Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Triumph of Life Tarot

I just bought an interesting new tarot deck called Triumph of Life Tarot. Created by an international group of volunteer artists coordinated by Andrew McGregor of The Hermit's Lamp in Toronto, its purpose is to raise money for cancer research. All profits go to the Terry Fox Foundation, a well-known cancer charity in Canada and abroad.

Each card was created by a different artist who donated their art to the project. Every card is dedicated to someone in the artist's life who battled cancer. That person's initials appear on the back of the cards.

Because so many artists created this deck, it is a extremely eclectic mix of images, styles and media which makes it very interesting to look at and use. For example, here's a few cards from the suit of Cups . . .

. . . and a random array of various other cards --

My deck just arrived in the mail a few days ago and I'm very pleased with it. The cards are a decent size and printed on quality cardstock. I love the varied nature of the artwork, some of which is quite compelling. The imagery is sufficiently related to the standard Rider-Waite-Smith tarot model that it is no problem to read with.

If you're interested in obtaining a deck, it can be ordered here. Please note that all prices are in US funds, not Canadian, and may be paid via PayPal. With shipping and handling, the deck costs $51.

[Photos #1, #2 and #3 from The Hermit's Lamp website; photo #4 from The Pure and Blessed Way blog]

Friday, 17 November 2017

Balm of Compassion, Water of Life

The Sacred Garden of Maui has many images of the Divine Feminine on its premises but the predominant one is Kwan Yin, the female Bodhisattva of Love and Mercy. She is often represented holding a small vase-like bottle which contains the healing Balm of Compassion. This is composed of Kwan Yin's tears, collected as She cries for the suffering of the world.

As you can see in the background of the above photo, there is another Bruce Harman art print in the Kwan Yin meditation garden. It is called "Water of Life" and portrays Kwan Yin sharing the Balm of Compassion with the Buddha and Jesus as they kneel before Her in a sacred bamboo grove.

Here's a much better, higher resolution image of the painting from Bruce Harman's website:

I bought a small copy of this art at the gift shop. On the back is a little zen-like poem:

Before the great
Into division
Water flows
Goddess pours

I like this image because it restores the Divine Feminine to Her rightful place among some of the other great spiritual icons of the world.

[First two photos © Debra She Who Seeks, November 2016]

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Jesus and the Love Labyrinth

The second labyrinth at the Sacred Garden of Maui is located inside the plant nursery building and is constructed in the traditionally pagan Cretan/Minoan style. The labyrinth consists of white lava stones laid out on a bed of crushed grey gravel.

A labyrinth is a tool used for "walking meditation" because, unlike a maze, there is only a single (unicursal) path to follow. You can never get lost in a labyrinth -- you simply spiral in to its heart-centre and then spiral out again. It is a metaphor for the spiritual journey, as well as for the journey of Life itself.

The inner-focused, contemplative nature of this labyrinth is reinforced by a large, central art print of Jesus portrayed in meditation by Bruce Harman, a visionary artist from California.

To further reinforce this labyrinth's connection to the Prince of Peace, there is found at the centre of this labyrinth six special, naturally-formed lava rocks which spell out:


Here's a better view in close-up:

Friday's post will explore the Divine Feminine's presence at the Sacred Garden.

[All photos © Debra She Who Seeks, November 2016]

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Sacred Garden of Maui

I haven't done any posts on labyrinths for a long time! So this month I'm going to tell you about a couple more labyrinths which we walked last November when we were in Maui.

Near the town of Makawao in "upcountry Maui," there is a not-for-profit retreat centre, spiritual shop and plant nursery called the Sacred Garden. Located down a winding rural road, it is notable for having not one, but two, labyrinths on its premises!

The Sacred Garden is jam-packed with beautiful plants and imagery dedicated to love, peace, the Buddha, Jesus and many manifestations of the Divine Feminine, especially Kwan Yin. My posts on Wednesday and Friday will show some of this art.

Outside the plant nursery building in the very lush, tropical side yard is a traditional full-size Chartres Christian labyrinth, made of narrow bricks countersunk into a crushed gravel base. Cement rondels on which to stand are located in the rose heart-centre of the labyrinth. It makes for a very peaceful and meditative labyrinth walking experience.

In Wednesday's post, I'll focus on the Sacred Garden's second labyrinth, which is a pagan Cretan/Minoan one located inside the plant nursery building.

[All photos © Debra She Who Seeks, November 2016]

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Lest We Forget

The National Aboriginal Veterans Monument is located in Ottawa's Confederation Park near Canada's National War Memorial. It commemorates the wartime service and heroism of Canada's indigenous peoples. Many served with valour and distinction in World Wars I and II, the Korean War and most recently in Afghanistan, despite the historical mistreatment and lack of equality which they endure(d) in Canada.

Four warriors from different indigenous cultures stand, one facing each of the four sacred directions, surrounded by the fierce and powerful totems of Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Elk and Bison.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

--From "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon


[Photos #1 and #6 from the internet; photos #2, #3, #4 and #5 © Debra She Who Seeks, 2010]

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Yet Another Apology

Well, everyone, it seems that I created a MONSTER when I allowed my dearly departed cat, Her Royal Highness, to be my Guest Blogger in August and September. But no, no, don't worry, HRH has not started her OWN blog or anything like that.

It's much, MUCH worse.

She has discovered all of YOUR blogs.

I'm afraid I must warn you that HRH has become . . . *sob* . . . an INTERNET TROLL!

I've noticed recently that she's been leaving SNOTTY, SARCASTIC COMMENTS on some of your blogs. And if you have a pet cat, she sometimes tries to PROPOSITION them in the most outrageously suggestive way.

So I must apologize yet again to all of you for HRH's unconscionably bad behaviour. Please, PLEASE simply ignore her and hope that she goes away.

It's all just a pathetic CRY FOR ATTENTION!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Song for a Winter's Night

Winter arrived full-force in Edmonton on November 1st, with cold, snow, icy roads and windchill. I'm tired of winter already and it hasn't even been a week!

It goes without saying that we'll need some good music to get through it! So here for your listening pleasure are two different versions of a classic winter song recorded by a couple of Canada's greatest singer/songwriters.

I've loved Gordon Lightfoot's voice and his songs ever since I first heard his music on the radio as a small child.

Among all his many other hits, Gordon Lightfoot wrote a beautiful ballad of love and longing called Song for a Winter's Night. He recorded it in his straightforward acoustic folk style in the mid-1970s. It's always been one of my favourites --

Then, in 2003, Sarah McLachlan did her own arrangement of the song and recorded an absolutely stunning new version of it.

So beautifully melodic and evocative, it almost sounds like an entirely different song! When I first heard it, I couldn't believe how wonderful it was --

I hope you enjoy both versions!

Gotta go plug in my car now so the engine won't freeze.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Lost in Transylvania

Saturday evening's event, Lost in Transylvania, took place at the restaurant of Luigi Van Helsing, believed to be a somewhat distant cousin of the noted vampire hunter from Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula. Once again, the gothic, macabre ambiance was expertly created by Lynne of Insomniac's Attic. Chilling, very chilling indeed!

First, we enjoyed a signature cocktail of vodka and cranberry juice, complete with a skelly arm stir-stick and an eyeball hidden deep in its bloody depths. Mmmmm, delicious! I drank mine and My Rare One's, since she was the designated broomstick driver.

The rather unnerving eyeball was a lychee fruit stuffed with a couple of blueberries for an iris. Its smooth but chewy texture is as close to a real eyeball as I ever want to get.

Luigi and his staff produced a wonderful buffet upon which we ghouls, witches, vampires, gypsies and cowboys (well, this is Alberta, you know!) feasted long into the night --

Here's a tantalizing taste of the very stylish table decor --

My Rare One and I had toyed with the idea of bringing along our squeaky rubber rats, Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Fang, but ultimately decided to leave them at home so we wouldn't have to babysit them all evening. As it turned out, I was delighted to have the little rat skeleton to play with instead! And hey, do you like my bracelet?

Now, you know I don't post current, identifiable photos of me on this blog. But I'm making an exception in this post so you can see more of Lynne's wonderfully spooky decor! Yes, the waving witch at the end of the table is me, my face only partially obscured by the black mourning veil of my hat.

And oh, what the hell, here's a couple more revealing photos! First of all, this is Lynne in her gorgeous Victorian mourning dress (which she sewed using an antique pattern), along with My Rare One and me --

And next, here's our "Photo Booth Coffin" shot! My Rare One clearly has not had much practice praying, judging from her awkward hand positioning. Oh, wait a minute . . . it just occurred to me that perhaps she's not praying for my immortal soul after all, but is instead tenting her fingers while chortling "EX-cellent" like Mr Burns on The Simpsons. Well, that puts a different light on things, doesn't it? D'oh!

[Photos #1, #2, #4, #5 and #6 © My Rare One, October 2017; photo #3 by Insomniac's Attic; I'm not sure who took Photos #7 and #8 but thank you for doing so!]

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

A Grave Affair

Last weekend My Rare One and I donned our spookiest black rags, our biggest witch's hats, hopped on our brooms and flew down to southern Alberta for a couple of fabulous Halloween events! A Grave Affair was held on Friday night and Lost in Transylvania took place on Saturday night.

Our favourite vampiress of graveyard pallor, Lynne of Insomniac's Attic, created the perfect macabre, gothic ambiance for both events. The two hosting restaurants each provided an array of delicious food and special drinks to fatten up our skeletal frames. A fun psychic/fortune teller graced both evenings and we met some great new people too!

Lynne created an absinthe bar for the first event, A Grave Affair. At one time, absinthe was the infamously evil alcohol of fin-de-si├Ęcle Paris, beloved of poets, artists and bohemians. Distilled from anise, fennel, wormwood and other botanicals, its unique colour resulted in its nickname, "the green fairy." By World War I, absinthe was banned throughout Europe and the USA as a "dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen" (Wikipedia) although its effects appear to have been greatly exaggerated by the fearful bourgeoisie. However, it does have a high alcohol content, so it should only be taken in moderation.

Serving absinthe requires a fascinating ritual of preparation, which Lynne expertly performed. First, the green absinthe is poured into the bottom of a "reservoir" glass. A special, flat absinthe spoon is then placed to rest horizontally on top of the glass.

A long, rectangular sugar cube is put on top of the spoon. Here's the bowlful of special absinthe sugar cubes that Lynne used --

Then the glass, spoon and sugar cube are placed under one of two long silver spouts on an "absinthe fountain," seen in this next photo. The fountain slowly, oh so slowly, drips ice-cold water onto the sugar cube, dissolving it through the perforations of the spoon into the absinthe below. Adding sugar water in this way to the absinthe both sweetens it a little, taking the edge off its natural bitterness, and dilutes the absinthe, so it's not as potent when the alcohol hits your system.

Here's a photo that My Rare One took of one of the two absinthe fountains at the event. Oh, that eerie glow! I am so thrilled to have had the opportunity to drink absinthe prepared in the traditional manner! It's a rare experience and a special treat indeed.

And speaking of treats, the Rockyview Hotel served up a staggering assortment of delicious appetizers, prepared by their charming young Chilean chef who popped out of the kitchen to greet everyone later in the evening. His artistry culminated in this chocolate coffin brownie in blood-red cherry sauce. Mmmmm! It was, of course, to die for!

Thursday's post -- Lost in Transylvania! And here's a little teaser . . . ALL WILL BE REVEALED! So don't miss it!

[Photos #1 and #4 by Insomniac's Attic Facebook, photo #2 from Wikipedia, photos #3, #5 and #6  © My Rare One, October 2017]

Friday, 27 October 2017

The Big Night Is Almost Here!

Light your candles.

Get out your Book of Shadows.

Call your Familiar to your side.

Oh what the hell, call ALL your Familiars to your side.

Put on your most enchanting dress and jewelry.

Splurge on a new hat.

Pick out a new broom too, while you're at it.

Get all your pumpkins in a row.

Yeah, baby, yeah -- you're back in business!

You've been waiting all year for this!

So get ready to fly with your sisters!