"Gardens do not plant and tend to themselves. Soil just doesn’t magically become awesome, particularly here in the Missouri backwoods. A controlled burn might look like a hell of a lot of fun to you- because yer such an edgie cute little pyro aintcha- but it is actually work. Chickens and ducks don’t build their own pens. Solar showers don’t just POOF! into existence. Food grown doesn’t can itself or dry itself. The wood does not cut or cure itself." 
The above text comes from my friend Holly, over on Facebook. She's a pretty cool person, and has enough of her act together that she could teach many of the people whom I know a thing or two about revolution.  I quote this, because it brings home the very real 'work' that many of us choose to undertake in order to live the lives we want to live. 

I remember when I lived on the farm, and I had a wood-burning cook-stove, and I had chickens in the coop. The milk came from a cow, not a plastic jug, and the meat came from rabbits and pheasants that my in-laws caught. I baked my own bread, knit my own sweaters, sewed my own curtains, and split my own firewood. It was a very full life -- and my friends all asked me why I wanted to make it so complicated. 

See, to people like myself and Holly, this kind of living is NOT complicated. Hard work, yes, but oh, so high rewards. I once was talking to a bureaucrat on the phone about a cellphone bill (yes, I have a cellphone, and I use it, but I do not depend on it for my existence; same as my computer, it is a tool, not a necessity), and this person couldn't get their head around the fact that we only had one television, we did not watch mainstream TV and were not subscribed to any contract with a provider, we watched things on Netflix, or online. They couldn't comprehend the fact that we grew our own food (that came out when the quote was, "For the price of a Starbucks... and I replied I didn't go there...), made our own clothing or bought things from local thrift stores, didn't run the furnace (wood-burning stove).... Finally -- here's the kicker -- the representative said, "Well NORMAL people..."

Um, did it ever occur to anyone that all the dependency on mass produced foods, factory farming, synthetic or plastic whatever, is NOT normal? 

Homer and I may not live totally off the grid, but we have not lost our connection with the origins of things, either. Yes, the computer is a godsend. Yes, we like to get a pizza from time to time (and our local pizza joint is independently owned, and uses whole food products to make their delights). Yes, we enjoy a good scotch with a film on a weekend evening. We don't depend on it, though. We know how to grow food, witch for water (and purify it), find firewood, throw together a shelter, and more. We've taught ourselves these things because they are important to us. We choose to 'make life hard for ourselves' (as one put it) because it is a richer life for ourselves. 

There's a lot of talk about revolution, about bringing down the government, and sowing the seeds of change. "Transition Towns" was a phrase I heard yesterday. However, people like Holly and myself have been making these transitions for years, quietly, earnestly, and from the inside out. Who dares to pick up a packet of seeds, and join us?
I've decided that I have two muses. There's a wordy muse and a muddy muse. They had a conflict of interests this weekend, when the wordy muse wanted to play, but I wanted to do things with the muddy muse. I think we got things resolved. They need to learn to play nicely together. I'm not into love triangles!

Anyway, the muddy muse is going full pelt at the moment. I've got a rather severe looking mask drying at the moment, I've got some small ornaments ready to fettle for the kiln, and today I've got two more masks that want to get out of my head through my fingers. Of course, as is often the case, what I see in my head is not what the clay wants to be, but who am I to argue with the muddy muse? 

Photos of the greenware to follow in the proverbial soon. For now, the wordy muse is taking a nap and the muddy muse and I are going to play. Have a great Monday!
Earlier today one of my Facebook friends a bit of a post earlier about karma, and y'know? I have to agree with her. Karma is not all about the feel better crap with which we placate ourselves. It is about being responsible, and holding up our hand when we are wrong, and if we'er smart, learning from the experience so we don't have to repeat it. Whether we like it or not, if we make a mess of things, especially if we make an intentional mess of things, then we have to take responsibility for whatever storm erupts as a result. I don't care what path of religion we follow, what plan of divine forgiveness we plead or how we try to rationalize the right to behave like a douche-bag, the laws of 'cause and effect' still rule. Don't turn this into a religious debate, either. It's not about that. It's about learning how to walk with integrity.
Meet the Gemini Man. 

This was one of the first masks I ever created, and it was also one of the first to sell. I'm very keen on the split image of the face. This mask taught me many things. 

This mask taught me that I am a better sculptor than I thought  I was. It taught me not to be afraid of really working with the features of my creations. It taught me that I did not have to hide them under all the leaves, that there was art and substance there worth sharing.

This mask taught me not to be frightened to experiment with color. The pale holly leaves ad depth and coldness to what is supposed to be a face that is questionable. They pose the question,"Are you truly that cold?

This mask also taught me about naming and numbering. I know that the future masks I create -- as well as being signed -- will also have a catalog number. No two will be the same. They cannot be; sure, they can be similar, but as every image is hand built, they are all going to have little nuances that make them unique. Each mask will have a unique identification number written inside it, and on the swing-tag label that comes with it. All future masks will be photographed and cataloged in a gallery, too. My work brings me great pleasure while I am creating it; I want to share that joy with as many people as I can!

Right, that's enough about what I am planning to do. I'm going to get off the computer and start doing, now! Watch this space -- more images will be posted in the proverbial soon.

(Originally posted on my Live Journal.)

We had some friends over at the weekend, and we did a bit of a swap meet, where we traded things with each other to find new homes for them. One of the gals had brought a deck of Tarot cards, T: The New Tarot. The deck was very worn and there were three books along with it. I asked her if the books came with the deck. This was a deck I 'really' wanted to like, but the artwork just didn't do anything for me. Still the worn and taped box, the books with scribbles in the margins and stains on the cover... they kept calling to me. No one else seemed interested in them so I asked her if I could have them and she said, "Sure."

The deck is on my desk at the moment. I keep having to handle it then put it down. It calls and beckons me, like a lighthouse on the shore, yet I daren't get to close; what if it is a false light, set to guide me to the rocks? Still the cards whisper, the books taunt.

I looked the deck up on the internet. I was rather intrigued, but not totally surprised, with what I found. The deck is from the late 1960s, and it was developed by John Cooke. It is well out of print, and rather collectable. And expensive. (At this point I contacted my friend and told her that she might want to keep them, knowing the rarity and she assured me that she did not want them back; this is the same friend to whom the old Tarot of the Cat People called, the ones that had belonged to my High Priestess friend before she died and left her collection of Tarot cards to me -- there's definitely some good energy flowing between all of this...) And old and well-used.

The images still don't really speak to me, but I had a real epiphany when I started reading some of the work in 'The Book of T,' the guide book that came with the cards. Let me go back a bit, first.

For a start, all the cards and suits have new names, and that's rather unsettling. However, when I made the connection between the new names, I saw a new path among the cards start to emerge. For example, the Fool becomes the Nameless One. Now, the way I read Tarot, the Fool is raw potential, something that is just energy, waiting to take form. something unexpected about to occur. When you look at the Nameless One it's taken form. So the Nameless One is the potential of the Fool embodied. It's no longer just raw potential; it has shape.

The next card is the Magician. In this deck, the Magician becomes the Hanging One (can you see how I was getting confused by the Major Arcana, now?!). It's nothing to do with the Hanged Man -- in fact, the Hanged Man becomes the Feeler (I'll come back to that in a minute). The Magician becoming the Hanging Man is a journey that takes the potential of the Fool, and gives it everything it needs to manifest what it wants to become, but it then has to open itself with the purity of a child to receive this, and start to allow it to take form. I have to admit, I could grasp the Fool becoming the Nameless One a lot easier than I could grasp the Magician becoming the Hanging One, but I'm nearly there.

I find some of the cards much easier to relate to than others. For example, the High Priestess becoming the Mother is fathomable, and I love the Hermit becoming the Seeker, the Star becoming the Way Shower, and the Devil becoming the Thinker. The most disturbing thing I've found so far is that the cards are not in the traditional Tarot order, and this is jarring with me at the moment.

As for the minor arcana, I've not even tried to understand them yet. The suits are stones, blades, serpents, and pears. There are no figures on the cards -- not even on the court cards -- just the 'pips' as in some of the older decks.

I don't think I will use this deck with which to actually read, but it has opened up a whole new world as to how I can use the Major Arcana of my usual deck to see a different dimension of the cards. I'm very pleased with the way this is speaking to me, and I can feel further Tarot writings brewing on the back of it.