The Faeries Oracle: A Review

•July 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment
My Faery Guide Card and four favourite cards from the Faeries Oracle, along with the handsewn case I made to house my original deck (this is deck 2.0, my original deck was given to a friend who lost theirs in a fire).

My Faery Guide Card and four favourite cards from the Faeries Oracle, along with the handsewn case I made to house my original deck.

The Faeries Oracle by Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth (originally published in Oct. 2000). 66 cards + 208-page book.

I’m not as much of a cards person as others when it comes to divination – I’ve never felt an affinity for tarot (aside from liking the artwork on some decks, but I would not buy myself a deck just for the artwork – that’s just me though, others’ mileage may vary). I’m more of a dice, rune bones/stones, and sticks/stalks kind of gal, and recently I have been learning shagai. I learned how to do a style of divination using playing cards from Mongolia, but it’s pretty involved, so I don’t do it often. However, I have managed to find two decks with which I can truly connect: the Druid Plant Oracle (which I will be reviewing in an upcoming blog) and the Faeries Oracle.

Like a lot of folks my age (30s), my introduction to the Frouds came from watching Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and the conceptual designs he created for the Henson series The Storyteller. I’ve always loved how the Frouds’ (both Brian and Wendy) portrayal of the denizens of the spirit world focuses not only on the light and astoundingly beautiful, but on the earthy, the dark, the neutral. In keeping with this, nothing is entirely as it seems in the Faeries Oracle – if you’re looking for neat definitions, consistent interpretations, and defined boundaries, you will not find them here. This is a very intuitive deck, and you are encouraged to truly make it your own.

Jessica Macbeth’s accompanying book advises: “Don’t read someone else’s definitions of the cards until you already have some idea of what they mean to you.” (p. 15) My advice to anyone considering buying this set for the first time would be to invest in a notebook and plenty of pens, pencils, crayons, markers, and paints – part of the fun of connecting with this deck is spending time with each card, developing your own meanings, associations, and allowing your spirits to communicate with you. As a part of this, a blank card is included for you to use as a template for your “Faery Guide” card, so you can truly personalise your deck. On pages 18-21 Macbeth provides a series of seven starter questions which serve as a primer for intuitive readings by asking you to choose from amongst the cards the one which appeals to you the most, and the one which appeals to you the least. It’s not a bad idea to use each of these seven questions as a baseline for recording your feelings and interpretations of each card (this is where the doodling supplies come in handy – if you’re like me, some things can’t always be expressed in words). The more you use and interact with the Faeries Oracle, the deeper and more varied the associations become. This is a deck that you can grow with – I’ve been using the Faeries Oracle for 13 years (the deck pictured above is 2.0 – my original deck was given to a friend who lost theirs in a fire), and while some associations have been elaborated on, others have definitely changed.

Because this deck is centered on Faeries and other denizens of the realms of the Nature Spirits (there is very broad representation in this deck), the settings of each card are reflective of different places in Nature, and these settings are as important to the associations of each card as the central subjects themselves. A good way I have found to develop familiarity with the Faeries Oracle is to group cards by setting, and ponder what the similarities mean to you, and whether you can divine a connection between certain cards based on this. There is a great deal of symbolism waiting to be unlocked – because this set is not based on a single faith tradition, there is no one approach to interpretation which is more correct than another. So, for example, I see Card 17/Himself (middle card in the above picture) as representing Bayan Ahaa/Bayan Hangai, but someone else may see him as the Wiccan Horned God, as Cernunnos, as Freyr, or as Tapio. None of those interpretations are incorrect – it’s all in the eye of the beholder! Which brings me to another excellent use for this deck – as a tool for meditation as well as ritual. For those so inclined, each card (or even specific groups of cards) can be employed to help in meditative visualizations, and/or serve as depictions of deities and spirits important to your faith on an altar. For me, certain cards function as a gateway to trance/ecstatic states.

In addition to giving some advice on doing readings, providing sample spreads, and some “starter reading” interpretations, Macbeth also devotes some time to discussing the importance of meditation, grounding/earthing, centering, and ways of connecting with spirit beings (by whatever name you call them) in Part Three (“Going Deeper”). This can be very beneficial for people to read and practise not only for the purpose of more effectively divining with the oracle, but also for general health and well-being. When one is grounded and centered, one is generally better able to survive the 21st century!

In giving readings to others using this deck I have found that people were generally very excited about the images/imagery – they were able to make their own connections with certain cards or depictions of plants/fungi/environments in the cards which deepened the reading for them. The Faeries Oracle works well for both short and more in-depth readings, however, it’s not really cut out (in my experience anyway) for straight “yes/no” situations.

In short – I love the Faeries Oracle!

Summertime Recipe: Organic Banana Flax Bread

•July 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Egil, our Black Smoke Maine Coon and Official Kitchen Kitty.

Egil, our Black Smoke Maine Coon and Official Kitchen Kitty. He’s always on hand to supervise!

With Summer in full swing and picnic/cookout season well underway, I figured I would share one of our favourite household recipes that is sweet, good for you, filling, and easy to make – Organic Banana Flax Bread! It goes great with a variety of dishes and can also serve as a base recipe for “Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink-Bread” (I’ll cover this in another entry, promise!). It makes a great trail snack and an excellent quick breakfast with some fruit. This recipe is also good for people looking to watch their diets as it uses only 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of cane sugar (or sugar substitute, like beet sugar), whole wheat flour, flax, and has no salt.

I adapted this recipe from my Grandmother’s recipe; this is very basic so you can dress it up according to your taste (adding nuts, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc.), or keep it as is. I find that when using chocolate chips, the mini chips work best. My son enjoys the chocolate chip version! It’s also good with some peanut or almond butter on top (seriously – those of you who have had a PB & Banana sandwhich know what I’m talking about!).

Organic Banana Flax Bread
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flax*
4 very ripe bananas**
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1/4 – 1/2 cup cane sugar or sugar substitute (beet sugar, etc.)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda

*Ground flax is easier for your body to digest and ensures you will get the full health benefits associated with flax; whole flax can pass through your system without being fully digested.
**The more ripe the bananas, the less sugar you’ll need to add. I usually wait until the bananas are fully browned and fall away from the peel easily – at that point, I sometimes don’t need to add any sugar at all!

You will need to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F/177 degrees C. Mash the bananas; using a spoon, mix in the melted butter. Add sugar and egg, mix well; add baking soda. Add the ground flax, mixing well. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time to make sure it mixes in well. Your batter will be very thick and heavy. Pour batter into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan and bake for one hour. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool on the rack the rest of the way.

The finished bread! Looks pretty, smells awesome, tastes WOW!

The finished bread! Looks pretty, smells awesome, tastes WOW!

Because this contains flax, you will want to make sure to drink it with plenty of fluids! Сайхан хооллоорой!

Happy Saga Dawa Duchen 2014!

•June 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

jowo_jokhang

Today is the celebration of the anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment and parinirvana, making it a very special day for prayers and practises; one’s positive or negative actions are also multiplied 10 million times, so remember to be kind and compassionate to your fellow sentient beings (even though you should be doing that every single day)!

For me, today marks the final day of the Home Mani Retreat for 2013-2014 (begun 11/24/13, during Lha Bab Duchen) and the start of my participation in the 100 Million Tara Mantra Marathon which runs until July 4th – participants commit to a minimum of 15.5 malas of Tara’s Mantra a day, every day. It is an exciting period of practise!

May everyone rejoice in positive activities!

“Profound peace, natural simplicity, uncompounded luminosity; I have found nectar-like dharma.”

Life Near A MTR Site

•June 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I am posting a link to a blog written by a friend of mine named Daile who found out last month – without the benefit of a period of public comment (or protest), and quite by surprise – that she, her partner, and father-in-law have a new next-door neighbour: a mountaintop removal mine, 2,000 feet from their property. If you have ever studied this type of “mining”, you know the damage it can wreak on the environment and communities living in their shadow. This particular mine borders Kanawha State Forest, and despite the claims made by the DEP and supporters of the mine, it will negatively impact the forest’s ecosystem – there is not a magic barrier or bubble that will prevent dust and flyrock from entering the forest, damage to rocky outcroppings and overlooks from blast vibrations, or an exodus of bears, foxes, coyotes, deer, raccoons, skunks, and other wildlife into nearby communities. Because all things are ultimately connected, everyone in this area stands to suffer. Although some people claim that this will “create more jobs”, the fact is MTR operations employ a small number of people (usually trucked in from an existing site), and are designed to be “smash and grab” operations, not long-term jobs.

My friend Daile has been educating herself on this issue and has good information to share through her own research as well as the work she has been doing through the Kanawha Forest Coalition. Please take the time to visit her blog and learn about this situation, and if you live in WV (and especially within Kanawha County), consider getting involved. It’s going to be hard for WV to be known as “The Mountain State” when there’s no more mountains to be seen.

Here is the link: So, Our New Neighbor is a Mountaintop Removal Mine.

Lousewort (Pedicularis canadensis). Tea Berry Rock Trail, Kanawha State Forest, Kanawha County, WV.

Lousewort (Pedicularis canadensis). Tea Berry Rock Trail, Kanawha State Forest, Kanawha County, WV.

Хутагт дөрвөн үнэн: The Four Noble Truths

•June 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Oak leaf; photo taken 6/1/14, Tea Berry Rock Overlook Trail, Kanawha State Forest, Kanawha County. WV.

Oak leaf; photo taken 6/1/14, Tea Berry Rock Overlook Trail, Kanawha State Forest, Kanawha County. WV.

As I have said, the Four Noble Truths are the essence of all of the Buddha’s teachings. Without understanding them, we cannot proceed. All the later interpretations of the original Buddhist teachings are based on the understanding of the Four Noble Truths. There may be different ways of understanding how we can train in meditation, wisdom, or morality, but there is no disagreement in terms of the importance of the understanding of the Four Noble Truths. All other practises are based upon or elaborate these fundamental teachings of Buddhism.”

~ Ven. Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche (1955-2012) ~
The Essence of Buddhism: An Introduction To Its Philosophy and Practice

Saga Dawa 2014

•May 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

buddha_shakyamuni_03

Saga Dawa (the fourth lunar month in the Tibetan calendar) lasts from 5/29 – 6/27 this year, and is a special month for prayers and practises, as it encompasses the celebrations of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana.

6/2: Naga Day
6/5: The Birth of Buddha
6/6: Tara Day; Medicine Buddha Day
6/8: Guru Rinpoche Day
6/13: Saga Dawa Duchen – anniversary of both the enlightenment and parinirvana of Buddha. Also Amitabha Buddha Day.
6/17: Naga Day
6/21: Ulaan Tergel/Summer Solstice
6/22: Ulaan Tergel/Tibetan Summer Solstice; Dakini Day; Naga Day
6/26: Dharmapala Day
6/27: Shakyamuni Budda Day

With your great compassion, you chose this world of conflict and degeneration
And made five hundred vast aspirations
You are praised like the immaculate white lotus, for whoever hears your name can never fall back into samsara
Most compassionate teacher, to you I pay homage
Supreme teacher, bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, complete and perfect Buddha, glorious conqueror, Shakyamuni, to you I bow!
To you I pay homage!
In you I take refuge!

TEYATHA OM MUNE MUNE MAHAMUNAYE SOHA

Могой: Smooth Green Snake (Opheodrys vernalis vernalis)

•May 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

During yesterday’s family hike in Kanawha State Forest we made a stop by one of my outdoor meditation/sadhana spots (exact location being kept mum for obvious reasons), where I found I had a very special visitor. The Smooth Green Snake is an insectivorous, nonvenomous snake whose primary threats (aside from natural predators) are habitat loss/destruction and pesticides. I have not seen a live one in this area in a while, although I have seen other regional snakes, so this is a very lucky encounter for me!

Draped around and coming down the tree directly across from my meditation/sadhana spot.

Draped around and coming down the tree directly across from my meditation/sadhana spot.

Such a beautiful face!

Such a beautiful face!

 
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