He who avoids complaint invites happiness. ~Abu Bakr
Blessed Be My Little Witch! To those who came before and those who will come after, know that the Goddess is with you always. Thank you all my dear readers…be blessed. ~GrannyMoon
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Dark Moon – Time to Rest
New Moon – Time to Begin New Projects; Birth; Attraction
Waxing Moon – Time to Grow; Increase
Full Moon – Time to be Fulfilled; Abundance
Waning Moon – Time to Banish; Decrease
Last Sliver of Moon – Time to Die; Letting Go
Dark Moon – Time to Rest Again
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Light A Candle Today!
In many different traditions lighting a candle is a sacred action. It expresses more than words can express. It has to do with gratefulness. From time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places. You may want to begin or end your day by the sacred ritual of lighting a candle on this gratefulness. Or you may want to light a birthday candle for a friend. One single guideline is all you need: Slow down and do it with full attention.
Current Moon Phase: WANING MOON
Time: From Full Moon To Dark Moon (approx.14 days)
Goddess Aspect: Crone
Associated Goddesses: Callieach, Banshee, Hecate, Kali, Morrigan
Magickal Attributes: Banishing, Releasing the old, removing unwanted negative energies, wisdom, psychic ability, scrying, reversing circumstances. Workings on this day are for banishing magick, for ridding oneself of addictions, illness, or negativity, and physical and psychic cleansings.
Celtic Tree Calendar Month ~ April 15 To May 12 ~ Willow
Willow is a very magical month, great for drawing down the moon and love spells.
Herb of the Year for 2022: Viola (violet, heartsease) named by the International Herb Association
Flower of the Month for April: Daisy
April is Native Plant Month
April is National Poetry Month
April is National Brunch Month
Goddess Month of Maia runs from 4/18 – 5/15
What’s Happening in April!?!
April 25: National Zucchini Bread Day. (Nice, but in April? Doesn’t this belong in July, when zukes are coming out our ears?)
April 28: Maryland was admitted to the Union on this day in 1788. Its state flower: the black-eyed Susan.
April 29: On this day in 1796, Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery was published. It was the first cookbook by an American author.
April 28–MAY 3: FLORALIA
This holiday celebrates Floralia, the Goddess of Spring Flowers And Vegetation.
April 30: Walpurgisnacht – Norse/Germanic Celebration of Spring
April 30: New Moon and Solar Eclipse
May 1: BELTANE – Beltane is a Celtic/Gaelic festival which celebrates spring.
May 1: Samain – Southern Hemisphere.
May 1: Virginia Psychic Fair, Falls Church, VA. For info go to https://va-psychic-fair-2022.eventbrite.com
GrannyMoon’s Face to Face Classes
The Order of the Black Hat – April 30 – 7 PM – 9PM
Face to Face Class: 1 PM – 3 PM ~ WitchCrafting – May 1st
Reiki I and II: 3 PM – 5 PM
Face to Face Class: 1 PM – 3 PM ~ The Herbal Cauldron – May 8
Face to Face Class: Noon – 2:00 PM ~ The Magick of Crystals – May 15
Reiki III and Advanced: 1 PM – 3 PM – May 22
Black Hat – May 28 – 7 PM – 9PM
Join us at https://www.meetup.com/Witchy-Wednesdays/
High Priestess Training with GrannyMoon
The entire course takes 15 months to complete (four levels). Tuition covers lessons, assignments and instructor feedback. In addition, students may download guided meditation exercises and be eligible for Sabbats, Esbats, and retreats with the Sisterhood. The entire fee for each level is $120 (payment plan available), with sixteen lessons in each level, except the last.
Ceremonial Cords and frame-able Completion Certificates are awarded as members complete each level.
Level I – Initiate of the Sisters of the Burning Branch – White cord
Level II – Adept of the Sisters of the Burning Branch- Red cord
Level III – Priestess of the Sisters of the Burning Branch- Black cord
Level IV – High Priestess of the Sisters of the Burning Branch – Green cord
Learn About Herbs with GrannyMoon!
There is so much to learn about herbs! In Herbalism 101, we cover 21 herbs, and you will start your own personal Materia Medica, that we will build throughout the next levels. We will cover the basic aspects of herbs. From culinary to magickal, medicinal to ornamental. As well as the many modalities of herbs!
During this course, in addition to the online lessons and hands-on projects that you do at home, I will be sending you articles, and information, as well as questions about your own personal use and research.
I look forward to walking this green journey with you! I love herbs and I hope that you do too or will learn to!
There are 10 lessons in each level and there is no time limit for completion. You may study at your own pace! There are no texts to purchase.
For more info or to join my class, click here!
The cost for Level 1 is $50.00 or $150.00 for the entire Healing Arts Course (1-3) which includes a free Reiki certification course when all three are ordered at the same time!
Earth Signs and Omens in Nature Course
Learn to read the mysteries of nature! The course covers signs and omens, communication, seasonal rites, trees and shrubs, flowers, plants and weeds, herbs, plant magick, the Guardians of Nature, and much more.
The Goddess School Grimoire
eBook (PDF): $6.25
The Goddess School Grimoire is a collection of recipes, artwork, poetry, prose, prayers, rituals, spells, and practical Goddess wisdom put together by the teachers, students, alumni, and friends of The Sisters of the Burning Branch Goddess School. The sisterhood is dedicated to restoring spiritual balance by returning the Divine Feminine to her rightful place and by assisting women in their personal and spiritual development. Since being founded by Head and High Mother Priestess Grandmother Moon in 2000, The Goddess School (GoddessSchool.com) has grown into a large and beautiful global community of women.
Join Our Cat Community on Twitter! The Cat Philosophers! Must Love Cats!
- Be kind and respectful.
- Keep Tweets on topic.
- Explore and share.
Sea Magic: Part 2 April 30, 2022 2pm to 4pm
Location: Sticks and Stones
Are you fascinated by the ocean?
Do you feel drawn to the sea?
Join me in a two-hour course that explores your individual connection to her! After connecting to the sea through Ocean breathes and a short guided meditation, collaborate and learn alongside others as we create our own Ninefold Sea Blessing and enchant our own sea charms.
interactive notebook, sea water, beach sand, all items needed to create your own enchanted charm bag.
an open heart, open mind, and willingness to share and collaborate.
Instructor: Ember Moon
Astro Magic Forecast for April 25, 2022 – May 1, 2022
The final week of April begins with the Moon moving through emotionally sensitive Pisces.
On Monday, you may have trouble controlling your emotional responses to the people around you with the Moon conjoined Mars. Try to be proactive rather than reactive. The energy shifts dramatically on Tuesday as the Moon forms a lovely sextile to Uranus. You will be bored with your daily activities and crave a little excitement in your life. You can easily resolve this by shaking things up and doing something you normally wouldn’t do.
During the middle of the week, Mercury sextiles lucky Jupiter. Mercury-Jupiter is an incredible combination for business and commerce. If you need to finalize a deal or sign documents, today would be the best day to do it. Also, Venus conjoins Neptune, and love is in the air. Wednesday and Thursday are perfect evenings for a date night.
Finally, besides the solar eclipse that occurs in Taurus, Venus conjoins Jupiter in Pisces. You should be in a positive frame of mind, and you will find that relationship matters flow smoothly. Venus Jupiter is great for attracting money and is considered a lucky combination. However, if you go shopping or decide to splurge, try not to get too crazy, because Venus-Jupiter can be excessive.
Recommended: Jupiter (Astro Magic), Prosperity (Blessed Herbal), Road Opener (Motor City Hoodoo)
Here’s what you missed on CoventryCreations.com this week…
Living the Dream Spell – April 2022 Witches Union Spell Card
Dust off those dreams, take a good look at them and decide if they are worthy of a little magic to make them alive and well in your life. If not, rewrite them to fit in with your new vision of your future because it’s time to live the dream you want for yourself.
Solar Eclipse & New Moon in Taurus on April 30, 2022
This is not the time for manifesting with magic. This energy is wild and hard to manage. With Taurus, the ruler of money, resources, possessions, physical pleasures, and sensuality use this time to pamper yourself.
Llewellyn’s Spell A Day
A Spell for St. Mark’s Eve
APRIL 24, 2022 BY NATALIE ZAMAN
Who shall be your partner in life?
Maybe a husband, maybe a wife?
Tonight is the eve of good St. Mark,
So wait until it’s good and dark.
Then light and burn a candle bright,
And hold a cloth up to the light.
In its threads, thy shall behold
Thy true love’s face in flames foretold.
A warning though that thou must heed:
Bring the cloth not too near the flame,
Lest the thing should catch afire
And burn away love and desire!
Is this legend or is this spell?
Try! It’s the only way to tell.
Cleansing with Bitter Herbs
APRIL 23, 2022 BY DEBORAH BLAKE
Today is the last day of Passover, an important holiday in the Jewish religion. Passover celebrates the freeing of the Jews from slavery and is observed in a number of different ways. The best known of these is a meal called the Seder, which features many specific foods with symbolic meanings. This includes the eating of bitter herbs, including horseradish, endive, or romaine lettuce.
There are many different kinds of slavery, including addictions, bad relationships, and destructive habits. To symbolize your intention to free yourself from anything that enslaves you, chew on some bitter herbs and say:
I give up the bitter and
embrace the sweet,
Freeing myself from all
forms of enslavement
And allowing my spirit
to expand and grow.
Then follow this up by eating something sweet.
APRIL 22, 2022 BY STEPHANIE ROSE BIRD
Today is Earth Day, the holiday we have set aside to honor our planet and Gaia, the Greek goddess who embodies abundance, nurturing ability, strength, and even destruction. So that you can always have a personalized Gaia around for your home, hearth, or altar, let’s make a figurine of her.
You will need:
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup iodized salt
- 1 3/4 cup warm water
- Optional: acrylic paints, water, and brushes
Thinking of the importance of this day and the goddess Gaia, pour the flour into a bowl, followed by the salt, and mix with a wooden spoon. Add water and blend with the spoon. Turn out on a floured table and knead for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Focus as you form Gaia’s image. Create with intent and love. When your figurine is completely dry, begin using it, or paint it if you wish.
The Art of Bibliomancy
APRIL 21, 2022 BY LAURA TEMPEST ZAKROFF
It’s National Library Week, the perfect time for a little bibliomancy! Bibliomancy is the art of divining the future or receiving spirit-directed guidance from a book. This method is pretty simple, but it’s surprisingly effective—often serving up just the right information for the moment.
Some folks use a Bible, but I prefer to run my fingers down a bookshelf with my eyes closed and pull at whatever book catches or gives a little vibe. You could also use a favorite book of poems, lore, or other text that means something to you.
From there, I will either let the book fall open, if it’s a hardcover, or fan the pages with my fingers, if it’s a softcover, opening where it stops. Wherever my eyes fall first is the passage to read, but other people like to draw their finger down the page and stop where they feel is right. What you find and read will be a message of inspiration for you.
APRIL 20, 2022 BY ASTREA TAYLOR
All kinds of herbs have their place in witchcraft. Herbs are often used because their spirits are potent and they like to help with magical applications. This spell creates a spiritual connection with an herb. It’s best performed on an empty stomach.
All you need for this spell is an herb. Fresh herbs are better, but dried herbs will do as well. Any herb can be used as long as it’s not poisonous. If you don’t know where to start, try basil, dill, or thyme.
Hold the herb gently in your left palm and say:
Helpful spirit, herbal one,
Share with me your true wisdom.
Start to converse with the herb’s energy. Take a whiff of it, and connect with the aromatics. Take a bite and revel in the taste.
How does the herb make you feel? What messages does the herb’s spirit have for you? Explore these questions in your Book of Shadows, and use the answers in your magic.
Magickal Prayer Stones
APRIL 19, 2022 BY RAVEN DIGITALIS
Let’s get down to earth. As the Wheel of the Year is cycling into a time of manifestation, it’s important to consider what we wish to bring into not only our own lives but also the lives of those around us and those across the globe.
Take some time to gather some small stones of any size. Keep these in a box, bag, or tote. When you’ve collected about thirty to fifty stones, take a walk in a quiet area where you can focus on the bountiful earth.
Using your right hand, grab one stone at a time and make a wish. Grasp a stone and say:
With this stone, I manifest _.
You may fill in the blank with anything from “global sustainability” to “personal balance,” or whatever feels intuitively right. Drop each stone on the ground as you make the wish.
Once finished, kiss the earth and thank the Great Mother for hearing your magick.
APRIL 18, 2022 BY MELISSA TIPTON
On this day in 1857, The Spirits Book by Allan Kardec was published, and today’s working is inspired by the teachings of spiritism. You’ll need something that can serve as a pendulum, which can simply be a length of string with an object tied to one end.
Begin by casting a circle of protection by tracing an energetic circular path with your finger, making three passes around the space. Recite:
This circle protects me from harm on
all levels, allowing in only the energies
most harmonious for this working
and blocking out all other energies.
Enter a light meditative state and ask to communicate with a spirit that comes in perfect love and perfect trust. Holding the pendulum, ask what a “yes” looks like. Allow the pendulum to move as it will, then ask what a “no” looks like. Then ask any questions you have, and close with thanks to the spirit.
National Haiku Poetry Day
APRIL 17, 2022 BY TESS WHITEHURST
In addition to Easter Sunday, today is National Haiku Poetry Day. Compose a haiku to describe and represent what you will be releasing during the waning moon. As you may know, a haiku is a Japanese form of short poetry composed of three lines only, the first and third lines containing five syllables and the second line containing seven. There are two other traditional elements to include. First, a “cutting word” (kireji) should be placed at the end of the second or third line. Think of this as a question, an exclamation, or another incisive word that breaks up the verse or otherwise asks the reader to pause. Second, a seasonal reference (kigo) is also included in a haiku, so you may also want to include a word or phrase that is evocative of spring. Take your time until your haiku feels just right, then place it on your altar as a reminder of what you are releasing. Leave it there until the dark moon on the 29th.
Why 18th-Century Scots Performed Mock Human Sacrifices Over Cake
BY SAM O’BRIEN
This May Day, make Beltane bannock, a simple snack with a long history of superstition and divination.
Beltane Fire Festival
IT’S SPRINGTIME IN THE SCOTTISH Highlands and a bonfire blazes against the night sky. A group stands before the flames, passing around a hat containing slices of bannock, or griddled oatcake. Each person plucks out a piece until one unfortunate soul unfurls his fist to reveal a charcoal-daubed morsel. Fate has declared him the cailleach Beal-tine, a scapegoat who must be sacrificed. Some of his companions grab him, pulling him toward the fire. For good measure, they might even lay him out and prepare to draw and quarter him. At the last minute, when it appears his sacrifice is imminent, a group of rescuers rush in and save him.
Such was the 18th-century ritual of the burnt Beltane bannock and the cailleach Beal-tine. The mock sacrifice is one of several bygone traditions associated with the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane. Celebrated from the eve of April 30 through May 1, Beltane marks the beginning of summer. When many people picture similar May 1, or “May Day,” festivities, they might imagine dancers around a maypole and flower-clad May Queens. While modern-day Beltane celebrations incorporate some of these elements, early Beltane Eve nights were more intense affairs, filled with sky-licking flames, purification rites, magic, and offerings to powerful beings. The festival came at the precipice to a crucial time: With months of summer hunting and farming ahead, it was essential to supplicate both natural and supernatural forces. Like its winter-welcoming fellow festival, Samhain, Beltane was believed to be a time when the barrier between the mortal and the magical lifted.
Due to the lack of written Celtic records, we have little information about the first Beltane festivals. The earliest recorded mention of Beltane appears in an early medieval Irish glossary, centuries after its theorized origins, and the most substantial documentation of Beltane-related traditions across Scotland, Ireland, and Wales occur from the 1700s through the early 1900s. Even though much of the charcoal-smeared bannock’s significance is a mystery, these records highlight the griddled oatcake’s auspicious importance on the holiday. On the Isle of Mull, 18th-century Scottish writer John Ramsay noted, farmers milked their cows through a hole in their bannocks for good luck on Beltane. Meanwhile, in the Highlands region of Perthshire, Scots baked a scalloped bannock—perhaps to mimic the shape of a sun—and tore off pieces that they’d toss over their shoulders with attendant wishes for crops or livestock health: “Each [is] dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preserver of their flocks and herds, or to some particular animal, the real destroyer of them,” Thomas Pennant wrote in his 1769 book, A Tour of Scotland. “‘This I give to thee, O Fox, spare thou my lambs; this to thee, O Hooded Crow, this to thee, O Eagle!’”
Sarah Barr grew up around Perthshire, where these superstitious Beltane bannock rituals once took place. However, since they largely disappeared from Scotland by the turn of the 20th century, Barr says she “never saw hide nor hair of them.” Still, she was drawn to the traditions surrounding Beltane and today helps organize Edinburgh’s annual Beltane Fire Society festival, a modern celebration that typically involves a dramatic procession and large bonfire atop the city’s Calton Hill. (No one is sacrificed, not even in fake, theatrical fashion.)
Barr, who makes her own bannock with leek-infused butter, notes that bannock-based symbolic sacrifices may have their roots in an earlier, more desperate time, when sick cows or a short drought could signal doom for a community. “I do wonder if traditions like the cailleach Beal-tine have been sort of, not sanitized, but they no longer carry the same fear and weight behind desperately having to make sure your family survives by sacrificing someone in your community. But it still has that vein of ‘Well, now Jimmy, you’re the cailleach Beal-tine, don’t let our crops die.’”
Although archaeological evidence suggests that the Celts did perform human sacrifice, scholars have yet to unearth a body or artifact that confirms with certainty that they performed such a rite on Beltane. However, one archaeologist and Celtic scholar theorized that bannock, Beltane, and human sacrifice may have collided in one famous Iron Age corpse.
In her book, The Life and Death of a Druid Prince, the late archaeologist Anne Ross investigated the Lindow Man, a body miraculously preserved in a peat bog in Cheshire, England. Due to the seemingly methodical execution of his injuries (a massive blow to the head, a broken neck from garroting, and stabbing wounds) as well as his manicured hands and healthy body, many scholars believe the Lindow Man was a man of high status who was sacrificed. Thanks to the ancient body’s incredible, preserved condition, scientists were able to examine the Lindow Man’s stomach contents and determine his last supper: mistletoe pollen and a griddled, unleavened flatbread. Since researchers noted the bread had been charred, Ross speculated that the Lindow Man was an unfortunate burnt bannock recipient who was sacrificed in the name of a good harvest.
The Lindow Man’s body was so well preserved in the peat bog that scientists could confirm his last meal consisted of mistletoe pollen and burnt flatbread.
The Lindow Man’s body was so well preserved in the peat bog that scientists could confirm his last meal consisted of mistletoe pollen and burnt flatbread.
But archaeologist and Celtic scholar Miranda Aldhouse-Green cautions against making too many imaginative leaps when it comes to the Lindow Man, especially the exact rationale for his death. “I think the trouble is that it’s quite tempting with this subject to take the inferences and interpretation too far,” she says. “When you’re dealing with the Iron Age in Europe, you don’t have written records except for the Romans, who were talking about these ‘Other’ people.” One enduring example: In The Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar mentions seeing an alleged human-shaped wooden scaffold that burned human sacrifices trapped inside. (The chilling scene inspired both the classic 1973 horror film The Wicker Man and a hilariously horrible 2006 Nicolas Cage remake.) Aldhouse-Green continues, “We don’t have the voice of the indigenous population of Britain at the time and therefore we don’t have written explanations of what their rituals were about. It’s all secondhand.”
Still, Aldhouse-Green hypothesizes that the Lindow Man may have been sacrificed in dramatic, communal fashion, somewhat similar to the mock rituals of Beltanes centuries later. “It’s a flat landscape so things would’ve been visible for miles,” she says of the peat bog where the Lindow Man was killed. “I’d suspect what you’d have is a procession possibly going on for miles with bells ringing and music playing that would be calling people out of their houses to join the procession. That could’ve taken days. It could’ve covered mile after mile and all the local people would hear this and come out to see what was going on then join in.” Although she’s careful not to state anything with certainty, she speculates that he may have been sacrificed to stave off the advance of Roman soldiers.
With the rise of industrialized agriculture and evolution of science, the terrifying unpredictability of changing seasons is largely a thing of the past—and so too are the superstitious rituals that attended the change of seasons. But the world remains terrifyingly unpredictable: With the dangers of COVID-19, the Beltane Fire Society has cancelled its on-site event this year and instead recorded a pretaped performance now available on YouTube. Still, Barr plans to make bannock and, if it’s not crowded, enjoy a quiet moment on Calton Hill to celebrate Beltane. “I’ll bring some tea, I’ll bring some bannock. And I’ll probably throw some for the crows.”
Beltane Bannock and Caudle
Adapted from the Beltane Fire Society’s recipe
For added symbolic heft and flavor, some Scottish cooks coated their bannocks in caudle, a custard-like batter of eggs, milk, cream, and oats. According to Scottish folklorist F. Marian McNeill, each core caudle ingredient represented a wish for the months ahead: eggs and dairy for plentiful hens and cows, and oats for a bountiful harvest. For added supplication, a libation of the caudle would be poured onto the ground before spreading it over the cake.
For the bannock:
1 cup self-rising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup rolled oats
¼ cup oat flour or rolled oats ground finely in food processor
½ to 1 cup buttermilk
For the caudle:
1 cup milk or light cream
1 tablespoon oat flour or rolled oats ground finely
Honey or brown sugar, to taste
Salt, to taste
Grated nutmeg, ground ginger, allspice, or saffron, to taste
A few splashes of brown ale
- Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl, then whisk in the rolled oats and oat flour (or ground oats).
- Add the buttermilk, gradually incorporating it until the dough is soft. As soon as it’s starting to get a bit sticky, stop adding the buttermilk, even if you haven’t used the whole amount yet.
- On a floured surface, turn out the dough and shape into a circle. Gently work it; do not knead it.
- Cook the dough in a pan on medium heat until the underside is browned, then flip over and repeat. Set the bannock aside.
- Heat the milk or cream with the oat flour (or ground oats) in a nonstick saucepan. Simmer until it begins to thicken.
- Beat the eggs, then pour them into the stovetop mixture, adding in the honey and seasonings to taste. Continue simmering, and stirring, for about five minutes.
- Remove the caudle from the stovetop. Add a few splashes of ale.
- Pour part of the caudle over your bannock. Don’t forget to pour part on the ground outside as an offering.
- If you’d like to play a game of mock-sacrifice, slice off a piece of bannock and return it to the pan. Cook until charred. Slice other pieces of the bannock of equal size, then add them all to a hat. Have your friends close their eyes and pick out pieces. When the cailleach Beal-tine pulls the blackened portion, open the oven door and call for your friends to bring the crone to their fiery doom. At the last minute, if you’re feeling generous, spare them. Happy Beltane!
Heartwings Love Notes 1031 The Gardener’s Foot
Heartwings says, “The garden is every part of life that nourishes us.”
There is a saying I have found to apply not only to gardening but also to life: “The best fertilizer is the gardener’s foot.” The TLC that a gardener gives her or his garden is what makes it thrive. I should know. Gardening is in my blood. I was given my first small plot of land when I was around eight. It was in the shade of a fine big birch tree, so it didn’t get as much sunlight as it might have liked, but I did my best to keep it well-tended.
Each spring my great aunt’s gardener would give me some plants. I remember flash marigolds, and perhaps ageratum and snapdragons. These kept my one perennial company: tall monkshood with interesting purple flowers. It returned faithfully every spring to watch over the annual plants I tended there. Along about August my energy for tending would wane, and the weeds would outpace my TLC, however, I would begin again the following year with enthusiasm.
My whole family grew plants of one kind or another. My practical mother grew vegetables in what was originally called a victory garden. My dad grew roses in two smaller beds as well as gladiolas and other colorful flowering plants in the main garden. These decorated our home in vases all summer long. My grandmother grew lots of flowers and probably vegetables, as did my great aunt.
The metaphor of the gardener’s foot is true in so many ways. What I pay attention to with my mind—my mental foot has a better chance for success than what I ignore or forget. The mental effort put into a project or task is important. When I give extra thought to what needs doing, it can get done more efficiently. It’s the focus on it that keeps it in mind that helps it get it done.
Another saying goes, “What does not grow begins to rot.” How many projects have failed from lack of attention? Once a fruit or vegetable has ripened, it stops growing and must be consumed or its taste deteriorates. However, I have discovered an exception: overripe fruit can be saved by cooking it up into a sauce. You might be surprised what I’ve made use of with some cooking and a little sugar. Turbinado sugar is a good choice for this.
Though after many years of tending many gardens I no longer have an actual one, I do have metaphorical gardens. When I step mentally into the garden of my mind, I do best when I keep my focus on what needs doing. Writing goals down helps, but the actual time spent thinking about them is the equivalent of fertilizer.
May your efforts and your projects flourish with your attention.
Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert Dear friends and readers, please know that my poetry chapbook, Poems and Prayers, is available for $10 Ppd. mailed to me at my address: 1 Hollywood Drive, North Grafton, MA 01536. A gentle book, it is dedicated to my late son and is said by readers to be a comforting book. If you have any comments or questions on my writing, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is www.heartwingsandfriends.com
Finding Nature in Your Neighborhood
Nature is all around us and there is a plethora in every neighborhood, one only needs to become still and watch.
Because both cities and tightly packed suburbs offer wildlife bountiful nooks and crannies in which to hide, it can be difficult to spot the animals that live in our midst. Many thrive among paved streets, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, and high-rises. There are animals in abundance burrowing in the soil of center medians and tiny backyard gardens, making nests in the trees that line broad and busy avenues, and buzzing round the flowers that beautify our parks. To find these creatures, we only need to stop, look, and listen. Nature’s drama is continually playing out on the window ledges where weary birds stop to roost, in the shadowy places where cautious nocturnal mammals wait for night’s mantel to fall, and the fountains where playful waterfowl splash and frolic. In observing the animals that share our habitat, we become a part of their beautiful, complex, and exciting world.
Season by season, cities offer diverse ecosystems for you to explore. If your search for urban and suburban wildlife is challenging, try to look at your community with an animal’s eyes. Where there are shrubs and flowers, insects such as butterflies, ladybugs, beetles, and spiders can usually be found. The insects, in turn, attract the birds who feast upon them. Even the smallest green spaces are hosts to squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and moles. Decorative awnings offer falcons a place to raise their young. At night, a different community of animals wakens to the world. Raccoons, skunks, and possums emerge to examine our human leftovers for edibles. Even pets feel the call of the wild–it’s not uncommon for well-fed cats in colorful collars to stalk the streets in search of prey. Signs of habitation, like nests or hives, and audible evidence, like chirps, will help you find them.
Recognizing that you share your city with a wide range of animals can make you feel like a part of the grand circle of life and help you appreciate the importance of a healthy urban environment. You can admire the hardiness and adaptability of the urban animal while developing a sense of stewardship that inspires you to become their champion. The shrill calls of birds, the hum of bees, and the sweet squeaks of city-dwelling mammals can be a symphony that help you develop a deeper connection with the nature world.
BY RICHARD WEBSTER
A pendulum is a small weight attached to a length of chain or thread. When someone holds it by the thread and asks a question, the weight moves and provides the answer. It is an amazing tool that can be used for many different purposes.
Just recently, a friend of mine decided to buy a car. He looked through the advertisements in the daily paper and asked his pendulum about the cars that sounded interesting. The pendulum gave a positive response to six cars, and eventually told him which car he should buy. He looked at all six, and finally bought the car that the pendulum had indicated.
Some friends went to Paris on a business trip. After finishing their business, they had one free day before coming home. They used a pendulum to determine which sights they should see.
People who were house-sitting next door to us lost their pet rabbit. After frantically searching the immediate neighborhood, they used a pendulum to locate the exact spot where he was.
These examples show the versatility and possibilities of this simple tool. Despite its ease and usefulness, I have met many people who learned how to use it and then discarded it as it was “too simple.” At least one of my students would disagree. She owes her life to the humble pendulum. She is allergic to MSG (monosodium glutamate) that is sometimes used as a flavor enhancer. She has had several hospital stays as a result of inadvertently consuming it. Consequently, whenever she eats away from home she uses a pendulum to determine if there is any MSG in the meal. I doubt that she’d consider the pendulum “too simple” to bother with.
Of course, even though a pendulum is simple to use, it takes practice to become good at it. You can buy pendulums at any new age store, but any weight suspended on cord or chain will act as an impromptu pendulum. Choose something that weighs at least three ounces and attach it to four to six inches of cord. I have a huge collection of pendulums, because my family invariably buys me a small object attached to a chain or cord for birthday and Christmas presents.
Hold the cord between the thumb and first finger of your right hand, if you are right-handed. (Use your left, if you are left-handed.) Rest your elbow on a table and allow the pendulum to swing freely an inch or so above the surface of the table. Stop the movement of the weight with your free hand. Then ask the pendulum to move in a direction that means “yes.” The pendulum may start moving immediately, or it might take a while to indicate a positive response. Once it starts, it will either move from side to side, backwards and forwards, or rotate in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.
Once the pendulum has indicated “yes,”stop it again, and then ask it to indicate “no.”Follow this by asking for “I don’t know” and “I don’t want to answer” responses.
Now you can ask the pendulum questions that can be answered with these four movements. Start by asking the pendulum questions that you already know the answers to. You might ask it if you are male. You will get a “yes” answer if you are, and a “no” response if you are not. Ask if you live at your current address. It should reply positively.
After checking your pendulum in this way, you can proceed to ask questions that you do not know the answers to. Start by asking questions that you can check later on. The correct answers that your pendulum provides will give you confidence as you continue to experiment.
There is no limit to the types of questions you can ask once you become proficient with the pendulum. However, remember that it is possible to mentally influence and override the movements of the pendulum. Suppose, for instance, someone in your family is pregnant and you want to know the sex of the unborn baby. The pendulum will give you the correct answer if you honestly do not care what the sex will be. However, if you are hoping it will be a girl, for instance, the pendulum will confirm this, even if it is not correct. Your desire will have influenced the movements of the pendulum. Consequently, if you have an emotional involvement in the answer, you will find it better to have someone who has no interest in the outcome to ask the pendulum for you.
The pendulum should never be used flippantly. Not long ago, a teenager told me how she and her friends used a pendulum in an attempt to learn embarrassing information about fellow classmates. Pendulums do not like being used in this way and sometimes react by refusing to move at all. Not surprisingly, the answers these students received were confusing and conflicting. The sad thing is that these young people failed to learn how useful and practical a pendulum can be when it is used properly.
The pendulum can literally work miracles. Once you become proficient with it, you will wonder how you ever managed without it. While writing this, my wife suggested that we go to the movies tonight. She handed me the entertainment section of the newspaper, and my pendulum. She knows that the pendulum will choose a movie that we’ll both enjoy. That’s yet another benefit of the humble pendulum.
Letting Go Of The Little Stuff
When we stop worrying about unimportant matters, we can devote so much more of ourselves to what is truly important.
We experience numerous disappointments each and every day. Our expectations go unmet, our plans are blocked by circumstance, our wishes go unfulfilled, and we discover that our lives are subject to a myriad of forces beyond our conscious control. In some cases, our response is powerful because we must invest ourselves and our resources to overcome genuine hardship. In others, our reactions are far more passionate than our circumstances likely warrant. The tension that permeates our bodies and minds when we are late for an event, interrupted at work, or sitting in traffic is not inappropriate, but it can interfere with our well-being in profound ways. When we stop worrying about relatively unimportant matters, we can be at peace and devote so much more of ourselves to what is truly important.
The small frustrations and irritations wield such power over us because they rob us of the illusion of control. But every problem is a potential teacher–a confusing situation is an opportunity to practice mindfulness, and difficult people provide us with opportunities to display compassion. There is a natural human tendency to invest copious amounts of emotional energy in minor dilemmas and frustrations in order to avoid confronting those more complex issues that are largely outside the realm of our control. The intensity of our response provides us with a temporary sense of personal power that helps us cope with challenges that might otherwise overwhelm us. But it is only when we let the little stuff go that we discover that the big stuff is not really so devastating after all.
In the stress of a singularly tense incident, differentiating between an inconsequential annoyance and a legitimate challenge can seem a monumental task. Ask yourself whether the emotions you are feeling will be as vivid in a year, a day, or even an hour. As focused as you are on this moment in time, your reward for letting go of your emotional investment may be the very happiness and harmony of being whose loss you are lamenting. Needless aggravation is seldom worth the cost it exacts. You cannot distance yourself from life’s inconsistencies, irritations, and upheavals, but you can relinquish your desire for perfect order and gain peace of mind in the process.
Pushing Away Emotions
Choosing not to experience pain, anger, or other intense feelings could cause those feelings to become buried deep into your physical body.
Throughout our lives, we may experience emotions that disturb or distress us. Often, our first reaction is to push our feelings away. We may say, “I don’t want to think about that right now, I’ll think about it later” and we bury our emotions, deny the validity of our feelings, or distract ourselves with other concerns. But the diverse emotions you experience are neither good nor bad — they are simply a part of being human. Choosing not to experience pain, anger, or other intense feelings could cause those feelings to become buried deep into your physical body. There, they may linger unresolved and unable to emerge, even as they affect the way you experience the world. Allowing yourself to experience all of your emotions rather than push the more painful ones away can help you come to terms with your feelings so you can experience them and then move on.
It is possible to bring forth the old feelings you have pushed aside and experience them in a safe and enriching way. It may sound silly to set aside time to feel your old wounds that you haven’t dealt with, but this can be a very beneficial healing experience. Find a safe place and pick a time when you can be alone. Make sure that you feel secure and comfortable in your surroundings. Bring to mind the circumstances that originally triggered the emotions you’ve been pushing away. You may need to revisit these circumstances by reading relevant entries in your journal or using visualization to relive your past. Once you have triggered your long-denied emotions, let yourself feel your feelings, and try not to judge your reactions. Cry or sound your emotions if you need to, and don’t block the flow of your feelings. Allow any thoughts that are connected to your emotions to surface. As you release the feelings you have pushed inside of you, you will find yourself healing from the experience associated with these emotions.
When you deal with your feelings directly, they can move through you rather than staying stopped up in your body as emotional blocks that can sometimes turn into disease. Acknowledging your emotions, instead of pushing them away, allows you to stay emotionally healthy and in touch with your feelings.
Ghost Hunting Theories
If You Like This Abandoned Site, You Might Like These Horror Movies
An abandoned site is an ideal movie location. But, what if certain abandoned sites make you want more? Here’s some great movie options depending on the type of abandoned site that catches your eye –
I’m going to share photos of abandoned sites. Whichever ones give you the biggest creeps, I list 5 movies you might want to see that have the mood of this location….
I will give the ones I most recommend an asterisk *
Teens at a carnvial decide to hide in the funhouse and party after the places closes for the night.
“Carnival of Souls”
After a young woman’s car accident, her life feels slightly off.
Friends decide to stop at a local amusement park not knowing women had been murdered there.
Women are stalked by someone from their childhood who wants them dead.
A masked man at a carnival has people thinking he’s just one of the workers, but he’s really a killer out to slaughter as many people as possible.
An orphaned boy follows his older brother to a mausoleum where something sinister is happening.
A lonely cemetery caretaker runs into zombie issues.
Mysterious new owners of the mansion on the hill spark curiosity from the town, as what comes with them appears to be evil.
A teen who lost her mom finds out she’s possessed by a demon that likes her lineage.
A girl searching for answers to her father’s dead ends up at the mortuary where she finds something dangerous.
A suburban family finds their property is atop a Native cemetery that was not moved. Their young daughter is pulled to the other side and they must try to retrieve her.
In the 1700s, an investigator is sent to a quiet Dutch town in New York where he finds they are tormented by a killer who is a Hessian soldier ghost.
*”The Blair Witch Project”
While some college kids set out to make a documentary of a witch legend in Maryland, they get lost in the woods and find themselves succumbing to something evil.
“The Evil Dead”
Five friends go to a cabin in the woods where they are taken over by flesh-possessing demons.
A bullied boy summons up an ancient being in the woods.
A woman is trapped in the subway and the labyrinth of tunnels, chased by a tormenter.
A woman goes to a party in the Paris Catacombs and gets lost while being chased by something unknown.
“Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness”
A documentary about those who explore abandoned sites.
“As Above So Below”
Explorers in the catacombs below Paris uncover a dark secret.
“Raw Meat” (aka “Death Line”)
A government official gets lost in the London Tunnels while he’s looking for missing people.
“The Woman in Black”
A lawyer goes to a village to work and finds out there is a vengeful ghost terrorizing the locals.
*”The Legend of Hell House”
A team assembles to enter a haunted house, observe the phenomena and then set up a machine to negate it.
A grieving widower moves into an historic home to find that he’s not alone.
A researcher puts together a team to stay in a haunted mansion and prove ghosts exist.
A woman who debunks hauntings is called to a boys school where she finds it hard to prove it isn’t haunted.
*”Dark Night of the Scarecrow”
A town is cursed by a witch put to rest after helping them produce great crops. The witch’s spirit is released to take over a scarecrow and get back at the descendents of the town.
A farmer plants a scarecrow with some unusual qualities, but his good luck won’t last for long.
A group is stranded in an old farmhouse near a cornfield, only to find it is the center for some kind of supernatural ritual.
Just before the Salem witch trials, a woman empowers a scarecrow with magic to seek revenge.
Jeepers Creepers 2
A busload of teens breaks down in the cornfields where the creeper monster disguises himself as a scarecrow.
*”Trick R Treat”
Anthology movie with stories that takes place on Halloween night.
Babysitters are tormented on Halloween night by an insane killer.
Three witch sisters were imprisoned by magic long ago and now escape on Halloween night to torment the town.
“Night of the Demons”
When teens spend the night and party in an abandoned mortuary, a demon gets released.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas”
When the king of Halloweentown discovers Christmas, he tries to bring it back to his village.
“Pirates of the Caribbean”
A derelict pirate tries to outsmart the locals and the ghost ship inhabitants to find the fortune.
A salvage team boards an abandoned ship to find they must fight the ghostly inhabitants.
A seaside town is attacked by a strange fog that brings in the spirits of those wronged by the town’s forefathers. *”Creature From the Black Lagoon”
A team sets out down the Amazon River to a dark lagoon where they search for a fossil only to find the creature is not extinct.
A group of friends have trouble with their yacht and board an abandoned ship in the Bermuda Triangle only to find out they are in more danger there.
A western town is tormented by a driveless car hell bent on killing them.
A monster in a creepy old truck puts fear into people on the road and then decides what part of that person’s body it wants to assimilate.
A woman inherits a family member’s home and finds out strange supernatural things are happening and may be related to how the townsfolk felt about her deceased relative.
When a nerd buys an old car, it seems to be possessing him.
A woman and her sick child are stuck in their broken down car, being tormented by a rabid saint bernard.
*”The Hills Have Eyes”
A vacationing family’s car pulling their camping trailer breaks down in the desert. They are then tormented by a feral desert family of crazies.
When a young man decides to make money driving a car from one state to another for a car dealer, he picks up a hitchhiker to keep him company on the trek through the desert, only to find he’s a killer.
In a remote desert town, the locals find themselves fighting off giant worm-like monsters underground that can detect any movement.
A great 1950s Scifi flick about gigantic ants invading a desert area and the military is called in to help.
A harried businessman is tormented by a trucker on the desert highway.
College kids getting hazed have to spend the night in a creepy mansion that was once inhabited by a crazy family.
A group of people who have psychic powers spend the night in a haunted house.
*”The House on Haunted Hill”
A millionaire invites strangers to stay a whole night in a haunted building and promises to reward them with big cash, only they get locked in and someone is a killer.
A woman living alone in a country estate with her two photosensitive children, thinks her home might be haunted.
An American is hired to babysit a British couple’s child. When she arrives, she discovers the child is a doll filling in for the child they lost, and it is showing signs of haunting.
Cayenne Pepper Health Benefits
by Dr. Weil
Hot and spicy, cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum) is a member of the Capsicum family of vegetables, commonly known as chili peppers. The name “cayenne” comes from the town where these peppers originated, in French Guiana off the northeast coast of South America.
Chili peppers, including cayenne, originated thousands of years ago in Central and South America – not surprising considering those regions are known for their spicy flavors. First used as decoration, their usefulness expanded into medicinal and culinary areas. Christopher Columbus became familiar with chili peppers when he explored the Caribbean Islands and brought them back to Europe as a substitute for the cost-prohibitive black pepper. Today, cayenne and other chili peppers are grown on all continents.
Cayenne peppers have a high concentration of capsaicin – the substance that causes their fiery hot sensation. Capsaicin also inhibits substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory pain processes. Capsaicin has been studied intensively for a variety of health benefits. The health benefits of cayenne include using it as a topical analgesic – several clinical studies show that capsaicin cream can temporarily relieve chronic pain due to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriasis, shingles and diabetic neuropathy.
Further study is needed to confirm results that indicate topical cayenne can be used for back pain and cluster headaches. Orally, cayenne pepper can promote cardiovascular health, suppress appetite and increase the burning of body fat (a process called thermogenesis). It has also been shown to help prevent ulcers and drain congested nasal passages.
Modern herbalists recommend cayenne to stimulate the circulatory system, and as a treatment for upper respiratory infections. One common preparation uses cayenne with lemon juice and honey as a syrup for sore throats.
Cayenne pepper is also known for its immune boosting potential: besides the anti-inflammatory effects of capsaicin, cayenne is also an excellent source of carotenoids, including beta carotene – a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent free radical damage. Its high levels of vitamin A (two teaspoons of cayenne pepper provide 47 percent of the daily value for vitamin A) support immune function as well.
In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin A, cayenne pepper is a good source of vitamin E, vitamin C, B6, vitamin K, manganese and dietary fiber.
Cayenne pepper can be used fresh or dried. Fresh green or red cayenne peppers can be used in a fashion similar to fresh jalapeños: as a garnish or chopped up and added to dips, sauces, soups and main courses. You can lower the spiciness level by removing the seeds. Do this while wearing gloves and avoiding contact with the eyes and face to minimize transferring the painful irritants to sensitive areas. You can also dry fresh, ripe red cayenne peppers. Simply wash and place on a wire rack until dry and brittle, which takes about three weeks. These whole, dried peppers can be stored in a sealed container away from light for up to a year.
Dried cayenne pepper is more versatile and works as well as fresh in most dishes. For true cayenne lovers, the challenge is not finding foods that the dried pepper enhances; rather, it’s finding any that it cannot improve. It can be added to cocoa for a bit of spice, and when paired with lemon juice works with virtually all vegetables. Dried cayenne should be kept in a tightly sealed glass jar, away from direct sunlight. It will last for up to three years.
Dr. Weil’s take:
Cayenne pepper is rated at 30,000-50,000 Scoville heat units (a measurement scale which rates the “hotness” of a spice or sauce derived from a chili pepper). That compares with the milder jalapeño’s 2,500-5,000 units. A little goes a long way!
Here in the American Southwest, chili peppers and cayenne are staples. At True Food Kitchen we incorporate chili pepper into both savory and sweet dishes. It’s a delicious addition to hot chocolate.
Finally, there are a few unusual applications: if you tend to get cold feet in the winter, a small amount of cayenne powder sprinkled into your socks may help (just make sure there are no open cuts or blisters on your feet). If you are prone to ulcers, you can try red pepper tea: steep one-quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a cup of hot water.
Kitty Kat’s Korner
Why Do Cats Blink Slowly?
By Susan Logan McCracken
A few years ago, a trend led people to test the theory that you could know if a smile was real or fake by examining the eyes. Squinty, wrinkly eyes meant the smile was genuine, while eyes that lacked wrinkling indicated the smile was insincere. The Duchenne smile became defined as a smile that involved the muscles surrounding the eyes as well as the upturning of the lips, according to the American Psychological Association. “Duchenne smiles are believed to be authentic smiles, as opposed to posed, voluntary non-Duchenne smiles that lack the orbicularis oculi component.”
But before judging a non-Duchenne smile as insincere, a 2021 study by Carnegie Mellon University tested the theory and concluded that eye wrinkling may have more to do with the intensity of the feelings behind the smile, not necessarily the sincerity of the smile.
The Duchenne smile is a popular study of human psychology, but it turns out that cats also have their ways of smiling, and it involves expressing and reading emotions through the eyes.
A Kitty Smile
Cats are prolific communicators and have many modes of communication. They communicate with their voices, mostly to their humans. They communicate with their ears and tails and by rubbing their pheromones onto things. They communicate with their eyes with each other and with people.
Among cats, closing their eyes in the presence of other cats is a sign of trust and that they can be trusted. They are communicating their trust in the other individual and that they themselves are no threat.
When your cat closes his eyes slowly at you, he is demonstrating contentment, security and a relaxed state. It is the closest thing to a kitty Duchenne smile. And when you return a slow blink to your cat, you’re smiling back.
A groundbreaking study published in the Oct. 5, 2020, issue of Scientific Reports, suggested that slow blinking is a form of positive communication between cats and humans.
The researchers conducted two experiments involving 21 cats and their caretakers from 14 households in the first and 24 different cats from eight households and total strangers in the second. The people who participated in the second experiment had no prior contact with the cats, and when they slow blinked at the cats, they also extended a hand to them.
The researchers noted that the cats delivered more slow blinks to their caretakers if their caretakers were slow blinking at them but not if their caretakers were simply in the room and not slow blinking. Even when the total strangers slow blinked at the cats, the cats reciprocated with eye narrowing movements. And when the strangers extended their hand, the cats were more likely to approach the strangers following slow blinking interactions than if the strangers had kept a neutral face and made no eye contact.
The study results confirmed that cats’ slow blinks appear to express positive emotions, but further research is needed to draw solid conclusions. Possibly the first study of its kind to investigate the role of the slow blink in feline-human communication, the results do appear promising that the behavior indicates positive feelings.
“Such findings could potentially be used to assess the welfare of cats in a variety of settings, including veterinary practices and shelter environments as well as enhancing cat-human communication in the human home,” the researchers wrote, adding that this is still an under-studied field of research.
Those of us who have lived with cats for a long time know the look when our cats slowly close their eyes and offer us an expression of utter contentment. It’s a look that invokes in us feelings of happiness and reminders that we all need to relax and smile more.
Coach Gilberto – Chapter 8
by Stephen Halpert
Harriet Conners rushed into Gilberto’s office breathless and flushed. His occasional secretary peered around nervously. “I heard a terrible crash. I hope no one was hurt.” Then she spotted the oil painting tangled in the shattered wooden frame.
Gilberto shrugged, took a breath and spread his hands. “Strangely, it jumped off the wall. I know that doesn’t make much sense but that’s what happened.”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Harriet said. Her frown lines deepened and she clasped her hands. “This wouldn’t be the first time it jumped off the wall. It seems to have quite a mind of its own.”
Rain smiled sympathetically and went over and studied the broken frame. In a quietly neutral voice she said, “Did you know Cyrus Willobee?’
Harriet blushed and looked down, toying with a small pearl ring on the third finger of her left hand. She took a breath. “What so few people around here don’t understand, is that Cyrus was a self-effacing, dignified gentleman. His devil may care act was just that, an act. His eye for the ladies was a part of that act too. Believe me, he really was quite shy and withdrawn.” She took another breath and went on. “Cyrus was terribly confusing to get to know. He’d agree with you right into the next town and then a day or two later, profess something entirely different.”
She paused, nodded and pulled slightly at her small pearl necklace with nervous fingers. “What you must understand is that Cyrus had a way about himself that could be terribly confusing.”
Rain nodded, then prompted her to speak more. “You knew him well then?” she said.
Harriet sighed. “I tried to. When Wilbur divorced me and took our son Davie with him to California, I was so devastated. Cyrus was kind and he’d always listen to my venting and then smile and invite me out to supper.” She shook her head and sighed again. “After a while I had my own expectations and hoped for something closer, but he was always the perfect gentleman and there was not even a friendly good night kiss. That kind of behavior can really make a woman wonder.”
Rain smiled and leaned forward. “A good friend to you,” she said lightly.
“Oh yes.” Harriet’s cheeks reddened. “I would have been willing for more from him, but,” she opened her palms. “And now that I’d be so appreciative of his advice, he’s gone.” She looked down at her hands.
“And why’s that?” Rain asked.
“I know he’d have been a help when Davie moves back next week. His father gave up, threw up his hands, had a fit over his involvement with LGBTQ. He insisted he come back and live with me.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what to expect. Davie’s so changeable.”
“And his father?” Rain said.
“Oh, he’s one of those big-time west coast sports promoters.”
“So, Cyrus was a good friend?” Rain said, trying to edge Harriet back to discussing Cyrus.
Harried nodded her head. “Personally, I’ve always suspected he had some sort of secret lover, someone far removed from Houndstooth. It could be that wild one from the Parker family.” Her face tightened and she looked almost angry. “Too many millions she has, if you ask me,” she said. “Always rushing off to Paris and living that Left Bank Bohemian life. She’d charm Cyrus, sharing her tales with him.”
Gilberto’s eyebrows rose. “But I thought you said that Cyrus was the quiet, timid sort.”
Harriet wrinkled her nose and nodded. “Yes usually, here at Houndstooth. But once I saw the two of them driving off in her Jaguar, laughing.”
“Interesting,” Rain said. She looked over at Gilberto.
Harriet went on, a rather grim smile on her lips. “But I know sparks will fly at the next Board meeting,” she said. “Lara Parker seems to want some of the land here donated for a hospital for the elderly. Headmaster wants every last scrap of land for Houndstooth’s eventual development. The two seem to be headed for loggerheads.”
Gilberto picked up the canvas and carefully separated it from the pieces of broken frame. Though he didn’t know a great deal about art, he could see that this gloomy portrait of the old Parker estate was well executed.
Rain looked at it more closely. “Harriet what year did Parker build this house?”
Harriet frowned. “Hard to say. Parker family goes back even before the Revolution–old Yankee Mayflower stock. Jedediah Parker fought in the Revolution, and afterwards he was awarded this acreage by the Commonwealth.
Rain took out her phone and began to use her camera to take close ups of the oil painting.
She turned to Harriet. “I guess the elder Parker commissioned it. Portraying one’s home was popular during the 18th and 19th century.” She grinned.” I’d laugh if it were a Remington Peel. He used color that way.”
Harriet’s eyes widened. “Then if that’s the case wouldn’t it be worth a fortune?”
“Could be,” Rain said.
“So why a shabby frame like that?” Gilberto asked.
Rain smiled. “Sometimes sheep’s clothing makes for a better hiding place. Actually, Harriet who owns this painting? Houndstooth?”
Harriet shook her head no. “We all remember the day when Lara Parker drove up in that fancy white Jaguar of hers and presented it to Cyrus for his birthday.”
“Then they were close?” Rain said.
Harriet shrugged “Who knows. I’ve never been able to understand the fancies of the rich and famous. But I can tell you this: when two people feel something for one another the birds are chirping it in the trees.”
Rain’s voice took on a subtle note. “So do you suppose someone did him in?”
Harried squinched up her face. “I’ve been thinking about that. Personally, I believe he up and got swept away by one of those daydreams of his.”
Gilberto leaned forward and clasped his hands. “Daydreams?” he said.
She lowered her eyes, nodded. “Once he told me that he really believed he could daydream himself back in time.”
Really,” Rain said. “I wonder how he’d pull off something like that?”
Harriet frowned. “I wouldn’t know except to say Cyrus could speak ancient Greek.” She laughed nervously and stood up. “I’d best get back to my office. I really just wanted to be sure nothing awful happened.”
Moments after she left, Gilberto saw a shadowy form against the wall where the picture had been. He and Rain shivered at the same time.
“Did you feel that?” Gilberto said.
Rain nodded. “Our Mr. Willobee?” she said.
Gilberto winced. “Maybe, I guess.” He sighed. “I have to say I prefer real people to ghosts.”
Georgia Nicols’ Weekly Horoscope: Sunday, April 24, 2022
This week is filled with positive energy and upbeat, productive vibes. For different reasons, many of us have felt stagnated. However, as we approach the Solar Eclipse on Saturday, there will be a sense of freedom and fresh exploration. In different ways and for different reasons, each of us will start to feel our energy flowing again. “I’m pumped!” This is something that has been long overdue. Mercury symbolizes our communications as well as our daily activities; and this week, it dances with lucky Jupiter as well as energetic Pluto. Things will be positive, productive and richer! (I know they say money isn’t the key to happiness but I figure with enough money, you can have a key made.)
Aries (March 21-April 19)
This is a wonderful week! Do get out of bed. For starters, in a vague, general way, you will have a warm feeling in your tummy because you’re happy to be in your own skin. This is because lovely Venus and lucky Jupiter are lined up in a hidden part of your chart, which sort of gives you a feeling that “everything’s alright.” Of course, we know there are terrible things happening somewhere in the world. But in your world, you’re on it. Life is good. Not only that, you have some serious productive, moneymaking ideas this week! You will either see new ways of earning money or new uses for something that you already own. Everyone’s impressed with your resourcefulness!
Taurus (April 20-May 20)
This week will be a powerful time for you because the Solar Eclipse on Saturday the 30th is taking place in your sign. Furthermore, the Sun is in your sign along with Mercury and Uranus; and Mercury will be energized by Pluto. (Too much techno talk?) The upshot of this is you will be empowered in terms of your own personal energy, and you will also have X-ray vision! You will easily see what goes on beneath the surface of events and everything around you. You can practically read people’s minds! Incidentally, this is why you will enjoy watching mysteries or reading whodunits. Note: Guard against being obsessed with things this week. Lighten up.
Gemini (May 21-June 20)
Two contradictory factors are at play for you this week. (How appropriate! One for each of the twins.) On one hand, you will prefer to be low-key, quiet, and keep a low profile, because you value your privacy, and you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of your daily world. (“Enuff awreddy.”) However, on the other hand (you have different fingers), you’ll make a stellar impression on others! You look successful, charming and attractive to everyone. In fact, bosses, parents, teachers and the police are impressed with you because your success is obvious to everyone. Hmmm, for some, this attractive quality will trigger a romance with a boss.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You’re popular this week! You will especially enjoy the company of younger people. One of the reasons they will be impressed with you is that you “get them”. You will have the ability to see who they are and understand what they want and need; and because of this, you can relate to them in a genuine way. You might help someone modify their future goals? Or the reverse might happen. Someone might help you modify your future goals? Meanwhile, travel for pleasure will delight. If possible, hop a jet or mortgage your house and take a road trip so you can watch those telephone poles going by. Romance with someone “different” might blossom.
Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)
This week you will make people sit up and listen. There are two reasons: one is that the Sun at the top of your chart is casting you in a flattering spotlight so people actually admire you. Secondly, Mercury at the top of your chart is getting zapped by big daddy Pluto, which makes your speech convincing and forceful! Furthermore, it gives you the ability to see hidden influences and make strategic deductions. You might meet someone who is very powerful. Nevertheless, to put it mildly, your communications with others will be serious and profound. People will take notes. (Is Pittman shorthand but a dim memory now in history?) Meanwhile, gifts and goodies will come your way! Ka-ching!
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
This is a fortunate week for you because you want to travel! You want do different things and learn exciting information. You will entertain lofty ideas and have profound discussions. And — you are lucky because while the Sun gives you this desire and urge to do these things, Mercury (assisted by the energy of Pluto) will help you to dig beneath the surface and understand what makes things tick. Your mind will be attracted to the mystery of how everything works. You will even want a deeper understanding of what is going on inside of you! Meanwhile, relations with partners and close friends will be warm and loving. You have much to look forward to!
Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
If you want to discover more about the of wealth your partner or learn more about someone’s assets – this is the week to ferret out this information. (Don’t leave home without your deerstalker.) The Sun and Mercury are in one of your Money Houses (specifically, the wealth of other people), and Pluto will give Mercury the powers of X-ray vision. In discussions about how to share an inheritance or divide property, you will be effective, possibly ruthless. Meanwhile, you have fabulous chances to improve your job or get a better job. You might also make your work station look more attractive. (These details are important to Libra. Who wants to work in a coal mine?)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
This week is about pleasure, socializing with others, enjoying playful activities with children, appreciating the arts, exploring the entertainment world and participating or watching sports. Grab every chance to get out and enjoy yourself! Likewise, grab every chance to express your talents and creative energy. Meanwhile, respect your need for sleep. You need more sleep right now. Many of you will have compelling, powerful discussions with partners and close friends. You might even attract someone to you who is super powerful. (“Hi Darth.”) Strive to find a balance between important negotiations with partners and close friends and enjoying the good things in life.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
You are high energy this week, and you’ll use this energy to work hard and get better organized. You’re keen to accomplish certain goals. In fact, you might surprise others by rolling up your sleeves and digging in hands-on! Meanwhile, certain issues about home and family need your attention. Caution because Mars can stir up trouble. You’re full of redecorating ideas and renovations, and shopping for your home. Does someone else want some input? You also want to entertain. It’s fortunate that since you have strong desires about what you want to do where you live – at the same time, you have the energy to put your plans in motion. Remember to work in cooperation with others.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
This is a playful, fun-loving time for you because the Sun is in your 5th House of amusements and recreation. Hey, you want to get out and have a good time! Relationships will be more lighthearted and fun-loving; and Mercury in this same place will make you prankish and playful! You want to use your mind for amusing past times, reading, writing and playing games that require mental agility. Sports and fun activities with kids will appeal. This is an excellent time for writers and artists because you will enjoy tapping into your creative talents. It’s also a blessed time for your sign because it’s easy for you to appreciate your surroundings and what you have in life, which makes everything so precious.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
Family matters and issues at home are where it’s at this week. Discussions will be serious, possibly because family secrets are revealed. Perhaps you realize the subtext of a situation that has been going on for a while? (You will no longer be fooled.) Home repairs might be at the top of the list for many. All of these things will trigger discussions about how to get things done. Fortunately, your finances look solid! Some have found a better paying job or how to make more money in another way. Because you’re feeling flush, many are buying beautiful things for yourself and your loved ones. It’s handy to have a bit of cash when you want to make some changes at home. Count your blessings.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
This will be a fast-paced week full of fascinating diversions. Your mind will be interested in everything! You want to learn new things and mentally explore new turf because you practically have X-ray vision when it comes to seeing the motivations of others, and what goes on all around you. (It will be amusing as well as intriguing.) You will have many discussions with different people about a wide variety of subjects. You will also be convincing! Fortunately, with fair Venus and lucky Jupiter in your sign, you will be charming and appealing to everyone. This is an excellent week to buy wardrobe goodies for yourself. Get some physical exercise to blow off pent-up steam building within you because Mars is in your sign. Go, go, go!
Weekly Horoscopes Beginning Sunday, 24 April 2022
If you’re born within a cusp period (16 to 26 of any month); you’re advised to read horoscopes of both signs covered by that period. You’re on the border; you may have influences from houses within those signs.
Outlines are longer versions; consist of every possible detail of everyday and are based on three parts of each sign: 1st, 2nd & 3rd Decan; that is, any of three divisions of 10° within a sign of the zodiac. Even if you know or don’t know your Decan; I recommend, please read all three Decan.
Personal theme: I am!!
Fire & cardinal sign: March 21 — April 19
Your horoscope for this week:
You hate being bored. However, April’s fast-paced events were so demanding that even you’ve been overwhelmed. Now, finally, things slow enough you can review what you committed to in haste. Use this quiet period to consider what you still want to explore or, if possible, pursue. Better yet, you’ve time to rethink what you’ve done or committed to, seek expert advice or make any necessary changes.
A trying and troublesome situation will actually serve a useful purpose in that it brings a number of petty annoyances to a head. People will be looking to you to make the most important decisions because they know you will take action on what you decide on. What they won’t see is your uncertainty. Take a deep breath and trust that you will make the right moves and choices. Responsibilities you take on now will put you in touch with your leadership qualities.
Personal theme: I have!!
Earth & fixed sign: April 20 — May 20
Your horoscope for this week:
The powerful Taurus eclipsed New Moon isn’t until Saturday, 30 April, but you may already be experiencing the breakthroughs – some welcome, others unsettling – that it’s triggering. For now, wait, watch and do nothing. If things seem urgent, remember, it may not be until the second of this pair of eclipses, on 16 May, that you’ll fully understand what’s going and what’s next.
With you feeling a little low at the start of the week you will also be annoyed with yourself for having made some firm plans. The last thing you want to do is disappoint anyone or leave them feeling as if you’ve let them down. Forcing yourself to continue with arrangements already made will be hard work but you will cope. Later, someone who holds a special corner of your heart will be determined to make a loving dream of yours come true.
Personal theme: I think!!
Air sign: May 21 — June 20
Your horoscope for this week:
Usually, you’re the first to spot issues that need attention and, equally, worrying errors; but between the unsettling planetary setup now and as you move into the month of May, even the simplest of arrangements should be regarded as an experiment rather than anything lasting. You’ll soon forget troublesome issues and be delighted by unexpected discoveries. Long term plans? Ideally, they’ll wait until late May.
Keep a watchful eye on what is going on around you. You could learn something interesting by watching the comings and goings of your neighbours and friends. Sometimes you have to be perceptive before you can plan what your next moves might be. A willingness to share equally is the best way to gain the most from your relationships now. Try to show extra understanding of your partner’s feelings. Anything you are worried about can be shared with someone you can trust.
Personal theme: I feel!!
Water & cardinal sign: June 21 — July 22
Your horoscope for this week:
Once you understand that even unsettling events are breakthroughs, although in an unexpected form, you’ll do only what’s necessary, but no more. Instead, you’ll consider changes that, in the past, you’ve avoided and, as important, you’ll explore the fascinating but unexpected ideas or offers coming your way. Once you stop worrying about making swift decisions or long-range plans, you’ll actually enjoy every twist and turn.
A friend of your partner’s or someone a housemate brings home one evening may start asking you some strange and weird questions. Don’t let your suspicion show but there is something secretive in the air. You suspect someone has been making arrangements without telling you anything about them. By the end of the week the truth will come out. Your judgement will be faultless when it comes to group and social concerns.
Personal theme: I will!!
Fire & fixed sign: July 23 — August 22
Your horoscope for this week:
Talk of life-changing plans is nothing new. Disappointingly few have actually become reality. Now, suddenly, the pace speeds up. It’s a relief, but you’re anxious about details. Talk things over with others and, equally, begin exploring on your own. You’ll not only learn a lot, certain of your own questions will finally be answered. That, alone, will boost your enthusiasm about this exciting yet unsettling cycle.
This isn’t the time for rushing into anything. In fact, this is more a time to rein in your energy. There’s a lot of enthusiasm in the air but you need to get together with others to discuss how to approach long-term plans of a joint nature. Don’t be hesitant about expressing your true feelings. Ask plenty questions so you can be sure you understand other people’s views. When you discover many actually share your vision, this will make the future all the more delightful.
Personal theme: I analyse!!
Earth sign: August 23 — September 22
Your horoscope for this week:
Although you’ve been talking about certain intriguing ideas for weeks, you still have questions about pivotal facts. While, finally, some are answered, you soon realise the foundation on which plans are based is shifting. This knowledge gets you going, and you’re soon gathering information on your own. This is as interesting as it is informative, enough that suddenly you’ll take the lead in making things happen.
Messages received or given to the wrong person could contain information that will be useful for you to know. Even so, you need to be discreet and to keep some things to yourself. Forewarned is forearmed. Unexpected job news will give you something new to anticipate. Financially, there’s a good chance you will gain from the good fortune of others. It might be worth setting up a new savings or pension plan. A financial advisor’s recommendations are worth considering.
Personal theme: I balance!!
Air & cardinal sign: September 23 — October 22
Your horoscope for this week:
Between pressing practical matters and overdue discussions, especially regarding obligations to others, you’re overwhelmed. The secret? Pause. Take a day off. As a result, your priorities will be clearer. Better yet, you’ll realise certain once-worrying matters aren’t your problem. This, in turn, frees you to spend time with those you care about most. It also reminds you to reassess what, and who, you’ve been putting first.
A project you are working on with others will have been largely your idea. Now the pressure is on to make this successful. It might be a rush against time but keep focused on your goal. Don’t lose faith in your convictions. A new friendship, work relationship or romance will bring a little sunshine into your life. Are you single? The love bug could bite in which case no immunisation will protect you from the dizzying consequences.
Scorpio & Ophiuchus
Personal theme: I desire!!
Water & fixed signs: October 23 — November 21
Your horoscope for this week:
You understand what’s behind others’ sensitivity about certain matters. Still, whatever you say, they’re not ready to let go. Except now, sudden changes in your life are forcing them to rethink things, if not move on. Or so you hope. The trick? Simply proceed with your plans, quietly expecting them to join in, and without raising difficult questions. To your relief, it’s likely to work perfectly.
Patience is a virtue and a lot of patience will be needed as you wait to hear information regarding the future of a personal aim. If you pester those in the know for hints on the possible outcome, you could push them in the wrong direction. Steer clear of problems that are not of your making and of matters that should not involve you. It may be a challenge to solve other people’s dilemmas but it will also be taking you away from where you are meant to be.
Personal theme: I see!!
Fire sign: November 22 — December 21
Your horoscope for this week:
Usually, you’ll eagerly venture out, exploring places, ideas and getting to know people. Yet, bizarrely, you’ve avoided certain situations, and often are unsure why. Now a combination of events and frank discussions reveals the source of your reluctance to take things further. This, in turn, puts you on a path of discovery as exciting as it is unexpected. Forget about planning. Take each day as it comes.
Tension in the domestic circle will make you wonder whether some plans will go ahead as previously agreed. With a little effort you should be able to stop certain family members from falling out completely. This may mean putting the needs of others before your own and although this sounds unfair, the situation will only be temporary. The future will bring you your just rewards. In all areas do your best to keep the atmosphere light.
Personal theme: I use!!
Earth & cardinal sign: December 22 — January 19
Your horoscope for this week:
Initially, certain issues seemed tricky, but nothing more. Now, suddenly, others are hotly arguing about what’s next. Tempting as it is to encourage reasonable discussion, for the moment, do the minimum. With eclipses on the 30th and in mid-May triggering yet more shakeups, focus on short term solutions. Others may be eager to explore options but caution is wise. The less you say, the better.
You can’t escape from a sense of responsibility to an older or younger relative. There are others, too, who should be helping but they aren’t. Eventually someone will admit to having not been as dutiful as they should have been towards the family. If there is any lingering resentment on your part you will be hiding it well. Someone will fail to get back to you with an answer to an important question. When they are ready, they will be in touch but not beforehand.
Personal theme: I know!!
Air & fixed sign: January 20 — February 18
Your horoscope for this week:
Although you’ve managed to prevent others getting too excited about changes that would alter your way of living or working, the circumstances seem overwhelming; and with eclipses, on 30 April and in mid-May, triggering shakeups, wait until then. Bizarrely, once you get involved, you’ll realise these changes aren’t just wise, they’re overdue. That will transform your thinking about these matters and, as a result, your future.
You need more freedom now to pursue your own aims. A close relationship is taking up far too much of your time. If someone you recently met is more needy than you expected them to be, you have a lot of thinking to do. It might be necessary for you to avoid a friend when their presence seems to be clouding your judgement. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you aren’t happy there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider making changes in your life to improve your situation.
Personal theme: I believe!!
Water sign: February 19 — March 20
Your horoscope for this week:
It took a lot of juggling, but you managed to avoid unsettling and, for some, upsetting changes. However, judging by the coming weeks’ planetary activity, certain long overdue shakeups aren’t just unavoidable, they’ll be hugely beneficial. However, this means reversing your attitude and, where possible, welcoming the unexpected. Get involved, slowly if you must. Within a short time, you’ll exchange those doubts for big time enthusiasm.
A job will flow smoothly until one small mistake knocks everything for six. It will feel as if it is all falling apart but stay calm, take a deep breath and you will find a way to get back on track. Tricky tasks can be handled best early on in the week when your mind is less cluttered with emotional issues. Later a family argument will make it difficult for you to think properly. Your mood will be changeable when one moment you will be keen on social plans and the next you will prefer to stay at home.
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