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Meet the Knights of the Tarot by Alayna Williams



I love using Tarot cards to help me develop characters and ideas. Whenever I get stuck on a character or concept, I shuffle and draw a card. Sometimes, the results are thought-provoking. Other times, I follow the image down a rabbit hole of whimsy. 

One of the things I've learned is that every card has its positive and negative meanings...just like people. In that spirit, I'd like to introduce you to four exceptional gentlemen...the Knights of the Tarot. They're the embodiment of the romantic ideals of the chivalrous knights of old, but in very different ways. 



First up is the Knight of Swords. He's your man of action, riding his white horse at breakneck speed over the landscape. His sword is lifted, and he's rushing into battle. He's the fellow who brings dramatic change, expansive vision. He's brave and full of derring-do. He'll build a business empire from a single idea. 

But he also has his drawbacks. He's blunt, sometimes too blunt. He also tends to be overbearing, and will charge ahead with what he wants. He's very intelligent - and will often let you know it. Because he's an avatar of the element of air, he will often view people too logically, discounting their feelings.

In short, he'll come to your rescue. But he might be a bit of an ass when it comes to cuddling. 


Up next is the Knight of Wands.  Like the Knight of Swords, he's in armor, rushing forward on a fiery red steed. The pattern of his tunic is one of salamanders, revealing him to be an avatar of fire. He cuts an impressive figure, all gold in the shining sunlight. He's all about adventure, passion, and charm. He's an ideal lover, and acts on his emotions...all of them.

That can be something of a problem. While the Knight of Wands is great in the bedroom, he tends to be a bit superficial. He's thrilling, but tends to have the attention span of a gnat. He's easily distracted by the next horizon to conquer. He tends to be a little shallow. 

He'll rock your world, for a day or even a season. But after that, consider him gone.



Third is the Knight of Pentacles. He arrives on a majestic black warhorse in full armor. His horse is standing still, however, and he's looking thoughtfully at a giant pentacle in his hands. He's loyal - the kind of knight who'll stand by your side 'til the end of time. He's also tied to the element of earth, and represents wealth. He's a pragmatic guy who knows how to make and hold onto money. He works hard and sees things realistically. 

But all that hard work can make the Knight of Pentacles a dull boy. He can be serious, maybe too serious and tends to depression. He can become obsessively married to his work. Though you don't need to fear that he's found another damsel to rescue, he can be gone on quests for a long time. 

The Knight of Pentacles is a steady partner. But there won't be much spice to that partnership. 


Last is the Knight of Cups.  He's very shiny, sitting atop his prancing steed. He is more beautifully dressed than any of the other Knights...and he's bringing you a gift of a chalice. He's romantic, sensitive, artsy. He can be a dreamer. He'll paint your portrait or sing beneath your window. He enjoys the finer things in life and will love to see you in beautiful clothes...

When he's done admiring himself. He's the avatar of water, and can be as temperamental as the sea. He can be over-emotional. He'll cry at sad movies. His daydreaming can cause him to lack motivation. He can be moody. Maybe too moody.  He'll while away an afternoon contemplating the shapes of clouds. 

The Knight of Cups can woo you and make your heart melt with heartfelt poetry. But be prepared to deal with sulking, jealousy, and running hot and cold.

The Knights represent different archetypes, different ideas. None of them, like people in real life, is ever ideal. 

But it sure is a lot of fun to watch 'em joust. 

~Author Laura Bickle writes the Delphi Oracle Series as Alayna Williams.

Halloween How To- Dress Up Your Halloween Party with DIY Wine Glass Charms




Wine glass charms are one of the absolute easiest crafty things you can do. You can really dress things up with little effort.

No beading or jewelry skills required. The hardest part is opening and closing the jump rings to add your charms.




Items Needed to Make 6 Wine Glass Charms:

Small beads with openings large enough to go over the wire. I use 4 beads per charm (6 charms = 24 beads, 2 colors so 12 of each color. I use glass seed beads size 6e from Michaels.







6 Focal charms- you can use a general Halloween theme or use charms specific to a unique theme. I made both a general Halloween theme set and a vampire themed set. Each wine glass with have a different charm- Haunted House, Fangs, Bite Me, Zombie, Witch Hat, Mask, Bat, etc.


6 metal hoops/wine glass charm rings that will fit around the bottom of a wine glass



2 pair of small needle nose pliers

6 small jump rings- you want the ring large enough to go over the wire but small enough that it will not go over the bead. You want the charms to stay between the beads and not move around.

Directions:

Put jump rings on each of your focal charms. I do this by holding the jump ring with pliers in each hand and gently spreading the ring open. I put the charm in the ring then grip the ring with both sets of pliers and close it.

Determine the order you want your bead colors and charm then put your put two beads on the wire hoop

Add your charm

Add the second two beads

Close the hoop

Voila, your first charm is complete

Now repeat for the remaining 5 charms

See? Super easy.






The Lovers in the Tarot by Alayna Williams




I use Tarot cards a good deal in my writing, to give me ideas about creating characters and develop plot points. Sometimes, I pick cards on purpose that catch my eye, but more often, I deal them out at random. I let my imagination roam over the pictures to generate situations and connections.

One of the cards that captures many peoples’ imagination is the Lovers card. When I first glance at the card, I see a man and a woman standing under the sun, blessed by the archangel Gabriel. On the surface, it’s a card that gives one a warm fuzzy, as love so often does. It’s easy to assume that this card is all about romantic love and eternal bliss.

But there’s much more to the Lovers than that, as there is in any relationship.

When I look more closely at the card, I see a tree in flames behind the man, and the serpent coiling around the Biblical Tree of Knowledge behind the woman. The man and woman are also standing apart, as opposites. The traditional meaning of the card is that the querant is at a crossroads – a choice must be made between two alternatives. Duality is represented here: good and evil, knowledge and naivete…and harmonizing them.



The card also reminds me of famous mythological couples, especially the story of Isis and Osiris. Isis and Osiris ruled Egypt as king and queen, overseeing a prosperous kingdom and happy subjects. Osiris’ brother, Set, was jealous of his brother’s power.

Set lured Osiris into a coffin, nailed it shut with a host of co-conspirators, and sent the coffin floating down the Nile. When she heard of this, Isis flew away in search of her husband. 

Convinced that without proper burial, he would not be able to reach the Land of the Dead, she searched the river for the coffin. She succeeded in finding the coffin lodged in a cedar tree and took it with her. Isis hid it away in an isolated marshland as she prepared the proper rituals to allow Osiris to enter the Land of the Dead.

But Set was not through. He discovered the coffin, tore it open, and dismembered the body. He scattered the pieces of Osiris’ body all over Egypt.

The distraught Isis began to search for the pieces. She searched high and low until she had gathered them all and sang him back to life to receive the proper rituals. At this time, she conceived a child with him, Horus, the falcon-headed god that many of us associate with ancient Egypt.

But Osiris was dead, and could not remain in the land of the living. He descended to the underworld to become King of the Dead. Though he and Isis were reunited, they were also separated by that bridge of life and death…

…and this idea brings us back to the Lovers card, the union of opposites. Life and death are the ultimate opposites. And when we turn the card upside down to read its reversed meaning, it signifies division in a Tarot card reading.

And that’s what love’s often about in a story…union and division. Love is never a smooth road. Even fairy tales and old myths have monsters and obstacles. The Lovers card reminds us, through the distance between the man and woman – whether we cast them as Isis and Osiris, Adam and Eve – standing apart from each other and reaching out.

~Author Laura Bickle writes the Delphi Oracle Series as Alayna Williams.

Paranormal Musings with Ann Gimpel



I believe in paranormal phenomena. I actually believe it’s a prerequisite for anyone writing fiction with paranormal elements.

Let me kick this off by sharing one of my experiences. About twenty years ago, I was living in Shingletown, California, a small community a few miles east of Redding.  I took a shortcut one morning on back mountain roads to drive to Burney where I was scheduled to do a radio broadcast. 

Coming down Highway 44, the steering wheel of my Volkswagen Rabbit ripped its way to the stops. My car spun a few times and slammed into a snow bank leaving me shaken. I looked at the clock: 7:58 A.M. I hadn’t been speeding. The pavement was bare and dry. I was worried I’d developed a mechanical problem in the steering mechanism, but when I fired up the car and drove the rest of the way to my destination, it didn’t misbehave. I found out later that day a very, very close friend of mine—basically the brother I never had—died at exactly 7:56 that morning. I figured Don was trying to take me with him. 

I’ve had other experiences over the years that defy rational explanations. I’ve also had many, many patients over my long years as a therapist relate fantastic events. One of the reasons I was drawn to Jungian dream work is its emphasis on the paranormal. It’s not widely known, but Jung was a mystic. Before he’d accept a patient, he insisted they have their astrological chart done. He’d look at his chart next to theirs (synastry) and decide whether he could work with them. 

Dreams speak to us in symbols. But it goes far deeper than that. Symbols have archetypal value; they’re also unique to the dreamer. So, for example, snakes in my dreams might mean something entirely different than snakes in yours. This is why “kitchen table” dream books that list symbols and their meanings are almost less than useless.

I had a bad climbing fall once. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured beyond contusions that started with my forehead, extended to a very black eye, and covered one arm and both legs. It took a couple of months for the bruising to totally resolve. At one point, I dreamed I was standing by myself in the middle of an empty plain. It was twilight. A phalanx of snakes slithered toward me from every direction. They crawled up my body and wound around it. In the morning, I felt like I’d turned a corner and was well on the way to having my body mend.  In my dream, snakes were a positive factor. In many of my clients’ dreams, they’ve been portents of disaster. That’s what I mean by symbolism in dreams being unique to the dreamer. Interestingly, when I told my own analyst the dream, he clucked at me, went to a closet, and drew out a painting. It was an almost exact depiction of my dream, except instead of snakes, it was sea serpents swimming toward the central figure. One of his other patients had painted it years before. That would be a good launching point for a discussion of the Collective Unconscious, but this blog post isn’t the place for that.

If you pay attention to your dreams, over time you learn the language unique to your psyche.

Years ago, Marie Louise Von Franz and Fraser Boa made a movie called the Way of the Dream. It’s available in DVD (4 of them) and some clips are even available on You Tube. If you’re truly interested in Jungian dream work, this is a must see. It’s clearly dated since it was made in 1995, but Von Franz was Jung’s primary disciple. She joined Jung when she was 18 and never left. Oh, she attended college and graduate school, but she lived all her life at Bollingen, Jung’s retreat in Switzerland. 

If you have any questions about Jung or dream analysis, I’d be glad to try to answer them.


~Ann Gimpel is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lifelong aficionado of the unusual, Ann began writing speculative fiction a few years back. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines, magazines, and anthologies. Her longer paranormal romance and urban fantasy books are available in e-format, print, and audio. In 2014, after two dozen books with publishers, she made the leap into self-publishing. She’s loving the freedom and it’s possible she’ll never look back. Learn more at https://www.anngimpel.com/

Halloween is Coming to Your Local Store Sooner Than You Might Think

Are you eagerly awaiting the day that Halloween goodies start showing up in your local stores?

These are the pretties Michaels had last year. 

My favorites, of course, are all the red and black decorations  with an elegant vampire/Goth aesthetic. My bestie loves sugar skulls so I took photos of all those for her.













I am always waiting to see such dark loveliness. I think those of us with Halloween in our hearts are always waiting for the signs that Halloween is coming. I can't wait to see what the stores have this year.

Spooky Little Halloween has made a handy little Halloween Cheat Sheet for her readers to help keep track of when all the goodies start showing up in stores.

HALLOWEEN CHEAT SHEET

Miranda from Spooky Little Halloween tracked the arrival dates of Halloween at several major U.S. retailers last year and put it all together in this handy cheat sheet. 

If you want more Halloween news? Subscribe to the Spooky Little Halloween Newsletter bit.ly/tntnewsletter

I am marking my calendar so I can start checking any of the stores that are local and online. :-) 

Look- some stores start putting out stuff as early as JULY!!!!

JULY

At Home
Big Lots
Cracker Barrel
Hallmark
Jane.com
JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores
Michaels
Zulily

AUGUST

99 Cents Only Store
Bullseye’s Playground (formerly Dollar Spot at Target)
Crate and Barrel
Dollar Tree
Grandin Road
HomeGoods
Kirklands
Kroger
Marshall’s
Pier One
Pottery Barn
Ross
Spirit Halloween (Depends on local lease terms)
TJMaxx
World Market

SEPTEMBER

Halloween City
Halloween Express
Hobby Lobby
Party City
Spirit Halloween (Depends on local lease terms)
Target
Walmart

~ Learn more about Spooky Little Halloween at bit.ly/aboutSLH. Miranda's blog totally rocks and this summer she is reviving her Travel Tuesday feature that showcases haunted and spooky places to visit. Spooky Little Halloween is by far my favorite Halloween blog. 

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe



Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door,
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;, vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore,
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me, filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door,
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you", here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!",
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore,
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;,
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door,
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore,
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door,
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered,
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before,
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore,
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never, nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore,
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee, by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite, respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!, prophet still, if bird or devil!,
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted,
On this home by horror haunted, tell me truly, I implore,
Is there, is there balm in Gilead?, tell me, tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil, prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us, by that God we both adore,
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore,
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting,
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!, quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my
door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted, nevermore!