DSC00871A few weeks ago I became a student in a local comedy class. It’s always been a terrifying fantasy of mine to try stand-up, and since I’m turning 60 this year I figured now to be as good a time as any to get on it.

We’re now in week #7 of class, with our “Graduation Show” coming up this Saturday. I am prepared and yes, duly terrified.

Early on in the writing of the material to be presented in the final presentation, I’d included a bit about how much I love and appreciate gardening. Aside from the emotional benefits of playing in the dirt and creating beauty, it is truly amazing how much fruit a single tomato or bean seed can yield.

With this thought in mind, I’d written something like,

“It’s so satisfying to toss a few seeds into the dirt and get results months later. I threw a dozen eggs into the garden last fall and I’m really looking forward to having chickens this spring.”

That bit got ditched — I have much better stuff now for the final show! But, an interesting thing happened today.

It was the first day in the garden since last fall. The garden gate had to be pried loose from the ice pack holding it shut, but once I was in, it was heaven.

Steady March sun warmed me and the earth as I worked to clear a place for the peas. (It’s a personal tradition dating back to childhood to plant peas on Good Friday, whenever on the calendar that day might occur.) Even though snow had to be shoved around, green shoots of onion and strawberry were ready to take off their winter coats.

Although this is the 6th year I’ve tilled this particular garden plot, new and foreign “stuff” still shows up in the dirt. Last year I found an intact glass bottle from a well-established local pharmacy, and there’s always more shards and rocks and marbles and nails that have wiggled their way up, around, and about to the surface of the soil.


But lordy, look what I found today! The thing is metal, about 2” high, probably from the 50’s or 60’s given the style of painting:

All I can say is, someone has a sense of humor.


Jeanne Fiorini loves it when nature conspires to amaze and amuse.

TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.com
She’s NEAT http://shesneat.com


Around The Bean Pole

Here’s a photo of the bean plant that grew in my garden this year. When posted on Facebook back in August, the caption was something like, “I get it now about Jack and that bean stalk.” Nine feet tall is a modest estimate, and you can see the tendrils attempting to reach even higher.

There are baggies of beans in the freezer and the thing is still producing fruit even though we’re now into the second week of October. Along with providing the daily requirements of Vitamins A, C, K, iron, and fiber, picking beans from this plant taught me something that I already knew but about which I apparently needed a reminder: It’s all about perspective.

From the kitchen window I see the beans hanging from the vines and think, “Oh, better go out and get those before they get too big and become tough and woody.” Out I go with a bowl to cull what might be ripe for the picking.

Round the pole we go, gathering beans up and down as we spin around the circumference of the beast. Retracing steps in the other direction, it’s amazing to find fat and ready beans that were missed first time around. What was under a leaf coming from the northwest corner is in full view from the southeast vantage point. What was “too far down and out of sight” is at eye level once you scootch yourself closer to the dirt.

Back around we go for a third time, invariably discovering more and more fruit that went unnoticed in previous passes. How did these go undetected? How could I have missed this one? Why didn’t I think to look at the very bottom of the plant, almost into the soil, where the vines are doing exactly what they’re doing at the top of the plant: stretching, reaching, sprouting, growing.

This is great news for the dinner table and the pantry, but for the reflective person I can’t help being, it brings up concerns about what else I may be missing, what else I am not seeing: work opportunities, potential friends and lovers, essential information regarding health and wellbeing, not to mention useful blog ideas and bargains at the grocery store.

The bean pole teaches me that the best I can do is to keep my eyes open and try to look at things from as many perspectives as possible. “Bend your neck, move your head, shift your posture, use your eyeballs to really see what is there, and not just perceive what you expect to see.”

That last one is the hardest of all. When I catch myself being guilt of this sin, of not seeing what is there because of what I expected to see instead, I say to myself, “Silly human.”

I doubt other animals do this to themselves; they don’t have the luxury of being able to misperceive reality.

Tuesday’s Tiny Tarot Class: The Empress

Since we’ve just celebrated Mother’s Day and because we’re in the astrological sign of Taurus which is ruled by her favorite planet Venus, let’s talk about The Empress.

Let’s say The Empress was about to do some online dating. She can’t help herself — ruled by the planet Venus, all matters of love (and beauty) are at the very top of her priority list. She would choose eHarmony for this project since The Empress is all about collaboration and facilitating harmonious relationships wherever she goes. Her online profile might look something like this:

Graceful, easy-going woman comfortable with herself and her environment seeks compatible partner for long-term relationship and the co-creation of numerous children.  An appreciation for beauty in all its varied forms is a must.

Enjoys gardening, painting, being pregnant, and sharing abundance with family and friends. Prefers the quiet comfort of home over a busy social scene any day.

Favorite color is green (and so is naturally attracted to all trees, especially evergreens), values all kinds of adornment, fine fabrics and jewelry, especially if these involve rose quartz or any-sized emerald. (Save the diamonds for those fancy high-maintenance ladies.) Favorite number is “3.”

Dislikes include conflict, being alone, cold bath water, chaos, plastic, squares, barren landscapes, and far-flung idealism.

A lover of nature and content in any season, enjoys long walks on the beach…hey wait a minute, I AM the beach…and the ocean…and the seashells … and the birds….

Graceful, easy-going woman comfortable with herself and her environment seeks compatible partner willing to bring their own equipment and join her on the beach. 

Empress image from the Rider Waite Tarot (c) US Games Systems Inc.

Two Houses Under One Roof

This is a picture of my house.  I love my house. I like to think of it as “The House That Tarot Built,” but that’s not really true; it’s more a case of “the house that 20 years of equity in other houses built,” but that’s not the point.

The point is, when I moved into this house almost 6 years ago, it was a statement of becoming more visible, of having a larger presence in my community, of being willing to say, “I’m here, I ‘m a Tarot reader, we all need to get used to it.”

Most of the readings that I do and the classes I teach happen here at this house. Currently there’s a “Tarot Reader’s Practice Group” convening here on Thursday evenings, a group which is often divided up into pairs to work on specific methods or layouts, or to practice an exercise that has been set forth for them to test drive.

To keep the “teacher vibe” out of the room, I often go upstairs and sit at the computer for a moment or just putter around up there , giving the students some physical and energetic space in which to practice their  skills. From that perch I can hear the hum of conversation and the buzz of their attention as they work on their assignment.

What a pleasure it is to listen as that and the occasional uproarious laughter fills the rooms. It makes me and the house feel all warm and happy, even when at the end of the evening they each get into their cars and drive off to their respective homes. This house is more than a home, it’s a classroom, a gathering place, a place for learning and sharing.

We Mainers had a very warm spell back in March, as did many folks around the country. During the middle of that month, in the early part of the mornings, I would hear a rhythmic and persistent pecking on the second-story west-facing side of the house. Looking out I could see that it was chickadees who were making the ruckus. Since the house is sided in shingles, I figured the birds were seeking out a breakfast of bugs or small insects of some sort.

My granddaughter and I would watch them flit around the window as they regularly and earnestly returned to that specific part of the house’s exterior. “The eating must be pretty good here at Jeanne’s Bug Café,” I’d say to Vera.

This activity went on for about a month, until this week when it stopped. Suddenly my morning wasn’t being punctuated by the rapping on the side wall as I’d become so accustomed to hearing. So I wrenched myself out from the bathroom window and peered back around to see what there was to see, to understand why the pecking had stopped, to learn what all the fuss had been about.

As you can see, the birds weren’t into breakfast, but had  in mind something of a much greater design.

Looks like I’m going to be a grammie again! And now there will be two families living under this one roof.

My older brother would have a fit about this, sure to tell me all about how detrimental such a thing is the to integrity of the house construction. He’s probably right, but I’ll let the chickadees have their babies and then clear up the space once they’ve left. I’m happy to share the warmth and comfort of my home and am honored that they chose the South Portland Tarot Palace as the place to introduce their little ones to this world.

Addendum: This from a reliable source: Incubation lasts 12-13 days. It usually begins the day before the female lays the last egg, so that all eggs will hatch within 24 hours of each other. I’ll keep you posted.


The April Fool

 You could probably learn all you’d ever need to know about the Tarot’s Fool card by spending this day browsing various posts on the internet. April 1st is the day of The Fool in more ways than one and lots of people will be talking about that today.

Known as a day tailor-made for practical jokers the world over (yes, it’s not just Americans who enjoy this secular holiday), the customs of the day derive from the Roman festivals of Hilaria, a statement which in itself sounds like a joke aimed at the more gullible folks in the crowd.

But the Hilaria were actual Roman festivals celebrated in late March, in recognition of the vernal equinox and to honor the earth goddess Cybele. In a significant correlation between these festivals (whose purpose was the expression of a deeply felt gratitude for the return of the “life force”) and the advent of spring is the appearance of the astrological sign of Aries.

Considered the “first” astrological sign, Aries is the force that spurns the cycle of life back into gear yet again, as it begins another spin around the wheel. Assigned the attribute “cardinal fire,” Aries signals the return of vitality as evidenced by longer and warmer days, budding trees, and the mating of animals. It isn’t surprising to note that the Christian celebration of Easter occurs near the early days of Aries and has symbolic roots to the Hilarian rites of renewal and transformation. Each event provides the same message: Life is changed and Life has returned to earth… hallelujah!

The Fool’s role in the Tarot is perfect in its relationship both to these concepts as well, in that:

  • The card represents a deeply meaningful event and at the same time is lighthearted and joyous (as were the festivals of Hilaria)
  • It is a card that reflects the notion of the transcendence of the physical while being of the physical at the same time (the resurrection story)
  • It is a card that symbolises both the instigating force of and the completion of a cycle (The Fool is both the Alpha and the Omega)
  • It is the embodiment of being “in the moment” as well as the experience of eternal life
  • It is a card of boundless awareness and childlike innocence coexisting within an individual person or any given moment

With all that in mind, it’s significant that The Fool’s number assignment within the Tarot system is Zero. This is a very transcendent concept, Zero. How do we conceive of that which is  Zero? Anything we might think of is something and therefore is not Zero. Even to envision a spacious black hole-like vacuum is to conceive of some-thing, and so is not a no-thing.

And do we need to mention that the number zero itself  is a circle, a never-ending path, an image of cycles and of eternity? Round and ’round we go and yet we’re always in the same place. Is your head spinning yet?

It makes no sense and yet is transcendent and true in the same breath. This is the nature of the Tarot’s Fool.

When we see The Fool in a reading it can imply what its name might suggest: that someone is being immature, careless, self-absorbed, or ignorant of the reverberations of their actions. But more times than not, The Fool indicates the call to a new beginning; not just the turning over of a new leaf but the planting of a new tree.

In a twist of irony and word play, The Fool is the card in the Tarot which is closest to The Source/Creator/God/Universe … whatever word you prefer for that concept. As such, this is the card which speaks most closely to our real and true authentic Self. An unfortunate truth it is that when we act from that pure and authentic place within ourselves we are very often perceived as actually foolish.

So here’s the April Fool’s Day Challenge: rather than playing a meaningless prank on someone today, consider expressing some of your inner Fool. Prank others by being real.  Be childlike. Be boundless in your awareness. Be in the day, moment to moment, and recognize your place in the dance of eternity.

Have a Hilarias day.

What Time Is It?

I’ve started wearing a watch again. It was a statement of some sort when I took if off about 10 years ago, being fed up with it bossing me around. Even the name of it is a command: “Watch? Watch what? Don’t tell me what to do!”

And, it’s a statement of some sort here in 2012 now that I’ve returned the thing to my wrist.

As soon that sentence was put on the page, I knew I’d have to justify the words. The thoughts took a while to congeal, because although the re-attachment of the timing function onto my body seems like the right thing to do, I hadn’t really articulated why.

But now that it has called out to be defined, I’d say that I’m ready to engage with the world in a new way, on my own terms and in my own sense of time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of “time” lately, the words ringing in my head that there really is no such thing, that time is a man-made construct invented to order our experience, that time and space are irrelevant to modern thinkers, blah blah blah. And while it all makes sense intuitively, my linear brain still wasn’t satisfied.

An epiphany came when I realized that what we call “time” is not a measurement of time, but a measurement of change. A certain number of spins around the watch or the calendar only matters if something changes; and conversely, things that are “timeless” are seemingly not affected by the forces of change.

This explains a lot! This is why even though my body has 58 sun cycles under its belt I feel, inside myself, that I’m 14. That 14-year old part of me has not changed; it is beyond the bounds of time. Maybe my soul is and always was and always will be tuned to the vibration of a 14-year old. The 96-year old woman I take to lunch twice a week says she’s 40, and I believe her.

As I’m writing these words, the battery-operated clock in my office clicks away loudly, a reminder that soon my daughter will be here to pick up the chicken and that in 3 hours a friend is coming by for dinner. These concepts help us organize our day but we’re really not moving through time, as is so comforting and sometimes agonizing to consider. In essence, we’ve created time to move through.

“Live in the moment.” “Be in the moment.” “Live in the Now.” We’ve all heard these words for many years, and yet most of us do anything but. (Say what you will, we’re very much tied to the watch, the clock and the calendar.) But now it’s clear that the practice of being aware of the present moment not only fosters an appreciation of what IS, it also allows this notion of the artificiality of “time” to emerge.

All of this makes it much easier, almost a pleasure, now, to wear a watch. I shopped around and bought myself something really pretty, something that would be a piece of jewelry, an accessory, and something that reflects my personal taste and esthetics. It is a nice feeling to have it on my sitting lightly on wrist.

It’s not like it’s keeping track of anything real.

We Are Stardust

How I love it when things from different realities come together!

It started when a post on Facebook caught my eye.
It was not the words that first drew my attention, but the image of a spiraling solar system. Then the photo’s caption piqued my interest further: The Most Astounding Fact.

Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked what he considered to be the most astounding fact about the universe. Given that this guy is an astrophysicist, his notion of “astounding” is probably pretty broad ….  interest spiked.

His videotaped response fostered a cross-fire of connections in my mind between two very disparate thoughts: the Perennial Philosophy and one of my favorite bands of all time, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

First, the Perennial Philosophy: the age-old axiom “As Above, So Below.” We see this idea played out in world religions, the practice of alchemy, the history of mythology, secular Qabalah, and pretty much any other conceptualization of how we got on this planet and what we’re doing here.

Simply put, it’s the idea that the force that rules the heavens is the same force that rules the physical plane; that the spiritual and the physical worlds are not distinct and separate entities but rather are mirrors of one another. Much of our everyday existence totally disregards this basic truth of nature.

And then we have one of the best rock bands ever, CSN and sometimes Y. These guys are cranking it out 40+ years later, yet their music strikes a poignant chord of wistfulness and hope from the 60’s when we still believed things could change. I saw this Neil deGrasse Tyson clip and all I could think of were the words to “Woodstock” … We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year-old carbon….

As above so below. True 43 years ago in Yazgur’s field, true tomorrow, true a million years ago, and true a million years from tomorrow.

When something is true, there’s just no escaping it. Watch the video and judge for yourself.

A Weekend Fit For The Empress

This past weekend was one befitting the Queen of the Tarot, The Empress.

It all starts with lots of trees.

Nine members of my family met for a gathering in the Adirondack region of upstate New York. The Adirondack Park proper encompasses about 6 million acres and is constitutionally protected to remain a “forever wild” forest preserve. The Empress is happy already.

My daughter arranged the gathering with her same-age cousin, primarily because they each had a child — and each had a daughter — born in the past year or so. (That Empress has been busy!) So we had two very little girls, two sets of parents, myself playing the role of Grammie, my brother hosting the event and Grandpa to his grand-daughter, and my mom (whom we call “Big G” for great-grandmother) rounding out the event. In case you missed it, that makes 4 generations of women, and we take advantage of every opportunity to preserve the occasion in photos. (See to the right)

OK, so you’ve got four matrilinear generations meeting in the forest of upstate NY. Since we’re from Maine we were asked to bring fish and seafood. My nephew and his family brought an upstate delicacy, “spiedies,” which have to be tasted to be believed. Big G gets bored in the winter months when she can’t be out working in her garden (which really is spectacular, see photo below) so has taken up learning how to be, essentially, a pastry chef. We ate very well.

And The Empress smiled.

All this would have been enough to satisfy any Empress: family, abundance, procreation, nature, and good wholesome food. But the icing on the cake was our visit to the nearby Alpaca farm, which I’m pretty sure I enjoyed more than did the kids.

Did you ever meet an Alpaca face-to-face? They have the most beautiful face, the most incredible eyes, and unbelievable eyelashes. No kidding, they’ve got to be 4″ long. At this time of year, these gorgeous animals are still in their winter coats, and will be until May or June. Even in March, though, you can put your finger straight down into their fur and go down about 2 knuckles-length before you hit flesh and bone.  Not to mention the fact that you’ll never feel anything softer than what they wear around in that barn.

So, in addition to all the Empress-blessings we planned to experience, the unexpected trip into the animal world brought us fully into the wonder and beauty of nature that is the hallmark and the joy of The Empress.

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