunchtime and while in line at the deli, we came across fellow investigators from S.C.O.O.P.S.. It was a pleasure to meet founder Lorraine Sullivan and her team. Lori and I left the ship to purchase supplies for the investigation later that evening, taking in the sights of Long Beach, a city where I had lived as a child. After a couple of hours, we returned to the ship and went to the room where Randy and Gino were resting.

I believe I then experienced a “psychic attack”. I suddenly felt dizzy, nauseous and thought I was going to throw up and pass out. My vision seemed to turn sideways and I started to feel lethargic as well. I fell back onto the bed and if was hard to think of anything. After a bit, Randy and Gino helped me out of the room and off of the ship while Lori stayed behind, angry at whoever was responsible. As she was addressing the spirit in the room, she felt the bed starting to shake to and fro. Lori continued to express herself and after a bit, the bed stopped shaking and she went outside to find out how I was and to relay what had happened in the room. I was feeling much better, as if nothing had happened. Randy and Gino stated that they were going back to the room to take care of the situation. I had asked them to record the event on my recorder that was on the table in the room and there were EVP recorded. They broke out with the equipment that we know is a deterrent to spirits and went to work ridding the room of this negative spirit.

It was reported that at the end of this “session”, the door was opened to the room and the spirit was told to leave and not return until we were gone the next day. A rush of cold air was felt whooshing out of the room.

We never did have any further problems in the room! It was finally time for the “Ghost Fest 3” lectures and tours to begin and I attended the first one while the rest of the team took a small group to the upper deck where they had established electronic communication with a spirit earlier.

Todd was one of the speakers there with Michael chappell assisting him and I had a back stage pass with Pat Wheelock, Brian Patton, Jerry Reynolds and a few others. The lectures were very informative and some basic equipment was handed out to the lecture guests and we were off to the depths of the ship.

The tour was great and I just couldn’t believe the size of the inner belly of this grand vessel. One area of the tour looked vaguely familiar and I remembered a scene from a movie from the ’70’s called “The Poseidon Adventure” where Gene Hackman’s character fell to his demise after hanging from a large valve, turning it off as to let the rest of the passengers continue their journey to be saved. That scene was filmed there aboard the Queen Mary. What a rush! The last part of the tour took us to the swimming pool area where everyone was cut loose to investigate on their own. The swimming pool looked smaller than what I’ve seen on the “Ghosts and Legends of the Queen Mary” web cam but that soon changed after being in there for a few minutes. The area was dimly lit and had an eerie feel to it. The echo was immense but tolerable. We all had a great time listening to Pat tell us all about the area we were in. Afterward we made our way back to the lecture area. On the second tour, we were joined by the rest of the team and once again was off to the innards of the ship. One just can’t get enough of the amazing creation that stands before them on these tours.

On the way back, the T.Az.P.R.S. team along with HVI brought up the rear, watching for lagging guests. We were the last to exit the huge staircase, making our way to the door when I looked up and saw a man standing at the top of the stairs looking down at us, then pull back out of sight. I was going to go up the stairs to get, what I assumed was a stray guest, him back to the group. When I had mentioned that I saw someone up there, everyone that was downstairs indicated that there was no one lagging behind as they were watching everyone in the group ahead of us.

I don’t know who it was I saw standing there in dark clothing, but he was out of sight very quickly. Approximately 3am, the tours were over and it was time to investigate the swimming pool area. We didn’t have time on our side so we hurried back to our room and started getting our necessary equipment together for transport to the swimming pool area. As soon as we arrived to the swimming pool area, (approximately 3:30am), we began running power and setting up our recording devices as well as experimental energy emitting equipment.

We had a new device that our tech director Randy Arbogast had developed and we were anxious to see what results would be obtained from it adding energy to the environment of the pool area. Minutes after all devices were in place and powered up, we were collectively seeing shadows in the upper levels, peeking in at us and darting behind the pillars. There seemed to be one shadow in particular that was getting our attention the most, but unfortunately, they all seemed to escape being caught on camera or video.

We all heard Todd make a “surprised” noise as he stated that he felt hands grab his butt, lifting him to the point of moving him forward. He looked around and the only people near him was Lori, who was 12 feet away to his left sitting in a chair, and Randy, who was 12 feet to his right sitting in a chair as well. It was not humanly possible for anyone to do that to Todd as we all were very still. Lori says “the look on his face was priceless!”

After witnessing all of the shadows collectively, we started an EVP session by the pool’s slide area. We did hear some responses with our own ears collectively and managed to obtain many very good EVP responses to our questions.

One humorous point was when we were seeing the shadows moving in all different areas on the upper area of the pool, Gino went up there to investigate, unnoticed by us all as we were concentrating on the other areas being very quiet. As we all stood by the pool slide looking at the upper deck, Gino quietly steps around one of the pillars and we all saw him at the same time startling us all. It was a hilarious moment, one we won’t forget for some time. We soon took a break, left the recorders run while we were gone and recorded some strange sounds that were not from us. We returned and continued our evp session and investigated throughout the entire pool area until it was starting to break dawn. Once again, the theory of our changing the environmental energy attributes were successful and before too long, it was time to pack up and leave this wonderfully active area. It was a great time all around. Meeting and working with these great people was a fantastic experience that I look forward to doing again. The T.Az.P.R.S. team I could not have been more proud of. Thanks Lori, Gino and Randy. Thanks Todd, Michael, Brian, Matt.

Frank Madrid
President/Founder T.Az.P.R.S
Lori Marshall
Vice President/Co-founder Public Relations Mgr. T.Az.P.R.S.

About T.Az.P.S.:
Formerly known as “The Arizona Paranormal Society” (T.Az.P.S.), “The Arizona Paranormal Research Society” is an experienced paranormal investigation organization based out of central Arizona. Since 2006, we have been proud to have served and helped many clients throughout the entire state of Arizona free of charge. We bring to each client our experience, compassion and our understanding of what situation the client may be experiencing in the home.

To learn more visit:

Dear Mr. Colbert

Dear Mr. Colbert,

First I should take a moment to express what a big fan I am of your show “The Colbert Report”. The show’s writing, and your performance, are consistently excellent, and just when I think there can’t possibly be anything you could say or do to surprise me, you manage to do just that.

I will admit that I was saddened when you quit referring to yourself as “Warrior-Poet” in your show’s opening. However, I soon realized that meant that I was free to claim the mantle of America’s Warrior-Poet and have done just that.

I could have written this letter at any point, considering how much I enjoy “The Colbert Report”, but it was during the May 6, 2009 show that I decided that I had a very special thank you note to write you.

Mr. Colbert, thank you for talking about Zimbabwe. Outside of BBC America World News, your show is the only one I’ve seen that addresses the situation with some regularity. Perhaps you do this because as a true American patriot you are touched and moved by the struggle of a country trying to claim the freedoms that we here in the United States enjoy so easily, or it could be you are frustrated that American news agency seem to be ignoring the country altogether, or perhaps it’s just the fact that the name Mugabe is fun to say. Whatever the reason, as someone who can’t seem to get her voice heard with regards to Zimbabwe (form letter from the White House, no response from the State Department), I thank you and applaud you for repeatedly mentioning it to your nationwide audience.

Warm Wishes and With Highest Regards,
Rebecca Elson
Publisher, The Magical Buffet

The proof is in the pudding!

May 6, 2009

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert-Branson Duel
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Gay Marriage

Or, April 21, 2009

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Stressed Position
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Gay Marriage

Or how about all the way back to July 14, 2007?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bears & Balls – Summer Vacation Edition
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Gay Marriage

10 Questions with Patrice Chaplin

1. Your book “City of Secrets: One Woman’s True-life Journey to the Heart of the Grail Legend” is an incredibly intimate memoir. Was there any hesitation on your part about sharing your past?

I did not hesitate about sharing what is published but it isn’t complete by any means. I wanted to give a sense of the power of the relationship. Also I had written about Jose before in “Albany Park” and “Siesta”.

2. The story primarily takes place in Girona, Spain. Would it be wrong of me to describe “City of Secrets” as a love letter to Girona?

Right! Definitely a love letter to the place and the man at that time.

3. “City of Secrets” is so personal, do you sometimes find doing all these interviews a little, cold or disconnected? Do you ever want to just yell “This is my life, not just a book!”?

I am used to doing interviews and some are better than others. Let’s say some interviewers bring out new stuff by their attitude and questions. Others are not at all on the wavelength and have an agenda of their own.

4. How did finding love in Girona evolve into seeking out answers with regards to the Grail?

That is what the book is about. Going from that first powerful connection to the much later research which was not without a certain danger.

5. This won’t mean anything to those who haven’t read “City of Secrets” yet, but I have to ask, for me, do you ever regret not going up the mountain with Jose?

I have been up other “mountains” metaphorically with him and they can be catastrophic.

6. A number of your works have been translated into films or for the stage. What’s it like watching someone take your work and reinterpret for a different medium?

I can see what a director does to the writing and concept and go running from that place – Or I try to reconnect with them and the intention of the piece. Sometimes I have to admit “the enemy” has a point – other times what they bring, the directors and actors, makes it a different but excellent work. Ultimately you have to give it over and trust.

7. I went to The Internet Movie Database online to read about “Siesta”, the movie based on your novel of the same name. Under “Memorable Quotes” was this line, “The marvelous thing about making mistakes is that you can keep making them, the same ones, over and over again.” Is that yours? Because it’s fantastic!

No, that quote is from an artist friend I knew who truly lived on the edge.

8. “City of Secrets” is so cinematic, has there been any interest in turning it into a film?

Yes, but I distrust “options”. The work can get lost. I’d rather give an option of time and take the book back if its gone nowhere.

9. What is your next project we should be looking for?

A book about the journey of the intiates from Girona to the portal following a Venus Magic Square under the Constellation The Great Bear and Seven Stars with 11 sites. It takes 2-3 weeks and is a journey of evolvement – sometimes not easy with accounts from 4 initiates in the 1800s and one in 1956 – it’s a continuation in part of “City of Secrets”.

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

Is a portal the next phenomenon taking over from interest and fascination in the Grail? I have heard from a high initiate that the Grail is “the key” or “activator” to open and enter a portal.

The Grail and Portals are both items of interest in spiritual circles. I think the recent interest in the Grail: what is it, what it did/does, etc. has started getting some people to wonder if there is or could be a connection. I’ll leave it to the experts to decide.

About Patrice:
A writer and playwright, Patrice Chaplin has written over 25 books.
Her novel Siesta became a film starring Jodie Foster and Isabella Rossellini. As a Bohemian in Paris she spent time with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Married to Charlie Chaplin’s son Michael, in Hollywood she worked with Lauren Bacall, Miles Davis, and Salvador Dali. She lives in London. To learn more visit her website.

Help I’m Alive and Other Lamentations from Metric

I love the new Metric album “Fantasies”. If you want, I suppose you can skip reading the rest of this article, but if you like synth pop/rock influenced by the 80’s and Weezer, you’re going to want to read on.

I guess Metric is old news. “Fantasies” is their fourth album but they’re new to me! It’s hard to clearly define the “sound” of this album. Their lead singer Emily Haines has a light, feminine voice which makes the sometimes visceral lyrics really stand out. For example on the song “Sick Muse” her airy voice sings “Watch out Cupid, Stuck me with a sickness, pull your little arrows out, let me live my life.” The accompanying music is low, guttural guitar, and yet it comes around to a chorus that could have been written by Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) for all of the pop perfection that it embodies. In fact, the whole album dances the line of rock and pop quite well. Some songs like “Stadium Love” are straight up, Weezer-esque pop/rock tunes, others such as “Twilight Galaxy” lean heavily on the synthesizer sound, and yet others like “Gold Guns Girls” are female fronted rock and roll excellence.

Lyrically, these songs are not telling stories, they are conveying emotions. I mean this as a complement, but this album would make an excellent soundtrack to any drama on television, particularly a police procedural. If I was involved with the television show “Life” (which is great, by the way) I would be securing the rights to use the whole album. Maybe you won’t hear it when you try out the album, but it’s something that struck me after repeated listening.

Unfortunately there isn’t a music video for their song “Help I’m Alive”, which was the song that got me to pick up the album. However, I did find this nifty documentary clip about Emily Haines writing the song! Enjoy!

Happy 100th!

Happy 100th birthday “Rider-Waite Tarot Deck”! Hmmmm….how do you celebrate the 100th birthday of such an important piece of occult history? Could I suggest with the purchase of the “Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set”?

This massive set pays homage to Pamela Colman Smith, the artist behind the “Rider-Waite” deck. First, this set includes the “Smith-Waite Centennial Edition Tarot Deck” reproduced directly from the original 1909 “Rider-Waite” deck. Since the “Rider” part of the name was merely there because they were the publishers of the original deck, U.S. Games Systems (the current publisher) dropped the “Rider” and added “Smith”, now giving credit to the two people behind the creation of the deck, Pamela Colman Smith and Arthur Edward Waite.

Another part of the Smith tribute is the book “The Artwork and Times of Pamela Colman Smith” by noted tarot expert and all around bad ass Stuart R. Kaplan. This book is a fascinating look at the life and works of Smith. For someone like myself, who only is familiar with Smith through her contribution to the tarot world, this book gave me an eye-opening look at not only a talented artist, but also a gifted writer and storyteller.

Just to make the set complete, “The Pictorial Key to the Tarot” by Arthur Edward Waite is included in an updated format. To round out the tarot side of things there’s also a tarot spread sheet guide and an organza bag to hold the tarot deck in.

In case that wasn’t enough to dazzle, you’ll also get a 5”x7” photo of Pamela Coleman Smith (who is adorable), three more 5”x7” reproductions of Smith’s art, and six postcards featuring even more of her artwork!

All of this comes in a beautiful, double-sided display case that carries the heft of a serious collection of stuff.

This impressive set is an absolute must for anyone who is serious about tarot, but would also make an interesting gift for an art lover.

To learn more, click here.

Tree Medicine, Magic and Lore: Beech

by Ellen Evert Hopman
illustrated by Will Hobbs

The ancient Indo-European word for Beech has bequeathed us the following words in several modern languages; mug, box, buck (to wash or soak in hot lye or buck) and to eat, nourishes, property, luck, rich, God, and to apportion, giving us a sense of the veneration placed upon this tree by our ancestors.

Beech nuts were rendered into soap and the Beech nut oil was used for cooking and lighting. The smooth grey bark of the Beeches may once have been used to carve symbols, leading to the words for letter, stick for writing, and book in several languages. Ancient Runic tablets were made of Beech wood (the Runes were an ancient Scandinavian magical alphabet). On the Alban and Esquiline hills of Rome there were once Beech groves sacred to the Goddess Diana. Beech nuts were an important food for swine, totem animals of the Celts. There was a Red Beech in Ireland called Ruadbetheach that was the Bile or sacred tree of the O’Connors. Beech was an important medicinal for Native American herbalists. The Cherokee chewed the nuts to pass worms, the Chippewa used the bark for lung problems. The Iroquois used the bark for tuberculosis, in abortive mixtures, and in blood cleansing formulas. The leaves were used in poultices for burns and the Potawatomi used the leaves as a poultice for frostbite. The Rappahannock made a wash for poison ivy from the north side of the bark. The Forest Potawatomi relished Beech nuts as a food. They took advantage of the industry of Deer Mice who carefully shelled the nuts and stored them in hollow logs and trees. The Indians were led to these stores by examining the refuse of the mice, scattered on the snow.

Beech trees aerate the soil and distribute potash through their leaves. All trees will benefit from having a Beech in the vicinity. Beech leaves make an excellent stuffing for mattresses. Animals who thrive on Beech nuts include deer, thrushes, pigeons, bears, martins, squirrels, partridges and turkeys. Beech magic: find a twig of Beech and carve your wish or dream upon it.

Bury it under the full or waxing moon.

about the author:

Ellen Evert Hopman is a Druid Priestess, herbalist and author of “Priestess of the Forest: A Druid Journey”, “A Druids Herbal – Of Sacred Tree Medicine”, “Walking the World in Wonder – A Children’s Herbal” and other volumes. Visit her website for more!

Adams, Barbara Means, Prayers Of Smoke, Renewing Makaha Tribal Tradition; Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA 1990

Baker, Margaret, Discovering The Folklore Of Plants; Shire Publications Ltd., Aylesbury, Bucks, U.K. 1975

Beith, Mary, Healing Threads, Traditional Medicines of the Highlands and Islands; Polygon, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1995

Brunaux, Jean Louis, The Celtic Gauls: Gods, Rites and Sanctuaries; Seaby, London, 1988

Calder, George (translator), Book of Ballymote: Auraicept Na nEces (The Scholars Primer); Edinburgh, 1917

Carmichael, Alexander, Carmina Gadelica, Hymns and Incantations; Floris Books, Edinburgh 1992

Cunliffe, Barry, The Celtic World; St. Martin’s Press, New York, New York, 1993

Cunningham, Scott, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs; Llewellyn Publications, St Paul, MN 1986

Ellis, Peter Berresford, Celtic Women; Wm. B. Erdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996

Erichsen-Brown, Charlotte, Medicinal and Other Uses Of North American Plants; Dover Publications Inc., New York, NY 1989

Evans-Wentz, W.Y., The Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries; Citadel Press, New York, NY 1990

Farrar, Janet and Stewart, The Witch’s Goddess; Phoenix Publishing Inc, Custer, WA 98240

Frazier, James G., The Golden Bough, The Roots of Religion And Folklore; Avenel Books, NY 1981

Friedrich, Paul, Proto-Indo-European Trees; The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL 1970

Green, Miranda J., The Celtic World; Routledge, London, 1995

Green, Miranda J., The World of the Druids, Thames and Hudson, London 1997

Grieve, M., A Modern Herbal, Dover Publications Inc., New York, NY 1971

Hoagland, Kathleen, 1,000 Years of Irish Poetry, The Gaelic and the Anglo-Irish Poets From Pagan Times To The Present; The Devin-Adair Company, Old Greenwich, CT 1981

Hopman, Ellen Evert, A Druids Herbal For The Sacred Earth Year; Inner Traditions/Destiny Books, Rochester, VT 1995

Hopman, Ellen Evert, Tree Medicine, Tree Magic; Phoen

The Wiccan Rede Project: Lyn Bullard-White

When Rebecca asked folks to write about the Wiccan Rede, I had to think for a bit about it. I am more of an eclectic pagan than a true Wiccan, though Wiccan beliefs are a part of my personal belief system. Like many people before me, I started out as a Christian and stumbled into paganism. I’ve pulled beliefs and ideas from across the spectrum. I’ve used everything from high magick and European traditions to eastern mysticism and kitchen witchery to form a belief and magical system that work for me.

I’ve seen the Rede, most often in it’s short version: “Do as ye Will, an ye harm none”. In theory, it’s a wonderful idea. In reality, it’s not entirely possible. The very act of living means causing death and destruction. It probably sounds terribly pessimistic or being doom and gloom, but it’s not. It’s something older than the Wiccan Rede; it’s the natural cycle of life.

A prime example is this: in order to live, we must eat. Whether you are an omnivore or a vegetarian, you cause death or harm to creatures or plants by their consumption. Whether it’s that lovely baked potato or a savory steak, something died to provide your sustenance. The potato plant had to be pulled from the ground to harvest its tubers and the cow had to sacrifice its life to provide meat. In the end, you’ve caused harm. Realistically, it’s how life has worked from the very start.

On a different level, there is the issue of how to deal with a person who hurts others. By definition, a police officer who captures a criminal is causing harm. The officer may have to chase and tackle the person, or he may even have to shoot that person. The criminal may end up in a jail cell. Those things, from the criminal’s point of view, would be considered harm. However, what about the greater good? If the criminal isn’t stopped, even if it means that harm in some form comes to them, then more harm happens to other people that the criminal later goes on to hurt.

Those are some obvious issues. Many more statements could be made about simply living in today’s modern word; gas and energy consumption, the toxic materials in electronics, the conditions the clothes and shoes we wear were created in, animal testing by companies who produce the products we use, and so much more.

I did some research and found out that the word rede comes from middle English and means to council or advise. (thank you, Wikipedia!) If you take the Wiccan Rede as advice, it has some great stuff. The longer version contains a great deal of pagan and magical knowledge. The general principal of the shorter Rede, if taken as a moral rather than a rule, councils us to not cause harm to others and the world around us. That is a beneficial rule to live by. That philosophy has come to us in many forms throughout time. There is the “golden rule” that says to do to others what you would want done to you. That moral has been stated, with far more eloquence, from religions such as Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity (to name a few).

Personally speaking, that viewpoint works better for me than if it were a rule or law. It falls in line with my own personal beliefs, for the most part. From my perspective, the Wiccan Rede is a nice source of wisdom and knowledge but I don’t take it literally or as law. What works for others will, of course, vary. And that’s how it should be!

Author’s Bio (Lyn Bullard-White):
I was asked to write a short blurb about myself and perhaps provide a picture. Being as how I’m not a big fan of being in front of a camera, I think I’ll decline the photo option. As to who I am…I’m a 36 year old mom of three kids. We have cats, fish, and a leopard gecko. I have more plants than anyone living in an apartment probably should have, but that’s okay. I was introduced to other views of the world quite young by having grown up in a haunted house. I formally began studying magic when I was 15 and I’ve been learning and growing since. I’m a a gamer, I love anime and manga, and I read and watch sci-fi and fantasy. That’s me in a nutshell.

A Sufi Rapper?

France has ghettos, there are projects in France. I know it sounds ridiculous to say that, as if you didn’t know. Here’s the thing, until the riots in Paris a few years back, I was totally unaware of this fact. Press reports would say the people involved were from the “deprived Paris suburbs”, but it’s true, that in that moment I realized that Paris is a large city and like most large cities, there is probably some equivalent of what Americans call the “projects”. It was also during this time that I learned that France has a vibrant rap scene. Oddly, the concept of French rap was less shocking than coming to grips with the idea that Paris had “deprived suburbs”. Want to learn more?

Then I would highly recommend the book “Sufi Rapper” by Abd Al Malik. This book is a great read. It follows the spiritual journey of the author from his beginnings as an aspiring criminal in Neuhof, described as a “difficult” quarter, into becoming a leader in the French hip hop community, and through his discovery and evolution within the Muslim faith. “Sufi Rapper” gives the reader a look at the life of a street hustler and a musician, a history of rap music from the French perspective, and an introduction to many Islamic paths. It’s like he wrote the book for me!

Abd Al Malik’s writing has a lyrical, enchanting quality to it. It shouldn’t be so surprising, coming from a lyricist. Seriously though….

“Despite everything, I cannot help but feel affection toward this father-child. No doubt he also served me as an anti-role model, with his fickleness and libertine habits, whose consequences we suffered. But I have never been able to nurture the slightest feelings of bitterness toward him.”

….if I could write like that I wouldn’t be here blogging to you people, I’d be published and an Oprah pick!

As much as I enjoyed the glimpse into the art of crime and learning about the French hip hop scene, the most fascinating part of “Sufi Rapper” is Abd Al Malik’s evolution into, for lack of a better descriptor, a Sufi rapper. Any person who has been on a spiritual journey, or struggled with finding a place in their faith, will see themselves reflected in this story. Or, if you’re like me, and just nosey about how people practice their faith, you’ll like it too!

Crime, music, religion….I love this book!