Death Rides Shot-gun

I remember when I was a kid and even when my children were young, when we would go somewhere, whoever called ‘shotgun’ first got to ride in the front seat.  One day last week while running errands, I glanced to my right and had the impression of a dark figure sitting in the back seat, but leaning forward over the front passenger seat.   The impression that was there-and-not-there, was the image of ‘Death’ like you would see in movies.  The black hood pulled forward and an outline of the scythe or sickle.  I had a tingling chill run up the back of my neck and head.  Being a cautious driver anyway, I took even more precautions and care.  I always say to my family and loves ones, ‘be careful’.  Which I realize may sound silly. but it makes me feel better.  I then found myself saying, “be extra careful”.

This car is ‘new’ to us.  We recently bought it from my daughter, who had only driven it for a few short months, when she lost control on a wet curve, spun around and hit a fence.  It had been sitting in her yard since last fall needing some repairs.  Not knowing how much damage may have been done, other than the damage that was visible, we decided to buy it and fix it up.   Repairs complete, we have been driving it for about a month.

Some of you may have seen the post I made on facebook about my run-away wheel.  As part of the repairs we had to replace a wheel and all four tires.  We aren’t sure if the lugs were not tightened properly at the tire shop, or if they were stripped and just worked loose.  Either way, my rear wheel came off and rolled up the road passing me.

I drew the above cards from The Fairy Tarot, and immediately thought of the trouble we had been having with that car, and wondered if there was a connection.  I flipped the deck over and to my surprise (although I shouldn’t have been) there was the Death card.  The image very much as I had seen it riding with me.

This deck of whimsical fairies is new to me and the suits are non-typical.  Acorns are Wands, Bells are Pentacles, Hearts are Cups, and Leaves are Swords.  So at first glance I thought I had 3 Wands cards.  Challenge, Travel, and Speed, but, upon looking closer I realized my mistake.  The first and third cards are actually pentacles.  they look more like a business trip.  If that is so, I seriously doubt Ill be traveling very far in this car.  At least not until there is a cleansing performed.

*images are from The Fairy Tarot, by Antonio Lupatelli – copyright 2003 Lo Scarabeo

Mandrake Academy – A Look Behind the Scenes

An Interview/Review…more or less.

Hi! It’s me again, K’Nita Skooter, reporting for the *Mandrakefields News Journal…   I recently had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing some of the wonderful folks at Mandrake Academy.  As I entered the grounds, I heard an eery voice whisper in my ear;  “Surrounded by rolling fields and emerald-green woods, with enchanted stone walls and mystical creatures roaming the grounds, the Mandrake campus welcomes you as its newest initiate….”   A bit spooky really, when you think about it.  ((shiver))

I was handed a brochure upon arriving with the following information:  Welcome to Mandrake Academy–where you are the student, and tarot is the teacher.  You will meet your professors in the Major Arcana cards, other students in the minor arcana.  Don’t be surprised when you meet the elemental beings (the court cards) that guard the school.  A word of caution, Do not antagonize these creatures, they can be unpredictable.

Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner

Illustrated by John J. Blumen

Published by Llewellyn Worldwide

ISBN 978-0-7387-1285-7

Greetings one and all and thank you for joining me today as I will be speaking with a few of the fine folk here at the renowned Mandrake Academy.   The Academy, as you may know, specializes in teaching young initiates in the art of Magic.  Studies are concentrated on four main schools of magic-fire, water, air, and earth.   I hope to be able to meet some of the professors as well as students during my visit.  My guide today will be Queen of the Witches, aka The World.  I do hope she isn’t running late, there is a LOT of ground to cover, after all.  Ahhh, here she comes now.

Queen of Witches

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.  I know you have a very busy schedule, and my readers really do appreciate your agreeing to this interview and tour.   Shall we begin?

I understand that you began your magical career here at the academy as a young initiate, and I can see that your accessories denote the achievements of your studies.  Can you tell me about them?

Queen of Witches: “I would be happy to.  My crown is a wreath of wisdom and resembles a victory wreath.   It is held together by ribbons in the shape of a lemniscate, a figure 8 which is sometimes called the symbol of infinity.  My gauzy scarf represents three milestones in the journey of life:  a swaddling cloth for a newborn, a veil for a bride, and a shroud for a corpse.”

Lovely, just lovely, thank you.   Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a young man creeping across the grounds carrying what looks to be swords.  Can you tell me what he is doing?  It looks very dangerous.  I can’t imagine what lesson he could be learning.

Queen of Witches “Yes I saw him too; (she grins) so obviously he has not yet mastered his lesson in stealth.  You never know when you may need the ability to blend into your surroundings.  He is learning how to use his environment as well as magic, for the desired effect.  He must learn to use other tools available, like his dark cloak and the fog that is swirling around him.”

Yes, I can see where that might come in handy.  I understand that you have some Royalty on the grounds.  I saw a very interesting looking Knight as I passed by the lake.  Would you care to discuss the Royals and their roles here?

Queen of Witches“Ahh yes, the Royal Guardian Courts.  The members of the specific courts are dedicated to their elemental guardianships, and they take their roles very seriously.  As you mentioned earlier, there are four main schools of magic study that is taught here.  The Knight you mentioned is an undine and as you can guess, he is only concerned with Water Magic and the emotional side of things.

The fiery, lizard-like salamanders are the elemental guardians of Fire Magic.  The realm of Air Magic is ruled by fairy-like creatures called sylphs, and the Earth Magic is governed by a race of troll-like gnomes.


And for Merlin’s sake, please don’t make the mistake of confusing any particular elemental court with another, they are quite sensitive about this.”

Thanks for the tip, I will certainly keep that in mind.  Now, I would like to bring up a potentially touchy subject that in recent months, there has been an increase of partying going on involving some Mandrake students.  Would you care to comment?

Queen of Witches: “No actually I would not, but since you have tactlessly brought up these ugly rumors, I guess I had better try and set the record straight.  Someone from the nearby village, who doesn’t appreciate the art of magic, and who shall remain nameless, started this rumor after witnessing a group of young ladies working together on a water magic assignment.  The liquid in question was simply some pumpkin juice they were toasting to their continued success in their studies.  And that is all I have to say on that subject.”

I had hoped to meet and speak with some of the professors, but I guess they are all just too busy.

Queen of Witches: “Yes I’m afraid so.  We are always in a  bit of a dither welcoming new students and promoting the existing students to their next level of study.  But, I will give you a copy of our student handbook which includes portraits of  all  the professors and their titles, as well as a section on the Royalty, and students demonstrating their chosen disciplines.  Also included in the handbook, you will find practical applications for each lesson, numerous exercises, (spreads) and lots of other useful information on magic charms and key symbols.  In addition to the elemental dignities of the four disciplines, there are also tables throughout on astrological associations and time calculations.

Now, if you will excuse me, I really must return to my duties, I’m afraid they never end.  Just when I think I’ve completed a task, it seems I’m just beginning all over again.  Ta’Ta.”

Then, in the blink of an eye and a smell of acrid smoke up my nose, she was gone.  Please join me in thanking the Queen of Witches for taking time out of her busy schedule to have this little chat.  Lets take a moment now to look through the handbook and take a peek at some of the staff, shall we?

  • The Magician – Professor of Basic Magic
  • The Empress – Professor of Herbal Magic
  • The Chariot – Professor of Astral Travel
  • The High Priestess – Professor of Divination
  • The Moon – Professor of Lunar Magic
  • Strength – Professor of Familiar Creatures
  • Judgement – Proctor of Final Exams
  • The Hierophant – Professor of Mythology

Thank you for joining me on this interesting and informative journey into the lives of those at Mandrake Academy  This is K’Nita Scooter, reporting for Mandrakefields News Journal,  and I hope you have been enlightened.    Ta’Ta!  ((wink))

*Mandrakefields News Journal is obviously a made-up newspaper and (a shameless use of the name of the esteemed academy) the only one that would hire K’Nita Scooter as a budding journalists.  Any resemblance to an actual journalist is purely coincidental.  No students, professors, or magical creatures were harmed in the writing of this article.*

Ribbon of Time

This was my first year to attend Readers Studio, which for those of you who aren’t familiar, it is a three day Tarot extravaganza that is hosted by The Tarot School in NYC.  If I counted on my fingers correctly, this was the ninth consecutive year.  Saturday morning’s Master Class, (Tarot Spreads – Make your Readings Even More Fabulous!) was presented by Barbara Moore.  Barbara shared with us several techniques and new ways of thinking about creating spreads, the use and possible meanings of different card positions,  and where to look for new inspiration in creating a spread.

One technique was to draw a card, either random or selected, and use the image(s)  for inspiration.  Bonnie Cehovet and I teamed up for this workshop and randomly drew the Knight of Coins from the Tarot of Dreams.

The first thing Bonnie mentioned about this card, is that the knight is facing to the left, as if looking to the past.  The astrological zodiac wheel in the background seemed to echo this idea of time or a time line.  Continuing with this line of thinking and being drawn to the ribbon banner the knight is carrying, I kept hearing the phrase, Ribbon of Time.  To make a long story short, this is how our Ribbon of Time, Tarot Spread came about.

Click to enlarge

Here are the cards I drew for this spread using the Wizards Tarot, by Corrine Kenner and illustrated by John Blumen.

  1. Ace of Pentacles
  2. Ten of Swords
  3. The Star
  4. Ace of Cups
  5. Nine of Cups
  6. Four of Wands
  7. Two of Swords
  8. Four of Pentacles
  9. Transfiguration

Try it for yourself and let us know how it works out for you!

My ‘Best’s’ from RS11

This evening I was looking through some photos online from this past weekend at Readers Studio and was thinking of all the fun I had and all of the wonderful people I had met.  I was shuffling  the deck I am using this week, the Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner, and asked the question “what were the best things I came away from RS11 with?  The cards I turned up were just so perfect, that I had to share!

Queen of PentaclesFirst up is the Queen of Pentacles.  On Sunday morning of the conference we revisited our foundation readings that were originally read on Friday.  Bev Haskins, (my foundation reading partner) and I used two of the methods from the workshops over the weekend we had used to revisit and add to our foundation readings.  A significator  was added, along with the MA card that corresponds with our birth sun sign.  My significator was, you guessed it, the Queen of Pentacles!

On Saturday, Bonnie Cehovet and I teamed up for the workshop on how to create a Tarot Spread, with Barbara Moore. We randomly pulled the Knight of Pentacles to use as our inspiration and created a pretty cool, (we think/thought so) tarot spread called the Ribbon of Time.   I plan to do a post on that spread soon.

The next card up is the Ace of Cups, which represents for me all the friendships  I made, all of the warmth and love there was in abundance, and the free flowing emotion experienced.

The Initiate, (The Fool) was the role, we as RS virgins, stepped into when we entered through the doorway.  At the opening ceremony on Friday, those of us that this marked our virgin experience with the Readers Studio, were each given a packet with instructions to not open until the ceremony.   We were asked to stand at the appointed time and to open our envelopes.  Inside was a small wooden rod with a small bag complete with tiny replicas of the four aces.  We placed our rods onto our shoulder as we were “initiated” into the RS club.

Ace of Cups & The Initiate As wonderful as all this sounds, and was, this is only a glimpse into my weekend with my Tarot Family, an example  of some of the Best things I came away with from RS11.  Not to mention that the Wizards Tarot was also one of the ‘bests’ to come away from RS with.