Why the Eagle is Silenced: The Strength Card

Eagle Overlooking the Sea

I don’t own a TV. I haven’t had one since I was 18 because I have an addictive personality and on top of the smoking (which I quit doing over 5 years ago) and the eating disorder (which I’ve taken by the horns, became a vegetarian, and lost over 95 lbs since July 2010), sitting in front of a TV for hours would have just been in the book of bad ideas. So, in consequence, I am sometimes behind on trivia. One little fact I learned recently, which may or may not be common knowledge, but really struck a chord…

When visual media feature eagles, they overdub their natural voices with hawk cries.


Have you ever heard an eagle’s true voice? Or do you just think you have?

This really stumped me. “Why?” I asked. “Why on earth would we do that?” One of my friends responded on a Facebook comment, “Well, have you ever heard an eagle? They sound really wimpy.” So, I went to YouTube to find out for myself. As it turned out, I didn’t think they sounded “wimpy” at all. Frankly, I thought it was beautiful, sweet. I’ll admit it was surprising to see this powerful god-totem have this sing-song voice – but, that’s when it hit me. Right then is when I understood why film and TV producers use the hawk’s shrill instead of letting this magnificent bird speak for herself.

We expect strength and power to be synonymous with aggression.

Bloody_BrookGee, now, where would we learn this lesson, do you think…? Perhaps we learned this through centuries of muscling each other over land and religion? Maybe because most of us can name more serial killers than their victims? Or perhaps we got that idea when we were kids that when the bigger kids knock us over in the sandbox and take our lunch money and there’s nothing we can do about it. We, in the western civilized world, have somehow been programmed that “might is right.” We still have Indian nations sitting on reservations from the 1700’s because they were “infesting” land that belonged to them but we believed was put aside for us by a patriarchal, superior god. We had the guns and the germs, so, naturally, we wiped them out and considered ourselves “stronger.” The entire Roman Empire was built on bullying and conquest, therefore, Rome considered itself “stronger” than the rest of the world. The same can be said for the boss that illegally sexually propositions an employee, the politician that buys their votes, unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies, pimps and human traffickers, and fashion moguls. But, though these characters certainly have power, does power necessarily denote “strength”?

Which begs the question: What exactly is “Strength”?

The Oxford dictionary defines the word as: “Physical power and energy.” However, it also states, “The emotional or mental qualities necessary in dealing with situations or events that are distressing or difficult.”

maj08In the Tarot, the traditional Strength card is depicted as an immortal woman – a figure of the goddess, for She has a lemniscates above Her head — standing precariously beside a threatening lion, in perfect poise and calm. She is given the number 8, the number of Fame, Fortune, Commerce, and Perfected Energetic Exchange. However, She was originally assigned the number 11, Mastery of the Self, but Arthur Waite felt that EMV (Earth Mastery Vibration) was better suited for “Justice,” so he switched. According to David LeMieux’s “The Ancient Tarot and its Symbolism” (© 1985, Cornwall Books. Rosemont Publishing. New York. pg 123), the Strength card is aligned with the sign of Cancer – not a hot-headed fiery warmonger, but a mushy, squishy, highly intuitive and emotionally sensitive water sign — and the Hebrew letter “cheth” which means, “fence.” She is not forcing the lion to do Her will. She is not asserting human dominion over the non-human with weapons or threats, but is simply not allowing the aggressor to maltreat Her, using nothing more than Her mere presence. The figure in the Strength card is energetically aligned with the divine, in perfect trust that no harm will come to her. She sets Her boundaries (the “fence”), to protect what is Hers.

gallery_11The lion was chosen as a foe because the historical significance of the cat is a tremendous one. Not only is he recognized as royalty by most traditions, LeMieux goes further, specifically into the time period in which the Tarot was originally derived, and states that the lion “was always a greatly feared animal; in fact, some occult authorities consider it one of the signs of the devil (diabolism). In some schools, it is symbolic of the anti-Christ, but the majority considers it more realistically as the symbol of strength, i.e., the lion of Judah.”

The image of the passive, yet divine, overpowering aggressive, mortal evil is poignant and beautiful. Not to mention it is also uncannily like the figure of the Hindu goddess, Durga. In fact, this divine woman sitting calmly upon a great cat “represents the power of the Supreme Being that preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation. The Sanskrit word Durga means a fort or a place that is protected and thus difficult to reach. Durga, also called Divine Mother, protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying evil forces such as selfishness, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger, and ego.” (http://www.koausa.org/Gods/God1.html) Of course, there is no such thing as coincidence…


The flower that dares to bloom in the snow is no more or less stronger than the fighter. Strength is universal. Not everyone possesses physical power, but everyone has the ability to be strong. That is what this card says. That is what Nature says. True strength comes from our own voice. It is time for a new perspective. It is time to rethink what strength means to us as individuals, as a nation, and as a world.

It is time to let the eagle sing.

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We Are Not “Broken”

shell gold fix

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” — Inigo Montoya, “The Princess Bride”

I resent it when I read, “We’re all broken” or other such shit because I am not. Neither are you or anyone else.

“Broken” means “unfixable, unusable, dead.” Well, I’m still breathing, I’m still thinking, I’m still moving, and I still have the faculties of my 6 senses, so I am still very much alive, and very much fixable. Not dead. Not broken.

eight of swords

We can all be victims. But, do you wish to stay as one?

“There is power in being broken.” No. Death is change, death is not here, death is a finale to the play, curtain down, done. We are overusing this word, we are abusing this word, and I believe we are confusing this word with “damaged.” We can be damaged. Our spirits, bodies, minds, and hearts can be dented, scarred, hurt, cracked, shattered, or even maimed. But, regardless of our condition, as long as we can still breathe, as long as we can still feel or think, we can fill the cracks, we can mend with either glue or gold. We can find healing to make us stronger and more beautiful than we were before. We just need to make a choice: “Do I want to be a survivor or a victim?”


Open Your Eyes

Now, you may be thinking, “Why on Earth would anyone want to stay a victim?” You’d be surprised…there is a lot of power in staying down once you’ve been kicked there. You can milk that horror story for all its worth and play upon the sympathies and empathies of your human community for all your needs, for as long as you need. You can escape reality and responsibility. You can throw your hands up and say, “I’ve been damaged! Can’t do anything for you! Can’t help you if I can’t even help myself! Sorry.” And you can tell who the chosen victims are from their language – they seem to use a lot of “can’ts” and have a natural talent to turn any conversation upon themselves. They find a way to make whatever is going on in your life about them. They make themselves the epicenter of your world while hiding in the shadows. They are the most miserable people you’d ever meet who will never hesitate to give you advice on how you should live your life, and Goddess help you if you don’t take their advice. This is the power of the victim.


Durga: Looks an awful lot like the Strength card, doesn’t She? (Pst — it’s not a coincidence…)

The power of the survivor is one of growth. While one remains a stump and rots under the weather after being cut down, the survivor is fearless. The survivor allows the roots to go deep, deep into the soil they come from and will look at themselves completely naked, as they are. They will push through the crisis, they want to understand what happened. They want to understand themselves. They want to know if there was something they could have done differently and they do not just want to change, they do. The survivor walks the talk. When they speak to other people about their damaging events, there is no glory, but no remorse, either. They listen to understand the others’ stories not for their queues to speak, but to gain a new perspective and connect with humankind. They will grow more powerful, taller, and bear more fruit to sustain themselves and others through joy and plight. The survivor finds greater challenges, but greater rewards.

The survivor is alive. The victim just breathes. But, neither are broken.

The toaster does not make toast anymore because it is broken. The bed can no longer be slept on because it’s broken. The car will not move anymore because it is broken. The living entity can still find food, make another bed, and move and love and think and feel and function because Life does not break. It changes, it forms, it formats, it spawns, it explodes, it implodes, and consumes. It is endless, tireless, and malleable. Though we may never be what we once were after the damage has been done, the power is not in the damage, but in our Living selves.


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And Then SHE Said To Me…

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The Hermit: Speak Softly and Carry a Big Lantern


Poor Hermit. No one wants to talk about him. Maybe it’s because people don’t think he’s sexy enough like The Devil or dramatic enough like The Tower, so they figure, “Eh…whatever. Hermit.” But, alas, people forget a very significant fact:

m7eh6x27There’s a reason why he made it onto a Led Zeppelin cover.

Mr. Hermit says so much with silence – and that is exactly why he earned his place in the major arcana. He is the bridge between the mundane and the celestial. He is the priest, the divinationist, the scholar, the madman, and the geek. And yet, don’t let his recluse demeanor fool you. Believe it or not, according to David Lemieux’s “The Ancient Tarot And Its Symbolism,” (Cornwall Books, 1985), his astrological alignment is Leo, as assigned in the Sepher Yetsirah, the sacred text of “The Book of Creation.” http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/yetzirah.htm This is because his nickname is “The Bringer of Light.” Light is the conqueror of darkness, thus the significance of the lantern. The light of the lantern, in essence, is actually a piece of the Sun.

When Mr. Hermit shows up, he means, “Pay attention to the bigger picture. You are more than what you think you are.”

HermitHe reminds you that you are part of a grand scheme and therefore, connected with the stars and all its mysteries. He takes this literally, which is why he has taken refuge on a mountaintop. Here, he can observe the heavens without obstruction, to witness the way they move, then look down upon the village below to see how their dance affects life upon Earth. He is the scribe of these mysteries and an insatiable student who dares to ask all the big questions, “Who are we? Why are we here? What is the point of all this?” and will do anything, such as denounce his heritage and community and relinquish his creature comforts, to find those answers. He has stripped himself down to the bare essentials, keeping his priorities in check, to assure that he has all he needs to focus and examine life within the Universe. So, with this, he tells the worker to understand your craft and to the student, he reminds you to buckle down on your studies, because you just might find more than what you were assigned.

Mr. Hermit says, “You’re not alone.”

The-Hermit3He keeps the lantern burning so you can find your direction if you get lost. This can be figurative or literal. Some readers believe his lantern is a symbol of The North Star, to remind you that there’s always a way. And as he shines his divine light from his abode way above sea level, he is able to see things in a very different perspective than those hustling and bustling about beneath him. In this position, he can detect elements about our situation that we may overlook. If the High Priestess is the Keeper of the Secrets and the Hierophant is the Spiritual Teacher, then The Hermit is the Shaman. With his light he brings wisdom and healing in an unadulterated sense. He is incorruptible because he doesn’t heed the words of other humans, but takes his lessons straight from Nature, analyzes and connects those findings, and records them into a comprehensive record that is both sensible and full of riddles.

His gnothology, the number 9, denotes the Ending of a Cycle (Rite of Passage), Great Teachings, and Majick. He will guide you and protect you through changes.

Tarot___The_Hermit_by_artoftheempathModern decks tend to miss a very crucial detail when illustrating The Hermit — the Light, itself. Early depictions of his lantern showed the light shining with five points, the pentacle, which symbolizes the 5 elements, the stages of life, and the perfected human. This, however, was later changed to the six-pointed Star of David, which essentially means, “As above, so below.” The Magician shows this in his dual-burning candle and stance, with one hand pointing upward, the other downward. The Hermit, himself, is both above and below, therefore making him the absolute symbol of Connection between space and Earth, the micro and the macrocosm. He says, “Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to what others tell you. Stay quiet now and listen to what’s around you and within you. Seek where the real answers lie. Everything you need to know is here.”

He has the courage to stay still. When The Hermit shows up on your table, he is saying, “It’s time to observe. Pay attention.” There’s something you’re missing or you may be ignoring your own instincts. He’s telling you there’s something deeper, something higher, something bigger than what you’re being led to believe. He’s advising you to check your facts, question your resources, and hold your tongue until you’re absolutely sure that when you respond it is with absolute truth. He’s saying, “Stop. Pull back. There’s another way.”

The Hermit is the gentle giant in his presence, titanic and small, that says, “Don’t worry about what you can’t see. Shadows are caused by obstacles. Here is the Light to find them. Here is the light to fight them. The journey is in the stillness.”


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Why You’re In “The Friend Box”

Dear super sweet person,

I can’t begin to tell you how flattered I am that you have feelings for me. You’ve been there for me when I was down, you’ve been there for me when I was up. In fact, I think you’ve even been there for me when I wasn’t anywhere! You’re so doting and thoughtful, easy to talk to, but…

I’m sorry I’m just not in love with you.

I know you must think I’m crazy because it seems like I prefer “bad” types or I keep going back to exes that don’t treat me as well as you do. But, as much as I hate to admit it, the fact is, no matter how badly I may be treated and though I can adore you, I can’t respect you. You try too hard by giving too much. And when you give so much that I couldn’t possibly give back, or you don’t allow me to give back, it almost feels like you’re bribing me into loving you and that’s just awkward. It also makes me feel really uncomfortable to think what would happen if I needed to end our friendship for any reason. Would you cry out loud? Would you hate me? Would you stalk me? Would you hurt yourself? I don’t know.



Just because I’m in your heart does not mean I belong to you.

I barely understand the person you are. I don’t even know if you understand the person you are. Everything you do has to do with me, which makes me wonder: Why would you want to channel all your needs through another person? Do you have any idea how much pressure that puts me under? What are you hiding from? How can I have confidence in someone that doesn’t have confidence in themselves?

I will be your slaveI have enough baggage of my own and no matter how much you may want to, you can’t carry it for me. You can’t take my past from me. You can’t take my pain from me. You can’t take care of me every single little teeny step of my life because that leaves me no life to lead on my own. No matter how many favors you do for me, no matter how many gifts you give, no matter what you do, this is my path, these are my feet, and I need to do my own walking. Though everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, I want someone to walk with me, not carry me. That’s not love, that’s co-dependency. That’s you using me to keep you from looking at yourself.

The more of yourself you give to me, the more you take from me.

If I prefer to be with other people, then that means there’s something they have that I need right now. Regardless what you think or how you feel about it, wrong or right, it’s not about you. I have to be true to myself, whatever that may be, for good or ill. So, if you really love me the way you say you do, then you’d respect that. If you really love me the way you say you do, then you’ll stand by, not block my way.

If you love yourself at all, you’ll realize that what you want isn’t me, but your idea of me and go find yourself a real love. I cannot allow you to identify yourself with my name.

King and queenI love having you as my friend. And don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of being treated like royalty, too. But, I want an equal partner in life and there’s a big difference between being treated like royalty by someone with their own crown and a slave.

I’m sorry.




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We Don’t Need No Education…sorta

Those who "know everything" know nothing of Knowing.

Those who “know everything” know nothing of Knowing.

Knowledge is power. There is no counter-argument. After all, that’s the main reason why professional divinationists do what they do. Once you know what’s up, you have the power to make a better decision. Once you make better decisions, you have better experiences, which brings wisdom.

Knowledge is power, wisdom is peace.

So, woe to the “Hermione Grangers” of the world who insist on cracking their skulls against the glass ceilings of their egos with the presumption that they have reached their absolute pinnacle of their skill or life. Whenever someone or something says, “I have all the answers,” beware because even the most revered would never make such an ignorant claim. A wise person never claims to be wise, a smart person never claims to know everything.

FUNNY-FUN-FUN.COMNow, granted, that doesn’t mean you should discredit what you do know. After all, if you’ve taken the time to research, study, listen, explore, and hone your craft, skill, or industry, then you absolutely deserve respect and attention when you demonstrate your credentials. However, to pin the “Buck Stopped Here Award” on your coat of armor will keep you from rolling with the times and staying on top of your game.

Would anyone want to go to a doctor who hasn’t read up on the latest advancements or take advice from a lawyer who doesn’t read the law journal?  My guess would be “no,” to both. So, guess what? Divinationists are no exception.

"I know everything! Wait, what's that smell...?"

“I know everything! Wait, what’s that smell…?”

There are so many techniques, resources, perspectives, and facets to the Tarot, alone, let alone the entire industry, that if a divinationist puts on the graduation cap, the client’s the one that’s going to get a headache. Reading blogs, watching trends, listening to other viewpoints, even getting readings from other pros can broaden your horizons and keep you sharp. The more you know, the more you can give.

But, there is a lot of information — and misinformation — out there. Who do you listen to? How do you know which perspective is valuable and which isn’t? How do you decipher the treasure from the trash? That’s where your instincts come in. If something doesn’t seem right to you, then most likely it isn’t. But, letting pride get in the way of double checking yourself and extending your research is a colossal mistake. Correcting or debating a point without absolute confidence or the openness to be wrong is a crime against your reputation and your own personal development.

Education, on the whole, not just formal institutionalized learning, should be pursued for no one’s satisfaction but your own. Quite frankly, nowadays, that’s all it’s good for, anyway.

Education is a generously selfish venture in which one pursues for its own sake. Higher learning is no longer the automatic pass for a six-digit salary with a membership to the high-end club, nor does it guarantee respect the way that it used to. A degree is no longer a key to the city or insurance against flipping burgers. It is, however, a noble and enriching gift that one gives to oneself when the world around them becomes stale, stagnant, and lackluster. When ones existence is stuck between the same routines, the same people, and the same aisles in the dollar store.

It is difficult to find inspiration in a cubicle or motivation from a switchboard. It is difficult to grow when your feet are planted in the same pavement on the same path from “point A” to “point B” day in, day out. It is difficult to feel proud of who you are or appreciate the organic place that you’ve been provided upon this earth when you cannot think past the immediate needs or entrenching yourself in other people’s drama that does not affect you. It is difficult to truly live when you cannot find motivation to do so.

It is difficult to serve when your tray is empty.

music-lessonsEducation, enlightenment, independent research and all the actions they entail, is brain food for the soul. It is not meant to be a replacement for life experience, but it can supplement what experience is lacking. It can open curtains to windows you didn’t notice while you’re staring at the door, waiting for opportunity to knock. It’s the map for a way out of the cell. It can provide networking to people you’d never meet otherwise, spark new ideas, give you the tools to reinvent yourself, and if you are dedicated enough, can even provide the vehicle to get you where you need to be.

Furthering your knowledge in any capacity is a cold, hard business exchange with tremendous generosity. When you’re learning from the right instructors, you are called to honor yourself. When you are learning the right material, you are called to examine yourself. When you are in the right place, the right time, doing the right actions for the right reasons, there are no obstacles. Yes, there is a chance that your reward at the end can provide you with the safety against poverty or even provide you with that brass title on your door — but, the mistake is to count on it. The true and deeper foundation of education has nothing to do with material gain and everything to do with providing yourself the tools to be the absolute best human being that you can be. So, when it’s time for you take your last breath, you can leave this world without shame and there is nothing more important than that.


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What’s The Point?


There comes a time when every human being gets to a point where there’s only so much they can take…

The trials and tribulations of just simply being alive can be exhausting, especially when there are challenges added to the mix: loneliness, illness, financial difficulties, family dysfunctions, victimization, the list goes on. After the same afflictions hit us over and over, who wouldn’t want to hold up the white flag and say, “Okay, you win, Universe! I’m done!” But, yet, we have that nagging little glitch called, “survival instinct” that says, “Not that easy. Gotta keep going.” And when we realize that our terms of surrender have been rejected, we all inevitably ask, “Why? Why should I keep going? What’s the point?”

“I’m tired of going through the same pain over and over. What’s the point?”

“I’m sick of having to pick myself up and do all the work while everyone takes advantage of me. What’s the point?”

“Everywhere I go people tell me I have to think positive and positive things will happen, but they never do. What’s the point?”

Emptiness-depression-33252846-479-494“Who are we?” “Why are we here?” “Who am I?” are no trifle inquiries. These are the very questions that science and religion try to answer. These are the foundations of art and communication, the air behind the oxygen that keeps us breathing. Though existence is hard enough, this “boot camp” that none of us signed up for on Earth makes it harder. Pressures from society, pressures to achieve, pressures to have, pressures to perform, pressure, pressure, pressure until something breaks – whether it be our hearts, our brains, our bodies, or our souls. We accept advice on how to be happy from strangers who either pretend to be happy, aren’t that happy, or are too rich to care, to find healing. We take guidance from spiritualists who may or may not be spiritual to find the way. All the while, the only two definitive messages we receive are from the bombardment of advertising in our faces every day: “Be afraid” and “Buy this and you won’t be afraid anymore.”

And yet, amidst of everything, we do our best…at least, we think we do.

We hope that maybe our efforts will bring the reward of receiving the answer and that by being good and doing everything “right,” we’ll learn what the point is and why we have to put up with so much shit. But, if everyone is different, does it make sense for there to be only one answer?

If you keep getting swallowed up, it's time to try something new. (No...Really!)

If you keep getting swallowed up, then maybe build your castle somewhere else. (No…Really!)

What are we supposed to do while we’re waiting to get the golden call from the gods? How can a busted up, tired, little mortal go on when you don’t feel there’s a point? Some would say there is no point, so get over it. But, then why have a survival instinct? Some would say it’s not our place to understand the point, but then why do we have curiosity? If we’re not meant to find the answers, we wouldn’t ask questions. If we’re meant to give up, there would be nothing holding us back and somehow, someway, something always holds us back. We know by organic instinct, human and non-humans alike, that we are not meant for a chronic state of defeat.

But, if the point was the same for everyone, then everyone would be the same.

Sure, we have our similarities – “A smile means friendship to everyone,” as the song goes – but we’re no clones. Each of us affect others differently. Each of us have our own challenges. Each of us has our own gifts and our own desires. Therefore, couldn’t it be said that perhaps each of us have our own point?

And because each of us have a different point, it would make sense that we should expect to find what our individual point is in different ways or even different times. Maybe the point to “all of this” isn’t the same today for you as it was 10 years ago? Maybe because you change, the point changes with you?

Maybe the point really comes from within?

Air Cav infantry Soldiers compete in company challengeWe’re creatures of action. We need to do. We’re meant to be involved in the natural process. We’re meant to commune and commute. We’re meant to work, to create, to witness, to judge, to explore, to touch, to see, to hear, to taste, to sense, to experience. We’re not meant to sit around and wait for anything. Ambiguity doesn’t just piss off the anxious, it pisses off everybody – no one likes to be in limbo! No one thrives on the cliffhanger ending, everyone hated the last episode of “The Sopranos.” And perhaps, that’s the answer: “Don’t wait for the answer, make one.”

Fact: If you are still unhappy and you are still making the same mistakes over and over, you have not “tried everything.”

Don’t wait for the memo. The point of moving on shouldn’t be answered by anyone else but you. The point of moving on is to find your point if you don’t have one. Make your point! Give yourself a reason to keep going because if you can’t or don’t want to, no one else is going to. There is only one you. You’re here, so you’re necessary. Why that is is for you to know and others to find out…and subject to change at will! Never mind your future, even if you just have to find the point to get through the day, find one. Who’s to say that the point of your existence couldn’t just be to make yourself well, to conquer your own demons? Your life, your path, your answers. You. It’s about you.

mountain-climbers-reaching-summit-200x300Put your boots back on. If you can’t find them or lace them up by yourself, reach out and find someone who can help because all it takes is that one “right” thing to have it all make sense and you’re not gonna find it on the couch or in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

It’s out there. Where are you?


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Grieving Your Abuser

When your tears aren't for the one you lost.

When your tears aren’t really for the one you lost.

So, the one year anniversary of my mother’s death is coming up in less than a week and I get the overwhelming sensation that I’m expected to write some kind of ode or memorial regarding the woman who gave me life.

Well, this is as good as it’s going to get.

A dear friend of mine who had also lost her mother about a year before I had lost mine, posted this lovely little meme on Facebook a while ago that said something about, “Oh mother, how I miss you, how I wish you were here to hold me in your arms when I’m lost and give me words of wisdom when I am clueless,” and other such sugary sappy sentiments and she tagged me with a very well-meaning, sweet note that said, “You know what it’s like, right Ray?” And that’s when it hit me…

No, I don’t.

And though I know I’m not alone and I know it could’ve been worse, I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to miss my mother’s “loving arms” or hear the sageful teachings of experience to guide me when I was lost. I have no idea what it’s like to have a mother who genuinely loved her children as good people she had raised and nurtured to be successful, happy young women. I have no idea what the hell those Hallmark cards are talking about.

webmommie-dearest_08524624Christina Crawford wrote, “Mommie Dearest” because she got sick and tired of strangers telling her how much they loved and missed her mother, Joan, and hearing what a wonderful woman she was. My mother had also done much for the community, very similar to the way Joan Crawford had done for charity, even at her children’s expense. The public at large, before she resigned her place and consciously allowed herself to fester into her own self-destruction of obesity, depression, and pain, perceived my mother as a pillar of strength. She was remembered by my high school and Hudson Valley peers with such fondness, I didn’t have the heart to correct them. I figured there was no harm in letting their memories remain untainted.

I wouldn’t tell them about how I was named out of revenge because my father named my older sister after a stewardess he had a crush on; Ray is obviously not my real name, I was legally named after the aunt who was willing to pay for a divorce if my mother ever wanted one. I wouldn’t tell them about the times when we went to her for “sagely advice” or help because we were bullied, hurt, or victimized and was answered with denial or turned away. I wouldn’t tell them about the hundreds of times I told her to stop touching me inappropriately and she’d laugh as I cried until after 20 years of it and dozens of warnings, I had to hit her to get her to finally stop. I wouldn’t tell them about the times she scared my boyfriends, potential employers, and friends away, volunteered my services without asking me, or the time when there was an electrical surge in the house and instead of making arrangements for her children’s safety, she said, “If I’m going to die, I want my children to go with me.”

And the lies…the lies, the lies, the lies, everything from what was in her non-existent Will to the way she played one sister against the other for years.

Really? New to me...

Really? Wow, how cool would that be…

She had told me that when she went into labor with me, I was upside-down and backwards. She said that while she was on her back, all she could hear were the doctors say, “Okay, here’s a hip…there’s an arm…okay, we have a foot,” and thought I was coming out in pieces. So, when it was all over and the doctor presented me to her, he said, “Congratulations, you have a healthy, beautiful baby girl,” her response was, “Great. I’m gonna kill her.”

And that was my welcome to the Earth.

Loving arms? She blamed me for making her sick. Sagely advice? “You’ll never succeed. You’ll always need someone to take care of you.” When I didn’t wear makeup, she said I needed it. If I wore makeup, she said I looked like a clown. I never did anything right — No one in my family could do anything right! She was a money bully with a narcissistic personality disorder hell bent on elevating and destroying herself while living vicariously through her children whom she needed to need her. Everything she gave us, she resented and became jealous of what we had.

She forced her poison placenta through an iron umbilical cord that we just could not cut.

Was she evil? No. My mother was a sick woman, mentally, emotionally, and physically, who did not want to use her plentiful resources or do the work to make herself well, at her family’s expense. Her biggest dream, her highest goal was to die. So, when she finally did, it felt strange. It seemed unreal and though it took a while, I did find the tears to mourn her. However, it wasn’t until months after that that I realized I wasn’t mourning my mother…I was mourning a mother.

I miss a mother who would’ve held me in her arms when I was crying or scared. I miss a mother who could have offered me sagely advice when I was confused. I miss a mother who taught me about the world and how I can find my place in it. I miss a mother who thought I was beautiful, even if she didn’t understand me.

I miss a mother who would have brought me into the world with love.

Lion mothers love

And though I acknowledge and accept that she was who she was and because of that I became who I am, I still miss someone I never had. My heart aches for that matriarch who made me feel safe and special. I miss that parent who helped me find my strength, not put me in a position to find it on my own. My tears are not for the woman who raised me, but for the woman she could have been. (My sister’s companion piece to this post, “The Jewish Boy Who Came To Help” http://donnaverteramo.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/the-jewish-boy-who-came-to-help/)

And now it’s too late.

It’s also Adrian Smith’s birthday, too. So, what am I planning to do to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of my mother’s death? Listen to Maiden.

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Get a “Real” Job

Waste of time...? What's on your walls?

Waste of time…? What’s on your walls?

Remember Fraggle Rock? I loved Fraggle Rock.

Remember the Doozers, the little construction people that made these inexplicable structures that the Fraggles found tasty, but they didn’t mind because it gave them an excuse to build some more? There was one episode that I’ll never forget – a Doozer who didn’t want to build. Cotterpin was a dissatisfied Doozer who actually hated building and preferred to draw. She became an outcast, publicly shamed, but instead of giving in, she ran away.

Turned out she was an architect.

When you’re shopping for new clothes, how do you think they get there in the first place? When you step into your car, sit on your couch, or drink from your glass, how do you think that happened? Someone designed that shirt. Someone designed up that car. Someone designed that couch, that table, those dishes, that stop sign, that jewelry, your home, your wallet, your shoes, your computer…

But, that’s not a “real” job, see?

real jobA “real” job, by most standards is to sell, trade, and serve what is already manifested. A “real” job is having a schedule that someone else tells you you need to keep “or else.” A “real” job is to collect a paycheck for work that you are mandated to do. A “real” job is safe, predictable, but somehow coming up with the idea for that job in the first place isn’t “real.” Having an original thought and taking risks to bring it to the public isn’t “real.” And certainly providing anything seemingly impractical isn’t “real.”

And yet the same people who tell you to grow up and get a “real” job are the same people who listen to music, go to the theater, collect books, read tabloids, watch television, stream Netflix, follow commercials, give greeting cards, and buy fashion.

How much do you think that instrument costs? Give you a hint...more than your shoes.

How much do you think that instrument costs? Give you a hint…more than your shoes.

Where do you think that music comes from? How do you think that song happened? Guess what, that tune that affects you emotionally, physically, and spiritually was performed by someone who didn’t have a “real” job but spent hours and hours learning their instrument after spending thousands of dollars on equipment in order to manifest and preserve their work for you. That tune that you don’t want to spend a lousy .99 cents on cost more than your mortgage to make.

Heavy metal polka band, Kranken Welpen at work... Studio time: $100 per hr Equipment: $3500 Practice hours: immeasurable Download Song: .99 cents Royalties: .60 cents

Band (Kranken Welpen) at work.
Studio time: $100 per hr
Equipment: $3500
Practice hours: immeasurable
Download Song: .99 cents
Royalties: .60 cents

How do you think that stained glass got in your church’s windows?


I wonder if anyone told ol’ Ben Franklin to quit playing with kites and get a “real” job?

And writing…writing’s not a “real” job? When was the last time you read anything? When was the last time you got the news, saw a clever meme on Facebook that you “liked,” or watched a movie? Where do you think those lines came from? How do you think the actors learned what to say? Someone spent hours and hours sitting with notes and looking up resources, honing and crafting those words together so you can escape your reality, get caught up with the world, or so you can find out what’s going on with that cute celebrity you’re hot for. Someone took hours and hours to find the information that you need in order to become better enlightened about the things that matter to you. How long do you think it takes to write a novel, an encyclopedia entry, or an article? What do you think that kind of effort and getting carpel tunnel is worth in an hourly wage?

wedding-gown-sewing-pattern-194804112013_00003Who do you think makes your clothes and homes look pretty? Who do you think makes things provocative?  Who do you think makes everything around you what it is and gives the salespeople something to sell and servers something to serve?  Who put the wonder in your wonderland theme parks or the “bop” in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?

Well, rama-lama ding this — Here’s what’s “real”: Everything you do, say, use, see, and experience in your life every day starts with an idea. That’s “real.” Everything you wear, hear, feel, and taste starts with someone’s work. That’s “real.” And everyone who comes up with those ideas and makes them happen for you need to eat, too and that is very, very fucking “real.”

So, don’t tell me I need to find a “real” job. You want to know what a “real” job is? Making your life real.

Now, could you please…pay up!

keep the artist

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How A Complete Novice Might Interpret The Tarot For the First Time

THE FOOL – “You’re stupid.”

THE MAGICIAN – “Someone’s trying to be tricky.”
THE HIGH PRIESTESS – “Your mom…or Cher.”
THE EMPRESS – “Definitely a queen.”
THE EMPEROR – “Tough guy.”
THE HIEROPHANT – “I don’t know, looks like the pope.”
THE LOVERS – “Gettin’ some!”
THE CHARIOT – “New car!”
STRENGTH – “Don’t stick your head where it doesn’t belong.”
WardTHE HERMIT – “You should get out more.”
WHEEL OF FORTUNE – “Go gambling! But, why are those animals reading books?”
TEMPERANCE – “Have a drink, chill out. Be nice.”
JUSTICE – “You might get arrested. But, it’s okay. You’ll be okay.”
HANGED MAN – “I have no idea what the fuck that is…”
DEATH – “Okay, now I’m totally freaked out…”
THE TOWER – “Oh…that’s it. I’m done. This is just crazy shit now!”
THE STAR – “See? Now there’s some naked chick. What the hell is that supposed to be?! Who comes up with this stuff??”
THE MOON – “At night.”

THE SUN – “Happy!”
THE WORLD – “Uh…the world. Right?”

"Uh huhuh...look. That one's got boobs."

“Uh huhuh…look. That one’s got boobs.”


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