“A Sea of Calm” Mandala Oracle Deck


A Sea of Calm is a self-published 52-card mandala oracle deck by Fiona Stolze. I got a deck from the second printing and just love the artwork. In true contemporary oracle deck form, each card features a keyword or phrase, which can be applied to the divinatory exercise at hand. The deck has a calming, soft energy with exquisite mandala art by Stolze. These are paintings on silk printed onto borderless cards with captions like “Embracing the Divine Feminine,” “Thy Will Be Done,” or “Synthesis.”


The cards are a good fit in my hands, at 2.75″ x 4.75″ and altogether make for a rather slim deck, so it transports easily alongside a tarot deck. The deck description on Stolze’s website notes that the deck is ideal for meditation and contemplation.

Mandalas are, in a nutshell, an art form intended to express the artist’s perspective of the universe, or a certain part of the universe. Religiously, they’re used to help establish sacred space. Thus, an oracle deck of mandala art would be ideal for practitioners who use tarot or oracle decks in meditation. I’d imagine they’d work pretty well, too, for work on the astral plane.

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The Intuitive Tag | Part 1


This one seems interesting. It’s a tag that’s been circulating video blogs, but since I don’t do those, I’ll write out my responses instead. Please also consider participating and, in the comments section, link me to your responses. Also, be sure to share with the blogosphere using the #IntuitiveTag.

I’ll be completing the intuitive tag in various parts. Here’s Part 1.

Share your first paranormal experience that comes to mind.

The first one that comes to mind happened about five years ago, no, maybe even more years ago than that. Know that I have a strange affinity with “11.” It recurs throughout my life and I, like a handful of others, always seem to glance over at the clock when it’s 11:11 exactly.

At the time of this occurrence, the address number of the condo that Hubby and I lived in was 109. The condo next door was 111. We had just moved into this condo, so I was not yet familiar with the neighborhood. In other words, hadn’t one clue where the nearest hospital was.

It was evening, a weeknight. Hubby was still at work and I had just gotten home to start preparing dinner. I had oil heating up in a wok and was chopping up the eggplant to be fired up in that wok. Meanwhile I was yapping away on the phone with my sister.

I lost track of the stove and FOOM! I turned around to see where the sound was coming from and oh my @#$%ing the wok was on fire. The flames were 3 feet high and melting the microwave that was situated above the stove.

“Gotta call you back,” I muttered to my sister on the other line. Then I dropped the phone and panicked.

In a state of panic, I couldn’t think straight. In that moment, it made more sense to me to try to run the flaming wok out of the house into the parking lot than it did to simply try to get it in the sink. I think it’s because I recalled watching something about putting water on a fire and the fire getting bigger, I don’t know, I’m just making excuses now. Anyway, in the moment, I grabbed the handle on the wok and dashed for the front door.

Continue reading “The Intuitive Tag | Part 1”

Jujubes: Traditional Chinese Medicine That Tastes Good

Jujubes 5

I’ve been told that jujubes have been used as part of traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2,500 years, and that they’re great for those with weaker constitutions or frailer health. Drinking jujube tea regularly is supposed to be a great health tonic, and can improve your blood circulation and immune system. Even jujube pits are made into a medicine to heal wounds and treat abdominal pain; the leaves are supposed to help with fevers; and the fruit great for overall physical well-being. Jujube wood is also made into mala prayer beads for meditation, and the metaphysical properties for jujube wood is believed to facilitate spiritual healing.

For women who care about beauty, jujube juice helps improve skintone and complexion, and is supposed to help with beauty. Hey. I’m sold. Pour me some of that jujube juice! It’s also my understanding that they’re “warm,” and so great for those with “cooler” constitutions, like me. So I’ve been trying to improve my health (and hey, I’ll admit it, beauty) with regular dosages of jujube tea. Fortunately, we have a jujube tree in our front yard.

Our jujube tree in the spring.
Our jujube tree in the spring.

In the spring and early summer, the jujube tree blooms these delicate white and fragrant blossoms. In the above photo, they haven’t reached their full whiteness yet. I took this pic last spring. Jujube blossoms symbolize love and romance in Eastern cultures, an association likely to have come from the fragrant scent of these flowers.

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Review of Tarot of the Holy Light


See also:

Back in 2011, Christine Payne-Towler came out with Tarot of the Holy Light, illustrated by comic book artist Michael Dowers. It was self-published by her via Noreah Press.

However, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I didn’t become aware of the deck’s existence until last year. You can order the deck over at Tarot University. This deck, along with Christine Payne-Towler, is going down in tarot history, mark my words, and while far be it for me to tell you what to do, I’d get a copy of this deck while it’s still available.

The Tarot of the Holy Light, with its little white booklet
The Tarot of the Holy Light, with its little white booklet

Anyone who has explored esoteric tarot has heard of Christine Payne-Towler. She’s written some of the most compelling, provocative articles on tarot scholarship available, many of which you can find at Tarot.com or at ArkLetters. Payne-Towler is one of my tarot heroines.

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Bones For Your Health: Metaphysical Energy Work with Bone

Shank Bone 1

I love bone soup. Beef shank (that is mostly bone), a lineup of dried Chinese medicinal herbs, shallots, and carrots go into a big pot with water and is simmered for a whole weekend. The broth that results is magical. Serious! With the end result, we used everything but the bone. The fat skimmed off would be saved in the fridge and over the course of the week, used for stir-frying vegetable dishes. All the goopy herby junk would go to compost. And, well of course, the broth would be used for the most amazing soups and noodle soups you’ve ever had.

But those bones. What to do with the bones? Finally found a use.

In the past month, I opted to time my broth making to the lunar phases, once over the first quarter, a waxing moon, again through the full moon, and a final time through the waning moon, for a total of three cleaned shank bones. I noted how after the long, arduous cooking time for the broth, the shank bones pretty much could be pulled out of the pot clean, just as you see it above. I then rinsed them in rain water (the rainfall being perfectly timed where I live, if I might add, so that I could do that) and then buried the bones in sandalwood and sage ash, which I’ve collected over who knows how many times of burning sandalwood or sage here around the house, plus a quartz crystal for good amplifying measure.

The bones will then go through a few more processes this Friday through the new moon, which coincides with the first day of spring. So not only is the bone broth that I’ve made good for my health, but I’ll be able to put these bones to use, too.

Continue reading “Bones For Your Health: Metaphysical Energy Work with Bone”

Candied Kumquats for Soothing Sore Throats and Coughs


Kumquat tea is the best for sore throats and coughs. You make that by first drying out fresh kumquats in the sun for a few days, then storing in an air-tight glass jar filled with sea salt. Let that sit in your basement for at least a month. When you want to make the tea, you remove a couple of the dried, preserved kumquats from the jar (that has been sitting in your basement for a month), steep it with boiling water, and add a few spoonfuls of honey for a great home remedy to cure sore throats and coughs. I’m not a big fan of kumquat tea or jars of salted fruit that’s been sitting in my basement. So I present to you candied kumquats, a great alternative. It still works and in fact helped soothe my sore throat and dry cough that I came down with over the weekend.

CandiedKumquats_1 Peeled and Chopped

The fruits from our kumquat tree are pretty small, so I halved them only. If your kumquats are larger or like the store-bought ones, then you may want to quarter them. I pulled out all of the interior, which can be reserved for making tea or tossing with dark green leafy salads (either kale or baby spinach salads).  The skin is the sweetest part, so I only make this candy with the skins. Continue reading “Candied Kumquats for Soothing Sore Throats and Coughs”

Blue and black, white and gold? The parable of the elephant, witness testimony, and the relationship of artist and critic.

Jardim Zoológico de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil. Source: Daderot via Wikimedia Commons
Jardim Zoológico de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil. Source: Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

One summer in my childhood I was forced to attend a Buddhist camp at a monastery where we woke up at the crack of dawn to do shaolin and meditate, ate vegetarian, prayed our gratitude to everyone we knew and ever met before we could eat said vegetarian food, and had to sit in uncomfortable cross-legged positions while listening to lectures.

There was one lecture I remember when a monk told us the parable of four blind men who came upon an elephant, felt it, and were describing the elephant based on what they were perceiving. I’m totally paraphrasing the details here, based on memory, but the point remains the same. One blind man came upon the elephant’s trunk, another the belly, another the leg, and another the tail, and each one concluded matter-of-factly about the whole character of the elephant based on that one part they were feeling. The elephant is long and cylindrical… No, are you crazy? The elephant is flat and wide… No, no, the elephant is like a column or pillar…

Continue reading “Blue and black, white and gold? The parable of the elephant, witness testimony, and the relationship of artist and critic.”

The Witches Tarot: Deck Interview (and Review)

Witches Tarot 01

I totally swiped this deck interview idea from Kate at Daily Tarot Girl. Read her blog post about it here. I was gifted the Witches Tarot, a deck created by Ellen Dugan and illustrated by Mark Evans. It’s a Rider-Waite-Smith based deck with photographic digital art that is a near seamless blending of realism and fantasy.

The cards are 2.75″ x 4.60″, a typical size for tarot, though perhaps a smidge smaller, which means they shuffle great in my hands, fan out just beautifully across a tabletop, and are very easy to work with. It’s published by Llewellyn and has a pretty standard Llewellyn/Lo Scarabeo cardstock quality. For an RWS tarot practitioner who likes modern digital art, the Witches Tarot would make an incredible workhorse reading deck.

Witches Tarot 03

The cardbacks are so pretty. There’s a galactic vibe to it and at the center, the triple goddess symbol, with the waxing crescent, full moon, and waning crescent moon. The backs are not reversible, however, as one edge is reddish and the other bluish. I’ve opted not to read with reversals when using this deck.

Now, without further ado, let’s interview the Witches Tarot with Kate’s suggested questions.

BENEBELL: What is your main mission or message in this world?

Witches Tarot Interview Q1

WITCHES TAROT [WT]: Page of Swords

The page is represented by a tall, thin teenage boy on a green plain. He wears a talisman with a hawk around his neck. This card, per the Companion guidebook is about thinking quickly and active decisively. However, use wit, not brute force. Per the traditional attribution of the card, that of messages, the hawk symbolizes messages. What an appropriate card to respond to the question with! In the Witches Tarot deck is embedded Ellen Dugan’s message, a message about her belief systems, her traditions and how she has integrated those traditions with the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, and a quick and natural wit about the deck’s style that will attract its followers.

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