Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

I recently stumbled upon the term “TOADie”. That’s someone who “suffers” from Tarot Over-Acquisition Disorder. I’ve not reached the heights of my friend George, but every once in a while, I find a deck that speaks to me and I must buy it.

Right now, my “had to have” is the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot by Melanie Marquis and illustrated by Scott Murphy.

For a long time, I had struggled with the religious and masculine overtones of the Waite-Smith deck.  It’s actually even more well know as the Rider-Waite for the publisher and the guy who commissioned the art.  Pamela Smith, who created imagery, is usual left out.  You get my point, yes?

I had been looking for a Pagan themed deck for years now.  Most of them, I found sort of stiff.  That’s the best word I can come up with for the imagery.  And I read images.  I don’t memorize cards.

The Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot – The Box


One of the things I love about this deck is that it is designed to actually be used for spell work.  Yes, I’m “one of those people”.  It should be noted that although “traditional” decks have the Wands representing the Element of Fire and Swords representing the Element of Air, this deck is the opposite, which really resonates for me. (I had to actually type that sentence out three times because I kept typing it wrong.. or right depending on your perspective).  If you are a stickler for wands = fire and swords = air, then this deck is not for you

However, if Pagan symbols, beautiful artwork and diversity are your jam, then this deck is for you.

I mean, look at this handfasting

The Four of Wands

The Four of Wands

and these two fellas sharing a drink

Two of Cups

Two of Cups

The mounts chosen for the Knights are also pretty spectacular

The Knights of the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Knights of the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

Oh and look at these amazing women, eh?

The Queens of the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Queens of the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

I’m also super fond of the back design. If you read reversals, you might have a bit of difficulty as there is a top and a bottom. I don’t read reversals. I find them too chaotic. Also, some folks find the cardstock to be very thin.  And it is.  It may not hold up to a billion readings, to be honest.  But I am the one who handles my cards as most of my readings are internet or email based, so for me it’s not a big deal.

The Back of the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Back of the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

The book that comes with is SUPER thick and really detailed.

The Handbook for the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Handbook for the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

Some of the complaints that I’ve read on the internet is that the book doesn’t give enough information on the imagery, however there is a page in the front that details why certain animals were chosen and what many of the symbols mean. You get to actually take this information and formulate your own meanings. I actually prefer that and I appreciate the list of symbols in the book as I was unfamiliar with a few.

The Aces of the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Aces of the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

I am so completely, totally in love with this deck that I’m struggling to actually use them for readings. I feel like I need to get to KNOW them better. So! My plan is to look at each card and spend some time with it. I’ll be posting here as sort of my Tarot Journal. I hope you enjoy me on this journey and share your insights with the imagery.

In the meantime, I’ve posted pictures of all of the cards, so please enjoy this amazing imagery.


The rest of me….

Two years ago, I vowed to write more about the whole of me

and then I dished up more food.

I guess I like food.

I mean, I did give you some other stuff, like music and sewing, but not a lot of the other stuff.

The spooky stuff.

I’m not sure why.

What I do know is that for a long while I didn’t feel like writing anything at all, and now I’ve found a daily practice that has got me excited about writing again.

In the next few weeks, I’m planning on launching a blog that will run congruently with this one (yes, I know, my intention was to put everything here, but… well, I changed my mind). The new blog will have stuff on herbalism, and magick and reiki and energywork and Spirit Communciation and mostly Tarot. And if you are down with that, I hope you’ll read along… And I’ll be plugging along on filling in the blanks on this blog with the things I’ve been doing that are not just recipes. I’ve spent a day at Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Center in May and I have… some thoughts that I refrained from posting until I could sort them out. I spent a week at Omega in June at what I’m calling Hippie Ukulele Camp which was AH-MAH-ZING and I came back so chill that I’m pretty sure my coworkers thought I was stoned… but do you see, how those two topics sort of mush together the mundane and the Spiritual? Yeah, I’m not going to worry about that anymore.. I do what I want.

And I’ve been rambling.

And now I’m going to get groceries because, food.

Recipe Review: Skillet Beef Stroganoff

Skillet Beef Stroganoff from America's Test Kitchen

Skillet Beef Stroganoff from America’s Test Kitchen

I’ve made this a few times… and I really like it.

What I *don’t* like is America’s Test Kitchen promises you “this recipe and more on our website” and then when you get there, they aren’t free and if you want a free 14 day trial, you end up subscribed to so many newsletters from them and their partners that your inbox explodes.  (Which is why, if you were to say, zoom in on that photo, you would have a good glimpse of the recipe.. but buy the book. Really. It’s good)

Sidebar: I’m pretty interested to see what Milk Street Kitchen is all about since Christopher Kimball left ATK and launched MSK as his new baby.   Will he survive in Boston?  What about all the Vermont love?  But I digress.

The next time I make this, I would add more pasta. This has ended up soupy every time I’ve made it.  I also don’t generally keep brandy on hand, so I subbed 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar for the brandy Also, I used 3 cups of water and dropped in a tablespoon each of chicken and beef “Better than Bouillon” because it is.. better, I mean. Not as good as real stock  which is what the recipe called for (one and a half cups of each) but it’s what I had. Lastly, I didn’t flatten the sirloin tips.  I just cut them thin against the grain.   This recipe is actually quite excellent and easy.  We had it done in 40 minutes.  It’s going into the regular rotation


Recipe Review: Orecchiette with Pancetta, Pumpkin and Broccoli Rabe

Here is the thing that happens a lot.  We make a recipe from a book or a magazine or a website or something and say “Hey this is good!  We should make this again! .. only we should change it like this!”

And then we forget all about it.

Seriously.  We forget where we got the recipe, how we made it, what we would do different and end up sitting on the couch while meal planning saying things like “Hey! remember that thing?  That thing with the beef/chicken/sausage/chickpea/lettuce/some other thing thing?  That was good.  Where was that again?”

So I decided to take a hint from FoFacy and Limey  who write  Little’s Bites.   They make a recipe and then blog about it.    What a great way to keep track, eh?  And my blog is just sitting here, being ignored (and run by wind power. Thanks, GreenGeeks.. you rock)

So, here we go.  My review of Ann Burrell’s Orecchiette with Pancetta, Pumpkin and Broccoli Rabe

First of all, I had to Google what a “cheese pumpkin” was and then I was not going to bother trying to find it, so I got a package of precut butternut squash from the grocery store.  And since “half a bunch” is pretty darn subjective for an amount of broccoli rabe and my squash was twice the amount I needed, I basically doubled the entire recipe.

The squash could have been roasted longer and trying to fish broccoli rabe out of the water was nuts so I ended up straining the broccoli rabe and just putting another pot of water on.

I also thought the broccoli rabe wasn’t cooked enough so I put it in with the squash instead of waiting until the end.

Overall, I liked it.  I needed a little zip of something.  I though maybe some lemon juice or maybe more pepper flake.

LB thought it needed sausage.

Next time, we’ll make it with hot Italian sausage instead of the pancetta and roast the squash a lot longer so that it gets a little carmelized… or maybe I’ll use sweet potatoes instead.

Morrocan Spiced Beef

Look.. I know it’s been ages since I posted something.

and this draft has been hanging out forever … so I’m just going to post it.

Because you all should make this.  I cobbled together a few Moroccan Beef recipes from the interwebs and came up with this.

So, please forgive my incredibly lame post and just make the recipe… okay?

Let me know how you like it.

Morrocan Spiced Beef

Morrocan Spiced Beef
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
I have always had a soft spot for cinnamon and beef together, ever since I had my first taste of kibbeh. The seasoning on this meat reminds me of that delicious Moroccan treat.
  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • ¼ cup golden raisins (see note)
  1. Heat the oilive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  2. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent
  3. Stir in the carrot and cook for about 3 minutes
  4. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne over the top and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, about one minute
  5. Now is a good time for a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  6. Shove all of the stuff in the skillet to the edges and crumble the ground beef into the middle.
  7. Break up the ground beef and cook, mixing in the rest of the ingredients, until the beef is cooked through and everything is well combined
  8. Shove everything to the edges again, and dump the pine nuts in middle and toast, stirring constantly until slightly toasted. Mix the pine nuts in with everything else and turn off the heat.
  9. Stir in the raisins.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning
  11. Serve over brown rice with a dollop of yogurt
If you are one of those people who feel that raisins ruin everything, go ahead and substitute ¼ cup of chopped dried apricots.



What do you do when you don’t care about winning?


When I was in high school, I had to be the best at everything (except gym… we’re not going to talk about that).

I had to be the smartest.  I had to be the quickest. I had to be pretty and have perfect hair.  I had to get 100% on everything.

Looking back on that now, I realize how much stress that was…  focusing on making sure I was better than someone else.  Because it wasn’t about being the best person I could be.  It was about being better. It didn’t matter that my “better” was excellent or mediocre.   I just had to blow everyone else out of the water so I could be the best.

And it was easy.  I was actually a really smart kid and I never had to work at anything and it left me ill equipped for the world.  When I went off to college and suddenly there were a lot of people who were better than me at a lot of things, I caved.  I quit. I ran.

I gave up.

I found a job I was good at after drifting for a while.  I went back to being the smartest and the quickest and the prettiest in my little job that fit my skills.  (MATH.. I know.. I LOVE IT)

But I didn’t grow at all.   I settled into this little life and it was… fine.

I’m a perpetual learner so I’m always taking a class here or there but if it wasn’t easy or if I had to work too hard to be the BEST, I would give up and say “well, it’s not like I wanted to do that anyway”.  I didn’t want to look stupid.  I didn’t want to look silly.

Until someone said to me “Don’t measure yourself by someone else’s yardstick“.

It changed everything.  I realized that I didn’t have to beat someone else, be better than someone else or to WIN in order to feel good about myself.  All I had to do was be the best “me” I could be.

The more I practiced this, the better person I became.  The happier person I became.  The less it became about “them vs me” and more about lifting myself up and challenging myself.   I’d goof up and I’d laugh it off.  I’d fall down and giggle…  if I looked stupid, I’d chuckle and try again.  And if someone asked for help, I’d give it.. and if someone wanted to offer me help, I’d accept it.   If someone else succeeded where I struggled, I felt happy for them.  This mindset is liberating.

But it also means that I no longer feel comfortable thinking or saying competitive things or throwing around “smack talk”.   I realize that everyone has their own yardstick and that I want them to be better, happier people too.  At the risk of sounding too hippie dippie, I want everyone to feel like they are “winners” .  To take a look at their own yardstick and decide on their own personal betterment instead of “beating” someone else.

Not everyone is like this and I respect that.  But I find it hurtful and, well,  MEAN when I hear things like “we’re going to beat them” and they can “suck it” and “this isn’t the city of sisterly love”.

And yeah, those have all come up lately.  I get it. That motivates some people.  But not me.  It makes me squirm.  I currently belong to a group that will be competing soon and there is a lot of that going around. And that’s ok.  But it means that I need to find a way to motivate myself to do better without having this negativity or old habits take hold again.  Because it would be way too easy to fall back into the ugly mentality of beating someone else.

Recently, my friend Bing was at the International Blues Challenge and I was watching him advance and advance (via the internet…  the Challenge was in Tennessee after all) and every time he would post about it on his Facebook Page,  he would be talking about how great the other acts are and what an honor to be among all this talent.  And that every time that he’d advance, he’d have to dig a little deeper into himself to pull out just a little bit more.

On his blog, he says :

Joe Whitmer likes to tell the acts, at orientation, that the IBC is a “challenge” and not a competition.  We’re not in some kind of battle of the bands where we’re out for each other’s throats.  We’re competing against the score sheet; against ourselves, basically.  It’s in the spirit of the blues family that the acts have a camaraderie with each other, helping out with set change overs and wishing for spectacular sets.

You can read his whole post about his experience here:Big Time in Bluestown: Bing Futch

As a Patron I got to see the raw footage of the quarter finals, the semi finals and then the finals.  I have seen Bing perform live several times so I’ve seen him do some of these blues songs before and they are always great. But at the semi-finals and then the finals, I saw something amazing.  He kept pulling out more.. and more.. and… more.. I don’t know where it was coming from but holy shit that dude was on fire at the end of the finals.  He took best guitar, by the way, which is pretty funny considering he plays a dulcimer but he earned it.  He earned it by being the best Bing he could be.

This has been my inspiration.  My reminder that I don’t have to be the better than everyone. I don’t need to rub anyone’s nose in it. I don’t have to beat someone else.   I can just be a better me.  I can work at a better personal performance every time.  To see where I can go.  To see if I can dig up just a little more… and a little more…

This is my motivation.  This is my kind of winning.