A Year at Stonehenge

A wonderful book showed up on my doorstep that transported me to the magical world of Stonehenge. With the holidays fast approaching I’m eager to share with all of you “A Year at Stonehenge” by James O. Davies with an introduction by Mike Pitts.

© English Heritage/James O. Davies 2013

For the last 23 years James O. Davies has been an architectural photographer for English Heritage. He has contributed to many books in that time and his work has been widely published and exhibited throughout the world. He is also a portrait photographer, having twice exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery. He has taken the official portrait of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Davies spent the last 5 years photographing Stonehenge at all times of day and night, and all through the seasons. He was given privileged access to the site so he built up an amazing portfolio. As you can see from the photos here.

© English Heritage/James O. Davies 2013

Amazing doesn’t do his work justice. Davies work with Stonehenge is mind blowing. Obviously I’ve always appreciated Stonehenge, how can you not? However I’m not sure I’ve ever truly seen the magic of Stonehenge until I received “A Year at Stonehenge”. Better still, Davies photos brought out the best in Mike Pitts who provided the introduction.

© English Heritage/James O. Davies 2013

Instead of getting someone to wax poetic about the beauty and magic of Stonehenge they wisely brought Mike Putts in to provide the introduction. Pitts is a well-known expert on the subject of Stonehenge being the author of “Hengeworld”. He began his career as an archaeologist and museum curator. He is now a freelance journalist specializing mainly in archaeology, while continuing to conduct original research at Stonehenge where he has directed excavations. In other words, he kind of knows his shit when it comes to Stonehenge.

© English Heritage/James O. Davies 2013

The pairing of these two makes “A Year at Stonehenge” a really special book.

I kick ass! Buy me!

Re-Imagining the Holidays

Re-Imagining the Holidays: Six ways to resist the trap of overabundance, and create traditions brimming with gratitude.

By Sara Wiseman

Are you dreading it, already?

You know… the whole shopping-gifting-cooking-cleaning-eating-drinking socializing-relatives-traveling season just ahead?

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, many of us get trapped in a cycle of overabundance—the state of having too much. As in: more than we can use. More than we can process. The cup not just full, but over flowing.

It’s gotten worse in recent years, starting with Christmas decorations that go on display at Halloween to the frenzy of Black Friday. We’ve become a culture of excess and a society of waste, moving from the next new thing to the next…without ever taking the time to enjoy any of it. We have so much, and it’s arriving so fast, that we can’t use or even experience it all.

This overabundance—having more than we really need—creates stress, lowers vibration and zaps energy from mind, body and spirit.

Now, I’m all for abundance! I’m certainly not one to pass up on anything that brings pleasure or beauty or connection to my life. But when we become trapped in the cycle of overabundance—the endless circle of want, get, want, get—our lives fall out of balance.

Six ways overabundance causes holiday stress

During the holidays, overabundance shows up in different forms. It’s not just eating rich foods or excessive gifts, as you’d expect, but less obvious ways as well, including: too much socializing, complex family relationships, rigid tradition and low vibration group thought.

Here, six areas where overabundance can create stress in your life:

1. Overabundance of food
Rich, sweet, fatty holiday food lowers your physical vibration, which affects mind and spirit too. If you work in an office or with a group of people, it’s hard to escape the sweets in the break room! Alcohol from frequent social events adds to this mix. Don’t worry about weight gain—instead, be focused on the energetic signature of the food you eat. Is it processed? Will it make you feel good? Does your body really want it? Pay attention, and don’t let the season of indulgence lower your vibration.

2. Overabundance of gifts
The cycle of shopping, buying, wrapping, giving receiving can be very stressful, even if budget is not a concern. The sheer energetic reality of involving ourselves with objects or “stuff” can be overwhelming, especially when we understand that every object has its own frequency, vibration or energetic signature depending on where it came from, how it was made, who made it and so forth… this is a lot of new energy to add to your reality!

Consider your energy as you decided how or if you will give and receive gifts this year. Consider your energy if you decide to do without, do less or give experiences or to charity instead. Once you break the gift cycle, you will be surprised how free you feel.

3. Overabundance of socializing
Office parties, school events, the annual party you’ve gone to every year for ten years… All of this has a certain clamor of “must attend” attached to it, when in reality, you can change plans, opt out or do something different. Don’t rely on what you’ve always done—you’re a new person now, and you may want to try something different. Reassess every year. Introverts especially may need lots of private time during this season; give yourself the gift of quiet and solitude.

4. Overabundance of family relationships
There’s that saying: you can’t go home again. And yet every holiday season, most of us continue to swim up river to our birthing place. Many times, the wounds, past hurts and misunderstandings are still there. And because we’re so busy during the holidays, we don’t have time to work on our relationships with our family members. Understand that family karma complex, and the stress of the holidays makes it more so. Be gentle with yourself and others. Have an exit strategy if things go awry. If it’s just too much, opt out and try again another time.

5. Overabundance of tradition
Just because you’ve always done it a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to do it that way now. This might include: going to a certain event, party, gathering, church service. Wearing certain clothes, decorating a certain way, eating certain foods, being with certain people, and so on. Break free from the rigid traditions your family has “always done” and see what else the Universe might have up its sleeve for you and yours!

6. Overabundance of group thought
Understand the power of group thought or collective soul to affect your mood. We’ve all seen what fear-based beliefs can do to collective thought: hate, violence, financial ruin and war are all products of low vibration thinking. During the holidays, mindless consumption is the culprit: everyone is stressing out on want, get, want, get. This creates enormous stress, and when this is done in the collective, everyone feels it. During this time, connect to your own higher self, God/One/All/Divine/Source, frequently and deeply. Use Thanksgiving and Solstice as markers for the season—times when you can easily dip into gratitude and joy.

About Sara Wiseman:
Spiritual teacher and intuitive Sara Wiseman is author of six insightful books on spirituality and intuition, including her new book, “Living a Life of Gratitude: Your Journey to Grace, Joy and Healing”. She hosts the popular radio show Ask Sara, and is a top contributor to DailyOM. She has released four healing music CDs with her band Martyrs of Sound. Visit her online at www.sarawiseman.com

Celebrate Samhain 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013, was the 8th annual Celebrate Samhain event in Peterborough, NH. This was my 4th year attending. That’s right folks, I’ve been there for half of this event’s lifespan. Why does this make me feel oddly old?

There were a few things that caused the energy to be “off” this year. We were all missing Cucina Aurora and its head kitchen witch in-chief Dawn Hunt, who was absent due to a death in the family. Her effervescent personality and delicious food were sorely missed. Also, Mike Dolan of Haunted Wood wasn’t around this year with his hearty laugh and giant bear hugs.

However, there were a few things that added some new fun. Jess G., co-founder and co-coordinator, who also happens to be a kick butt roller derby lady, spent the WHOLE day on roller skates. Let me tell you, she has some crazy skills! We were also blessed with beautiful weather, which was perfect for this year’s catering option of Goodness Gracious food truck. They were set up right outside the one entrance/exit to the venue.

Jess could move mountains in those skates!

Shopping, as usual, was excellent. I started telling people that Celebrate Samhain was the biggest shopping day of my year. Stuff purchased as holiday gifts I must keep mum about, but I picked up plenty of stuff to brag about/share with you. I picked up a little something at Muse Gifts & Books (that I must keep to myself) (but it’s pretty awesome) (you so wish you knew) (and could see) (it rocks is what I’m saying) (if I were to say anything). I restocked at FairySpa. I was literally down to a teeny, tiny square of my Goat’s Milk Facial Cleansing Bar and I finally got another bottle of Intense Lotion. Yay! I can feel almost human again!

Obviously I visited the Temple of Witchcraft table. This is where Christopher Penczak, Steve Kenson (wake up gamer friends!), and Adam Sartwell live! I picked up a copy of “Feast of the Morrighan: A Grimoire for the Dark Lady of the Emerald Isle”, which was the topic of his talk at last year’s Celebrate Samhain. I also learned that next year’s Templefest will be August 2-3, 2014. Save the date! I keep wanting to make it back. The Temple of Witchcraft folks put together a well organized event and were very welcoming. They haven’t announced any speakers yet, but I bet Christopher Penczak will be one!

I HAD to visit my friends at Inkubus since they had a booth again this year. I picked up a new table cloth for Dia de los Muertos. Another gift was also purchased. (It is so freakin’ cool. Cooler than the table cloth. So bad ass. You really wish you could see it. Seriously.) They were also nice enough to let me and Jim pick a few sugar skulls from their basket o’ skulls! Lastly, we visited Alchemy’s booth. What can I say? It’s as if someone had created an entire jewelry store just for me! You know how some famous people will wear one jewelry designers work almost exclusively? If I ever become rich and famous, I will wear Alchemy’s Tisha Harris’s curated work almost exclusively. (I have to leave room for Deborah Blake!) I bought myself a pink skull and cross bones cameo ring. That’s right boys, I’ve got myself a rum drinking ring! Watch out if you see me wearing it because that shows I means business.

Alchemy, where I shall do ALL my jewelry shopping!

Again I was amazed at the caliber of speakers that this event in Peterborough, NH attracts. Opening was Matooka Moonbear, who spoke about “Connecting and Working with Animal Spirit Guides”. I totally missed her introduction, but I recognize her as a member of the Temple of Witchcraft. I missed her talk catching up with people and going to get a palm reading from the wonderful Juliet Bell. Following her was musician Michael Long Rider. I didn’t get to watch him perform because….SHOPPING….but I got to enjoy his performance while browsing wares.

After that, my ass was planted and didn’t move. First was Christopher Penczak, “Avalon: The Isle of Nine Morgans”. Spoiler alert, this was my favorite talk of the event. It was a little all over the place but that was good because I wanted to actually hear more about Guinevere, Lancelot, and Arthur! Christopher, don’t just take on the Morgans in your writings, cover the whole Arthur mythology.

Christopher Penczak getting his groove on.

Then Raven Grimassi spoke about “The Mystery of Reincarnation and the Inner Teachings of the Sacred Tree”. As always, Grimassi was an excellent speaker and I’m always touched by the gratitude he shows at the end of his talks. I felt like such a Celebrate Samhain hipster. When someone asked me if I enjoyed his talk I said, “His talk was quite good; touched on a lot of themes from a talk he gave at a Celebrate Samhain 3 years ago.” It’s true! Those actual words came out of my mouth. If you haven’t been to 4 years of Celebrate Samhain, you just can’t hang.

Raven Grimassi working his mojo.

The last speaker for the day was Dorothy Morrison who’s topic was “Magic Down and Dirty”. I had never seen Morrison speak before and she is a total hoot. A fun Southern accent, beautiful fingernails, glittering jewelry, and a great black scoop neck shirt. She’s definitely a character that’s not to be missed.

A not entirely great photo of the lovely Dorothy Morrison.

With all the talks out of the way it was time to rock! That’s when Frenchy and the Punk took the stage. This is when long time Magical Buffet readers can all be hipsters by saying, “I knew them when they were The Gypsy Nomads.” As always, they were fantastic! So full of energy. The Celebrate Samhain crowd loves Frenchy and the Punk! They demanded more songs and when Samantha (aka Frenchy) asked for titles the crowd eagerly provided fan favorites.

Samantha and Scott kicking ass and taking names.

Coordinators Jess G. and Kevin Satoris with all their volunteers put together a great event. Their hard work has made Celebrate Samhain an amazing even that I look forward to every year and I suspect I’m not the only one. (Readers that offered input on The Magical Buffet’s Facebook page, I’m wearing the Hello Kitty shirt you guys picked!)

(left to right) Jess, Me, Kevin Satoris

Greetings From the State of Surrender!

By John Ptacek

I have lived in the State of Wisconsin all my life, but have recently been spending time in a different state, the State of Surrender. Have you ever been?

Maybe it’s the air quality, but in the State of Surrender it is so easy to perceive the beauty in every expression of life, every single one. The slightest movements inspire awe: rain dripping from an overflowing gutter, wind fraying the heads of dead dandelions, an old woman lowering her head in prayer.

There is no less beauty in the stillness here. I could hold out a picture frame and turn in any direction to capture it. My dirt-stained sneakers splayed against the crumbling sidewalk: an exquisite still life rendering.

In some ways the State of Surrender is like every other state I have been in. There are strip malls, churches, museums, parks and freeways. There are preachers, prostitutes, pickpockets, warriors and wanderers.

What makes the State of Surrender different is that there are no saints or sinners here. There is no good and no evil, no mental labels to hang on anyone or anything, no personal judgments to corrupt the natural beauty that lies at the core of every living thing. The mind doesn’t work that way here. It does not operate untethered, compulsively judging everything in sight, grinding beauty into paste. Here the mind does not operate without heart. It is an instrument of compassion.

The State of Surrender is not a state of giddiness. Great sadness arises when our confused minds bring about suffering. But here sadness does not lead to more suffering. It does not accelerate into vengeance. This is because sadness extends all who suffer, including those whose suffering is so great it causes them to inflict pain on others. There is an indivisible sense of family here that does not exist in other states I have visited. No one is abandoned. No one is cut off from the healing power of love. Forgiveness reigns.

Surrender may sound like a dream state, however it’s anything but that. In this state my eyes are wide open, as if for the first time. Dreams are built on desire, and here desire is an unnecessary commodity. All I have ever desired is to be one with the world around me, to feel as intimately connected to it as I did my mother upon first awakening into this life, and here my connection to the world is as seamless as a blushing sunset. In the State of Surrender I forget where I begin and end. I lose myself in the splendor that surrounds me. I sink into the canvas on which I once stood.

When I return to Wisconsin, I take on habits that reveal the nature of my journey – the way people take on hints of a Southern accent after visiting Georgia or Tennessee. I look around at all that happens with a greater sense of acceptance. I don’t see good guys and bad guys, just guys. If someone is coarse with me, forgiveness kicks in like a furnace in winter. I am a Judo master, yielding to the weight of opposing forces before taking action. I pivot rather than react. This tango of nonresistance is surrender. It is the dance of those who embrace life exactly as it is, who move in step with it as if following the lead of a lover.

About John Ptacek:
John Ptacek writes about the interconnectedness of all things. Visit his website, On Second Thought, at www.johnptacek.com.

10 Questions with Ann Bolinger-McQuade

I would like to thank Rebecca Elson for hosting me, through this interview, as part of the virtual book tour celebration for my book, EVERYDAY ORACLES – Decoding The Divine Messages That Are All Around Us. – Ann Bolinger-McQuade

1. Your new book is called “Everyday Oracles: Decoding the Divine Messages that are All Around Us”. How do you define a personal oracle?

Personal oracles are mysterious messages of guidance and support. We all receive them. They may seem random in nature until we consider them through the paradigm of personal oracles and realize, they are not random at all. The universe is responding to our needs! These timely messages resonate through every form imaginable, and as they do they illuminate the divine energy that flows through and connects everything in the universe!

2. In your book you explain that personal oracles fall into five major categories. Can you explain the categories? Personal oracle formula:

The five major categories are:

• Conduits
• Mirrors
• Synchronicities
• Signs and Symbols
• Invisible Moving Sidewalks

Conduits – Think of a conduit as a pipeline or channel through which personal oracles are delivered into your life. A favorite example comes from Rhonda who was taking her two little dogs Taz and Toto for their daily walk. Suddenly a hummingbird flew right in front of her face and stopped her in her tracks. Rhonda immediately sensed that she was in danger. As she turned on her heels and headed for home the word “Danger” sounded repeatedly just outside her left ear. When she got back to the house she noticed a message on her answer phone. It was from her neighbor across the street, urging her to stay inside. A pack of wild dogs had just killed some of their sheep and their pet dog that was sleeping beside their front door. Thanks to this little hummingbird on a mission Rhonda and her dogs were protected from imminent danger.

Mirrors – Clouds can serve as great mirrors to reflect what is occurring in our life at time. Sometimes when I’m feeling out of sorts I notice cloud images that look like they are laughing. My message – lighten up!

Synchronicities – According to Carl Jung, synchronicities are coincidences with a purpose! Mary had the responsibility of getting the copy for the fundraiser to the newspaper. The deadline was only hours away and she was still struggling. She knew if she could talk to Dawn, she would polish it up in no time. Unfortunately Dawn was traveling and Mary didn’t have her new cell number. Suddenly the phone rang. It was Dawn. Talk about perfect timing. At the moment Mary’s frustration peaked, Dawn happened to call her. Dawn was riding the train from Burbank to San Diego and was checking to see if her new phone worked. Mary explained what was going on, and within five minutes Mary and Dawn had polished the article into perfect form.

Signs and Symbols – Signs and symbols are like billboards that announce messages designed for our eyes only. Some messages are as clearly understood as stop and go traffic lights. Like Kerri who was making her way through the physical and emotional damage left behind by the fires in her neighborhood of Colorado Springs. A year later, as she hiked through the burnt area she spotted a perfect heart at her feet. The heart looked as if it had been carved into the ground. Kerri interpreted it as a sign, a signal from the universe of love that remains even in the midst of devastation. The message of Kerri’s heart was uncomplicated. Other times signs and symbols operate more like secret codes and take a little deciphering.

Invisible Moving Sidewalks – Imagine people movers in large airports. You step on at one end and it delivers you to a predetermined destination. An invisible moving sidewalk is comprised of a series of synchronistic events that are designed to carry you to a specific destination. Noreen stepped onto an invisible moving sidewalk the day she and her husband had a huge argument. She stormed out of the house, “Get a life” she yelled as she slammed the door behind her. She drove around for a while to cool off and ended up at the library. Inside, she spotted a bulletin board with a flyer advertising a writing conference. She wished she was still writing but felt since she wasn’t she wasn’t qualified to attend. The next day at work Noreen heard a co-worker talking about the same conference. She expressed an interest and her friend suggested they go together. The workshop was just what Noreen needed. Before leaving the conference she signed up to attend the following year. At the end of this invisible moving sidewalk Noreen’s passion for writing had been rekindled – and it was Noreen who got a life!

The formula for personal oracles:

Need + delivery system + message + personal oracle

The need or request functions like a summons to the universe; it’s a call to action. In Rhonda’s case the call was urgent. Imagine the call going out across the web of interconnections to any available and willing delivery system within range. In Rhonda’s case the urgent call was received and accepted by a tiny hummingbird. It became the delivery system. Many of us might have brushed away a hummingbird or ignored the clairaudient message. Don’t worry, the delivery system is always tailor made to resonate specifically with you and your circumstances.

3. How can we find and recognize our own personal oracles?

Pay attention to your gut feelings. Trust that small still voice of your intuition when it draws your attention to personal oracles that are trying to speak to you. When coincidences happen – stop – ask yourself – what is the specific need this “coincidence” is responding to? I believe there are no coincidences, only synchronicities!

4. Is a personal oracle message always immediately obvious?

Many personal oracle messages are immediately clear. Other messages are not. Some messages need to crystallize over time. In my October 8, 2013 blog I share an account of 2 men who saw the same vision but needed the assistance of a Native American Shaman to help them understand what was occurring: the universe was waylaying them to keep them from danger.

5. Can our understanding of a personal oracle message change over time?

Yes. Often it is just a matter of allowing time for it to process, and letting a deeper message emerge. Some messages are one piece of a larger puzzle. When we have all of the pieces the message slides easily into place. When we work with our personal oracles they will expand our awareness and teach us even more.

6. What steps do you recommend people take to discover their personal oracles?

Here are a few key steps.

1. Begin by setting your intention to recognize the messages that are coming your way.
2. Open your heart – accept the support and guidance that is yours for the taking.
3. Trust the voice of your intuition.
4. Gather your own body of evidence. Record personal oracles as they occur. Write them down, photograph, draw, save feathers stones whatever is speaking to you. Then keep everything in one place. I like the sticker note shoebox method. Write your experiences on whatever is handy and toss the pieces of paper in a shoebox. When you read them later you will be amazed by the number of personal oracles that have revealed themselves to you.

7. In your book you discuss “monkey mind chatter”, which for me coming from a meditation background is what we call your wandering mind. What is it in relationship to discovering your personal oracles?

Monkey mind chatter is a cousin to the wandering mind! Both try to pull us back into left brain thinking. (Left brain analytical – right brain creative/being) Sometimes when a gut feeling signals us – pay attention – spirit is sending a message, the mind chimes in with chatter like, “there you go again – that’s all in your imagination – people will think you are crazy.” Whether meditating or decoding a personal oracle, the trick is to step to the right of the left brain and close the door! Then return to your personal oracle message, “Sorry we were interrupted. What do you have for me?”

8. Do you have a favorite personal oracle story you’d like to share?

Instead, if I may, I would like to share a favorite quote that sheds more light on how the universe operates to guide and support us. It comes from an old Apache storyteller who reminds us, “The plants, trees, clouds rocks, fire, water are all alive. They watch us and see our needs. They see when we have nothing to protect us, and it then they reveal themselves and speak to us.”

9. Do you have an upcoming projects my readers can be on the lookout for?

I’m so glad you asked. I’m very excited about Personal Oracle Café’s. Inspired by Socrates Cafés, Personal Oracle Café’s are a place where people meet to celebrate, validate and share personal oracle experiences. Using the personal oracle formula as a jumping off point they contemplate the structure and science of the energy that flows through and connects everything in the universe. The first Personal Oracle Café met Oct. 4, 2013 in Taos, NM at Optymism book store. This Personal Oracle Café meets the first and third Friday of each month. I welcome your readers to contact me through my website if they would like to start a Personal Oracle Café in their area.

I also share readers’ personal oracle stories in my weekly blogs. Stories are submitted through my website www.personaloracles.com

Another project that is dear to my heart is Cloud-Speak Personal Oracle Cards. They will be available in 2014. I use the oracle cards in workshops and book signings and never cease to be amazed by the way they relate to what is going on in everyone’s life.

EVERYDAY ORACLES Decoding The Divine Messages That Are All Around Us is the foundation book for a series of books that are in work, so you can expect more amazing books from me in the future.

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

What shall we call you when you become supreme ruler of the world?

They say you can’t give yourself your own nickname, and I think that should go with titles too. Fortunately for me I’ve already been given an AWESOME nickname, and if it happens to become a title too…..

Killer, a nickname and a title? You be the judge.

About the Ann Bolinger-McQuade:
Ann Bolinger-McQuade always has sensed the world as alive, nurturing and filled with guidance and support, concepts deeply seeded in her Native American ancestry. A regular talk-show guest, lecturer, and workshop facilitator, McQuade divides her time between Tucson and Taos with her husband Kenneth, two dogs and one cat.

Personal oracles have been playing a major role in Ann’s life for almost three decades. She fully recognized them after her diagnosis of breast cancer. They have guided and offered comfort to her as she dealt with the loss of her father, the passing of a close friend, and the death of a beloved animal companion. Before his death in 2009, Native American Elder Richard Deertrack of the Taos Pueblo honored Ann in a sacred ceremony. Deertrack supported her vision to expand the consciousness of an interconnected universe through the awareness of personal oracles.

Connect with the author at http://www.personaloracles.com

Conquer Your Stress With Reading

Regular readers may remember Kathy Gruver, PhD from her articles about affirmations or treating headaches and depression that appeared here on The Magical Buffet. I so enjoy her writing and natural approach to health that I was eager to read her latest book “Conquer Your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques”. Her book did not disappoint.

“Conquer Your Stress” is an amazing resource. Gruver first makes certain that you understand stress and the history and implications of mind/body medicine. Then what follows is an amazing overview of mind/body techniques. Things that you expect, such as meditation, affirmations, and creative visualization. Also techniques that were new to me or rarely mentioned, like biodots, hypnosis, and cognitive restructuring. That doesn’t really do her book justice though because Gruver profiles 45 potential mind/body techniques to help you deal with stress. That’s a lot of options!

“Conquer Your Stress With Mind/Body Techniques” by Kathy Gruver, PhD is a fantastic book for those of us that are struggling with stress, which who of us isn’t? So quit stressing and get your copy of today!

Moonlight Tarot’s Question Corner: Mystical Answers to Mundane Inquiries

By Angela Kaufman, Moonlight Tarot LLC

The dark evenings of October set the tone for reflection and preparation for the winter months to come. This month’s Querent, a young man we will call Jacob, has reason to reflect as it is also the month that will mark his 28th birthday. He is looking to the Tarot this month for general guidance. The birthday is a celebration of the solar return- the passage from youth to maturity, and the development of one’s identity through the lifespan. Jacob’s birthday is of special significance to astrologers as well- for it is the time of his Saturn Return- the date when Saturn returns to its position in the Natal Chart- typically falling in the 28-30th year of life. This is a special milestone in maturity as it is associated with challenges that mark the delineation between youth and adulthood, illusion and truth, carelessness and responsibility. Saturn is also the marker of time and maturity- and Jacob’s timing couldn’t be better!

For Jacob this will be a time of change, truth and challenges. A rewarding but testing journey awaits, and Jacob will be called upon this year to separate the illusions of youth from the wisdom of maturity. This is a time to clean out the closets- both internally and externally- to sort how things are from the fantasy of how we wish they would be. Tests require examining attitudes, and behavior patterns from earlier in youth which are beginning to take their natural toll. Recall that much is forgiven in youth that is not accepted in adulthood- when the puppy chews our best sneakers it is easy to smile and shrug it off, but the same act is harder to tolerate when carried out by a grown dog who can no longer draw on the “cute and innocent” factor to avoid consequences. This is this type of growth spurt Jacob will be facing in the coming year.

The first card is a leaper, emerging from the deck spontaneously during the shuffling process, and it is the Ace of Swords. This will be a dynamic year. A year of new beginnings no longer lingering in the abstract world of thought and fantasy- but culminating in action. Changes will be made, not just talked about. This will be a time for Jacob to jump in with both feet, to overcome procrastination and passive acceptance of what he does not find tolerable in his life. This is the time for Jacob to put his ideas into action, to challenge himself to change, assertively, that which is no longer serving his best potential. Success and accomplishment can be achieved but only by making some changes to Jacob’s routines, to get different results he must take different actions. He will be more likely to summon the courage to follow his heart this year, rather than holding back or giving in to insecurities or doubts. This is a powerful time to effect change- so take hold and accept opportunities as they arise. Like the sword itself, Jacob may find it necessary to make certain “cuts” in his lifestyle this year- cutting out sources of negativity, people or activities that stand in the way of his goals or drain his energy, unhelpful doubts or insecurities, and most importantly, cutting out excess baggage by honestly confronting lessons from the past. Willingness to accept that new beginnings are on the horizon will be crucial to breaking negative cycles and patterns that have become routine.

As if to echo this message, the first official card in the spread is the 10 of Swords. This is the final of the Swords suit before coming to the Court cards- thus it shows finality, closure and endings. Jacob will find that unhelpful and self-sabotaging behaviors will reach their natural conclusion- events will transpire in such a way that Jacob will have to confront bad habits and unfulfilling patterns in relationships and work, and lifestyle at large. At best, Jacob will find relief and an opportunity to take advantage of new opportunities and more mature priorities. Lifestyle changes that promote release of toxic, negative, and self-defeating routines all in preparation for new growth will begin to surface. Exits sought will be found. At worst, even resistance to change will prove futile as circumstances will unfold that make it more difficult to maintain the status quo. The culmination of stress and burdens carried in the past will weigh on Jacob until he is prepared to accept that things must change. Accepting responsibility and going with new opportunities, taking initiative and acting for his own good rather than against it, will prove an easier way to harness the energy of change. Fighting this current will only prove draining. Like a swimmer caught in a riptide, the best thing for Jacob to do at this time is face the music and roll with, not against, the current. In particular, aspects of life that included impulsivity, over-extending himself, excessive work or exercise, or risky behavior, will begin to catch up to Jacob in new ways if these issues are not addressed. Fatigue, burn out, resentment toward others, or even physical health issues or accident prone-ness are possible if things continue as they are. Jacob is entering a phase in his life where habits and choices once perceived as harmless will begin to have an impact. Be it smoking or poor eating habits, overworking or partying too hard, this is a crucial time for Jacob to act on resolutions to break destructive cycles before they catch up to him in ways that they had not previously.

To give greater emphasis to the above message, the Powers that Be have slapped on a big, glaring neon sign- lest we not quite get the picture. They do this through the Tower card. The Tower is considered the archetype of cataclysmic change. Some see only doom and gloom when reflecting on this energy, but that is like looking at school as an annoyance between summer vacations. Jacob can awaken to the energy of this card and ready himself to accept the intervention of powers greater than his conscious planning on his behalf providing just the wake-up call he needs in order to find closure where it is needed and strive for better. Imagine that a comfortable, well-rehearsed routine has become both a source of security as well as monotony and self-limitation. Sound familiar? We all have these experiences, sometimes several times at once or throughout the lifespan. Luckily we also live in a universe where things don’t always go as planned, and we don’t always get our way. When circumstances beyond our conscious control result in large scale disruptions to our cozy plans, it is easy to become upset, angry, disappointed, defeated, or feel abandoned by the Spiritual Force we once thanked when things were going our way. This is the lesson of the Tower card. So, Jacob will have the good fortune of not getting his way, of being disappointed, of realizing aspects of his plans are not sustainable. The fortune of seeing his circumstances as they are- warts and all- so that he may embrace the opportunity to rebuild. Yes, the Universe is about to kick over your sand castle, Jake, but it is because you need to understand that…well…castles made of sand melt in the sea, eventually, as Jimi Hendrix once said. What can Jacob do in light of this? Just be open minded, be cautious, be willing to accept the tides of change, and begin to see that although beautiful or special, a sand castle is not the deluxe dream house it may have passed for at one time. Begin to recognize that the beach is vast, and when one sandcastle collapses it can be a great opportunity to jump back in the water, ride the waves, move on down the shore, visit the boardwalk, make another sandcastle, or fly a kite instead. This is not the time to put all your hopes and dreams into a castle of sand, or in any one thing or object for that matter- begin to explore impermanence, make peace with powerlessness, and don’t count on things or people to provide your foundation, or to define who you are. It is also not productive to curse the wind, waves or seagulls because the sandcastle doesn’t last forever. Instead recognize the bounty that does exist in whatever landscape you find yourself and create something new.

The final card in the reading is another Major Arcana card, Temperance. Like the movement, this card suggests self-discipline, patience, balance and avoidance of excess. Jacob would do well to examine where he has fallen into extremism or risky routines or behaviors. If favorite indulgences are giving way to consequences- take note, this is not the time for extremes in work, play, or partying. This is the time to moderate, modify, collaborate with others- that’s right- be open to receiving as well as giving, and have patience. This is an extremely creative time for Jacob but it will not be a time of instant gratification and instant results.

The security of the ego is about to be challenged, but in this process the potential for creativity, development of crucial networks and supports, and the expression of long held internal talents are emerging. This is a process not to be rushed, so Jacob will have to curb some of his expectations. Have a happy birthday and Saturn’s return bring a new lens to see the potential that awaits.

Remember, no matter where you are reading this all readings are intended for entertainment purposes in accordance with NYS law.

The deck used this month is the Aquarian Tarot published by US Games Inc and created by David Palladini. For more information visit http://www.usgamesinc.com/Aquarian-tarot-deck/

Interested in being the Querent in next month’s column? Contact Angela at Trionfi78@gmail.com.

About Angela Kaufman:
Angela Kaufman has been exploring divination through Tarot cards for over a decade. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and formed Moonlight Tarot in 2009 which would become Moonlight Tarot LLC in 2010. Angela uses the Tarot to assist clients in exploring personal growth and development, and in accordance with New York State Law offers readings for entertainment purposes. Angela began providing readings on a professional, “Moonlighting” basis in order to provide affordable readings to those seeking guidance, inspiration and fun. Angela is also co-author of the new book “Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions.” And the newly released “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space, Everyday Tools for the Modern Day Witch” (Schiffer Publishing, 2011). In 2006 she joined ISIS Paranormal Investigations and has accompanied the team on numerous investigations in private residences and businesses throughout the capital region, Adirondacks, Vermont and Massachusetts.

For more information on services offered by Moonlight Tarot LLC, visit http://www.moonlighttarotllc.com

Geek Month in Review: September 2013

By JB Sanders

Onwards to Fall!

Super-Natural Super-Geeky Home Renovation
This place is part home improvement story, part Druid-inspired decoration scheme, and two parts Crazy Town. This guy is taking his perfectly normal suburban English house and recreating various arcane locations from around the world, including tying each room to a specific element. There’s the Voodoo Kitchen, based on a place from the 1950’s New Orleans; The Watchtower, from a Welsh castle; The Boathouse, the nautical-themed bathroom taken from a Norwegian lighthouse; and the Japanese / Art Deco fusion scifi-like “conservatory”. Yes, there are pictures.

6 Abandoned Places Ready-Made as Supervillain Lairs
Here’s some photos and cheeky commentary on six abandoned places that would (or already have) make great supervillain lairs.

The Age of All Buildings in NYC at a Glance
So some guys took publicly available data on a million buildings in New York City and made it into a color map, coded by age. Now combine that with Google Maps and Street View, and you can scout out the really old buildings in NYC with a little time and a computer.

Newspapers Still Being Published
The oldest are also, apparently, the best. Each of these is the oldest and still in active daily (or at least weekly) print.

See the Post-Apocolypse Now!
So yeah, another fun Cracked article with photos. This time it’s places that look like the apocalypse has already come and gone. Creepy and abandoned!

Maker Faire Photos
Some photos and ideas from the great Maker Faire — a conference of folks who may resemble mad scientists, if you squint.

Unsettling Disney Easter-eggs
Yup, you read that right — bizarre and fun secrets of Walt Disney World. There’s the secret club, the secret underground tunnels (which practically everyone has heard about by now and they even give tours), and smell-based mind control.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog: http://glenandtyler.blogspot.com

10 Questions with Brian Patton (aka The Sexy Vegan)

1. After “The Sexy Vegan Cookbook”, what made you decide to make your next book “The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home”?

I was sitting at my computer one day and got an email from my editor at New World Library. As I remember it, she said something to the effect of, “your first book is selling really well, and we project that it will continue to sell…and we love you better than all of our other authors, and you’re the best at everything, oh, and do you have any ideas for another book?” I had recently started a tradition in my house of doing a little “happy hour” on our little balcony with me and my girlfriend (who has since become my wife). It was a tapas kind of thing with small plates and, of course, some adult beverages. I presented this idea to the editors and presto! Happy Hour at Home was created!

2. You have very specific rules as to what constitutes a happy hour. Do you mind sharing them with my readers?

Yes, well, these are the rules I use in my own home. You can use these, make up your own, or have complete anarchy and chaos.

1. Happy Hour is always served on the balcony.
2. Happy hour season may begin only when the weather is such that once the sun goes down, even the whiniest of guests won’t get chilly sitting outside, because, see rule #1.
3. Happy hour is on Friday. Period.
4. Happy hour is for four people. Any more and you’d have a dinner party, and that’s a different book.
5. Happy hour guests may not be made privy to the menu until the chef posts it.
6. Guests bring the booze at the chef’s instruction.
7. And finally..there’s no crying in happy hour.

3. Is it hard being a vegan when going out to an average restaurant’s happy hour?

It is. Usually going out to eat as a vegan in a non vegan world is not a difficult thing once you get the hang of it, but a happy hour poses it’s own challenges. The menu is usually limited to bar food like buffalo wings, chicken fingers, nachos, sliders, jalapeno poppers, etc. There’s always fries, and sometimes onion rings, but those onion rings most likely came out of a big industrial bag and were frozen solid 5 minutes before they were served to you. “Happy Hour at Home” is the solution to these problems…and if all else fails, we still have gin…thank Dog that’s vegan…makes things much easier.

4. What is your favorite food recipe from “Happy Hour at Home”?

The stromboli from the first menu is very near and dear to my heart, because I ate stromboli growing up. There were all kinds, too. Regular stromboli had salami, ham, cheese and veggies. Then there was the cheesesteak stromboli, which was awesome! And I’ve even had buffalo chicken stromboli! I really wanted to veganize it, and with all the great new vegan cheese options out there, it made it pretty easy. So I get to have stromboli once again…really good stromboli.

5. What’s your favorite drink recipe from your latest book?

For many reasons, my favorite cocktail is The Bloody Vulcan. While a blood mary is made with tomatoes, and colored red, a Bloody Vulcan is made with tomatillos and colored green…like the blood of a vulcan. It’s fresh tomatillo juice mixed with lime, agave, and tequila.

6. The Bloody Vulcan as a Star Trek reference is all well and good, but now what are you going to do about those alienated Star Wars fans?

Well, if you pay attention to my instagram, facebook or twitter feed, you can see that I have hung a large R2D2 pinata in my unborn child’s nursery. I give both Star Wars and Star Trek equal time in my life…but I can’t *ahem* FORCE myself to come up with a Star Wars themed drink. It just didn’t happen this time. While I can’t think of a drink, however, the only thing I can come up with off the top of my head here is: “Boba Fett-uccine”…a pasta dish, with a “bounty” of fresh veggies. See? That’s what happens when I force it.

7. And let’s face it, once you’ve got Star Wars covered you better have a Lord of the Rings drink lined up too. Ideas?

Oh wow. Okay… umm… How about a shot called “The Fires of Mordor”. Tomato juice, carrot juice, tequila and a squirt of Siracha..then float Bacardi 151 on top and set it ablaze. I totally just made that up and it is untested..I may have to give it a try though.

8. With your first book you were a guy with a girlfriend. Now you’re married to that girlfriend with a baby on the way. What’s a vegan infant’s diet going to be like?

Well, it’s going to start with breast milk, which technically isn’t vegan, I suppose, but I’ll let that one slide. Once the kid starts eating solid food, it’ll be the same as any other baby, pureed fruits and veggies. At some point, most people “introduce” animal products into a child’s diet. We’re just going to skip that part, and make sure he’s getting all the vitamins and nutrients he needs with plants. I’m not all that worried about it. I know plenty of kids that have been vegan from birth, they seem more than fine.

Update: Say Hello to baby Oliver!

9. So, you’re the executive chef for Vegin’ Out in Los Angeles. You still do the Sexy Vegan instructional YouTube videos, you’ve authored two cookbooks, you travel the country to attend events, and now you’re about to become a father. What’s next for Brian Patton?

Retirement. Ah, if only. I’m doing some menu consulting for a new vegan restaurant that’s coming together in Los Angeles, and I’m toying with the idea of doing some pop-up dinners and things like that. I’ve got more book ideas that I’m fleshing out as well, but that’s a ways off. Mainly I’m going to be making sure my dogs don’t eat my baby..at least for the next few months or so. I don’t think they will, they’re pretty good dogs.

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

What will be your first order of business once you, Rebecca, become the “Supreme Ruler of the world?”

I have three words for you: Bring back Firefly.

About Brian Patton:
Brian L. Patton is the executive chef for Vegin’ Out, a vegan food delivery service in Los Angeles. The quintessential “regular dude” vegan chef, he started posting instructional cooking videos on YouTube as his witty, ukulele-playing alter ego “The Sexy Vegan” and quickly gained a large following. Brian offers his popular cooking demonstrations at stores, restaurants, and community centers throughout Southern California and in his travels around the country.

Think Before You Pink 2013

Here it is again, another October. Instead of stores being a sea of orange and black for Halloween they’re flooded with pink. Pink scissors, pink watches, pink hats, pink cameras, pink candy, of course pink ribbons, and so much more.

Each year I encourage you to take action and Think Before You Pink, and this year is no different. First, please consider donating to a great breast cancer charity like Breast Cancer Action. They take no donations from corporations that contribute to or profit from breast cancer. This way I know they’re beholden to no one when issuing statements of findings or when making calls to action. I donate to them every October. See:

Dear Rebecca,

Breast Cancer Action is deeply grateful for your generous online donation of $25 dated September 29, 2013. Thank you so much for your commitment to women’s health.

With your support, we will continue to:

• Put Patients First by ensuring that the FDA advances the needs of people over those of the pharmaceutical industry.

• Create Healthy Environments by reducing the involuntary environmental exposures that contribute to the breast cancer epidemic.

• Eliminate Social Inequities by creating awareness of the social injustices, rather than just genetics or personal decisions, that lead to inequities in breast cancer incidence and outcomes.

For the past 21 years, we’ve created a better world for those affected by breast cancer and, with your help, we’ll continue this important work. We are in the unique position to do this because we are one of the only national breast cancer organizations that refuses funding from corporations that profit from or contribute to cancer. This means that over 75% of our support comes from individuals just like you. We are deeply grateful.

Sincerely,

Karuna Jaggar
Executive Director

Second, you can watch the movie “Pink Ribbons, Inc.”. It’s available for streaming on Netflix.

“Who really benefits from the pink ribbon campaigns: the cause or the company? In showing the real story of breast cancer and the lives of those who fight it, this film reveals the co-opting of what marketing experts have labeled a ‘dream cause.’”

You can also get in touch with Breast Cancer Action about setting up a screening.

Lastly, I am SO fed up with “pink October” that in protest I have decided that I will wear absolutely NO PINK the entire month of October. And before you think this is a simple thing, I made a video showing you guys everything I’ll be giving up.

Not so easy, is it. If you feel like me, ditch your pink. Breast cancer has enough “awareness” what it really needs is money for research and support for the women and men dealing with this disease.