Tuesday, August 26, 2014

There's Trouble Right Here in Front Royal, Part 2

The vote in Front Royal, VA, occurred last night, and this time, the good guys prevailed, 4-2. The ban on fortunetelling in Front Royal was lifted! And there was MUCH rejoicing! WOO HOO!

What's interesting to me is at the last minute, one of the City Councilors tried to amend the law by removing some of the language, including "gypsies", but that didn't fly. 

If you've read anything about this story, however, you probably remember that the last vote was 4-3 in favor of repealing the ban. What happened to the seventh vote this time? I've been looking for an answer but haven't found one yet...

In the end, it doesn't matter, because a ridiculous law has been struck down. I'm so glad it went the way it did. 

If you don't like tarot card readers or other psychics, don't patronize us. But to try to prohibit us from making money with our skills because you don't like us or believe in us is ridiculous and closed-minded. 

I applaud those who stood against what seemed to be a small, vocal minority in Front Royal and defended the rights of fortunetellers to practice. WELL DONE!

Friday, August 22, 2014

There's Trouble Right Here In Front Royal, and the "T" is for Tarot

I've been living in Northern Virginia for over ten years now, and I just love it. By and large it has been a very warm and welcoming place for both my faith and my tarot reading business. But I must admit that this story has me very concerned.

Front Royal, VA, a town maybe an hour west of where I live, is considering removing a ban on fortunetelling, which is how my business is classified by many municipalities. I look at that as a good thing; the bill passed with a small majority (4-3) and will be heard again soon for a final vote. I hope that the members of the City Council decide to push forward and repeal this ban. 

Folks, it's 2014. Do we still have "Witchcraft" mentioned in the same breath as "fortunetelling"? They are two separate activities. Many people use forms of divination as part of their spiritual practices, but they're not the same thing. 

Opponents of the repeal are afraid that somehow crime will increase in their little town if fortunetellers are allowed to practice their craft here. And if it is eventually lifted, then some townspeople are hoping to put regulations in, like that it must be done away from schools and day care centers. This sounds way too much like "The Music Man" and its pool table. "We've got trouble right here in Front Royal" because some people want to make money with their gifts. You've just put tarot readers in the same category as drugs and alcohol. Come the fuck on.

This is ridiculous. I understand that fortunetellers do not have a great reputation and I'll be the first one to tell you that you must be careful who you use. With that said, this is true of any business...I give my psychic the same scrutiny that I do my doctor, my dentist, and my auto mechanic. 

What scares me is that people can be so provincial, even in 2014. It is not going to bring more crime to your community; likely there is tons of it already that is invisible to most people. Or is it just that you find the practice morally reprehensible? 

"Increase in crime" might be a reason to disallow casino gambling, but I've never heard of psychics causing widespread criminal activity. So I'm thinking that it's more of the "morally reprehensible" angle, couched in words that are more acceptable in today's society; who can honestly say they want crime to go up? And that's the angle. The logic is specious to me, but if that's the best argument you have, you don't stand a chance of winning the second time around. 

I applaud all those who are standing up for the right of Front Royal's honest fortunetellers to do business there. 

On a side note, they're also looking at repealing the $400 "license fee" that they charge fortunetellers as well. Considering that here in Fairfax County I pay $500 a year for the privilege of reading cards, I'd love to see that happen here, too, since we're placed on the same level as "bail bondsmen" and "dance halls". LOL. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: Bad Birthdays: The Truth Behind Your Crappy Sun Sign Sarah Christensen Fu

Bad Birthdays: The Truth Behind Your Crappy Sun Sign
Sarah Christensen Fu

Red Wheel/Weiser, 2014
$18.95 Amazon
The idea of a basic astrology book that points out the bad points of each sign is nothing new, and it's a concept I really like for the simple fact that if people are laughing they may learn a thing or two about themselves without realizing it. While astrology is becoming more and more mainstream, there are still those who think of astrologers like seeing Aughra in "The Dark Crystal": Old people sitting around staring at astrolabes talking about "the angle of eternity!"
There are at least two series in this vein that I'm aware of, and all have a place on my astrology bookshelf: Hazel Dixon-Cooper's Born on a Rotten Day from 2003, with its corollaries Love on a Rotten Day for relationship astrology and Friends on a Rotten Day for friendship; and Stella Hyde's Darkside Zodiac from 2004, with its companions Darkside Zodiac at Work and Darkside Zodiac in Love. Sarah Christensen Fu's Bad Birthdays: The Truth Behind Your Crappy Sun Sign is an excellent addition to it. 
What makes Bad Birthdays different from those two is that the snark level seems much higher to me than that of the other two, with Darkside Zodiac coming in second and Born on a Rotten Day coming in third. I'm a huge fan of that style, so I really liked enjoyed the even more "tell it like it is" flavor of this work. 
Sarah Christensen Fu also included something that the other two didn't: A day by day look at the year and a general overview of each from an astrological perspective, which parodies The Secret Language of Birthdays and others in that style. I take those books with a grain of salt, since each particular date is different astrologically from year to year. But honestly, I took off my professional astrologer hat when I read it, and had a really good laugh. Even if the particular date isn't your birthday, as you read through it you'll find entries like:

“Close your eyes and think back to your childhood, [DATE]-er. Was it all picket fences and pies on windowsills? Trips to the mall with your family, with a stop at TGI Friday’s on the way home? You have the strangest, rose-colored glasses of all time, because your childhood actually sucked, like everyone else’s, but for some reason you remember it to be the absolutely epitome of wholeness. This is cute for you, but actually slightly destructive for any offspring you might have, who will be forced to try to recreate these faux memories. Luckily, you’re financially stable and can save up for lots of therapeutic help.”

Also, I really liked the alliterative titles given to each sign. I think my two favorites were the Mercury-ruled signs of Gemini and Virgo, "Degenerate Gemini" and "Vexed Virgo". Mine is “Surly Scorpio”, and it’s one of the better ones. I suspect the author, a Virgo herself, was truly inspired with them. I just love them, for two reasons: One, because they make each sign truly memorable; and two, because they are extremely truthful. The memorable part is important. Each astrological sign has multiple two-word mottos; Aries, for example, is "I am." Most people can't even remember one for their own sign, but this way, it's easy and funny. 
They also have specific sun sign compatibility for each sign combination, as well as a section on “Jobs a [SIGN] might not screw up”, which I found totally amusing. 
This book is much simpler than the others, not really attempting to explain anything astrological. If a Scorpio were reading this, for example, they wouldn’t know who the sign’s rulers are (Mars and Pluto, depending on your perspective). Anything that looks like standard astrology book fare is pretty much left out. If you consider the target audience of this book, that’s a good thing. Likely if you’re picking up this one, you’re pretty new with all things astrological. 
The bottom line: If you’re looking for astrological humor, this one definitely has it in spades, but don’t look for explanations. Just sit back and laugh; you just might learn something in the process. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: The Witch's Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft

The Witch's Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft
Lady Sable Aradia
Red Wheel/Weiser, 2014
$14.92 (paperback) / $9.99 (Kindle)

As a Head High Priest of a community and school of Witchcraft, I'm always interested in books such as The Witch's Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft. It's always great to compare notes and see what other schools of thought are in the area of the Craft.

I could tell there was going be a lot here to like right away, even by looking through the table of contents. A lot of the principles that were nearest and dearest to me were here, from the basic to the more advanced, and it became obvious to me that a person who didn't have access to either an in-person or online school of Witchcraft could learn a whole lot.

One of my favorite sections of the work was about midway through it, and discussed the role of ego in Witchcraft:

“As we are learning to reclaim our power, sometimes we become a little drunk with it, especially those who came to the craft because we felt disempowered. This is commonly called the High Priestess’s disease, and it is associated with the shadow […] This is the stage of development that causes most of the ‘Witch wars’ that happen in our small communities. It is good to recognize that you are divine; but so is everyone else. It seems that humility should go without saying, but my experience in training priests and priestesses tells me that it mostly falls on deaf ears.”

I couldn't agree more with this quote, and considering the empowerment that can occur through the Craft, and the book's title, "Eight Paths of Power", I have met way too many Witches just looking for that next "level up" in their community just so they can have a title they can flaunt. That's ego, pure and simple, and it destroys relationships and communities, and hinders spiritual growth. 
Many people don't understand the tremendous responsibility that you take on as a spiritual leader. A big part of spiritual leadership is putting your ego aside for the good of others and not expecting recognition or reward, financial or otherwise, for doing so, and this book seems to support that theory. 

So I'm repeating myself, but there's so much to like here. Chakra work. Visualization. Symbols. Basic herbalism. Spell work and intent. Astrology. Dealing with psychic vampires. And exercises for it all. It's an all in one resource for those who want to learn the Craft, and in that regard it’s an impressive work.

And then I read the parts in chapter four, “Intoxicants”, about how to connect with the Divine using drugs and alcohol, and what could have been a truly outstanding book took a unexpected and unpleasant turn.

I understand that people have been using both legal and illegal drugs to connect to the Divine for centuries. I don't purport to make that choice for everyone; it's certainly an individual one, and my opinion is irrelevant. With that said, I think it's incredibly irresponsible for a spiritual leader--and if you look at Lady Sable Aradia's bio, she certainly has earned the title of spiritual leader--to put the information in a book, especially one called Eight Paths of Power.

If Witchcraft is so empowering on its own merits, and I believe that it is, then why is it necessary to include information on using intoxicants to connect with the Divine? It sets a dangerous precedent for witches of all levels, and for those considering the Craft as a path, it puts the idea in their minds that this is something that is expected. Yes, there's a statement at the beginning of the chapter, reminding each person that they take no responsibility for the actions of individuals, and that's something you'd expect. The reality is that anyone with an Internet connection can find that information if they choose, but by including it you are tacitly encouraging it, in my opinion, and I do not believe you need to use any sort of drug to improve your connection to the Divine.

With that last chapter being the lone exception, I generally agreed with the rest of what was presented. Every Witch practices a little differently, but what was here was a solid base for anyone who wants to go back to basics on their own.

To me, a classroom setting—even a virtual classroom—is better than a book for learning the Craft. But if that’s not possible for you, The Witch's Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft is a better way than many to increase your knowledge.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Astrological Year, Part 2

OK, so where did we leave off? Oh yes...the astrological year!

So we know that 1) each astrological sign has an element, 2) each astrological sign has a quality, 3) one of those qualities is cardinal, and 4) a cardinal sign begins every season.

Most of you understand the concept of elements, but to make sure we're all on the same page, each sign is associated with one element--fire, earth, air, or water. Most of you know which element your sun sign is already, but for those of you who don't, they're below:

Fire--Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Earth--Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air--Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water--Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Now let's talk about the qualities in more detail, but before we do, here's an important point:

Every sign is a UNIQUE combination of an element and a quality, and there are NO repeats.

Here's what I mean. If we didn't have the qualities, then all three fire signs would be the same, right? The same could be said of the other elements. Sure, there are some "fiery", "earthy", "airy" and "watery" traits that all signs of an element share. But the quality makes them very different. 

You know that there are cardinal signs, which begin every season. If you recall from our last lesson, they are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. 

Generally speaking, cardinal signs are powerful and tend toward leadership. They like to be in control and are normally good at starting things. But they're not as good at taking orders or following through on long term projects. Each season begins with a cardinal sign because they get things started! They also are considered the purest form of the element. 

We have two other qualities of sign: fixed and mutable.

Fixed signs are in the middle of each season, and they tend to be your "middle management" types. They're good at long-term projects and following up, and while they can be good leaders, they tend to be stubborn (fixed) and are not as open to new ideas, thoughts, and opinions. They're perfect in the middle of each season--they "anchor" each season as it takes hold.

Mutable signs end each season, and they're the flexible followers of the signs. They tend more toward being able to do more different things and adapt than either of the other two signs, but they're not as good at taking a project and running with it on their own, nor are they as likely to want a leadership role. 

Let's recap. Each season has a cardinal sign, a fixed sign, and a mutable sign, in that order. So you know already that the four cardinal signs are NEVER going to be next to each other in the astrological year. 

Going further, each element has three signs associated with it, and each sign has a different quality. If we know that Aries is a fire sign, and it begins a season, we can deduce that Aries is the cardinal fire sign. There are no other cardinal fire signs; that's why I said "THE". Make sense?

The elements also go in the same order in the astrological year: Fire, earth, air and water. So if we know that Aries begins spring, and it's cardinal fire, then what sign comes next? It's the fixed earth sign, Taurus the Bull. Spring has got to end with a mutable sign, and if we just had fixed earth, then we've got to have mutable air, Gemini the Twins. 

Because of the way it is set up, each season will lack one element. In this case, you noticed that there was no water sign in spring. Our first sign of the summer, however, is cardinal water, and it's Cancer the Crab. Since we just had cardinal water, fixed fire is next, Leo the Lion, followed by mutable earth, Virgo the Virgin. We don't have any air signs in the summer. 

But the fall begins with cardinal air, Libra the Scales. Fixed water must follow in Scorpio the Scorpion. And fall ends with mutable fire, Sagittarius the Archer. There are no earth signs in the fall. 

Finally, we end the astrological year with cardinal earth, Capricorn the sea-goat, followed by fixed air, Aquarius the Water-Bearer. We end our year with mutable water, Pisces the Fish. There's no fire signs in the winter. (NOTE: Aquarius may be the "water bearer" but it is NOT a water sign.)

And what comes after Pisces? We start all over again with Aries the Ram. 

I know the astrological year seems complicated, but if you can remember the qualities and the elements, you'll have a lot easier time knowing what comes next. It's pretty logical, actually. 

Thanks as always for tuning in! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Astrological Year, Part 1

Many of us can't keep the astrological year straight. It starts in March and so that throws off a lot of people right away. And the dates aren't the same every year, so that's a problem, too. So how do you keep track of what's going on?

Well, let's start at the beginning. Western astrology is based on the seasons. Generally speaking, people know when the seasons begin and end, so that's where we'll commence.

The astrological year begins when the sun arrives in Aries, at the vernal equinox, also known as the beginning of spring. When we arrive at the Summer Solstice, Cancer begins. At the Autumnal Equinox, Libra begins. And when the Winter Solstice comes, Capricorn begins. In other words, a new sign begins each season.

The dates the seasons begin can't be the same every year, though, because the sun moves about 1 degree a day through the sky. So we know approximately when a season will start, but we have to check out the exact moment when the sun moves into that particular sign. 

Astrologers of old used to use what's called an ephemeris, a chart filled with tables listing the various times that planets will move into their various signs.

Nowadays computers do the heavy lifting for us. With a few mouse clicks I can tell you that the next season, Fall, will begin when the sun enters Libra at 10:30pm on September 22, 2014 in Occoquan, VA. Winter begins when the sun enters Capricorn on December 21, 2014, at 6:04pm in Occoquan, VA.

[To be a certified astrologer with any reputable organization, however, you must be able to cast a chart by hand. It's a challenge I'd like to be able to take on someday!]

Note for Witches and Wiccans: When the sun moves into a cardinal sign at the beginning of each season, that's the day we celebrate a Sabbat. So this year Mabon is on September 22, and Yule is on December 21.

So you've already got four of the signs. Each of the signs I listed begins a season.

Now, let's talk about the elements: fire, earth, air and water. They are a concept many of you are familiar with. We've got four seasons, and to balance things out, each season begins with an astrological sign in a particular element. Aries = fire, Cancer = water, Libra = air, Capricorn = earth. These four signs are actually known as cardinal signs. We'll talk more about what that means in a future blog. Just know that they are important. But every season begins with a cardinal sign. 

Each element has a complementary element, one it works with better than the others. Earth and water complement each other, as do fire and air. These elements will NEVER be next to each other in the astrological year. In other words, if there's a fire sign, an air sign will never come before it or after it. The opposite is also true. Earth signs will never be preceded by or followed by water signs as well. It's to keep everything in balance. 

To take it a little further, you know that Aries is a fire sign and begins spring. So if you remember nothing else, you know that there won't be two fire signs in a row, nor can there be an air sign next. So by elimination you know that the next sign of spring has to be earth or water!

Thanks for tuning in! I hope to have another blog for you soon!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Random Meanderings for Your Return to Work

1) OK, so July 4th was a really amazing weekend overall. But it sounded like a war zone at my house! Seriously, people...I'm all for embracing the holiday but after 10:30-11:00pm people want to go to bed. And how much do you want to freak out my cats?! If that was your goal, you were wildly successful. I can only imagine what people with PTSD from our various wars think of it. 

2) If you have never attended a "quote along" movie at the Alamo Draft House--for NOVA peeps, it's up in Ashburn, but they have them all over--you really should! It was a whole lot of fun. One of my all-time favorites, "Team America: World Police", was the quote-along movie for July 4th weekend and it was AMAZING! I don't know if I should be impressed or concerned that I know the words to all the songs by heart, especially when the lyrics include "so lick my butt and suck on my balls!" But there it is. 

3) More posts are planned on basic astrology. There's only 2300 years worth of stuff to look at, so I'm pretty sure I won't run out of material. 

4) I love animals very much, and would love to see all stray cats and dogs get homes and not languish  in shelters. With that said, I don't need to see evidence of abused or neglected animals on my social media feeds. I get that you're going for shock value. On my FaceBook, that gets your ass hidden. Thanks for understanding. 

5) I'm always wary of donating money to causes, and you should be as well. Make sure to the extent you can that the funds you donate are going to organizations that are worthy and manage their money well. Way too many of them don't take their role seriously. Just because they are not for profit doesn't mean that the people who run them are trustworthy, ethical or upstanding. 

6) "Glove and Boots" is a YouTube video series that I have totally fallen in love with. It's definitely bizarre but I get a good laugh every time. If you haven't discovered them yet, I encourage you to take a look. I must admit that "Johnny T" is my favorite character. For a more dark humored set of videos, I'd check out "Llamas with Hats", which is funny for all the wrong reasons. 

7) If there's some metaphysical topic you want to see addressed on this blog, folks, it couldn't be simpler. Write a comment or write me an email at hierophant@cox.net.

8) Saturn is applauding my recent increase in blog posts, but he is still upset that there's no discernible pattern. I guess my problem is that I'm still trying to make the Old Man happy. Perhaps we'll hear from him again soon. 

9) WARNING--SHAMELESS MARKETING: The dates and times I am reading tarot at 13 Magickal Moons in Occoquan, VA, are now also listed on a page in this blog. Take a look! 

Hope your 4th was awesome! See you soon. :)